Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Home is………

We are in the States for a couple of weeks….I know…how crazy is this???….my stuff just arrived in Kuwait and we left two days later.  John has work related stuff to do, and I am, well, home,  aren’t I?  It  is a wonderful time to catch up with friends and best of all, I have time to visit all the kids and my 9 wonderful grandbabies!  I will be flying  from Rochester to Milwaukee, to Charlotte, to Rochester…..then….home…to Kuwait.  In the past 10 years, we have moved around quite a bit due to my husbands job.  We have lived in Maryland, Mass.,  North Carolina and a few locations in NY state.  I have friends that have lived in the  same area, raised their family in the same house and now those children bring the grandchildren HOME.  I have thought, so very often, of my family spread out and about, and there not being a place to come back to call home. Many tears, feelings of regret, and wishing things were different, I have found comfort in the words from my oldest daughter more than once over the years.  When visiting once again, at another “new home”, she  said to me,  mom,no matter where you live, it always feels like coming home because you are there.”

Home…..its where you are…..where you love, laugh, learn and live! 

Friday, March 26, 2010


Focus…..its pretty much not a word in my vocabulary.  My head can be turned so very easily to anything to do with art.  And if it’s something new, or different, or I’ve never heard of before, it is almost certain I want to know more, try it, sign up for a class spend the money and do it!….that's it….I want to learn and do it all.  So it only stands to reason that when Diana’s dye class was announced I was the first to sign up.  How cool is that?  Dye your own fabric to be used in a quilt you make?  She provided the white cotton cloth and had all the dye supplies to create 13 yards of vibrant colorful cotton.  We mixed our dyes with careful intent, scrunched  each piece  and put it in plastic bags (in order to take home with us).  After 24 hours, they were washed and dried and turned out like this.  Gosh, next I could pick the cotton and learn to spin it….hmmmmm

Today, at the quilt meeting we received the return of the fat quarter exchange…….endless possibilities…added to my stash.  


Desert flowers blooming.


I want to find one of these. This picture was in today’s paper.  It’s name is Zanoon (desert hyacinth) and blooms in the spring out in the desert.

Yellow flower bush This bush has been blooming since we arrived. This is at the side of our villa and there is one in the front yard.  They are seen in landscaping all around Kuwait.

white flowersThe white flowers are slightly fragrant and this too is found in landscaping in Kuwait.  This one is in my back yard.

Both trees are in the back yard.  This first one is my favorite..  It’s the only one I have seen around…the blooms look like red bottle brushes. The next skinny bush is a strange one too…with fuzzy red things that sort of look like raspberries.

100_0456             These tufts of grasses are blooming all around.

Planting Pansies Springtime always gets me itchy to get my hands in the soil.   Soil? No nice black dirt to sink your hands in here….and I thought Clifton Park had sandy dirt…I mostly put flowers in pots…but did manage to dig out a bit of a “garden in the front….strategically planted where the sprinklers would be sure to water them. 


 Checking out the ugly bugsUGLY BUG

Checking out the ugly bug….honestly I would rather deal with worms and the occasional slug…..these guys are really ugly.

The National flower

And this is what is called Arfaj.  It is Kuwait's national flower. Although it is rare in many countries, it covers 30% of Kuwait's surface area year round. 

Now after all that planting and picture taking its time for some relaxation.



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Textile Souk added to my list of “these are a few of my favorite things”

After only being here 6 weeks, I have definitely discovered my favorite place to visit…..and that would be the textile souk…..I have been there twice in the last week.  Twenty two ladies from the quilters group diverged on the place, breaking up into groups.  The shop keepers had dollar signs in their eyes; very happy to greet and assist us. After we drove a caravan of vehicles through the crazy city streets of Kuwait….to have lunch at a Moroccan restaurant.   My first time to eating this cuisine, and it is delicious.  (I am now searching for Moroccan recipes) Three days later, I had Mustafa (my other driver) take me there again to meet Mary and Diana…..this time the shopping was a little less crazy and we were able to take our time to really investigate the goods. I definitely feel like a little girl going to Disney land…..there is just so much to look at, and my brain going in a many different directions as to what projects I could use the beautiful crystals or buttons, charms, or laces….Textiles galore from silks, to upholstery. I saw many Kuwait women with fashion magazine pages in hand buying fabric to then take to a tailor.   The options and selections  are limitless.  It is extraordinary. The fabrics exquisite and prices so reasonable. I can’t help but to keep going back.

             Q8quilters eating at the Moroccan Restaurant


Shop after shop of cloth and accessories fills building after building.

It arrived

The shipment has arrived, so now we have the right tools to finally hang the the pics that arrived here several weeks ago….remember the all important air freight that included the framed photos of grandbabies…..well they have been sitting in the closet waiting because the tools were packed in the sea shipment…….its true…haven’t lived it down yet….other good news, John now has his shirts and ties…..and I have my studio supplies….paints, papers, glues, books and sewing machine.  Hooray!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not the average week……..

We have said since we have arrived, that no two days are alike. That actually, the weeks fly by and every day holds something new and different to experience.  Certainly this past week did fly by, packed with people, much busyness, many meetings, dinners, dignitaries, and press coverage.   This time, John was in the middle of this hoopla.

The reason we are here in Kuwait is because my husband works as  the in country project manager for the building and installation of a huge power plant.  He interfaces with the Ministry of Electricity and Water on a very frequent basis.   This week provided a “FIRST” in items of responsibilities for his job description.  And I for one think it was very cool and exciting.

GE executives from Schenectady were here, as well as regional GE folks to meet with the Kuwait Government officials.  The Minister of Electricity and Water, Dr. Bader Al-Shuraian, Deborah Jones, the American Ambassador to Kuwait as well as the Korean Ambassador were in attendance. (GE and Hyundai are the two companies implementing the project)  A lot goes into organizing such an event.  Not only who is speaking when….but all the logistics of seating, food, security, banners and photos, parking and buses.  John was instrumental in pulling this all together in only two days time.

Not sure event coordinator would be something he would pursue,  but it definitely provided some real excitement and change of pace around here.  Life keeps us wondering ….”What’s next honey?”

project project_0001

                     THESE POSTED IN THE ARAB TIMES  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Something to do on a Saturday

The Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the country. It is 24 years old.   Its area spans 45,000 square meters.  (it is really really big)   The prayer hall is 72 meters wide on all sides.  It can accommodate up to 10,000 men in the main hall and up to 950 women in the separate hall for women. The dome of the mosque is 26 meters in diameter.  It is decorated with the the 99 Names of God.  Pretty impressive.  There is a 5 level parking garage underneath  to hold up to 550 cars.Grande Mosque                                The Grand Mosque of Kuwait

 waiting for the cameras


 had to be covered to enter the mosque

This is our first time to be inside a mosque.  Before entering, women had to put on the abaya and have  our hair covered with a scarf.   The abayas  are provided…if you have your own scarf you may wear that.  Shoes are not allowed inside.  In the mass hallway surrounding the prayer hall are compartments for placing your shoes.  The numbers on the pillars are numbered, to help you remember where you left your shoes.   The prayer hall is fully carpeted, with wide stripes, (where people line up shoulder to shoulder) and distanced enough to bow down in front of  you.  There is no seating.  Women and men are separated. This specific tour of the mosque and souk was sponsored by AWARE.( Advocates for Western Arab Relations)  We were asked to participate in a  “filming tour”  The center is making a documentary about their programs,  interviewing westerners experiences living in a foreign country and how AWARE has been informative and helpful.  So,during this tour eight of us, including John and I were taken aside and interviewed.  Much joking went on amongst us that we are now “celebrities”.  The camera crew followed us all day filming our tour of the Mosque, bargaining at the souk and even then filming us at the luncheon we were taken to after the tour.  We had fun..met some nice folks, and learned a bit more of this middle eastern culture.  We are invited to the “premier” of the film in May where there will also be a Muslim country singer performing from the US.  We have marked our calendars!!!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. ~Paul Strand

 Garden Party I have met and joined the Q8quilters,  a very fun loving and extremely talented group of women who meet twice a month to encourage by show and tell of their creative endeavors.

Many workshops spring up from this group to teach.  They host project days to create quilted items to sell for charity as well as having fun events from month to month that include the fat quarter exchange as well as a challenge.   This month’s meeting was held in Janet’s garden. The challenge was to create a bag without a pattern with a hat to match.

Several of the women took up the challenge and there were a lot of oohs and ahhs and laughter. 

Being that our stuff has not arrived yet, ( sewing machine, art supplies, etc) I was forced to go beyond my comfort level, think outside of the box….and find (as the quote above suggests…my artist’s world at my doorstep………)  the newspaper.

Debbie's hat and purse

                    This is me in my newspaper folded hat and  a matching handbag!!!!  .


               Ha….. I won this candle prize for the most innovative.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Textile Souk


I have been looking forward to visiting this place for weeks…and finally had the opportunity to visit yesterday.  Several buildings filled with shops of every kind of fabric, laces, trims, buttons, yarn, anything you can imagine to use in quilting, sewing, knitting, collage, fiber art projects….you name it, you most likely will find it here.  I have never seen anything like it….and definitely made sure Charlie knows how to get me back here again!!!  A trip to JoANN’s back in the states was always a treat to stir up inspiration and creativity…this place had my creative juices overflowing…and drooling.  Because I was with two others and we were on a mission ,( to purchase small cotton prints) (somewhat of a boring search)  I was not able to satisfy  the extreme desire to spend the entire day there exploring every little shop. 

The Q8quilters meet twice a month and sponsor a fat quarter exchange.  The theme is voted on at one meeting (as to color, or print,etc.) and you can sign up or not.  However many do sign up, that is how many fat quarters you purchase and bring to the next meeting for distribution.  At the following meeting we  then get a variety of fat quarters.   Its a great way to build up your stash!  This month the theme was for small flower prints. Renee introduced myself and Vanita to the Souk to purchase the fabric for the exchange on Wednesday. Twenty two signed up this time……lots of cutting.

Begining of the stash                        This is what I am sharing. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010


There have been two issues to deal with  over the past 5 weeks of living here.  At first they were just a  bit embarrassing, then become annoying to really becoming  a major problem. on a daily basis.   You would think it has to do with the fact that I am living in a different culture, in the desert, or that I am homesick perhaps….not really.  These issues seemed to have the power to not only embarrass or annoy me, but others as well.  These issues seemed to have the power to make me feel really stupid..  I began to feel I was not only wasting my time but that it didn’t matter that I was…….

This week I decided to confront those issues and conquer them with two decisions that I will remain firm on……and take away their power.

The last straw was another day this week trying to adjust to the one car between us.  I needed to be at a meeting for 9  and so did he..leaving early, we did the drop off, I’ll wait for your call, dropping off and picking up, waiting endlessly for a meeting to end, and this time, the ringer is off on the cell phone.  I don’t know how….I don’t even know where that button is. He is done with his meeting…..1 1/2 hours later than expected.  I’m waiting for him to call to come get him and can’t imagine why its taking him so long.  This was frustrating enough, without the fact that I got lost heading back,  yes I have a GPS, but it was difficult to hear her because the radio was on and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off without GPS lady turning off also.  Not fun.  THATS IT!!!!    I was mad, he was mad…and really it wasn’t either one of us at fault.   I need a new phone!   A simple phone.   One with big numbers.  One with an on switch and off switch.  Nothing fancy.  He agreed and today I have a simple phone.   Ok issue one taken care of. 

What is issue two you ask????? The lets share the ride together business……..we have tried it and it dosn’t work.  I have tried a driver from the hotel here and he stood me up.  I took a taxi last week and I swear, I thought for sure I was sitting in a garbage truck, the filth and smell turned my stomach, and he circled around the city stopping to ask 4 different passersby directions, before I got to my destination, a half hour late.   So those options bring along their own frustrations.  I now have come to look at the option that was offered me from the beginning …is to have -my own driver.  He can come for me, drop me off, wait, or come back, any time of day or night.  Issues at week 6….resolved.                

                                His name is Charlie.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A storm coming in

Weather has certainly been in the news around the world as of late!! Although,the sand storms we have been experiencing here hardly equate with the devastation of the earthquakes recently, it is a new weather phenomena for us.

What looked like a perfectly clear, crisp blue sky when we woke in the morning, quickly changed within minutes as we sat with our morning coffee.   


                         Looking out our back window.


100_0379                            “Sand cloud” over our house.  100_0378                             Taken from our front yard100_0380 Within an hour the sky was orange with dust and stayed this way most of the day. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Its something I’ve always wanted to do…..

…..a dinner cruise….like the Colonial Belle on the Erie Canal, The Sam Patch and Mary Jemison on the Genesee River or the Minnie Ha Ha on Lake George or how about the Dutch Apple on the Hudson……

I don’t know why exactly, its different? romantic? fun?  Cairo has dinner cruises on the Nile River. And this was the time to experience eating dinner while floating along AND enjoy entertainment.  We not only were entertained but some of us became the entertainment!



The art of Belly Dancing originated from the Middle East.   It is a popular dance around the world for performances, expression and keeping fit and healthy.  It draws on full body movement from head to toe, not just the belly.  Belly dancing has entranced audiences around the world for centuries.  


I have to admit I was entranced!!!  With the beat of the  dumbeks, ( they are goblet shaped drums that is held under the arm and  played with both hands)and the sheer amazement in watching  “how in the world  she is moving like that” I found myself being drawn onto  the dance floor shifting my hips to her instruction “left then right” as the audience encouraged with clapping and laughing, and my husband catching  it all on camera!!!!

Cairo living 3

Camels and horses in the street Old town Cairo…..carts pulled by donkeys, camels carrying wares walking down the street, were a common site.  The marketplace called Khan El Khalily (dates back to 1382) is like none other I have ever experienced.   The crowded narrow lanes are packed with Egyptian  handicrafts,  trinkets, scarves, jewelry, oils and spices.  It is overwhelming, the bombardment of shopkeepers trying to sell their goods.  They don’t take no for an answer.   They want you to buy more then one…for good discount.  They have it in your size…and when you offer a low price or try to say no thank you they tell you you are breaking their heart.   They find great pleasure in the bargaining process.  It took me awhile to get into it once I knew it was more less a game for them.  And at the conclusion of my deal…..Muhammad shook my hand and said…welcome to Egypt. Truly I felt I had traveled back in time when walking these streets.

To catch our breath we spent a few hours in the city park.   It was lovely, with flowers beginning to bud and bloom.  It was elevated a bit above the city which gave us great views.



Can you believe there is a window for men and a window for women???


One, most intriguing views was that of the City of the Dead.  Taxi drivers pointed it out all weekend giving their explanation of this very old place that stretches four miles. Very interesting reading:

  • city of the dead 2 city of the dead

    The Citadel   The location, part of the Muqattam hill near the center of Cairo, was once famous for its fresh breeze and grand views of the city, and was fortified by the Ayyubid ruler Salah al-Din (Saladin) between 1176 and 1183 AD, to protect it from the Crusaders.  

    We had arrived just at prayer time and unable to enter the mosque that is still used today.  

    The history we walked through last weekend has opened my mind with the desire to understand and know more.   Again, so thankful for the internet.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010


    What school year was your most favorite?  Or what subject did you like the best?  I remember in many grades and many classes wondering what in the world do I need to know this for?  Algebra class in 9th grade had me wondering that!  And having to dissect worms in 7th grade was so disgusting to me that I walked out of class!  Third grade wasn’t so cool for me either.   I colored with very vibrant colors and was told I should redo my paper.  For me, 6th grade stands out!  Mr.. Johnson was my favorite teacher and it was the best school year I ever had.  He made it fun to learn World History.   That year we were introduced to the countries of the world and their culture. I remember pouring over the pictures and said more than once to more than one place, “oh I want to go there, I want to see that”  Years go by, life goes on, and traveling, visiting, experiencing different places wasn’t planned on, didn’t place in a line up of priorities.  But those seeds of desire to do that were planted in my being in Mr.. Johnson’s class.

    Thirty years later, my world opened up and life has never been a dull moment since.   I have had the privilege to travel with my husband  over the last 10  years while on business and have had the honor to see and experience many of those dreamed of destinations. 

    This past weekend I saw, touched, smelled, and felt in my heart a wee bit of Cairo, Egypt!  I think it will take me weeks to digest all that I experienced in three days.

    Our first surprise was  being able to see the Pyramids from our hotel room.  There they are just at the edge of the city.

    I thought surely the only way to get there was by riding camels a half a day at least to the middle of the desert.


    The first thing our tour guide told us before leaving the van at the Pyramids was, don’t look at or speak to anyone who approaches you.  I found that to be extremely difficult….when someone says hello, where are you from?  When I replied from NY…oh they have an uncle in NY, and as John puts……”she gets sucked right in and it costs me another 5 bucks”…. Such was the case below:

    100_0252 Lets have a photo together, here where this scarf….sir you are a lucky man, here take a picture of your wife”…….



    and this gentleman….”let me take a picture of you two….no money, no money….I am an honest man, ….let me welcome you to Egypt…, you wear this…..keep it keep it….I love USA…here keep these precious stones…for good luck……” you got it…another five dollars..



    We did get to see those pyramids…and they are truly more awesome than can be imagined.   As you look in one direction you can see the city of Cairo, but the opposite landscape is desert!  Climbing inside the largest one was quite the feat!   We actually crawled up the  narrow passageway on an angle……to the top!


    Much more to come…….tomorrow