Monday, September 28, 2009

Camel Montage

Last night my hubby took my son to a birthday party for a friend at McDonalds. I was teaching an English class across town. When I was done, I called hubby to let him know he could come pick me up. He was just leaving McDonald's...good timing. As we ended our conversation, I heard him say in Arabic: "Can you move your camel?"

As the story goes, hubby grabbed the kids hands and was heading out the door at McDonald's, only to find a camel butt blocking the exit.

Camels are about as common around here as dogs in the US.

Please enjoy a montage of Camels from the recent past...

"Honey, would you like to take the Suburban or the camel today?"

Our main mode of transportation.

Some people let their dogs do this right?

"Does this color look good on me or does it make me look fat?"

Director: Cue the camels! Cue the backdrop! Lights! Camera! Action!

Hello darling!

WARNING: What you are about to see will totally shock you!
Camels drinking water.

Something about that fleece soccer blanket doesn't look right in this context.

Alas, there are some animals that are MORE prevalent around here than camels.
"Yes, I'd like to order 48 Mint Chocolate Frappuccinos blended cream with Chocolate Whipped Cream...the flock deserve a treat."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Trip To The Big City

The end of Ramadan is cause for celebration! The kids had the week off of school because of the Eid Holiday. So, we decided to head up to the capital city for some fun...and some meetings, doctor's appts, car repairs and essential shopping.

Here are some highlights…

There are two North/South highways that run through the country.
We decided to take the more ‘scenic’ highway this time.
We pulled over to take this photo of the beautiful red sand…

Then got scolded by these soldiers because apparently I was taking a picture in a military zone.

"Sorry sirs. Please don’t point your big gun at me. By the way, you made me rush and the picture turned out dumb. I couldn't get the right setting on the camera because of the menacing military entourage right next to me. How mean."

I thought it was better to take a picture of them as they were driving away, as opposed to taking a picture of them when they just asked me not to take pictures. I'm so naughty!

It rained! We watched the temperature in the car drop from 36 C (97 F) to 24 C (75 F) as we drove up into the mountains. I wanted to put that rain smell in a jar and bring it home with me!

We shopped at the fabulous grocery stores.
Some things I bought: French Vanilla coffee creamer, canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling, Ritz crackers, soft tortilla shells, Parmesan cheese.
I saw a box of Lucky Charms cereal, it was $15. I cried.
I saw of box of Maple and Brown Sugar Quaker Oatmeal, it was $14. I cried some more.

We went to our old church. Man, we love those people!

We visited with nine different families in four days.
Do you know how many cups of tea and coffee that is? We were well caffeinated.
Some nights, we got fed dinner twice at two different places, ah we love the unmatched Arab hospitality!

We took our car to get all the dings fixed and had to once again ride in taxis.
Remember the arcade game Crazy Taxi? Its just like that in real life. Keeps you spiritual.

I took the kids to the Children’s Museum with some of their friends and their mom (whom I love so much!). And we saw this very creative camel!

I was reunited with my old hair dresser.
A blog is to follow on how much this guy means to my hair.

Hubby got more pages put in his passport at the Embassy. His passport has another 8 years before it expires, but no more blank pages. Occupational hazard! He did enjoy his brief time in the United States of America.

Now, it's back to 'normal' life.
I always start each week with the thought..."What crazy thing is going to happen to me now?"

You'll be the first to know!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yeah, I've Been There

We love exploring around the Middle East. There were so many exciting sites to see!

One of the first trips we took when we arrived years ago was to the site of Jesus' baptism.

Because of an ancient mosaic map uncovered in the floor of an old church near by, experts were able to determine the likely location of Jesus' baptism.

It was really amazing to walk through the dessert, come to the lush green trees near the river, and come out of the clearing to the Jordan River.

My smallish boy enjoyed running around, hearing stories from the tour guide, and was quite concerned about having a snack.

We said good-bye and headed back home.

That night as I was tucking my kidos into bed, I read from the Story Bible for Kids as is our habit. Lo and behold the story that night was about John the Baptist.

As I read, and showed the pictures (which are pretty accurate sans the clean, blue water!), my smallish boy said in a monotone casual way, "Yeah, I've been there" ... as if it is very normal to visit the real places in your cartoon Bible.

What little Mid-Western boy gets to do that?

My kid.

That's cool.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Trashy Cats (3)

A word from Apricot Lady: When I graciously allowed my dear hubby write up our trashy cat stories, I figured we would get some hate mail from our cat loving readers. Never did I guess the hate mail would come from the trashy cats. Things have settled down here a bit as far as the cat invasion goes, so I will timidly present to you the third and final installment. If you don't hear from me in the next 24 hours...please send some authorities to our house...I am scared of what those cats could do to me!

Driving in our town presents a great opportunity for stress outlet, and sometimes it’s the cause of stress. Since I have such displeasure for cats, when cats try to cross the street in front of the car it definitely becomes the former. It’s not like I’m mean to animals, but if a cat comes in front of the car, I’m certainly not going to go out of my way to avoid it, and I may drift one way or another without endangering my passengers of course. In our previous car, I kept tick marks on the stick shift of all the cats I ran over, akin to hunter’s tracking their kills on the barrel of their rifles. To date, I’ve hit 4. Three were somewhat deliberate, one was a complete fluke...

Since the chicken incident, the family has taken to cheering me on whenever they spot cats near the street. My son even thinks driving on the sidewalk should be justifiable. One fine evening we were making our way home from a visit, and I turned the corner down a narrow street near our house. This particular side street has several trash dumpsters on the side, and is a hot spot for cat turf wars.
That night, it became hallowed ground for a very disturbed trashy cat. As I turned the corner, and accelerated down the street, we came up on the first dumpster. Since it was night, the headlights were on, which provided us a distinct view of a flash of white and black fur, and a matching horrified gaze emanating from a pair of glowing evil eyes as they descended right in front of the car. This particular feline had evidently had enough with dumpster living, and threw itself from the tallest dumpster it could find, right in front of our car. It was the only cat suicide I’ve ever witnessed.

I felt bad for a second, almost letting myself grieve the sad passing of a distressed trashy cat. But that was wiped away quickly as cheers erupted from the backseat. The kids thought it was great that I didn’t even have to try, as if the stars had aligned to provide revenge for our missing dinner. It seems hatred for trashy cats may have strong genetic linkage. Passed proudly from my father, I’ve succeeded in instilling this important character trait in my children. Again, I don’t want to sound like some sadistic animal hater, lest PETA and Greenpeace get together and throw red paint on my car in protest. But cats here are kind of like squirrels or skunks in the country. There’s too many of them, and sometimes, natural selection just needs to take place.

I trust you’ve enjoyed the mini-series and that I haven’t damaged the reputation of Apricots Today permanently. As the disclaimer states, the author of Apricots Today does not necessarily endorse or condone the opinions expressed herein, and I’ve gotten somewhat of an earful for my sometimes graphic portrayals and choice of wording. I do thank Apricot Lady though for the opportunity to share, it’s been real.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cats Have Internet Access

The cats are retaliating.

Yesterday, a trashy cat on our porch bit one of our friends. (she bled, but is okay)

Yesterday, the door bell rang. When I opened it, no one was there. I looked down and a small trashy cat was making a dash into our house. I had to kick it out.

This morning, Hitler (mug shot below) walked right into our house via the porch door.

Trashy Cats 3 may be postponed if more cat rebellion occurs today. Stand by...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trashy Cats (2)

This continues a 3 part series on trashy cats guest written by husband. I take no responsibility for the opinions expressed in this guest editorial. Please direct any hate mail or other correspondence to him.

For those of you that haven’t sent hate mail, and can take some more negative cat publicity …

One fine day, I had procured (as a good husband) the delineated list of food items on my way home from work. I brought a couple baked chickens, which are a great part of living here. They come right off the spit, seasoned, cooked and ready to eat. When I got home, the aroma was intoxicating, and we were all getting hungry! After placing the chickens and other foodstuffs on the counter, I left the room to use the facilities.

Shortly after, I heard a scream as Apricot Lady passed by the kitchen and witnessed a trashy cat infiltrate the house through the window, pick up a baked chicken whole in its jaw and snarl as it defended it’s 'kill'. As I came back in the kitchen there was a tug of war going on between feline and female, as the cat was trying to weasel the chicken carcass out between the bars of the window. Needless to say, the cat won, and our chicken was strewn in bits all over the counter and floor. The cat finally scampered away when it saw it was outnumbered, and out-volumed by the screams of my distraught wife.

The thought of any animal walking around inside my house, especially on my kitchen counter, let alone one who spends most of its life in a dumpster, walking in trash, makes my stomach turn. That very night, I went out with my smallish son and bought a couple plastic BB guns, which we quickly acquainted ourselves with as defenders of our homestead.

The cat gets points in my book for bravery, cunning, and boldness. I must admit, if I were in his shoes, I’d take the risk for a bite of juicy fresh cooked chicken, given most my meals come from trash. However, it is just further proof that cats are a scourge on humankind, the worst kind of moochers. That cat actually thought it was entitled to our chicken, looking at the world as if we existed for it! I think most cats look at life this way.

I hate cats.

A brief note from Apricot Lady: I have three things to say:

1. Is there no end to the defilement of my kitchen?

2. Thank you blog readers who are giving names to our trashy cats! I will now call the trashy cat posted in our last post 'Hitler'. He is on my porch EVERY morning.

3. This is when I knew the cat conquest had gone too far! So disturbing for a mother.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trashy Cats (1)

I’ve asked my husband to guest write a short series on cats (really, he begged me to let him do it). I take no responsibility for the opinions expressed in this guest editorial, but do find it quite amusing!

Thank you to my dear wife for giving me complete editorial freedom on this series. I’ve decided it’s time to speak out about trashy cats.

Though many of you may enjoy furry felines as pets in your homes, even consider them part of your family, here in our neck of the desert, felines are trash. Well, litterally (pun intended) cats here live on our trash. They are inbred, awful fur balls that solely exist because of our refuse. Even worse, they are mostly genetically mutated aliens many with 3 legs, mangy fur, misplaced eyes, bitten off ears and missing tails. Cats here are not pleasant. My hilarious wife often refers to them as ‘suicide bombers’. There are cat turf wars over neighborhood trash bins that many times attract a crowd. They try to intimidate small children, who mostly run or throw rocks. One cat that came around our neighborhood had a set of jaws that gave me the shivers. I don’t know who its father was, but I suspect the mommy snuck off to the zoo on more than one occasion.

There are two sounds that are prevalent in the streets where we live: The call to prayer… on time, five times a day and seven times throughout Ramadan … and cats. Through the night we often hear wailing and whining that can only mean one of two things… either they’re fighting over last night’s dinner scraps and dumpster rights, or they’re in the process of making more genetically inbred evil mutants. The other night, it was the later, right outside our bedroom window. I had to politely, albeit with some embarrassment, shoo them away well after midnight.

I must confess I don’t like cats much. Moving here has only inflamed that passion, passed on to me by my father who instilled in me a displeasure for cats early on. This is one of my favorite You-Tubes:

Though there were rumors Ford was lambasted by PETA for this series of commercials on the Sportka… I applaud their bold stance and I am sure no animal was really harmed in the making.

This series will continue shortly with a couple stories that I just find disturbing regarding the bold nature and wily ways of felines in our sandbox. I think by next week, you’ll join my deep seething displeasure for trashy cats. Bob Barker…come help us control the pet population!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Not So Subtle Message

The other day I was cleaning out some folders in our office. I came across something that has been giving me laugh attacks for a few days now and of course, I just had to share it!

We are always having to get small i.d. photos taken of ourselves..for gym memberships, resident permits, drivers licenses’…the list goes on. There are little shops around town, where you can go in and get your picture taken (think of the Walgreens passport photo service).

We arrived in the Middle East in the Spring of 2004. Strange people in a new country. Feeling kind of awkward. A little homesick. Do you get the idea?

We had to get our photos taken for some card.

When I picked them up, they were safely tucked into a little cardboard folder with a pretty girl on front. How nice. Isn't she lovely.

When I opened it to see how my pictures turned out, this is what I found…

That is kind of disturbing.

Something about my smiling little face and those two words...


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hope Floats…And So Does Poop…In My Kitchen


There are a lot of different features in houses in the Middle East.

I will name a few...please note, these details are important for the story that follows:

· toilet paper cannot be flushed

· floors are marble and counter tops are granite (it’s the cheapest building supply – even the sidewalk curbs are made of marble)

· ‘houses’ are in apartment buildings usually eight family units in each building

· to hang a picture on the wall a drill is necessary because everything is made of concrete

· most apartments are long and skinny, each room is stacked behind the next, the floor plans are not really open

· a guard lives in the basement of most buildings, he does the maintenance and helps the tenants, takes out the trash, washes the cars, etc.

But the thing I love most about houses here is that each bathroom and kitchen has its own floor drain. It was actually an idea my dad came up with when my sister and I were babies. He wanted to have access to a hose and drain in the kitchen for clean up purposes. His brilliant invention is very prevalent here. If you need to clean the floors, you just dump a bucket of soapy water on the floor, use a squeegee to spread it around and send it down the drain.

The floor drains are also very useful if you decide to have a big water fight and totally douse your kids. I love that part!

Floor drains were on the top of my list of ‘great features’ until one day.

It was evening.

My family and I were having popcorn and watching a movie in our family room. I sent my smallish son into the kitchen to get some more salt for the popcorn. He came out very casually, handed me the salt and sat down. Then, very nonchalantly mentioned:

“There is poop floating in the kitchen.”

I giggled at what he said; wondering what had been dropped on the floor that would remind him of a little poop laying on the floor. I figured I better go see. I rounded the corner and to my horror, there WAS POOP floating, really floating ALL OVER my kitchen as it bubbled and bubbled up out of the kitchen floor drain. I ran to our door and yelled to our guard in the basement: "Mustafa! Come quick and bring a squeegee!”

Mustafa, (the best building guard in the entire city) came running and went to work. The main sewer pipe for the entire building was in the wall right outside our kitchen. It had backed up and therefore anytime someone turned water on, flushed, or sent something down any drain in the entire apartment building it pushed more poop/sewage up into our kitchen drain and therefore onto our kitchen floor. My clean, safe, happy kitchen floor. Now, forever defiled in my mind!

Mustafa, (the best building guard in the entire city) ran out the back door, tore off the main sewer cover and plunged his hands into the mess to unclog the drain. Once he quickly got that dirty job done, he ran into the kitchen and helped us push everything back down the floor drain. I was manning the small threshold between the kitchen and the rest of our house trying to keep the poop at bay by placing any towel I could find to create a dam. A poop dam. That is a fun phrase.

I did a lot of disinfecting from that day forth (and in fact until we left that nice apartment) and found it hard to cook in our kitchen for quite some time.

(the best building guard in the entire city) became my hero that day...until forever. Here he is showing sheep to my smallish daughter.

I am very leery of floor drains now. Just the other day, I walked into the kitchen and saw this…oh my, what is lurking down there honey? At least he is using grocery bags instead of bare hands. I think I will invest in very thick rubber gloves!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Mystery Revealed

I have heard from a few that they tried to post comments...but could not. I will try to fix that!

Have you been dying to know?? Here it is...

It is moveable! It is multi-functional! And it allows me to plug my blessed iHome in and enjoy tunes in my kitchen.

Thank you Bomino for a great product. And thank you cute daughter for the yummy chocolate chip cookies you made that were sitting on my counter when I took this picture!