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!

Monday, December 17, 2007

U.S. Christmas Tour 2007

This afternoon kicks off the Knox Christmas tour. First stop, Kuwait for a 5 hour layover. Next stop Washington, DC with an hour wait on the plane. Then on to Chicago for a 3 hour layover. Finally landing in Austin, Tx at 4:00PM on Dec 18th. Of course, this speedy itinerary depends on just how much the weather wants to cooperate. We'll spend 2 or 3 nights in Kyle (our new home outside of Austin where Kayla & Dustin live). Shea will be flying into Austin on the 20th. We'll travel on to Port Arthur to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family. We'll be there a few nights and then it will be on to Mount Pleasant, Tennesee to share Christmas with David's family. We'll be there just short of a week before making a pit stop back in Port Arthur for a day or so & then back to Kyle for a day or two which will complete the tour. I'm already exhausted. Next year, I think we'll just sit back with a glass of champagne and send up a "toast" for everyone back home. I'm just messing with y'all, I'm sure my exhaustion will be worth every bit of the time I get to spend with family and friends. Looking forward to seeing everyone. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

p.s. I have some good news or maybe bad news...just depends on how one sees it. Kristi was out walking the other night and heard a cat meowing. It was Sykes, cornered by a very territorial feline. Kristi saved her & got her home safely. As Kristi walked through the door with him, it was an odd moment of excitement and great disappointment at the same time. I'm sorry, I'm just not that p.c.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Have You Seen Sykes?

Be careful of what you wish for. Sykes, the cat, is MIA. I've made sure he stayed an indoor cat, even though I know he was meant to be in the wild. I mean, you would think this cat was a retriever the way he carries socks, dishrags, and paper towels around the house...mainly back to his living area (aka guest bathroom). Don't worry, I'll change that before you come and grace us with a visit. And don't even try to take whatever object away from him, he'll let out a growl that is well beyond his entire four months of life. Then there's the food issue. If it's available, he will eat it. I set aside some leftover chili the other night (2 tablespoons, mom, don't freak out...I know there are starving kids in China) and set it on the counter and went about my business. Later, I remembered the treat I had for him and went to retrieve it...yep, the platter was licked clean. Like I said, if it's there, he will come. I guess the food scavenging and protectiveness of his "finds" are to do with his early life on the streets of Doha, fending for himself at just a couple weeks of age. He didn't quite learn the skillful art of nice playing, either. Attack is his main mode...his favorite, the surprise attack. He actually bit my lip the other night. Didn't see it coming. Didn't see him going either. The only way he could have escaped is through our upstairs bathroom window this morning. David had opened it this morning after his shower. It's not a normal window...remember, we do live in Doha (the Land of Oz). It's a pretty high window, high enough that I can't see out. I guess you would say it drops down. I'm not sure how to describe it. Anyway, normally if Sykes would sneak out when we'd open the door, he would act all brave for a total of ten seconds and run back into the house the moment he heard a car motor or door slam. It's been several hours now and he's nowhere in sight. It's sort of one of those bitter sweet moments. We'd always wish him gone when he was bad, but then he'd be the sweetest kitten you ever knew.

Monday, December 10, 2007

You Make the Call

I take pics sometimes just to create something to blog about. When I took this picture of Kristi I just figured the words would flow, but I'm a a total loss (if you can believe that). Striking her favorite pose in front of a fleet of Pizza Hut delivery motorcycles...was she thinking about a hidden, deep desire to deliver pizza in Doha...taking her life into her own hands as she's zigzagging between the lanes of cars throwing caution to the wind? A death wish, no less in this Qatari land. Or, maybe she's practicing her role for the upcoming season of "The World's Next Supermodel"? Or better yet, maybe she's waiting on some rich Qatari man to sweep her off her feet and take her off mommy & daddy's payroll. Hmm, maybe not, I don't think she would put up with his other two wives, nor them with her for that matter. Sorry, Kristi :) We do love you! I don't know people, y'all make the call.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's been nearly a week since I've checked in with you guys. I have to dig deep into my memory bank to come up with what we've been doing. I can tell you for sure, it ain't the wash. I keep staring at the clothes through the front loading glass door and it's the same clothes that I washed a week ago Sunday. I should get with the program, but better yet...I'd rather talk to you guys. Let's see, I've learned to make Thai Pad Noodles from one of the girls in our group. Natthawan is her name. She's the funniest thing ever. I would so love to pack her in my suitcase for you all to meet. She's a hyper, tiny little Thai girl with a major Thai accent. I often have to tell her to slow down & speak English. She just goes 90 to nothing. As I said, I learned to make the noodles, but haven't put it to the test. It's so much easier to pick up the phone and have it delivered. Probably cheaper too, by the time I gather all the ingredients. I've been eating food over here that I would have never eaten at home. Natthawan made some type of bean noodles with sausage...that would be turkey sausage, which by the way I need to locate for my next gumbo. Anyway, it was the most disgusting looking dish...very sauerkraut looking. Natthawan was standing there so I had to taste it. It turns out that it was really good with a nice spicy kick. Oh, I do have a newsflash. Our sea shipment that was shipped from the USA on August 25th finally arrived at my front door yesterday, December 8th. All of our winter clothes were on that ship, and I was really afraid they weren't going to get here before we left for home. Texas, not to mention Tennessee was going to be quite chilly without them. Everything in our shipment was intact. In the way of furniture, I only had our sectional shipped. David very patiently arranged it EVERY possible way in our den, before we came up with a setting that we could live with. It was perfect in my den back home, but not so perfect here. Nonetheless, I'm so happy to curl up on my own sofa with my newspaper and cup of coffee with Fox News blaring in the background. Heaven. One last note. My brother in law, Larry (Regina's husband) is in Methodist Hospital with bacterial meningitis. He became very sick on Thanksgiving eve, but thought it was his ongoing neck problem. He's pretty much been in the hospital since then on antibiotics holding an even pattern. Not better, but not worse. If you think about it tonight while you're talking to God, mention Larry. Thanks guys, y'all are terrific.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Gumbo Doha Style

Cool fronts coming through, fall is in the air....time to get the stockpot out. When Kristi came home from school today, she could smell the aroma of onions & bell peppers cooking. "What's for dinner, Mom?" I proudly stated, "gumbo". My first stab at it on this side of the world. You know, I do cheat when I make it, though. I had Kayla bring me some Tony Chachere's Roux mix when she came for Thanksgiving, but don't tell anyone. I overheard Kristi explaining on the phone to her Lebanese friend, Stephanie, what gumbo is. Of course she had never heard of it...boudin or etouffee either. Now, Stephanie grew up in Vegas, but that's as foreign to southeast Texas as Lebanon is. Kristi was rattling off the list of ingredients in gumbo . I heard her saying, "onions, green peppers, chicken, sausage"....SAUSAGE! I laughed to myself. Is she forgetting that we live in a Muslim country where pork is outlawed. No Zummo Party Time on these grocery shelves. Can you say, turkey bacon? Yep, chopped it up & tossed it in the pot, cringing all the while. Kristi was really inquisitive about when that gumbo was going to be ready. What a rude awakening. I thought Kristi was going to fall out of her chair when she saw that turkey bacon in place of her sausage, which by the way she informed me was her favorite part of gumbo. Not in this country, sister. The truth of the matter is, it wasn't half bad. I didn't get my usual, "Thanks, Mom, it was delicious" (Kristi's canned response after EVERY meal...good or bad), but maybe she was still in shock. Ellie Mae signing off.

My Sentiments, Exactly!

Good Morning Friends & Family,

I received this "youtube" production in an email from my Aunt Marge and just had to share it with you.

Peace out...Syb

**Bonus Clip...Click Here!**

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Reader Appreciation Day

It has crossed my mind a time or two wondering how you guys perceive how our lives really are over here. And, I in turn have turned that question over & over in my mind trying to put it all in perspective. The fact is, I do love it over here. While this statement is the truth, I do have to say it only holds water because I do have family and friends in the U.S. with whom I can share our experiences. If I didn't have you guys back home to spout off to, I'm not sure how I'd feel. I guess that holds true anywhere one lives, though. If you don't have anyone to share with, then in my mind, you don't really have anything at all. I guess what I'm saying is that I appreciate all of you letting me share our new lives with you. Sometimes, it's the kick in the rear (that's for JoJo, she hates the "b" word) that gets me out experiencing the lands over here. It's funny, I'll talk to people over here and they're astonished that I've only been here a few months. I can give restaurant reviews, mall tours, directions, and a little commonsense advice on the locals. I've already had a local run into me (my shopping cart, actually) with his Qatari issue Nissan pickup truck...not truly Qatari issue, it just seems that way because they all seem to drive them. He jumps out to check the damage (on his truck) and looks at me and says, "Ees gooed". I told him, "No, it's not "gooed"...you need to slow down!". The sunset pic above is from the scene of the crime. Hey, not all was lost. The pressure that you put on me to "blog" makes me do things to talk about (such as, let people run into me & my shopping cart) , which in turn creates more fun for me. Bottom line: Thanks to all that tune in. You make my day.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Someone's 82 Years Old Today!!

Happy Birthday, Dad, Floyd, & PaPa!
Have a good one & try to stay out of trouble, please!!

I don't have a picture of you on my computer that I can post. All that I could find was this Pink Floyd logo. It will have to do (sorry). :(

See you soon!


Sybil, David & Kristi

Update: Photo provided by M.D. Trahan

Wow, he looks good for 82!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Moment of Truth

Kristi & I picked up our works of art yesterday at Cafe Ceramique. Here are the pre & post firing pics. I'll let the final products speak for themselves. Okay, so maybe Van Gogh doesn't have to look out. We don't care...we had fun, anyway :)
signed: starving artists

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cruising the Bay

Our Chevron-Phillips ladies group took a cruise in the Persian Gulf yesterday on a dhow, similar to the one on the right. I forgot to take a picture of our boat! We had about 15 women gather at the docks at 9:00a.m. to start our five hour journey. The temperature & weather cooperated (no more 20% chance of rain as previously forecast...just hype, I guess) to make for a great day. The crew served us a beautifully catered lunch of shrimp and other meats (unidentifiable, but good nonetheless!), soup, various salads & dessert. It was topped off by "homemade" instant Nescafe coffee...yum! Notice the picture of the tugboat & barge we spotted on our outing. I'm pretty sure my couch and other cargo from the states are on it. Ha! It was picked up from my house in Port Neches the 3rd week of August & has yet to be seen by us. Rumor has it that arrived in Doha on November 12th, but is waiting to clear customs. Anyway, back to the cruise. The water was an absolutely beautiful aqua green color. We docked near a deserted island for anyone who wanted to swim. We only had two brave souls that ventured into the waters. The temp was in the low 80's, but the water was really chilly. We just spent most of the time sitting on the observation deck getting know each other. A lot of us had never met before. On Sunday, one of our ladies that hails from Thailand is going to school us on the art of cooking Thai Pad Noodles. That should be interesting. No excuse for sitting on your duffs around here. Something is always on the calendar. Oh, the sign on the toilet door is just typical Doha style, just had to share it. But, the kilt...hmm, I think that's his own personal style. I can't say that I've seen that one before.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another Freedom Lost

The fine for a motorist driving an automatic car and caught resting his legs on the dash board or the side seat is QR10,000 ($2750.00) and a jail term of a month to three years, Al Kharji said. (Director of the Police & Traffic Department, Colonel Mohamed Saad Al Kharji speaking to two Independent Schools)

Man, I can't believe I'm going to have to give that up.

Only in Qatar

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Holydays!

Since we've already waited too late to mail off our Christmas cards to the U.S. (known just as "America" over here), we thought we'd get a head start via the internet to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas season filled with faith, hope & love. Merry Christmas from us to you!

*****Merry Christmas from the Knox Family****

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We're Still Giving Thanks!

We dropped Kayla at the Doha Airport last night around 11:30pm. She should be in London right now, waiting on her connection to Atlanta and then on to Austin. I don't envy her right in the least. We're making the trek from Doha on December 17th, arriving in Austin on the 18th. I'ts going to be a marathon flight for us. I sort of procrastinated booking our flight (you know, the credit card game...waiting for that cutoff on the billing cycle!). So, you know what that gets you? A 30 hour flight home. We're flying Doha to Kuwait, Kuwait to Washington, D.C., D.C to Chicago, Chicago to Austin. I'm already exhausted just thinking about it. Our first layover in Kuwait is five hours. Coming back to Doha will be much better...Austin to D.C., then D.C. to Doha. Much simpler. The good news is that the extra eight hours or so of delays is saving us $1000 on the three flights. If my calculations are correct, that equates to $125 an hour for waiting. I have to look for that silver lining somewhere. On to more important things...food. Our Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday turned out great. Turkey, dressing and all the usual trimmings. There were about 36 guests in all. Our neighbor, amazingly fit four round tables each seating nine people in her livingroom. The only thing missing was the Dallas Cowboys. They were actually televised live here, but I didn't feel like setting my alarm for 1:00am. I settled for a few peeks of the replay the next morning. Signing off from sunny Doha where the current temp is 82 degrees with 45% humidity.

***Enjoyed your visit, Kayla...have a safe trip. we love you!***

Kayla's visit in pics

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and had your share of goodies. We will be celebrating the holiday today at one of our neighboring villas. A Chevron-Phillips family is graciously hosting the event and expects 40 or so turkey hungry guests to show up. The four of us (Kayla's still here) will head over there around 1:00pm. We do have breaking news to share. There is a 20% chance of rain on Sunday. Our Qatar Tribune newspaper keeps reassuring us that it will rain in Doha in the next two weeks. It looks like we also might be having a cold front coming through. I noticed that the high next Tuesday is 78 degrees. Our highs haven't been below the mid to upper 80's this fall season. I'm not complaining, though. I could definitely handle these temps year round, but somehow it makes it seem strange to plug in my Alan Jackson Christmas c.d. The Qatar forums that post on the internet are urging us to run out and purchase space heaters, before they are all gone. Apparently last year it was unusually cool here and people were caught without blankets or heaters and with none to be found. I guess you have deduced by now that there is no heat in our villas. Gotta run and get that tater salad ready. Check ya later!

P.S. I'd like to give a big CONGRATULATIONS to my nephew Kennie on his new accounting job in Houston. He's a recent Lamar University grad & we're very proud of his accomplishments. Way to go Kennie!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Hey Dust,

23 years ago on Thanksgiving Day....I missed the turkey dinner, but I got something way better. Happy Birthday! We love you & miss you. Have a wonderful day :)

Dad, Mom, Kayla & Kristi

p.s. maybe you oughta send me a better pic!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Look out Van Gogh

Just wanted to check in & let you know how much fun the girls & I had today. We went to an eatery called Cafe' Ceramique. You don't just eat there...you put your artistic talents to work. After we ate lunch, the server cleared our table while we selected our very own ceramics to paint. The choices were anything from Christmas ornaments to doggy bowls, to serving platters to camels. You then pick out five colors to use along with two "puffy" paints. Kayla chose a martini glass for her ceramic, while Kristi & I chose serving platters for ours. Three hours later, after a lot of blood, sweat & tears, we turned in our masterpieces to the staff. They will "fire" our ceramics to give them that shiny glaze that will supposedly intensify the colors that we used. We've been told that we probably won't recognize them when we pick them up next week. That actually might be a good thing! If they truly look different when we pick them up, I'll update with new pics.

A few more pics of artists at work

Monday, November 19, 2007

From Soccer to The Red Arrows

Have y'all given up on me. My daughter just informed me that I haven't blogged in over a week. Shame on me. We were in Abu Dhabi for four days for Kristi's soccer tournament, so cut me some slack, Kayla. Kristi and her team played a good tournament. They didn't win, but the experience was great. Kristi stayed with a family that lives in Abu Dhabi and that was responsible for getting her to the games and playing host to her. We on the other hand, unfortunately, stayed at The Sands Hotel which was billed as a 5-Star, but I would beg to differ. Anyway, all in all it was a nice time. There was a bit of sadness, though. It was the closing of a sporting era that we have so enjoyed for the last 20 years or so. I guess we have to wait for the grandkids to come along to get all tied up in sports, again. On second thought, maybe we could use a break. We flew in from Abu Dhabi Saturday night and met Kayla at the Doha airport. She had arrived from Austin just an hour or so before us. Yesterday, the girls and I went down to the Corniche for an aerobatic show performed by The Red Arrows from the U.K. They performed out over the bay with some really nice maneuvers. It was a lot of fun. You know, one of those things that you say "we oughta go", but you never get in the car to go. Well, we did it and were happy that we did. Look closely in the picture with the three planes, one of those planes is flying upside down. Kayla pointed that out to me, you know how observant I can be...or not. They also did a palm tree formation that I missed, because I had parked my truck Doha style and was being honked at from afar to come move my car. If you can't beat'em, join'em. Other than the air show, we've been doing the usual eating & shopping...the two main Doha pastimes. Kayla's visit will be short, so we have to get it all in while we can. Have a good one!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Qatar 101

Ok guys, it's time for a quick geography lesson. Some people still do not understand where we actually live. My mom, for example, freaked out when she found out that we have a birds eye view of Saudi Arabia. She just figured this out when my Aunt Marge (hey, Aunt Marge!!) was reading her my Inland Sea story the other night. Mom, I'm not meaning to single you out...but I do have to have something to blog about. So click on the Qatar map and familiarize yourselves with the area. Yes, we do border Saudi Arabia. Not only that, we are sitting on the Persian Gulf staring out across Iran. Just kidding, mom, we can't actually see Iran with the naked eye...maybe with some good binoculars though. While your checking out the map, notice Abu Dhabi east of Qatar. That's where we're heading tomorrow (Wednesday) morning for Kristi's soccer tournament. We'll fly back Saturday night & Kayla will be at the airport waiting on us, as her flight arrives a little before us. She'll be here for Thanksgiving Dinner which we will be sharing with the rest of the Chevron Phillips employees and families. We'll actually celebrate it on Friday, since we are in Qatar & there's no such holiday for the guys. Remember, Friday is the weekend so they will be off. Kayla heads back out at 2:00am on Saturday. A short visit for such a long trip, but we'll take what we can get. On another note, I failed y'all today. As I was heading home after dropping Kristi at a school function, I saw a little Nissan pickup truck driving around with a loose ram in the back. I didn't really think anything at first, but then had to chuckle...only in Doha. I had my camera in the backseat, but wasn't quick enough at the draw. I promise, from here on out it won't be out of my reach. You see, I've already made good of my word. That's Kristi calling KFC to oder chicken burger meals for delivery. David told me to bring home food. I one upped him, I had the Colonel deliver it.

Todays Trivia: Queen Elizabeth is 81 years of age
The Queen Mum died at age 101 in March, 2002

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Inland Sea or Bust

We finally made our trip to what is known as the "Inland Sea" on Friday. We had 7 vehicles in all for the trek out into the desert. Our main objective for the day was scuba diving, snorkeling and old fashioned adventure. No, no scuba or snorkeling for me...I'm not that adventurous. Unfortunately, no scuba for David either. His scuba gear hasn't made it here yet, and there was no gear in town to be rented due to the beautiful weather we're having. Our volunteer guide, a coworker of David's, is known to have quite of bit of desert experience and a little bit of a wild streak. I was really afraid of what might be in store, none the less, "Go west, young man" (actually North, but I have been known to be directionally challenged) was the motto for the day. One of the scarier parts was coming up to steep dunes and not knowing who or what was on the other side. I decided then that the "lead" car is not what you want to be. Ain't no tellin' what might be on the other side...suv, 4-wheeler, or errant beast. We really had the advantage being about 5 or 6 cars back, observing and learning from their mistakes...like watching them back down the hill after finding out that they didn't have quite enough speed to make it over the top. The tan Pathfinder in the pic on the left is our fearless leader. Fearless, schmearless...he can have it. There was no way on God's little tan earth over here that I was going over "Singing Dunes". I don't care what song it sang. The song was actually a big roar as the suv slid down and I do mean slide, brakes engaged the whole way down. The pic on the right is Kelly retrieving her cowboy hat that she lost while whooping and hollering on her ride down. After two of the vehicles braved their way down that big dune, we were back on track toward the sea. Next up, a flock of (wild?) camels were crossing our path. Hungry wild camels, that is. As the gang was " breaking bread" with the local beasts, I was snapping away hoping to get that one great pic. You be the judge. Can you say, "Perier"? I think that camel could. Anyway, the camels were real troopers letting everyone pet them, feed them, and gawk at them. Somehow I believe that this wasn't their first rodeo. Oh, and the pic below is Kristi's newest found friend. Cultural diversity is what Qatar is all about. You gotta love it. Okay, enough camel talk...forging ahead. Over the dunes and through the sand to our final destination only to be told to take our caravan elsewhere, "the Emir is having a private party, and this area of the beach is reserved". Well, if you're going to be upstaged, by all means make it by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.We were sort of wondering who the big a__ yacht in the sea belonged to (pardon my French). It did seem befitting of a sheikh, duh. So, off to another area of the beach that the scuba divers were not happy about. We took a few pics of Saudi Arabia across the sea for posterity and headed back out of the desert toward home to their usual dive area. They got their dive, we got our adventures and memories. The end.