Sunday, November 7, 2010

the unexpected things you miss when away from home

I woke up this morning to an unexpected sight, one that reminded me that sometimes it is the little things that I don't even realize I miss that make this place so foreign. This morning I woke up to find clouds in the sky, something I haven't seen since I left DC on July 26th. We don't get many clouds here in Saudi because we don't get much moisture- we just get a lot of yellow sun beating down all day long. This morning we have clouds, and a little breeze, and even the hint of autumn in the air (my light cardigan was perfect)- it was just strange enough to make me do a double take and to realize today is a day I really miss home for the colors and the crackle of the fallen leaves, and the crisp bite in the air on an autumn morning. I don't know how long these clouds will last, but I'm heading back outside to enjoy them for just a little longer...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBC book meme

courtesy of SCB:

The BBC apparently believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books listed below. The ones I have read are bolded in the list, though I have to wonder how they made the decision of what books to include...

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible (I've read sections of course, but never the whole thing!)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've read several plays but not all of them!)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I can see IKEA from my house!

seriously. I moved halfway around the world to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia only to discover that I can see IKEA from the front lawn of the compound- how absurdly fitting is that?

No pics yet because I don't have internet access at home to upload them (I swear I'm working on it!) but as expected it is hot and sandy here. Strangely familiar because of my years in Kuwait, but strangely foreign as well because of all the security precautions- I've never seen so much razor wire (around all the housing compounds for foreigners). I have impressions but am still battling jetlag and getting settled into my new job so they are not yet coherent. Expect to be hearing more from me though as I expect to have a lot of free time for blogging!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Making a Move

I've been bad at blogging recently- too much other stuff on my mind. The primary thing on my mind is that fact that in a couple of weeks, I'm moving to Saudi Arabia for two years for work. Though I'm excited, I'm also a little freaked out by the fact that (a) I have to have everything ready for the packers next Monday, (b) life in the Kingdom is going to be much more restrictive than Kuwait was which could make for a stressful couple of years, and (c) in September my husband will make be joining me marking the start of our adventure in living together.

My brain feels like a gerbil on a wheel- I'm getting maybe 3 hours of troubled sleep a night because I just can't stop my mind. I'm sad to be leaving all my friends here in DC and can't believe all the things I wanted to do that I didn't in the five years I've been home. I'm sure I'll be patchy at best for the next few weeks online, but imagine that once I'm moved into my house in Saudi and have regular internet access, I'll have more to say.

Wish me luck- I'm going to need it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

This time last week, I was stretched out on my bed, more tired than ever in my life and thanking God I had taken Monday off. I spent this past week limping around in flip flops at work because of two of the world's biggest blisters- one on each heel. Saturday's heat was absurd: I didn't make the full 26.2 miles on Saturday because of heat exhaustion- med put me on a bus around mile 16 and then I met up with my team at mile 24 to enter the wellness village together. Sunday was better- still hot and humid but cloudier to cut the sunshine: I was able to walk the entire 13.1 miles despite the mother of all blisters on each foot.

The fundraising was a pain in the ass, the walk itself was killer because of the heat, and my feet may never be the same, but it was definitely the experience of a lifetime. When the president of the Avon Foundation handed out checks to local hospitals and organizations involved in the fight against breast cancer, and announced we had raised $6.5 million in the DC walk, it was hard not to feel proud. When they gathered us all together at the end and marched the survivors in separately, it was hard not to cry. When one of those survivors talked about being diagnosed back in the 1980s and feeling ashamed of having breast cancer, and about having dedicated her life since then to raising money and awareness so that no other woman would ever feel ashamed of her diagnosis, it was hard not to feel humbled.

Though I won't be able to participate in the Avon Walk when I'm overseas, I will be able to help my sister and mom fundraise; we're going to start early for next year!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

man, am I a delinquent blogger!

Damn it has been a long time since I posted here! I've been doing better on my book reviews, probably because they require less thought (not to mention I have quite a backlog to wade through). One reason I've had less free time is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer- all that fundraising has eaten up my weekends. Mom, sis & I are looking forward to the walk- 39.3 miles this Saturday and Sunday- and I at least am also looking forward to the walk being finished. It looks like I may be heading to Saudi Arabia for my next assignment- more details when that is finalized. My house as always is a disaster, my husband is in Iowa, and my allergies are a nightmare.

There- now you are all caught up!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer- In It to End It

As some of you may seen from my Facebook updates, my mom, sister, and I are hoping to participate in the DC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in May. In order to walk, each of us needs to raise $1800; we'll then spend two days in May covering almost 40 miles in the city.

I’ve committed to participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer because money raised will help provide access to care for those that most need it, fund educational programs, and accelerate research into new treatments and potential cures. Too many women die each year because of late detection, and a disturbing number of those deaths are among the uninsured who often put off routine checkups because of finances. Survivor contestant Jennifer Lyon who died in January at age 37 stated that one of the reasons she put off seeing a doctor after finding a lump because she didn't have any insurance. That story really hit home for me as my sister is currently among the uninsured- her employer is not required to provide it, and she wasn't able to obtain coverage on her own.

The money raised in the 2009 DC walk supported the following programs:
The National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund received $1,812,018 to continue Project LEAD, a vital program that trains breast cancer survivors to be patient advocates and serve as advisors to research and funding programs.
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) received $850,000 support access to care programs at the Avon Breast Center at Johns Hopkins as well as cutting edge research.
Capital Breast Care Center (Washington, D.C.) received $750,000 to support Avon’s signature patient care program in the District, run in partnership by Georgetown Medical Center and Medstar Health. The Capital Breast Care Center provides critical safety net services to medically underserved and uninsured women in the Washington DC metropolitan area, serving more than 2,400 per year.
George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) received $300,000 to support research into a particular biomarker that is found in 80% of invasive ductal breast tumors and metastasis, with a focus on determining its use as a marker in risk assessment and predictor of disease progression.
Virginia Tech Foundation (Virginia) received $300,000 to support a research project entitled Environmental Risk of Breast Cancer Development: Molecular Basis for Prevention. This study will investigate the mechanisms through which the circadian clock acts as a tumor suppressor in the biology of estrogen-dependent breast cancer.
Food and Friends (Washington, D.C.) received $250,000 to support their Avon Pink Ribbon Delivery Program which provides specialized nutrition support and individualized nutrition counseling to women living with breast cancer and their families in metropolitan Washington, D.C. providing 460,000 meals to 1,600 women fighting breast cancer and their families since 2000.

If you would like to donate to the cause and help me reach my fundraising goal to ensure I can participate in the Avon Walk, here is the link to my fundraising page:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

99 Things I Ought to Have Done... least accordng to some internet meme creator...

Copy the list, bold the ones you've done (with explanations), share with friends. OK, Wende and scb- here goes:

  1. Started your own blog (ummm...obviously!)
  2. Slept under the stars
  3. Played in a band
  4. Visited Hawaii
  5. Watched a meteor shower (miles out in the desert in Kuwait- one of the coolest sights ever!)
  6. Given more than you can afford to charity
  7. Been to Disneyland (I'm counting Walt Disney World in Orlando where I spent my birthday last year)
  8. Climbed a mountain
  9. Held a praying mantis
  10. Sang a solo
  11. Bungee jumped
  12. Visited Paris (multiple times, always magical)
  13. Watched a thunder and lightning storm (nothing beats a summer storm in DC)
  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
  15. Adopted a child
  16. Had food poisoning (icky)
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (not sure if this is possible any more?)
  18. Grown your own vegetables
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (multiple times)
  20. Slept on an overnight train (from Vienna to Paris and from Sarajevo to Budapest)
  21. Had a pillow fight
  22. Hitch hiked
  23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
  24. Built a snow fort
  25. Held a lamb
  26. Gone skinny dipping (in Barbados and St. Lucia)
  27. Run a Marathon
  28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (several trips to Venice but no gondola)
  29. Seen a total eclipse
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (in Barbados and St. Lucia)
  31. Hit a home run (if you count an inside the park home run)
  32. Been on a cruise
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (I was 13- it was magnificent)
  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (lots of trips to Ireland)
  35. Seen an Amish community
  36. Taught yourself a new language
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (Thanksgiving 2004 trip with my sister)
  39. Gone rock climbing
  40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (Thanksgiving 2004 trip with my sister)
  41. Sung karaoke (with more enthusiam than talent)
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
  43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
  44. Visited Africa
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (in Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada & Trinidad)
  46. Been transported in an ambulance
  47. Had your portrait painted (when I was 7-now that is a story...)
  48. Gone deep sea fishing
  49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (I do not do heights, but my husband proposed in the park at the base!)
  51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (snorkling)
  52. Kissed in the rain (one of my best kisses ever...and with the aforementioned husband)
  53. Played in the mud
  54. Gone to a drive-in theater (several times with my husband)
  55. Been in a movie (I've been on TV)
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China
  57. Started a business (a tiny internet business)
  58. Taken a martial arts class
  59. Visited Russia
  60. Served at a soup kitchen
  61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (even those I was not a Girl Scout)
  62. Gone whale watching
  63. Got flowers for no reason (I've gotten flowers "just because")
  64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
  65. Gone sky diving
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Dachau. It was the coldest, eeriest place I've even been.)
  67. Bounced a check (I do blame the bank.)
  68. Flown in a helicopter (I was 5 or 6 years old and thought it was cool. In Kuwait I was offered multiple ride on Blackhawks but refrained- that whole hatred of heights thing.)
  69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (many many in fact)
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (I am a native Washingtonian after all!)
  71. Eaten caviar (first time I was 14- loved it then, still do now.)
  72. Pieced a quilt
  73. Stood in Times Square (most recently the week between Christmas and New Year's with Mom)
  74. Toured the Everglades
  75. Been fired from a job
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (Mom, devoted as she is to the cause of a united Ireland, nevertheless indulged my love of all things Tudor and took me to London for a week when I was 12.)
  77. Broken a bone (growth plate in my ankle, rollerskating in 4th grade)
  78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle (husband owns a Harley, I've been on it once- cooler than I ever imagined but still scary)
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (if you could peering out of a plane flying over)
  80. Published a book
  81. Visited the Vatican
  82. Bought a brand new car
  83. Walked in Jerusalem
  84. Had your picture in the newspaper (in Kuwait of all places)
  85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
  86. Visited the White House (again I'm a native Washingtonian)
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (I've been crabbing and lobstering)
  88. Had chickenpox (in 1st grade- we all stil blame Brody Mullins who started the epidemic)
  89. Saved someone’s life
  90. Sat on a jury
  91. Met someone famous (again I fall back on the native Washingtonian)
  92. Joined a book club (I'm even still in it)
  93. Got a tattoo
  94. Had a baby
  95. Seen the Alamo in person
  96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
  97. Been involved in a law suit
  98. Owned a cell phone (many at this point)
  99. Been stung by a bee

46 of 99- not too shabby...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

OK, the weather is just absurd at this point

The Federal Government is closed again tomorrow because people are still stuck in their homes (many without power) because there are whole sections of the city an suburbs that have yet to see a plow. 24 inches of snow fell in my neighborhood which made digging my car out a joy this afternoon. The whole region is a mess of snow and ice and jackknifed trucks and abandoned cars, and now we have another storm set to start tomorrow afternoon that could dump another 8-12 inches of snow.

I have to say, Pensacola is looking pretty good right now...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowpocalypse II: I mean, really?!?!?!

so just to be clear folks, DC is being hammered by snow right now with possible accumulations of 20-36 inches. In DC. A swampy Southern city that generally averages 15 inches per season. We've already had a 22" storm in Dec and a 5" storm last week, so we are on track for a record winter. Oh and yeah, it might snow again later next week.

I mean, I like snow. I would certainly prefer snow on a Monday night rather than a Friday night, but I lived in Bosnia for two years and so I know from snow. But the reality is folks here are freaking out, the grocery stores are stripped, the Metro and buses aren't running, and no one is capable of navigating the roads in these conditions. Plus, DC is about out of snow removal money because of that absurd Dec storm. The 5" earlier this week? They just let that melt because the temperature was on the rise. Since we still have piles of unmelted snow from the Dec storm (those piles from the plows are dense it seems), I for one am not sanguine about the efficacy of the melting plan this time around.

Worst thing of all from my perspective? All this excellent cuddle up weather is being wasted because Brad is on FL packing up the house, so I'm sitting alone on my couch staring at the raging blizzard outside. I need a drink!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Things I Like About My Home

ok Wende, I'll bite as it seems like an appropriate first post for 2010...

  • Perfectly placed soffit for hanging glass Turkish lanterns

  • Wall of Japanese art (wedding kimono and framed vintage prints)

  • Great art from around the world

  • Wall of bookshelves bursting with books

  • Large wall of windows in living room

  • Eclectic vintage furniture collection

  • More Arabian carpets that I have space to display

  • Period details like high ceilings & deep mouldings

  • Fabulous hard wood floors

  • Great memories of the elderly woman who once lived here with much of the furniture and art mentioned above