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Expat wanderer

St. Birgitta: As Many Books As They Pleased

From today’s Lectionary, because I am of Swedish descent and because I love that while embracing poverty, the nuns were allowed “as many books as they pleased.”

BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN

Mystic and Prophetic Witness, 1373

Brigitta (Bridget) of Sweden (1303 – 23 July 1373); born as Birgitta Birgersdotter, was a mystic and saint, and founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks.

The most celebrated saint of Sweden was married at the age of 14 to Ulf Gudmarsson, to whom she bore eight children. In 1344 Ulf died, after wehich Birgitta devoted herself wholly to a life of prayer and caring for the poor and the sick. It was about this time that she developed the idea of establishing the religious community which was to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines. One distinctive feature of the pre-Reformation houses of the Order was that they were double monasteries, with both men and women forming a joint community, though with separate cloisters. They were to live in poor convents and to give all surplus income to the poor. However, they were allowed to have as many books as they pleased.

At the age of ten, Bridget had a vision of Jesus hanging upon the cross. She was so impressed that from that moment the Passion of Christ became the center of her spiritual life. The revelations she had received since childhood became more frequent, and her records of these Revelationes coelestes (“Celestial revelations”) obtained a great vogue during the Middle Ages.These revelations made Bridget something of a celebrity to some and a controversial figure to others.

In 1350, a Jubilee Year, Birgitta braved a plague-stricken Europe to make a pilgrimage to Rome accompanied by her daughter, Catherine, and a small party of priests and disciples. This was done partly to obtain from the Pope the authorization of the new Order and partly in pursuance of her self-imposed mission to elevate the moral tone of the age. Birgitta made herself universally beloved in Rome by her kindness and good works. Save for occasional pilgrimages, including one to Jerusalem in 1373, she remained in Rome until her death on 23 July 1373, urging ecclesiastical reform and an end to the Avignon schism.

October 7, 2021 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Lectionary Readings, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Values, Women's Issues | | 1 Comment

Salmon Piccata; Reward for a Long Week

As we sat down for dinner last night, I reminded AdventureMan that when he retired (maybe the second or third or fourth time) he said he wanted to learn to cook seafood, maybe he’d like to take a class.

All on his own, with recipes from the Barefoot Contessa, the Pioneer Woman, Southern Living, the Pensacola News Journal, how-to videos on YouTube and all kinds of other internet sources, his dream has been realized. Not only can he cook seafood, but he does it really well.

Last night was the end of a long week; a week with the grandchildren, a week of continuing organization and efforts for upgrades to the house that give us pleasure, a week of errands in preparation for an upcoming trip and the normal duties of every day life. As a special treat, AdventureMan volunteered to make a Salmon Piccata, which I adore, and he also roasted green beans and tiny potatoes in oil and garlic, and put together a beautiful green salad.

To top it all off, he found a gorgeous Sancerre to go with it. I can’t drink a lot of wine any more, not just due to being diabetic, but also because as I age, I seem to be developing a smidgeon of better judgement. If I can only drink a little, I want it to be something I like a lot. AdventureMan has found the perfect formula; for every really good bottle of wine we buy, he writes a check for an equivalent amount to the Salvation Army, to feed, house and care for the poor. It may not work for everybody, but it works for us.

Sometimes happiness is looking back and seeing how far you’ve come. Sometimes being content is finding joy in the everyday incremental refinements we make in life. A man who will create a magical dinner on a hot summer’s day when I am exhausted is my kind of guy.

August 7, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Character, Cooking, Cultural, Entertainment, Family Issues, Food, Living Conditions, Marriage, Quality of Life Issues, Values | , | Leave a comment

Afghani Interpreters Begin Arriving

First group of evacuated Afghan interpreters arrives in US

from BBC News

(This morning, Adventureman’s heart is lighter. He is a Vietnam vet, and for many years has carried the guilt of our country having left behind so many people who worked with our forces so loyally, and suffered terribly when we pulled out. While we believe Afghanistan was not a winnable war (just look at history), he had anxiety that once again we would leave our allies behind.

We have a soft spot for Afghanistan. While we worked with the Department of State, way back before the Taliban, Afghanistan was considered by many to be a great post. The Afghani people were educated, and had a long and fascinating history. Afghani food is delicious. Day trips around Afghanistan opened people’s eyes to new ways of thinking and doing things. Even the Afghan clothing was comfortable and loose, perfect for the great heat of the summers. Friends who had served in Afghanistan shared wonderful stories and memories, and would gather for “Afghan Night” where they would prepare food for 100 of their best friends, of which we were honored to be included.

So to read that the first flight of interpreters and their families have arrived gave us great hope. Hope for a new group of citizens in our country who will work hard and share the gifts of their heritage, hope for their wives and daughters who we know to be amazing women, and hopes that one day there might be an Afghani restaurant in Pensacola!)

An Afghan interpreter with the U.S. Army's 4th squadron 2d Cavalry Regiment helps to question a villager
image captionAn Afghan interpreter with the US Army seen speaking with a villager

About 200 Afghan interpreters and their families have arrived in the US – the first of a group of 2,500 Afghans being evacuated as the Taliban advances.

The interpreters are being resettled under a visa programme for those who worked with the US during the recently ended 20-year war with the Taliban.

They arrived in the early hours of Friday morning and were taken to Fort Lee military base in Virginia.

They are expected to stay there for around a week while they are processed.

In a statement, US President Joe Biden called the arrivals “a milestone” and “the first of many” as US authorities work to relocate eligible Afghans out of harm’s way.

Afghans eligible for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) will be transported either to the US, American facilities abroad or to third countries while they finish their applications. The most recent arrivals have already completed an extensive vetting process.

On Thursday, the US Senate approved more than $1bn (£719m) to pay for the evacuations, including housing and transportation.

The bill would also loosen applicant requirements and allow for 8,000 more visas in addition to the ones already allocated for.

The Taliban have been advancing Afghanistan following a decision by Mr Biden to withdraw the remaining American troops from the country.

With those advances have come danger to those who worked alongside US troops during the two-decade conflict.

Since 2008, approximately 70,000 Afghans have been resettled in the US on an SIV .

Last week, a senior state department official said that the total number of visa applicants now stands just over 20,000. About half have yet to complete the first steps of the process.

Those yet to go through the process face potential threats in attempting to secure a visa. Mike Jason, a former US Army battalion commander who was deployed to Afghanistan, told the BBC that travelling across Taliban-controlled areas with the documentation needed for SIVs puts interpreters in “mortal danger”.

“That’s basically an entire confession that you’re an interpreter working for the Americans. We’re asking them to travel with the evidence,” he said.

Not-for-profit group No One Left Behind estimates that at least 300 Afghans or their family members have been killed for working with the US.

The Taliban were removed from power by the US-led invasion in 2001, following the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.

Fighting between the insurgent Taliban and Afghan government forces has increased over the past two months as international troops pull out of the country.

July 31, 2021 Posted by | Afghanistan, Character, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Leadership, Political Issues, Values, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

AdventureMan Does Yoga

“Move your spine in all directions at least once a day,” AdventureMan’s new yoga-instructor-via-Netflix advises.

AdventureMan has a whole new cadre of bossy women in his life. He has Julia, his Netflix advisor, he has Petrina, his expert masseuse at the YMCA who can tell just by touching him what he has been doing. She can be much more direct, and expects results. AdventureMan, who is a man who will not be bossed, is amazingly docile when it comes to these two women.

He also objects to bossy males, so when our yoga-naturals, Ragnar and Uhtred, join him in his exercises, we just laugh. They can bend in ways he can never aspire to, get their heads between their legs, roll and curl backwards. They love it when he cranks up the computer to do his spinal exercises. Cats have certain advantages doing yoga.

It all started months ago during COVID when I couldn’t swim at the Y and felt the need to DO something. I got out my mat, found a good program and started in. It was Yoga for Beginners, with Adrienne, very relaxed if you are not me. I used to do ballet, form is everything, and you strive for exactness. Trying to do yoga exactly is sort of the opposite of all intents, so instead of feeling relaxed when I finished, I had a migraine from trying too hard.

But AdventureMan watched and was intrigued. He likes privacy. He also has issues I don’t have, aches and pains that gentle yoga can help. He got a beautiful yoga mat for Christmas. We did yoga together a couple times, and then I was back swimming laps and he got into walking and yoga. To my surprise, it is July, and he is still faithful, both to Julia and to Petrina. He has lost weight. He has gained some balance and stability, and his spine is more flexible. I join him occasionally in the spinal tape; it is gentle and doable without pressing my OCD button.

No, these photos are not AdventureMan, just images that give an idea what the gentle art of yoga can help people do to develop strength and balance.

July 26, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Character, Exercise, Experiment, Family Issues, Fitness / FitBit, Health Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, YMCA | Leave a comment

Rest in Peace, Donald Rumsfeld

You can admire a man without agreeing with him. Donald Rumsfeld gave me one of my favorite quotes:

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.

I always thought he said “it is the latter category that bites us in the butt,” but maybe that was the unofficial version.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Political Issues | | Leave a comment

“Keep it Superficial!”

AdventureMan grinned as he said it. He had just asked how we were doing, to which I replied “Fine!” We are both focused on projects that need doing but are neither stimulating nor particularly gratifying.

Have you ever noticed how long you can think about something, and then when you do it, it takes mere minutes, and you realize you’ve invested a lot of thought when you could have just done it and then not given it another thought?

When we bought this house, my thoughtful daughter-in-law left me paint cans for some of the rooms. In one bath, there was a line at the bottom of a wall that needed re-painting. It was such a tiny line, but it caught my eye every time I saw it and I resolved to fix it. And then I didn’t fix it.

So this morning, I found the right tiny paint brush, found the right piece of cardboard to shield where I don’t want the paint to go, gathered a little newspaper and moved some paint from the larger can to a smaller bottle. That took about as much time – maybe five minutes – as it took to also paint in the area that bothered me, and paint over places where time has bruised or nicked the paint, since I was working with that paint anyway. Total time – maybe ten minutes, maybe fifteen. A drop in the bucket, given all the times I had thought of doing it and didn’t do it.

There are things I just don’t really want to do, and it is so easy not to do them. AdventureMan is changing the cat litter; who ever WANTS to change cat litter? The joke in our house is that when I got pregnant, many years ago, I showed AdventureMan an article about some terrible thing that can happen if pregnant women handle cat litter, and it was around thirty years later when he asked me when I thought I might be able to scoop litter again.

While I am all about equality, there are some times when dividing up the labor makes sense to both of us. And then, there are tasks that you just do because they need doing. When he asks how I am doing, he doesn’t need to really know how I feel about painting a small line, and I don’t need to know his thoughts about the cat litter. it’s shorthand for “I love you; I care about you.” A “fine” will do.

June 10, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Character, Civility, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

“From Dust You Came, and to Dust You Will Return”

At our early morning service today, our priest talked about Lent being a time when we, literally, think about our own mortality, our sins of omission and commission, our relationships, our attachments and we think about them in a larger, more objective sense. He also said Lent is a time of reset, a quieting of our normally busy schedule, a time of sacrifice and reflection, and drawing closer to our Creator, and the person we were created to be.

Then he said that it feels like this has been almost an entire year of Lent. Once COVID got our attention, we’ve all been exposed to earthly mortality, as we lost loved ones, as friends lost loved ones, as we concerned ourselves with our own vulnerability to exposure to this mortal disease.

That got my attention. My life under COVID simplified greatly. For me, it was a good thing. I’ve always felt pressured to be more social that I really am, and I’ve always felt guilty about my introverted tendencies. The seclusion of COVID has given me respite, and has allowed to to connect with a me that feels more authentic than the me that was trying to meet all the expectations of the world.

I intend to enjoy this Lenten season, by the end of which I will have had my second vaccination. I expect that the pressures of life will begin to resume. God willing, I intend to be more reticent about involving myself, and give myself more time for reflection and living quietly.

February 17, 2021 Posted by | Character, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, Faith, Lent, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Values | Leave a comment

Sunset and Gibsons in Apalachicola

We arrive back in Apalachicola mid-afternoon, relaxed, happy – and ready for a nap. Apalachicola is full of people. We know from experience that many of the people are day trippers, and by late afternoon they will be gone. Hey – it’s a get-away. A vacation. Naps are not just allowed, they are encouraged.

We already know where dinner will come from and that we won’t eat there. The Gibson was recently featured in Garden and Guns magazine as THE place to stay in Apalachicola. It is semi-Victorian, each room is different, it has a lively bar scene and a good restaurant. Under other conditions, a fun place to stay, but in the time of COVID, maybe not so much.

They are doing a lot of expanding, and renovating, and this is a great time to be doing it, before the great onslaught of people breaking free from travel restrictions. Actually, as AdventureMan is picking up dinner, he hears the desk clerk telling someone at the desk, “it is our last room, and it is on the third floor.” So much for travel restrictions.

I had the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, an appetizer, and the Caesar salad. AdventureMan also had the BBQ shrimp and something else. The shrimp were good, the salad was not great and we can’t remember what else we had. Things rarely taste as good in take-out containers as they do in plates, so not the Gibson’s fault.

On this night, I also got a sunset photo:

So you could see a little piece of our hotel 🙂

February 5, 2021 Posted by | Beauty, Character, Food, Health Issues, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , | 1 Comment

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King

I love that Google does these special doodles to honor men and women who make a difference. This is their doodle for today, to honor a man who knew how to incite for all the right reasons, and to keep it peaceful. He had a vision. He had the patience to watch his vision unfold. I wish he could be here long enough to see Joe Biden’s cabinet. We’re not there, but we are learning to practice what we say we believe.

January 18, 2021 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Heritage, Leadership, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Values | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Impeached Second Time

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues | , | Leave a comment