Cassie and Lulu – well, Lulu was first into the villa. Lulu is not orange. Ok? Got it? If you look at my computer screen, it has my posts in composition. Lulu did not like Cassie entering our lives. She was completely in protective mode. (Lulu, of me) Cassie is just “cute.” Détente. Cassie stayed. She provided a lot of light entertainment. Yeah, I miss them.
If you live in a Muslim state there are multiple dietary restrictions. Well, you don’t find ingredients in the grocery that I once took for granted. Soy sauce! The Filipinos don’t use the type I use. Trust me, it’s very different than what I get in NY. There is no bacon or ham – no pork is eaten in Muslim culture. My departure from Jeddah was more rushed than planned. I gave away a lot of groceries to the Filipino nurses who had befriended me. I hope they like bacon. How do you get it into the country. You put it in your luggage and hope the Saudi inspectors don’t squawk. And I got caught! They triumphantly held up my bottle of soy sauce from my bag. Wine?! Alcohol!? Nope, soy sauce, ha ha, the look of abject failure was obvious as I snatched back the bottle from the Saudi cop. He missed the bacon. It doesn’t show up on x-ray. Yes, my home appliances were given to the nurses too. Ok, I take pictures of everything? My pantry? Ha ha, yes. Imagine that, portrait of a package of bacon.
… I was in Saudi. It was so long ago, now. I got out when they tried to blow up the American Embassy. I had just passed the compound hours earlier. Close enough, it was more than enough for me. The nice ladies in their native costumes on the jet plane home gave me the worst cold I have ever had in my life. There were a few who missed me, as in, they regretted my departure. Colleen was especially relieved. And today, with Covid, I might have been trapped in Saudi unable to travel for two years. Since Colleen (believes she) is always right, I believe this might be so, too. Oh! If you look close, there’s a Lamy pen and an iPhone 5 in my shirt pocket. Um, it was a vital (phone) line to Colleen from Saudi after we were first in contact. Do I miss it? The people, yes. Life in a totalitarian state, no.
In my past life, things were different in terms of holiday groupings. I have family. I have a different family now. I suppose there will be a family legacy passed on to others with good wishes and love. Groupings change. Nothing is absolutely known about the future in the present. Looking back retrospectively there is bittersweet memory. I miss family who are no longer with us. I am grateful for the time we were together. I am happy for the future in which I am living. Change is part of us. My secretary used to say that I would always say, “Something always happens.” Aptly, nothing stays the same. With lemons, be prepared to make lemonade. Bittersweet is the operative word here.
We did it! We did! We managed to have Christmas in five locations! We are the seniors. They are supposed to come to us? Ha! We were in fours states. I believe we achieved a state of grace. (How about, altered state?) It was work. It was fun. Our parents were bystanders. We are not! Bring it on! We did.
We have an extended family. We managed to catch up with multiple family groupings this holiday. It’s been nutty. Covid and whatnot has conspired to make it hard. In a mere moment plans changed. I was so punchy I did not know where or to whom half the presents were destined. At every stop I was inaccurate. I had packed for groups that broke up and met as different parts in different places. Confused? You bet! We were sleeping in one spot and cooking in another. At least I got a haircut and changed shirts. There were a lot of moving parts. Fun? We all had a good time. We must have had fun for me to still be writing about it a month later. All that I can attest, looking back, it was easier to herd cats!!
Epilogue: Omicron is among us. We did not escape unscathed. Members of the extended family pictured herein caught it and were tested positive. So far, all are fine. Those shots really work. Or, we are just plain lucky. My (neurosurgery) department motto was always, “Better to be lucky, than good.”
PPS: All is well. We were, indeed, lucky!
The quest for the perfect gift is serendipitous at best. You would never guess and can never quite guess what will be a hit. Certainly, capturing the moment of surprise and joy is just as fraught. Sometimes a moment passes too quickly to capture. And, sometimes, you catch the moment perfectly. Certainly, the joy is apparent. It makes me smile as I edit. Have you seen the new plant based food? There is something disingenuous in making fake meat. Either you eat meat or you give it up for … broccoli. You simply can’t have it both ways. ??? So, fake bacon? It was enough to make me an instant vegetarian! The moment? Everyone had their phones out. I reached for my camera/flash. One shot. That was it. One chance. Perfect.
Well, I hesitate to say, “Hell.’ It seems oddly incongruous to use the term in the same sentence with Christmas. Christmas hell? We are on the last leg of extended Christmas. We have been to Speonk, Elkins, Hurricane, and West Chester (not, in that order). Don’t ask. We did not make it to the Rocky Mountains. No mailboxes were illustrated in this post. (It was too humiliating.) Let’s start with dinner. Jane was late to the restaurant. She and Lee had hit a mailbox in the dark. Hit?! She ran over two (count ‘em!!) posts and crushed the mailboxes. Crushed!! And, her car would not start. She killed the (car) battery too. A very neat trick! Look under the tree. See, a couple Xmas stockings? No?! Yeah, missing. We never did find them. (Number?) Two?! Next, Jane’s toilet overflowed, and, kept, overflowing, as in, it just kept filling…up!! Up!! Help!!! The trash basket beside the toilet has holes in the bottom. What the…?!@#?$!! Yeah, yeah, needless to say I had taken my socks off but was still standing in ankle deep water. Don’t laugh… too hard. We lost stuff too. It went missing, or, who knows? We travel with a hot water bottle. Low tech, but, it saves the day in some houses we stay. The item (victim) other is a Sherlock game. Ha ha. Some of the cards went missing from the game. Sherlock!? Jane simply lost (a deck) of the game. Did she ever? (have/play with a full deck?). Oh my!!!… some days you just can’t make this sh*t up. Yes it was the Xmas from …. Note: no mailboxes were permanently maimed in the making of this post. Crushed, yes. Did I mention Lee overflowed the toilet – blocked the drain all the way out to the street…. ? The toilet filled because Colleen’s shower upstairs was filling the bowl. Oh! Yeah??
Minute by minute, plans change. ??? The Christmas virus! Who had it? Who got it? Covid! Omcron! Damn! Jess’s household had a run of the Christmas flu. It was a family secret, not so secret. We knew but ignored it until… we could not. Not going, going, ah!!! Christmas plans dashed. We got Part I; but Part II???!!! Oh my! There were tears! Crocodile tears!! Unhappy wife. 😦 By the end of the day we had a new plan; after several more revisions. There is a Plan B. Who knows? Will we make it? We’re gonna try. The windows in the house were done (secret!) with Jolly Ranchers. (Lisa was so proud of her ingenuity.) I have never seen nor eaten one (jolly rancher). And, I am signed up to do a lot of driving. I feel like Santa on his delivery. Hey! We are (delivering)! By the end of this post – happy wife – happy marriage. Pfewf!
…second day, different year…. How fast they grow! Darn! I just got newborn shots… and it’s time for another birthday. Time has passed so quickly! Slow down! I want to savor the moments. It is indeed a wistful feeling to watch little ones grow. I like ‘em when they are small. Colleen likes ‘em older; they are more interesting. I like ‘em when they are little and just getting used to the wonders of the world. No matter what, they just grow up soooo… fast. There is no going back. I will just enjoy, for as long as I can. Oh, and, don’t forget the camera. Cute? You bet. Happy birthday!
Colleen is so understanding. There is no competition. She’s a “good” person. No jealousy. Oh sure, there is protectiveness. Am I making sense? Another birthday! I love that iPhone sends balloons when you type it. Happy! I did not miss yours – birthday. It just took a moment to realize I almost passed it by. Have a great day!