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!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Good Morning USA!

We had a rare phenomenon last evening that I felt I must share with you. Clouds!! As we were leaving the compound to go to a farewell party for one of David's coworkers, David made the spectacular sighting. Clouds are something we just take for granted back in southeast Texas. Now of course, these clouds were not about to release any of the wet stuff, but nonetheless they were clouds. While we're on the weather, I will report that it is quite noticeably cooling down over here. We've been topping out around 98 and cooling down to near 80 at night. The word is that any time now the weather is going to start being just wonderful with lower humidity. We're looking forward to that, but really have not had any trouble adjusting to the heat. As you can see in the pic to your right, there is much construction going on in this country. Everywhere you look there are cranes, orange cones, road machinery, road blocks, and half completed buildings. It's an ongoing process here. Changing the subject (and you know I never do that), I wanted to give a report on the kitty cat. Just in case you are tuning in, Erica, this cat is a basket case. He is definitely psychotic, even by cat standards, which brings me to his new name. Kristi has officially named him Sykes...a little Freudian slip perhaps? He attacks constantly, unprovoked. I have scratch marks up and down my legs where he climbs up me. I have resorted to wearing pants all the time. I can be sitting on the couch and he will jump from no where and attack my face, totally blindsiding me. I keep telling myself he's just a kitten, but I'm not so sure that he's not part tiger. We're going to give him a little more time, but Erica, I will hunt you down in the USA & ship him to you if he doesn't straighten up!! As they say quite often here in Qatar, "patience, have patience".

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hey Guys! It's a lazy Ramadan Saturday afternoon for us here at the Knox villa. We went to 9:00 mass this morning and belted out a few bars of "How Great thou Art". It just doesn't get any better than that no matter what country you are in. Aferwards, we dropped Kristi at the school to meet a friend to get in a little soccer practice. No word on who's on the team, yet. David & I did a little furniture browsing while we waited on her. I need a vote on this bedroom furniture. David didn't have much to say about it, but for some reason it really caught my eye. Totally not a style that I would normally pick out, but as they say, "when in Qatar"...isn't that how that goes? I know you're dying to know how my Doha Golf Club lunch date went. Well, I enjoyed it so much that David, Kristi & I headed out there yesterday for lunch. We didn't get to eat in the same cafe that the girls & I ate at because we weren't dressed "to code" if you know what I mean. We weren't ragamuffins (if you don't count the 5 inch hole in Diva Kristi's jeans leg), but no jeans were allowed. Anyway, we ate in the more casual bar/cafe area that was still very nice. The food was great and the golf facilities were beautiful. The Qatar Masters is scheduled for January 24th...Bob & Sherry? We're counting on David to snag some tickets for that. Nothing like a little pressure. Oh, while I'm thinking about it...true story. Yesterday afternoon we ran by the local grocery (mom & pop 7-11 style) to pick up some "fresh" milk...that would be the non-buttermilk variation. Anyway, when we pulled up in the parking lot, the grocer ran out of the store to come take our order. When's the last time that happened to you? Ciao!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Settling In

You guys are probably wondering, "why so far & few in between?". Well, it's like I told you it would be...we're settling into life here in Qatar. Not everyday is an adventure any more, well you might need to exclude the driving on that. Everyday that I drive, I am truly amazed at what these people do in traffic. It is beyond total comprehension. A blog in itself. I've gotten back on the saddle, since my oven has been fixed (actually, the maintenance man showed me how to operate it) and my vent is going strong. We did have a nice meal of chicken parmesan. Totally edible, I must say, but not that there wasn't room for improvement. You might also be happy to hear that Kayla & Dustin are faring quite well in the kitchen. Kayla decided to make Swiss Steak and asked me to "dumb down" the recipe (no further comment). She was in the process of cutting up the steak & gathering ingredients when she realized someone had used the frozen onions & bell peppers. Who does that? Hmm, maybe the salsa man aka Dustin. She promptly requested that he run to they grocery to pick some up. You know, young ones...they must work on their own timetable & this wasn't on Dustin's timetable agenda. Long story... ensuing argument, Kayla behind closed doors & much to be done in the kitchen. Dustin puts on his chef hat after he consults his Tennessee JoJo on what to do to solve his cooking dilemma. She mentions a few spices to substitute for the onions, but Chef D has also discovered that he has no lemon juice. Soy sauce, lemon juice...same consistency, right? Okay, soy it is. Nick the roommate is peeling potatoes & boiling them whole. Dinner is at what time? Anyway, after another consultation with JoJo on the art of mashed potatoes, dinner is served. A little coaxing from Dustin to have Kayla join them for the feast & all is well. As for over here, we're doing a balance of cooking & takeout, which is pretty amazing if you know my track record. Tomorrow, I'm off to the Doha Golf Club for lunch with my next door neighbor & her friend (Canadians). Yes, it is still Ramadan and I'm not quite sure how they are allowed to serve food in the daylight hours. Some of the American hotels here do the same thing for a small fortune. Anyway, it will be my first outing with lady friends & I'm really looking forward to it. Gotta scoot, it's a cooking day!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Takeaway...that's what I'm talking about!

For all of those (Regina) that are worried if we're getting our bellies filled during this Ramadan season, rest assured we are thriving. Well, sort of. I've actually cooked SEVERAL times. Ha, take that!! I've even recycled leftovers into new meals. Now, albeit, I don't know if it's appreciated. Somehow I think all those involved would just as soon that Ellie Mae stay out of the kitchen. Yes, the dinner bell has been the smoke detector(s) going off. And yes, Qatar does equip their homes with these gadgets, as hard as that is to imagine. I totally filled the house with a thick layer of smoke while pan frying meatballs. Seems that our kitchen vent was on, but the louvers were closed off & no air flow was happening. Too scientic for me....so the scientist, aka David, fixed it with a rubber band. Anyway, I got right back on the horse the next night & was broiling sirloins. I noted it was really taking quite some time. The mashed potatoes & cucumber/tomato salad were ready. Surprise, the broiler element doesn't work. I had to pan fry them, but thank goodness the vent was working. I decided that this is all an omen from the takeaway (Qatari for takeout) gods. As you can see in the pic, we need to call the colonel for our "Iftaar" meal. You can't say I haven't tried. Back to the pool & bonbons for me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's a bouncing baby cat!!

We'd like to introduce to you a new member of our family. I'd tell you his name, but we're having a little difficulty deciding. The names in the hat thus far are Arabia (our other cat's name is Saudi...cute, huh?), Catar (Kristi says no, but it's my choice, and Felix (Granddaddy's suggestion, hmm...I wonder where he came up with that?). Any & all creative name suggestions are welcome. Anyway, a couple in Doha rescued this tiny kitten from the streets and nursed his badly infected eye back to health. Kristi & I had been searching local Doha info sites to see if we could find a kitten to adopt. Well, the rest is history. The couple came by today with him & it was love at first sight. Kristi & he are a perfect match. I promise you, Match.com could not have done any better!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Whoa, Humberto...Hello Ramadan!

When reading the Beaumont Enterprise this morning, I saw that the little tropical storm in the Gulf turned into Hurricane Humberto overnight & is currently pummeling my vacant, for sale home in Port Neches. That's a little unnerving being that we're across the oceans. Oh well, que sera, sera. Never the less, I hope everyone fares well over there. In the meantime, over here, Ramadan has arrived. The crescent of the new moon was seen last night, so now Ramadan is here until the next new moon. As my understanding has it, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during this time. No food, water, smoking or sex during the sunlight hours. Actually, it's an "arrestable" offense to be seen eating or drinking during fasting hours...I'm talking about even those who are not Muslim. But when the sun goes down, the party begins. They gather together and meet in specially set up Ramadan tents, local restaurants, or friends' homes for "iftar" (the meal that breaks the fast). During Ramadan, the Muslims are only required to work five hours daily by law. They go home early from work and school to rest and sleep in preparation of the festivities that begin after sunset. Supposedly, all the malls & grocery stores close at 1:00pm during this time. No restaurants in town are open during sunlight hours while Ramadan is going, and the word is that you don't want to be caught on the road after or right before sunset. Everyone is rushing to get to wherever they are going to break their fast. That's my very short, unofficial definition of Ramadan. I probably need to add a disclaimer at the bottom of this page. You know, this is already killing me & today is the first day. Eating and shopping are my thing, if you haven't already figured that out. Good news about Kristi's getting to school dilemma. The bus company emailed David this morning to let him know that she can start riding the bus this Sunday morning. She will be so happy that she's not going to have to take a taxi everyday (Chevron's solution). Ramadan Kareem everyone!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

It ain't the Taj Mahal, but....

I'm posting updated pics of Kristi's school. So sorry, it's not the Taj Mahal as my husband led us to believe, but it is quite nice. Kristi's first day went well. She says there is so much more freedom at this school than at her previous one. One of their required classes is a "free period" which would have been termed study hall at Port Neches-Groves. At that school your choice was to do work or sleep...no fraternizing, listening to music. or anything remotely "unstudious". At ASD it seems that anything goes, such as listening to their Ipods, walking the halls, going to the library, or just hanging out at the seniors only coffee shop or penthouse. Some of the kids are talking about bringing their video game systems up to the school. The school lets out at 12:30pm every Tuesday and 3:00pm on the other days. Kristi will try out for the soccer team next week. They play in Egypt, Dubai, Jordan, Kuwait to name a few of the countries. Keep your fingers crossed for her. She's also joining a club called MUN...multicultural, something, something. They are planning a trip to Singapore in November. Big deal, we got to go to Port Neches park my senior year! We've run into a snag getting her to and from school. They have a new bus company that is picking up the kids for school, but of course, we didn't get signed up in time. We have only one car, which we thought wasn't going to present a problem. David carpools & I was planning on just working around him. So, thank goodness, we still have the rental car. We're not giving up on the bus yet...I have David working on that & he can be quite persistent when need be. Signing off...the heat index has dropped to 120f...time for the pool. Tootles!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Proud to be an American

Hi Everyone. Just a few notes about our weekend. It's coming to a close & y'alls is just beginning. Remember, our week runs Sunday thru Thursday meaning the weekend is Friday & Saturday. I really am having trouble adjusting to that. I'm really excited to say that we found the Catholic Church here. Well, the Catholic building, that is. It's just an innocuous stucco building in the middle of a sand parking lot. It seems to be some type of temporary building while they wait for their church to be built. The story is that the Emir of Qatar has donated land to all the different Christian denominations to build their churches. It was a very diverse crowd of a few hundred people with standing room only. Yes, that would be us standing, but at least we had a wall to "pull up". The only other thing of note that happened this weekend was that David picked up his vehicle that he has worked on purchasing for over a week now. It's not quite like buying a car back home. The paper work & loan seems quite complicated & turns into a real process. Yes, my husband the foreign care freak (who owns 2 BMW's, 1 Hyundai, 1 Honda, 1 Volkswagen back home) has moved across the world & bought a Chevrolet Tahoe. Could someone tattoo "I'm an American" across his forehead? His take on this is that it's a foreign car, since we live in Qatar. Hmm, you figure that one out. You would not believe how much I've ragged him about this, well maybe you can imagine. None the less, I've driven it through the crazy streets of Doha, and it drives quite nicely. Y'all don't tell him I said that, now! Okay, one more news flash & I'm done. I cooked this weekend!! We had Arabic style Swiss Chicken. A slightly altered recipe from my wonderful mother-in-law. I could not find a couple of the main ingredients, so we had to improvise. We could not find stuffing mix, so Kristi suggested croutons. I laughed & promptly threw them in the basket. We couldn't find canned cream of chicken soup either, envelopes were our only choice. It turned out okay, but will be better next time with a few minor adjustments. We did have Burger King & Pizza Hut delivered this weekend, too. Delivery is always good. We do our best to provide job security for those people. It's our civic duty.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Tea for Two

Kristi & I attended the American School of Doha's orientation yesterday. It went great, other than the fact that we couldn't figure out how to get into the new high school. As we were looking straight at the school, the guard kept trying to send us in the opposite direction. The only thing that we could figure was that he didn't understand English very well. Well the joke was on us. Remember those cool pics of the school that I posted some time back. You remember, the discussion about the huge chandelier that we could see in the lobby from the road? Well, guess what. That is not the school. That happens to be Al Saad stadium. David just thought that was the school. He was informed of the area that it was in and knew that the school was new, so that building was new & must be the school...right? Wrong. Anywho, the school is new & very nice, but certainly not on the grand scale of Al Asaad! For our last official girls day out before school starts, we ventured off for afternoon tea at the Ritz Carlton. A great experience, it was. Kristi & I were totally pampered with dainty sandwiches, scones, various pastries, tea & coffee, while listening to the harp player play "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head". A really odd selection for Doha, as we've never seen rain here. We soaked up the atmosphere & enjoyed every moment of spending David's hard earned money. It's a tough life, but someone's gotta do it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

You can ring my bell (just not before 7:00a.m., please!)

Nothing like an early morning phone call from the USA to get me back to a good sleeping schedule. I totally ignored the ringing phone this morning, as it was only 5:28 a.m. Of course, I laid their nearly 30 minutes with my curiosity getting the better of me. I came downstairs & checked the voicemail, someone for David from Houston Chevron. So anyway, my day has started bright & early which might be good since, I've really had trouble sleeping at night. Kristi & I got up at the crack of dawn yesterday (aka 9:45am) to have our run of the roads. David left us the rental,Chevy Lumina issue, and carpooled with his work buddies. After shower, blow dry, makeup, & breakfast we were out the door. Unfortunately, we had no car keys. To put it very mildly, we were not happy campers. Just as we figured, the keys were in David's pocket...an hour away at the plant. No cabs available. Kristi promptly went back to bed & I worked on a jigsaw puzzle we have going. Needless to say, when David returned home from work he was most happy to drop us at the mall on his way to run errands. We really needed the outing being that this was the 2nd day we hadn't gotten out at all. No Fox News 24/7 to keep me occupied over here (but it's coming!). While we were out, we got a cell phone for me & Kristi to share. We did a little grocery shopping....yes, I'm sipping on my COLUMBIAN coffee as we speak (Juan Valdez would be proud) . Brazilio is on the road for pickup. I don't know if all of you know, but coins are quite rare around here. Their $1 bill over here is worth 27 cents. I've only gotten two coins back in change since I've been here. That being said, the cashier handed me back my change, receipt & a candy bar in lieu of the coins due to me (approx 14 cents is USD). David had told me stories about getting packs of gum for change, but it had never happened to me. I'm in the club now. Kristi & I are off to the American School of Doha today for new student orientation. Yes, I have a visual on the car keys. She's pretty excited about that...an opportunity to meet some fellow students. She has met two students from her school & spent the afternoon at their compound on Saturday. She got a lot of basic info & inside scoop about what to expect. School was originally set to start yesterday, but due to it being a brand new facility they opted to wait a week to open to make sure everything is completely ready. September 9th is the new start date. Now, if you'll excuse me, Juan & I have some unfinished business.

Click for pics of Shea's graduation!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Coffee, anyone?

Good morning everyone. Well, it's 11:57a.m. here & I'm still trying to get the cobwebs out of my head. Talked to Kayla & Dustin about 2 hours last night (until midnight) catching up on what's going on in their new domain. Dustin was hanging blinds & Kayla was taking care of the bills. Dustin painted his bedroom this weekend which was a totally scary thought for me, but rumor has it that he did a great job. This experience may be better than any college credit that they are earning this semester. I have to cut those apron strings & know that they can handle this! Shea graduated from basic training on Friday & is off to Fort Bragg, NC for "special warfare training". Nothing like that title to put his momma at ease. I spoke with him yesterday & apparently this jaunt will be more intense than basic training. They (the army) will be taking up his cell phone today & contact with the outside world will be, once again, extremely limited. As for over here in Qatarland, things are going well. We are settling in at a very slow pace this time around. Not blowin' & goin' at the rate of our last visit. Kristi & I did a "major" grocery shopping trip yesterday. Finding groceries in the American brand, then trying to find the equivalent in the Arabic brands to save money is quite time consuming. Nothing like all English on the label to make the price skyrocket. I did find a bargain on coffee, however. I found a can that was half the price of Maxwell House called Brazilio...some type of Brazilian coffee. Brazil is close to Columbia (Juan Valdez country), so it's gotta be pretty decent. Right? Wrong. After my first sip, I decided to research what the heck I was drinking. Cheapman's coffee, the article reads, "The cheaper Brazilian coffees are occasionally for sale in specialty stores, presumably to be used by consumers to save money in their private blends". So much for saving a buck. Our major grocery haul turned in to a minor one, as we didn't even have a combination of things that would make a real meal. Darn, my famous culinary skills will have to put off for another day in time. We just might have to order "Hot Chicken", not to be confused with the famous "Honk Chicken" down the street. Hot Chicken has an expansive menu to please everyone's palate. Open 24 hours daily with free delivery...you can't beat that. It ended up that we had enough on hand to crank out a nice chef salad. Unfortunate for us, there wasn't a thing in the fridge or pantry to assimilate a salad dressing. Bon appetit!