Our five year adventure in Doha, Qatarended 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!
A thought occurred to me this morning. Scary, I know. We live 8000plus miles across the oceans from the U.S. and you know more about me now than you ever did before. Our lives are an open book talking to anyone who will listen. I often think about my mom who knows so much more about my comings and goings since I don't live there anymore. Maybe that's why she didn't stroke out when I told her we were moving. It was a Sunday, I knelt in church praying to God that she would be accepting of our decision and not freak out on me. Well, she didn't and I didn't understand why she didn't. Maybe on another level, she knew she'd be more a part of our lives than she ever had before. My Aunt Marge, who lives in the Hurricane Rita ravaged Cameron, Louisiana calls her faithfully every night and reads her the news of the day, however trivial it might be. Mom loves it, like only a mother could love. Now, Dad on the other hand is not patient enough to read it himself, much less listen to someone else read it to him. He's definitely a prime candidate for A.D.D. testing. Hey, no comments from the monkey section regarding the light bulb in your head that just went off enlightening you as to where I got my genes. Yep, Dad always said, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree".
P.S. Please do not mistake Aunt Marge's simulated red phone with the one that Hill wants to be answering at 3:00am.
David and I have bitten the dust (or would that be hit the dust?). We've caved into everyone's past time around here...getting into shape. I didn't want to report on this too soon for fear of jinxing our efforts. What makes it really easy is that David wears nomex coveralls to work now and he just whips them off like Superman when he gets home from work, revealing his t-shirt and gym shorts. Haha...replace the boots with tennies and we're ready to spring into action. We head down to the gym inside the complex and I walk the treadmill, while reading a book. You know how I like to multitask. He also warms up on the treadmill or bike and then does some machines and free weights. I just stick to the treadmill. The other stuff has too many moving parts for me. Maybe, one day. We're not hardcore, thirty minutes and we're toast. I've been reading a good book (The Kite Runner), so now I also go in the mornings and do a thirty minute walk just to read my book without distractions. Hmm....what could be distracting, you ask? Could it be my obsessive compulsive disorder with pimping out my blog. (Now, that's a completely acceptable term these days, you old fogies out there!) I'm sure you haven't noticed :) Of course I deny it when David says I'm OCD, but what else would I do. We don't have a blogaholics anonymous here in Doha.
Imagine my surprise yesterday morning waking up to a blog by my lovely daughter, Kristi. So grown and almost gone. Wow. I think Kenny Chesney says it quite well, "Don't Blink". Hmm, wonder if I can find that song. Time will tell. Now, where was I going with this? I was really just talking about Kristi blogging and giving my creative genius (oh, brother) a rest. My message sort of took a turn to her leaving our little nest soon. More than the empty nest part, it makes me feel old! Let's be honest here, there will be no empty nest at the Knox household. Just a pure sigh of relief...soon to be four down. (Now, those of you that really know me know that the previous anecdote is just my defensive mechanism kicking in.) And I'm certainly not going to feed you a line of b.s. on how easy it was. I have wonderful kids, but 100% angel, they are not. Anyway, THANKS, KRISTI for stepping up to the plate and reporting. I'd love to hear from you more often. It's so nice to have a young perspective. Until next time, blogfully yours.
After arriving back to Doha Friday evening, I went to sleep around eleven and did not wake up until three this afternoon..and only because my mom so rudely forced me out of bed. Since my sleeping schedule is so screwed up, I've just finished my homework..at 2:40 am and what better to do with my time than write a blog? (not to mention..my mother's practically been begging me to) This is the dinner setting at prom. Instead of going out to dinner, we enjoyed our three course meal in the privacy of one of my friend's living rooms. Our set up included silk covered chairs, flowers, name tags for our seats, and parents as the waiters. The best part about prom was getting to see my best friends, of course. I unfortunately had a slight burn line noticeable in some of my pictures as a direct result from Thailand. Oh, these vacations are killing me, Mom! Despite the tan lines, I really enjoyed myself. With my Qatari prom dress and Thai headband..I knew no one would have the same outfit as me. Thanks, Mom & Dad! After enjoying a fun filled few days with my friends, I headed to Austin to wrap everything up before heading back to the desert. I feel like I'm an official adult since I have now driven from Port Neches to Austin all by myself. And to my Mom's relief, I do in fact approve of Kayla's boyfriend. =). Well, now that it's three and I'm waking up at six, I better head to bed. Have a good weekend!
Kristi's home alive and well....sleeping off her jet lag. She didn't get up this morning to entertain us, so Sykes had to do. As we drank our coffee on the patio this morning, I couldn't help but think of Dustin. It was such a beautiful morning. Whenever the subject of what a nice day would come up, Dustin would roll his eyes at us thinking we were just being facetious. Everyday here was beautiful to him. In all honesty most days are beautiful, I suppose. You just can't help but say it out loud. Although, we do have our share of sandstorms, dust storms and just downright hazy days. Anyway, on this beautiful morning we let Sykes out with us to enjoy it as well. He kind of goes crazy when he first steps out...the morning noises overwhelming to his sensitive ears. It sounds like we live in a bird sanctuary. As he was in his little jungle in the backyard, we noticed he started making his little "lamb" noises meaning "I'm very excited". David saw the source, a young bird who wasn't going to be a match for Sykes predator instincts. David had to move faster that he's had to in a long time as Sykes made his run for it. The bird was flying,but couldn't make it far off the ground. David saved the day and Sykes got over it. So here we are enjoying our lazy, Saturday morning. Here's hoping y'all are doing the same.
Alleluia, we've got a buyer for our house in Port Neches. The market died right as we listed it. Well, nearly nine months later, we have a match. I'm so excited to get rid of the house note, but get a little melancholy as I see the pictures. We lived there for twelve years. When we moved in Kristi was six, Shea was twelve and Dustin and Kayla were in between. We had a lot of fun in that house and entertained a lot of the kids' friends, however we discovered after arriving in Qatar that home is wherever you make it. We may no longer have the house, but we have all the memories of the times we shared there. One memory that comes to mind is David and I in bed sleeping one night and smelling strong smoke coming through the air conditioning vents. We flew out of bed to find that Shea had vacuumed fresh ashes from the fireplace and the vacuum cleaner bag was smoldering. At least he had the sense to throw it out on the deck (which did leave a nice burn mark). He's in the "Army of One" now, which is kind of scary. How 'bout when we paid a fortune to get our Hurricane Rita damaged fence fixed and a week later Dustin drove through it. He pushed in his clutch, started his car and started rolling forward staring at me blankly as I was screaming at him to stop. What could we do, but laugh. We never could keep a straight face with that boy. There was the time I saw his head bobbing up and down in our hot tub. The tub sat in the middle of the house with glass windows all around it. I walked by to see Dustin's cousin, Bryan, holding his head under the water while Dustin was trying his darnedest to get free. Then there was the girls huge bedroom that you could access by two different doors. When Kristi was younger and still going through her terrible twos at ten, she would storm up to her room whenever things weren't going her way. Shea would always smile at me waiting for the doors to slam. Timing it perfectly, he would raise his fingers...one, then two as the doors would slam. I would just shake my head in exasperation. Then there was Kayla who was just even keeled. Not too hyper, not too mellow. David would take her upstairs to our balcony area to practice her softball pitching, because they could get the distance they needed up there. I think they did it just to get a rise out of me and hear me scream. So, we still have the memories...who needs the house.
Today wraps up Kristi's week of doctors' appointments and college visits back in Texas. Did I mention that since she was in the states this week, she went ahead and attended her previous school's senior prom. What luck for her for it to have been the same week! Kayla was enlisted to capture the event with her new camera with careful instructions from me (aka anal). Well she did take pictures, but I think most of them were of Ryan, her newfound boyfriend. He's a photography major at St Edward's, but from her portfolio I don't think he gave her many pointers. I love you Kayla, but I'm glad you're going to be a teacher. Maybe I need to lighten up, Kayla's my most loyal blog fan! The bottom line is that Kristi did look beautiful and had a great time seeing her old friends. I did salvage few pics and to be honest I haven't seen ALL of them,yet. Well, I hope not, anyway.
We have a Pixel Chicks meeting this afternoon. Our assignment this month is "The Colors of Doha". A pretty tall order when all you see around here is mostly off white plaster and sand. Now to be fair, Doha did a wonderful job of planting flowers in the late fall and they've just now started to fizzle out. They were beautiful in their prime. I guess the project was to open our eyes to the colors that we were taking for granted. It was a little difficult, but a little fun at the same time. I cheated and used some pics that I already had, but also ventured out to add a few more to my repertoire. I was adamant on making sure that the pictures defined Doha for me...not just pictures with color in them. I wanted pictures that I could look back on and say, "oh yeah, I remember that".
1. The mode of transportation...Blue Karwa taxis and buses seen everywhere 2. The ongoing, never ending construction everywhere...you cannot escape it 3. Have it your way...can you say Burger King in Arabic? 4. Oops...am I overemphasizing the construction? NO!!! 5. A stand alone villa in our neighborhood that always catches my eye 6. Jotun Paints...one on every corner (I bought my paint there) 7. A reminder of our Pixel Chick field trip to the fruit & vegetable market 8. Red Bull truck that I see around town and also parked in our compound 9. My flowers that Kumar planted and takes care of for me 10.Flags at the American School that represent the diverse nationalities here 11. Green Qatar... landmark with color that often guided me home when I was a newbie 12. The beautiful Inland Sea 13. The souqs filled with materials, spices, and trinkets 14. The white sands of the desert...white is a color you know :) 15. A few mosques have colored domes, this one brighter than most 16. Carpet class with my "Doha Ladies" group
Dustin, Kayla, and Kristi were visiting with Mom this weekend. I'm not sure which kids were having more fun...the Grandkids or Mom. Maybe I've given the "model award" to the wrong person. Looks like she's striking quite a few poses these days herself. On the right hand she's thowin' up the deuces with Kristi, on the other, posing in a souvenir hat from Thailand (which I heard she wore all afternoon!). I think the kids had her at their beck and call as she would have once put it. At 81, she's finally taking orders. Once upon a time she was the queen of giving them. "Little girl, if you don't blah, blah, blah....I'll blah, blah, blah" and you knew that she meant it. She's come to the stage of life that you just tell her what to do and she does it. I guess she figures she's already met her quota of thinking in a lifetime and now it's time to delegate. Her new motto in life is "just tell me what to do and I'll do it". Wow, where was this woman when I was growing up?
Note: If I would have known that my "special" family was going to have so much fun with the rice hat, we would have definitely brought back more!
Last week while Kristi and I were leaving Villagio Mall, I spotted a small group of abaya clad women taking pictures with there cellphones of an Adidas store window display. I looked to see what had them so fascinated and saw that there was a young "thobed" gentleman striking a pose for them in the window, right along side of a mannequin. He was so cute, and of course I had my camera in my purse. As I was getting it out and trying to get it turned on, he stepped out of the window. I then let out an "awww, I wanted his picture". The mom immediately made him get back in the window to pose for me. I could tell someone was fussing at him within the store, but he ignored them and posed for me anyway. Click on the picture and check out how handsome he is. He just might have a "mall tour" in his future.
****For "How I Met Your Mother" viewers, this song may sound familiar. Click here to see the video from the episode that this song was from.
Back to back birthdays at the Trahan household for many years. Two brothers having to share birthday parties and birthday cakes for years on end. I do remember an old black and white, however, of Mike and David sitting in the front yard, each proudly showing off their own birthday cakes. We had a great aunt (Aunt Ermie, God rest her soul) that for every birthday, for every one of us, (six siblings!!), she would personally present us with one her made from scratch cakes with a $1 bill tucked in on the side of the cake. You never knew what you might bite into...would it be banana slices between the layers, or perhaps pineapple? Or then, again, many times it would be half and half. I don't remember a birthday that she didn't show up with our cakes that we waited for with great anticipation. So anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOU OLD HIPPIES! I hope there are many more in store for you.
P.S. Since I married a David, my brother David has since been known as David Trahan. I guess it just happened that way because David Trahan did not live in our family hometown, so it was known that if you were talking about just "David", it was David Knox. If you wanted to refer to my brother, you had to say "David Trahan". No disrepect, David Trahan!
Al Sadd vs Al Gharrafa aka the "Heir Apparent's Cup was the big news last night. Last years soccer league champions against this years champions fought it out last night at Qatar Sports Stadium. I can't even tell you who won, but all the after game hoopla happening on the corniche last night was an event in itself. We were coming home from the airport last night after dropping Kristi for her flight to the States when we became entangled in a rowdy, honking parade of suvs on the corniche. Qataris were sitting on hoods, on roof tops, and hanging out of their vehicles all while cruising the drag with flags and banners flying. Of course, I had my camera and I knew the pictures wouldn't come out good, but I was snapping away, anyway. I just wanted to give you an idea of how crazy these people can be, so use your imagination! There were cops directing the traffic, but they didn't seem affected at all about people from ages seven to 30something riding on top of the cars traveling 40 mph. Keep in mind that the rule of the road here is "me first", which results in quite hazardous road conditions. All this aside, they looked like they were having the best time and it would have been fun to have joined in with them. I can only imagine what they would have thought of a middle aged (omg...am I talking about myself!) white woman leaning out the window and giving them a big "yeeeeeehaw".
I spoke with Shea yesterday and he was happy to inform me that he had survived. Little did I know that he was due for a "refresher" jump that he has to do every now and then to keep his jump status and more importantly jump "pay" with the army. He said it wasn't the softest landing, but a relief I'm sure to land in one piece. He also said that one of his fellow paratroopers bit his tongue when he landed and had blood all over his face. Another one ended up with a concussion. I told him that I was happy that I didn't know ahead of time that he was jumping and he informed me that he didn't know he was either. They told him the day of. Less stress for him I said...."oh, I had plenty of stress". I guess you don't need a lot of time to get worked up over jumping out of a perfectly good airplane hundreds of feet in the air. He took the picture above with his cell phone before he jumped. He told me that he's bringing his camera next time and videoing the jump. That'll make a nice youtube! Anyway, congrats Shea!
P.S. I don't know if I told y'all that Shea's language was switched from Arabic to French on the day he reported to language training. His projected completion date is some time in mid July. I guess that's a relief, but I'm not so sure. Instead of the deserts of Afghanistan or Iraq, now he'll probably be in the jungles of the Congo. Oh, that's right, he assures me that wherever he ends up, he'll be at an American Embassy sporting a suit and tie. I'm not so sure that I would want to be stationed at an American Embassy anywhere in the world.
P.S.S. I've been corrected. Shea found out the day before his jump as Kayla has informed me...see comments :)
I've been requested by my daughter back in Austin to create a playlist of songs played on our postings. She's a blog addict (thanks, sweetie!!) and is a bit nostalgic when it comes to music. So, I thought, "great idea", especially since the music is sometimes my favorite part. The only problem is, it has taken me all morning putting the songs together, going through each posting one by one and grabbing the music. I'm still not done. (Boy, I don't shut up...I can't believe you people put up with this. Post after post, I've been talking your ears off.) Of course, it was like going through a photo album, you can't just shuffle through, you have to reminisce as you go along. I had fun (actually I quite struggled) trying to remember which song was going to pop up after the post title did. Most of the time, I couldn't remember and was pleasantly surprised. I'd have to listen to the whole song transplanting myself back to sometimes, much more youthful days, sometimes, all the way back to childhood. Some were bringing back memories of the boys in junior high and the girls in elementary. Time is flying and it won't slow down for me. anyway, I have a good start on the compilation, but I do have more to add. From now on, I'll add them as I post. Much easier. I spared you on a few of the recordings, such as rapid machine fire...remember that post? How soon you forget, me too. The Hillary cackle...who could forget that one? Unfortunately, I included Barbie Girl against my better judgment. So, for the music buffs, the very eclectic playlist is there. Otherwise, just don't pay attention and get on with your life. This is for those that don't have one!! Have a good one, my friends.
Ok, what to talk about today...no elephants in sight. No "live creatures everywhere" as Kristi exclaimed unhappily as walking through the resort in Phuket upon eying frogs, huge beetles, centipedes and other unidentifiable animals. No more tuk-tuk rides. No more people bowing to us like we are royalty. Back to the real world, well not really...we are in Doha. I know, y'all saw that coming. I'm becoming too easy to read. The most exciting thing going on, as of today, is that we have a new Carrefour in the neighborhood. Carrefour is a huge supermarket/department store, sort of like Walmart. Unfortunately, we don't have the nice big yellow happy smiley faces over here reflecting the low Walmart prices, but Carrefour is about as good as it gets. Five minutes away, opposed to twenty minutes away is a great improvement. Maybe the convenience will encourage me to cook more. Whatever, refer back to "the real world" comment. And, no, they don't deliver. On another note, David and I have been invited to play tennis with a couple of our friends this weekend. They must be in need of a good ego boosting as David and I haven't played tennis since we lived in Mobile which was well over ten years ago. And even then, I think only a "participation" ribbon would have been in order. So anyway, I guess I'll have to hop over to Carrefour and see if they have tennis rackets. Of course, we didn't have the foresight to bring ours. While we're playing tennis, Kristi will be back in the states catching up on doctors appointments, visiting colleges, and maybe another fun social event that I'll report on AFTER she graduates. This is the world wide web, people, and anyone can view it. I know, you're confused...you'll get over it. Speaking of Kristi, I want to congratulate her on snagging a Chevron Phillips Chemical scholarship. Way to go, Kristi!! It's not a huge one, but it's an honor and a tribute to her hard work over the years, and of course every dollar helps. We will have THREE in college in August. That's just ridiculous. Now you know why we're doing this stint overseas.
It's time to introduce my cute little gardener, Kumar, to you. He's a young Srilankan, here in Doha to make money to send back to his homeland. By our standards the money he makes here would be poverty level, but I'm sure by his home country's standards, he's fairly well off. He actually works for our compound as I guess what one would call the ground crew. I saw him one day, standing on our cement fence trimming our neighbor's tree and I went out and told him that our tree need trimming, as well. It blocked half of the patio with branches hanging to the ground. He said that he would come by the next day. I was so happy to catch him, because sometimes I just hate going through all those proper channels of calling the office and scheduling it. And who knows when they'd show up, I'd probably be out doing the tea tour when they did. So anyway, Kumar shows up the next day at 1:00pm. Uh oh, if you don't know what that means, I'll let you in on it. The majority, if not all, of the working class shuts down between the hours between 1:00 and 4:00pm. Are you following me? This is on my dime, not the compounds. Kumar's a hustler, he's no dummy. After trimming the tree for about thirty minutes, he finagles a couple of days pay (for him) out of me. Then we strike a deal for him to clean out what's supposed to be a flower bed and plant some foliage and flowers in it. I won't say where he finds the plants, but they sure look like the ones that the compound uses in their beds. Upon completion of the beautiful new bed, Kumar says, "Madame, do you need me to clean your patio...only 150QR." I'm not so sure that's a bargain, but who could turn his sweet smile down. Hired. He starts his cleaning ritual by sweeping the pavers with a couple of palm fronds that he proudly stores in the nook of the tree. He sprays down my table and chairs along with the back glass doors. Then inch by inch, he sprays away the sand built up on the patio with a water hose with no nozzle, directing the spray the old fashioned way using his thumb . He does the same in the front carport area to complete the job. He comes by every week or two to repeat his ritual. I have to say what makes it worthwhile for me is that Kumar drops in EVERYDAY to water the plants that he proudly planted. He keeps it weed free and often sweeps the patio when he drops in. And, it's nice to know that he's making a lot of money for him, but it's not a lot of money for me. Multiply that times quite a few nice paying Americans in the compound and that makes Kumar quite the entrepreneur.
Time to recover from vacation. Thailand was wonderful, but it's back to reality. No comments from my friends who think I am on permanent vacation. Speaking of permanent vacation, I had my essential groceries DELIVERED this morning to my doorstep. We have a small neighborhood store that advertises free delivery and I've been wanting a reason to call in my order and today was the day. David's got the car and I have no milk, no bread, and more importantly, no washing powder. The poor delivery guy who was driven here in a Land Cruiser by a Qatari (I found that strange) forgot my washing powder. As I groaned that it was the main reason I called, he was like "no problem, madame, be right back". I felt bad, but I really wanted to get the wash out of the way. He returned a few minutes later with a smile on his face and a huge box of powder. I nearly had to break his arm for him to accept a tip. I think he felt bad about taking it because he recognized my face from dropping in his store regularly. Life is good, not only my meals delivered, but my groceries as well. The following is a recap of our vacation. I know, the music is Japanese, but it's a song I remember from way back that I've always liked. I figured...close enough.
We've made it back safe and sound from our Thailand adventures. We had a lot of fun, but as always, it's good to be back home. I forgot to mention to y'all that American politics transcends all. While we were on our tour bus heading to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, our guide was taking a poll on where we were all from. Several countries were represented, but we were the only Americans. When we said we were from Texas, she said...."Ohhhh, that is where George Bush is from". Wow, I'm thinking, she's pretty good. Then she asks if she can ask a personal question. "Are you voting for Obama or Hillary?" I just find it quite funny that you can be across the globe and that is what is in their newspapers. While on our elephant/river rafting trek, we were asked by some Australians we met about the mess our country is in. My answer was, "I'm not sure who those people are...I don't know anyone that's in a mess". Maybe they should ask the media. They seem to have all the answers. Oops, didn't mean to get off on a political rant. I just got back from vacation, for Pete's sake!