Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Car Rental Fees

I’m making a short trip, and as a mildly obsessive-compulsive person, I make and double check my reservations.

How can it be that a car rental that is around $25/day for five days can come out to MORE THAN DOUBLE what you could estimate the total cost would be?

Last time, I learned that if I rented the car for a week, and turned it in early, I still got a way better break on price.

I might have to try that this time. Taxes and ‘fees’. Tourist fees. Tire recovery fees. (They are always so surprised I read the rental agreements, LOL) Environmental fees. Fees for picking the car up at the airport. Oh, AAARRGH.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Rants, Seattle, Travel | 3 Comments

The Disciple Jesus Loved

In today’s gospel reading is this story, a story I love because it tells us, as all our mothers always have, to mind our own business, to look to correcting our own behavior and not that of others.

There is a note to this passage, in The Lectionary: “The most ancient authorities lack 7.53—8.11; other authorities add the passage here or after 7.36 or after 21.25 or after Luke 21.38, with variations of text; some mark the passage as doubtful.”

The story is in the book of John, who is believed to be the disciple Jesus loved the best, and who tends to see into the heart of things. Although his closest followers, the disciples, often got it wrong (like arguing over who would sit at his right hand in heaven), they lived and worked with Jesus while he was here living on earth, and John seemed to know him best of all. To me, this story shows what Jesus expects of us – that we look to our own sins – and also, his compassion towards women.

(This is an image by Dagmar Anders)

John 7:53-8:11
53Then each of them went home, 81while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them.

3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’

8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.* 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

10Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11She said, ‘No one, sir.’* And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’]]*

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Marriage, Social Issues, Spiritual, Women's Issues | 4 Comments

Happy Baby’s First Christmas

“Mom, Happy Baby just took his first steps today!”

I could hear the joy in my son’s voice.

The day before, they had been at our house, and while my son fixed up a Wii for me, and showed me how Wii Fit works, I walked Happy Baby around the house, holding on to one finger. He really didn’t need the finger, it just gave him confidence.

It is so much fun watching him walk. He takes five to eight steps, then stops and sits while he thinks about it for a while, then up and starts again.

To him, mostly Christmas was just another day, only with more people around. He loved it. 🙂

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues | 8 Comments

“I Need an Experienced Person Like You. . .”

Ah yes, have I mentioned to you all my experience building hotels? LLLLOOOLLLL!

Dear Friend,

I am Emmanuel Ajegba Esq the attorney to Chief James O. Ibori (former Governor of the Richest Oil Producing State in Nigerian for 8years, i am looking for your cooperation in building a Tourist Hotel or Real Estate in your country with my client funds that is deposited abroad in a Trust Account because i cannot be in charge of the funds myself as the attorney in charge, i have the power as the attorney in charge to make a new heir to the funds with the consent of my client (Chief James O. Ibori).

I am sorry if this is not in line with your profession. My client Chief James O. Ibori was arrested by the Interpol in Dubai for Money Laundering recently.

Please click for your perusal.

I need an experienced person like you to assist me to set up, develop the project and assume responsibility of ownership as chairman but will be bringing in profit/distribute profit monthly or annually.

I shall give you more information as regards this transaction as soon as i hear from you.

Emmanuel Ajegba Esq

December 25, 2010 Posted by | Financial Issues, Humor, Scams | Leave a comment

The Nativity

Ahhhh! My favorite day of the year is here! I love Christmas Eve Day, a day filled with anticipation and preparation, a day filled with hope! Tonight, a King is coming, humbly, as a tiny baby!

Nativities in our house:

The world holds its breath waiting for this babe to be born!

We wish you a Merry and Bright Christmas, and that your spirits rest in the hope of the newborn king.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Christmas | 2 Comments

Zachariah, and the Priestly Order of Abijah

When I first started doing readings daily from the Lectionary, I used a Bible, and often I would find myself intrigued and would read past where I was supposed to. Later, I discovered the joys of doing my readings on the internet, where I could instantly look up something I didn’t understand.

Today is a wondrous reading from Luke, where and old rabbi/priest, Zechariah and and his old wife, Elizabeth, who is barren, are to be blessed with a son, long after their young, fruitful years, and it is the Angel Gabriel who brings the news. One of the things I love about this story is that the characters are common to all Abrahamic religions, and I was able to find an article by Shmuel Safrai in The Jerusalem Perspective on what the Priesthood of Abijah would have been all about. If you are interested, just click on the blue type and you can read it, too.

Living in Moslem countries has helped me so much with understanding the human issues in these writings. Elizabeth’s barrenness was more than a personal tragedy; barrenness in a land and culture that highly values children and large families would be endlessly painful. The gift of John/Yahyah in her old age was a wondrous mercy.

Luke 1:5-25

5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.

17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’

18 Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.’

19 The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.’

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25 ‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.’

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Christmas, Cultural, Family Issues, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Spiritual, Values | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Gift

AdventureMan and I used to have lavish Christmases, trying to delight one another, and we did. One year, I bought his some crystal goblets he had been admiring, and some years I was able to add to his collection. One year, he bought me a Mont Blanc pen, which I adored, and another year two beautiful salad serving bowls with irises in them. (I still have them and delight to use them.)

This year, he gave me the best gift of all. I was working on a committee in our church, helping to make sure children we had volunteered to sponsor in the Salvation Army angel program received gifts of clothing and a toy or bike or age-appropriate gift. There were a few children at the end who had not found sponsors, but other people had chosen to donate cash or checks in lieu of sponsoring a child.

As we were getting ready for church, AdventureMan told me he had an idea for my Christmas gift, but he wanted to run it by me.

“How about if I make a donation to the Angel Tree, to help sponsor the kids who don’t have sponsors?”

He took my breath away. He can still do that.

We are not rich, we are modestly comfortable. We have always lived within our means, and placed a high value on saving. We have a comfortable home, enough to eat, and we keep our spending under control so that we even continue to grow our savings a little while we are now ‘retired.’ There is nothing I need for Christmas.

I’m still grinning from the grandness of his gift; the delight it continues to give me every time I think about it.

The Salvation Army has one of the lowest rates of administration funds to charitable funds of all the charities in America. They make every dollar you donate squeak, they work it so hard. They feed the poor, they give hope to children, they comfort the homeless and veterans, and they counter pornography and human trafficking (Yes. It happens in America, too.)

To find out how you can help this organization which helps so many, so generously, just click on the blue type Salvation Army and it will take you to their home page. There are many options for giving, including donations, giving of your time and energies as a bell ringer, or working with them in a variety of human services.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Character, Charity, Community, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Social Issues | 1 Comment

Sugar Cookies Rolled in Coconut

Sugar Cookies Rolled in Coconut

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped red and green candied cherries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 1 cup flaked coconut

1. In mixing bowl beat butter or margarine until softened, add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.

2. Add the flour and beat until well mixed. Stir in the cherries and pecans.

3. Shape into three 7-inch long rolls. Roll in the coconut to coat.

4. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

6. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until done. Remove to a wire rack and cool.

December 19, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, Recipes | Leave a comment

Christmas Cookies – Check!

This is a time of the year when I count my blessings. And yes, yes, it isn’t the only time of the year, LOL, any opportunity will do, but of all the weeks in the year, the week before Christmas is my favorite.

You know me. I’m a front-loader; when there is something I need to have done, I do it right away so it doesn’t hang over me, growing daily because I am dreading doing it for having put it off. For me, just do it. Then it doesn’t have time to grow!

I will admit, I am still doing some small unavoidable wrapping, but the gifts are mostly bought and/or figured out.

Because I remember what it was to be a working wife and working mother, I volunteered to bake extra Christmas cookies, so my daughter-in law wouldn’t have to worry about it. When you don’t HAVE to do it, it’s fun!

Every year I learn something. This year – and trust me, there have been many many years of baking Christmas cookies – I (gasp) followed the instructions, and used a paintbrush to put the glaze on. Holy Smokes. HOLY Smokes. Had I known, had I trusted, my life would have been so much easier. Friends, if you are painting a glaze onto sugar cookies – use a paintbrush. It works like a charm.

Tiny Pecan Muffins:

I tried a new recipe for the Russian Teacakes; they taste delicious but I like them better when they are balls, not more like cookies:

These are new this year, and so easy I think I will do them every year. They are a sugar cookie, but you make them in rolls, chill them in the refrigerator, then slice and bake. Sooooo EASY! 🙂

These are the hardest, the Rosettes, which you make one by one, standing over hot oil with a metal rod and form, but they are everyone’s favorites, and they are a family tradition, so I do them every year:

For photos of the process, and for recipes for rosettes, you can click here.

Basic Sugar Cookies

Rosettes Recipe

Russian Teacakes Recipe

December 19, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cooking, Cultural, Family Issues, Food, Generational, Recipes | 6 Comments

Happy National Day, Qatar

LOL, it’s early Saturday morning, I’ve finished my readings and I’m checking the blog. Unusually high number of hits for so early in the morning. I take a look at the stats, where I can see which posts are generating the interest, and I see this:

Some posts just gain a life all their own. Blogging is a funny craft; there are items you put your heart into and only your best friends comment, and then there are items you toss off, and they generate hits month after month. Blogging is a learning experience, and a humbling one.

Happy National Day, Qatar! 🙂

December 18, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Blogging, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Holiday, Qatar, Statistics | Leave a comment