Our five year adventure in Doha, Qatar ended June 1, 2012, but the memories will always remain. It's back to Texas where I have decided...Qatar isn't cornering the market on "quirky", as I once believed. Thanks for opening my eyes to the world, Doha!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mosque Tour

I am organizing a mosque tour for our Chevron Phillips ladies' group. It seems that there are ladies that have been here for over six years and have not seen the inside of a mosque. Well, we're fixing to remedy that. Currently it's scheduled for March 10th. I did this purposely during spring break, so that the Kayla & Dustin could tour with us. Well, of course by now you've figured out there just might be a conflict of interest due to David's impending donor status. I hope it all works out because I really want to do this. Supposedly after the tour, we will be taken to a Qatari family's home to share lunch with them. That's the part that excites me the most. I love learning about their culture and look forward to confirming that they are people just like us. I know that sounds strange, but when you see them constantly "veiled" it brings such a cloud of mystery. I don't want to miss out on this tour, so since I'm the one organizing it I'll just have to change the date if need be! Note the sandals at the mosque's door step. Shoes are never worn in side the mosque, hence the foot washings at their call to prayer.

Note: The background music is what we hear five times a day throughout the city. It is played through speakers atop all mosques. It's quite eerie the first few times you hear it. Qatar has more mosques per capita than any other country in the world.

It's a Match!

Years & years ago, David & I registered with the National Marrow Donor Program. We figured it would be a simple way to "give back", if the need ever arose. Well it has arisen. David is a match for someone in need. We are truly in shock, since the odds against him being a match were ridiculous. He was contacted by the center before the holidays that he was on the path to being a match, and they asked if he could come in to give more blood for more detailed testing. Go figure, he has been in the donor registry for at least 20 years and he's in Qatar for 7 months and gets the call. He had already gone through a couple of steps in the past because he was a potential match for someone, but didn't make it. So, we knew that he was getting closer, considering what the odds were at the start. Anyway, he explained that he was living in the Middle East but would be in for the Christmas holidays. So while in Austin, David gave the center the blood that they needed. We were very excited about all this and then found that even though this was the last test to see if he matched the patient, the odds were still only down to 200 to 1. Not the kind of odds that I bank on, so I filed it away in that part of the brain that's never to be thought of again. Well, lo & behold, he got an email yesterday with the subject line stating "You are a match!". The patient is a 28 yearl old male with leukemia. The donor center wants David to be available in San Antonio for the actual donation on March 5th, with a physical to be done prior to that. Today, he will present this to Chevron Phillips to see how they feel about it. Without a doubt, he will do this even if they're not providing the time off. He can use his vacation, if needed. Of course, there is always a kink in things. Kayla and Dustin were scheduled to come here on March 6th for springbreak. At least I hadn't actually puchased the tickets. I had discussed the flights with them for their approval and had spoken to David about purchasing them last night...right before he got the email. Time will tell how it will all play out. I'll keep y'all posted.

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, REGINA!!!!!!!! How old are you??? Wow, I won't say cuz I'm right behind ya, sista!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Words of Kristi

For those of you curious to see Qatar from a younger perspective,
today's blog is being posted by KRISTI!
My school recently celebrated the annual International Week representing every student's culture. In our halls we had flags from 60+ countries throughout the world. We had an international buffet, salsa dancers, bands, and speakers throughout the week.
Pictured on the left -- I am proudly representing my two countries of residency...The States & the one and only Qatar.
Pictured on the right -- My friend, Stephanie, is representing her citizenship in The States, her residency in Qatar, and her Lebanese culture. (note the scarf)

And I can't leave out my 1/4 Estonian, 1/4 Swedish, and 1/2 French Canadian best friend. Although she is a Canadian citizen, I'm somehow still friends with her, ehhh? This is my friend, Kat, proudly posing with her flag on the left.

To the right -- This is my Palestinian friend, Aseel, (yes, like a walrus) with a dual US/Canadian citizenship. Whatever happened to plain Texans?!? We cheered for her as the team had an awesome win against Qatar Academy. Basketball isn't exactly the sport for Qataris.

Unfortunately one of the last days of International Week was the day of Heath Ledger's death. My friends and I wore black in remembrance of him. That would be why we're not smiling in the picture...except for the girl on the far left, but she's special.In order from left to right: Alkesta Maili-- She has an American passport, but she's Albanian.
Alicia -- Just another Canadian, ehh?
Stephanie Serhan (sound familiar?)-- The Lebanese shown in the picture at the top
Myself -- Oh, what a beautiful Texan ;)
Katrine Klaassen -- The Canadian mentioned earlier
Annika -- Good ol' Missouran
Claire -- The most typically American girl I will ever meet in my entire life, but she was born & raised all seventeen years of her life in Qatar.

Well that about sums it up for me, past my bedtime. Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Carpet Class

Our Chevron Phillips ladies' group made a trip to City Center Mall yesterday to obtain a little knowledge about buying carpets. As most of you probably know, Persian carpets are in abundance over here and supposedly at wonderful prices compared to those in the USA. Well, if these are great prices, I might have to abstain from buying one as I still can't tell the difference between Walmart made and Iranian made. Actually, after the class I probably could examine the carpet back & determine how many loops and what not, but I'm not so sure I really care. I'm just walking on the dang thing and no one would know that I paid thousands, yes thousands of dollars for it. I'm sure they have cheaper, but like I said I don't have an eagle eye for carpets. On the other hand, if you're buying for an investment, I'm sure it's a good deal. Somehow I don't quite see me putting a carpet on Ebay twenty years from now to see what I can get. On the other hand, I did learn something and better yet enjoyed sipping on Arabic coffee with the ladies during the demonstration. Oh, and the picture of everyone kneeling on the carpet is not the Muslim call to prayer, but just a closer examination of the construction of the rug. And of course, what would an outing be without topping it off with lunch at good old American Applebee's.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kristi's Plan

Here's the latest on the grapevine. Kristi wants the best of both worlds. Amen, sister...who doesn't? She has experienced Qatar in all its glory and will be rejoining her classmates in Port Neches after spring break. Kayla and Dustin will be coming to visit us at that time and Kristi will join them on their trip back on or about March 15. It was a hard decision for her, but she has decided to do the prom thing and graduation with the same ones that she first joined friends with in kindergarten. She's already making plans to fly back to Doha, however, to be with her new found friends for their graduation in June. While back in the states, she will stay with my mom (who is much better by the way!) and hopefully be a little extra support for her. Kristi and I went out yesterday in search of backdrops for senior pics, since she won't be home in time for an official portrait sitting. We found a park that seemed to fit the order just fine. These pics are just a sampling of the 80 plus pics I snapped. I know, you would think David made enough to buy her a new pair of jeans.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Arabic 101

It was an act of congress...maybe I need to reword that, an act of the ruling emir to get into my blog account today. The entire page was in Arabic. I must admit that I haven't taken to the language as of yet. Not one word was in English as I was trying to figure out how to log in. To make things even more difficult, in the Arab world everything is written from right to left. After much ado and a shower in between to rest my brain, I finally broke the code. After getting to the website (which was surprisingly in English), it was the headlines that they had now proudly introduced Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian to their site. Thanks for the newsflash, Tom Brokaw. The bottom line is that I didn't have anything to blog about, but since I had so much trouble getting here I figured I better write a few words. On that note, I'm leaving you with the picture of the day which would also be in Arabic....hmm, or is that English. You decide.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Just Checkin' In

Just thought I'd check in to let you guys know that we're still here. We have been nothing but lazy since we've returned from the states. David comes home from work finding me on the couch with one eye on my laptop and one on Fox News. He joins me and before you know it we're both snoozing. I'm slowly, oh so slowly trying to get back into a routine...a more productive routine, that is. We've finally gotten the rain that the weatherman kept promising us. It rained 0.14 centimeters last Friday and the streets were flooding. I kid you not. The only drainage system that I saw was at an underpass. Thank goodness for that. We've had light rains several days in a row. Good thing it's stopped...the newspaper reported over 150 auto accidents in one day due to the rains. It's also cooled off over here. It was 17c this morning in our bedroom. I just checked out the conversion on that...62.6F. Pretty chilly when you don't have an option to kick on the heat. How bout those Cowboys?

Update on Shea: He's not looking forward to jumping out of airplanes. I did not realize that he's got a healthy fear of heights (hmm...wonder where he got that?). His first drill was some type of controlled jump from 34 feet & he lost his focus. I'm thinking he may need to talk to Dustin & adopt some of his Tai Chi methods, because this week the jump is from 200 feet. Please join with me in prayer that he makes it through these next two weeks.

Pic: Dustin, Shea, & Kennie prior to Shea leaving for Fort Benning

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Old Man Winter

Lo & behold, Doha has been blessed with the presence of Old Man Winter. It was 43F yesterday morning. I was out & about doing my grocery shopping and noticed that the grocery stores were empty (yes, plural...there's no one stop shopping here, it seems that you never can buy everything on your grocery list at one store). The cool snap seemed to keep everyone tucked away in their homes....which I'm not sure why, since we have no heat in this country. It was actually a beautiful, sunny day with temps holding in the upper 50's. I did discover something else new...we must not have hot water heaters, either. You know how I mentioned we have one water temperature...hot. Well, if it gets much cooler that one temp is going to be cold. While taking my shower this morning, I kept trying to adjust the temp to make the water hotter when I finally noticed that I had it turned all the way to hot already. I had to settle for baby pink instead of my usual lobster red when emerging from the shower. While we're on the weather, remember that rain forecast a little over a month ago...it never took place. They're taking another stab at it, predicting a 50% chance on Sunday. I won't hold my breath. The pic on the right is the secret service (aka Shea & Dustin) tailing us on our way to Tennessee. Do you know how nerve wracking it is to have Shea following you? You'd have to know his history to understand. He has an uncanny way of getting in the way of other vehicles and has landed in an occasional cow pasture (via the ditch & over the barbed wire). Oh, and driving down the highway at 70 mph with his hood open is not above him, either. I could go on and on, but we both have better things to do. Later.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sykes Revisited

Hey everyone. Sorry for the oh, so short blog yesterday, but I was really tired. Anyway, the video was way more exciting than anything I could say. I know I should be talking about Christmas and our visit, but I'm not over this cat thing! While we were away for the three weeks, we locked Sykes in the maid's quarters (has outside access on back of our villa) and had someone stopping by to feed him routinely. Secretly, deep down (not really too deep down), we were hoping for him to have escaped. I know that sounds awful, but this cat is awful. The night we got home while I was sitting on the couch, he jumped up and bit me on the nose. I swear, he really did. My whole nose was in his mouth. I screamed and David tossed him on the back patio. Time to make him an outside cat...where he belongs. He meowed so much that I felt sorry for him and let him back in. Well, yesterday morning, Sykes was being really bad again, so I tossed him out the front door. Kristi walked in and asked me where he was, and I told her what I had done. She walked around to the foyer to take a peak and he was walking in the front door. We couldn't believe it. We tossed him back outside (we had to wait for him to do something bad, which of course didn't take long). I got my camera and boom, click here to watch. So, now when I kick him out, I have to lock the door. Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard?

As far as Christmas goes...it says it all in the pic above. It was wonderful to visit with the kids and the six of us stopping at McD's for lunch on the way to Tennessee. It brought back so many memories, except I don't remember it costing so much. We got the house in Kyle unpacked...a very big project for the very short time that we were there. Dustin will no longer have an obstacle course to work around. I say Dustin only, because Miss Kayla got a resident's assistant job at St. Ed's. They provide her room and food, now. So much for buying her a house! Actually, we're really happy for her. She really missed being involved on campus and realized that the grass is not always greener on the other side, as we've told her so many time before. She moved in last Thursday, the day before we left. Shea left for Fort Benning for airborne school on Thursday, as well. We drove back to Kyle from Port Arthur that morning to see him off. He left about 6:30pm to head out for a 14 hour drive. I was so happy when he called his last hour of the trip to verify directions with David. He did remind me before he left that he was "army strong". That was supposed to make me feel better and actually, it did. Airborne school will take about three weeks and then on to language training at Fort Bragg. Dustin is now solely holding the fort down for us. Kayla promises she'll pop in often to keep him company. Last, but not least is our beautiful, wonderful, well mannered cat that we left behind...Saudi. She's full grown, fat, fluffy and I didn't know how awesome she was until we got Sykes. But, her one shortcoming is that as wonderful as she might be, she cannot open doors.

P.S. I told y'all a while back that I needed a better pic of Dustin. Does this qualify? haha!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sykes...Coming to a Home Near You

Lock your doors people...you never know who or what might wander in!!

We're back safe and sound as you can see. Our visit was quite hectic this year and quite out of the ordinary. Mom was still in the hospital after a car wreck (wear your seat belts, people!). She ended up staying three weeks, but is now rehabbing at Cypress Glen Nursing Home. Hopefully that will just be a few days, so that she can get back to her routine at home. Nonetheless, we made the most of our trek home and enjoyed it immensely. Looking forward to a more relaxed visit next time around...maybe as early as April. Happy New Year, everyone!