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My Mundane

 

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I see camels every day on my work commute, so you’d think I get tired of seeing them.  Nope.  Here they are sunning themselves on a Dubai beach.

Work is finally easy again, and I have a week and a few days before I’m on spring break, so woo hoo to that.  It’s much needed after surviving inspection week, and then final marking, plus a night class and an online class I need to try and finish before Michelle arrives next week.

I’ve been keeping myself busy with the kind of stuff we do here.  I’ve happy houred with friends, I’ve cooked yummy, healthy meals, lol and I’ve gone out and ate yummy non healthy meals, I’ve  eaten dinner and watched movies/t.v. with friends, I’ve treated myself to an amazing spa day, and I’ve gone to Dubai and beached it, chilled with friends.  Basically doing my version of the mundane, which will transition into another version of mundane in about 5 months.   Good news is I love my routine, every day stuff because boring it aint.

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Karak and roses the day after inspections ended.  I will never tire of the girls giving me flowers.  The tea cart coming around was a treat from our admin, and in case they’re reading — I’d never tire of receiving that every day either!

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Free veggies from a stranger!  I’ve discovered a cauliflower alfredo sauce that is to die for and made roasted beets and broccoli — yum, yum.  Now, if only I could keep enjoying the veggies and stay away from the breads and pastries I might actually get rid of my buddha belly.  But, alas, I’m a locust I eat everything in sight.

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Oh Dubai … you’re so random.  So, if you cross between the creek/marina area and Jumeirah beach you might find some interesting cross guards to help you out.  Of course traffic wasn’t a problem this time of the morning, but thanks dudes for being willing to take one for the team in case a speeder decided not to stop!

Kicking up my feet and relaxing in Dubai.  LOL um those are penguins on my feet — not the best nail art considering when you look down they look more like cartoonish burqas.  Totally NOT my intent!

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Oh Dubai you’re also oh so beautiful … just our view during a morning walk.

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Me all clean and spiffy after a hammam, massage and facial!

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Me before my spa day!

And that’s all I’ve got for you now, but lots of fun things planned the next few weeks, so hang in there I’m sure I’ll have more to post soon.

Still Thankful…

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A selfie with some of the crew.  Three of us are at an American football game.

We didn’t feel like throwing our annual Thanksgiving bash at my complex this year.  Ashley has moved to another place, and Haneefa and I didn’t feel like doing all the party prep.  Instead 10 of us rented a 5-bedroom apartment in Dubai, and 11 of us feasted and got merry together.  Of course we had a great time.  Oh, and we got to Skype Suzanne whose back in the states.  We missed having her with us, but we’re so happy she gets to be with her family this year.

It was great to be with my UAE family, but I’m really missing Joe and the kids.  Kaylene and Kelly cooked dinner at their place; Joe and Aaron joined them and Kelly’s mom.  It looked and sounded like they had a great time.  Kyle was busy in Sedona.  On Saturday Aaron moved into his first apartment, so all of my children have officially flown the coop — how weird is that.  Joe was there to help him, but it’s weird for me to not have been there to see him off.  Hahaha perhaps Mama bird just wanted the chance to do that final shove out of the nest.

I’m so hoping I’ll get to spend the holiday season with my family next year.  Three years away is perhaps too much.  Regardless of where my next job is, I will be home for Christmas next year.  InshAllah Halloween and Thanksgiving as well, but that all depends on where my next job will be.

I’m in an odd place right now.  I’ve stopped putting in applications at other schools because Joe and I have decided that he will continue to work until I begin my next job (and I’m so glad he’s willing to do this! it was his idea).  We’re hoping a DODEA interview will come up last minute , and that I’ll be free to take the job.  Anyway, in a perfect world I’ll get to be a housewife (with grown children on their own!) for a few months with a miraculous January post.  For the first time in my life I’ll be a kept woman, and I am soo soo soo good with that.  Unless, of course, a job comes up that I can’t refuse.  Then Joe will be the kept one.

The odd place I’m in is being excited about reuniting with my family for more than a few weeks while at the same time being depressed about leaving here.  I know that once I come back from Christmas vacation time will fly by — and that’s a good and bad thing!

Work has been busy, but by Tuesday night I will be finished with this trimester’s real work.  All I’ll have to do is proctor and mark some exams, and plan for January.  In a few days my friend Brandy and I will be decompressing in Cyprus — woo hoo!  And two weeks after that I begin my Scandinavian adventure.

So, my depressed side doesn’t get a whole lot of time to pity party.  And, on the plus side, friends I’ve made here are now also family, so we too will celebrate together again.

How many revelers can you fit on a Dubai balcony?  Some of our food and a glimpse of our apartment’s view.  Dubai is always so good to us.

Cosmo Crowd & Hormonal Headaches

Okay first I’m going to brag about my time doing the cosmopolitan thing and playing with the pretty people in Dubai.  I had a blast this weekend.  Thursday night I happy-hour chilled with friends on a lovely hotel terrace then bee bopped on a rooftop club full of hipsters —- finding my shisha, cocktail nirvana amongst the young and city lights.

The next day we gussied ourselves up (and looked mighty damn fine if I do say so myself) for the Toy Brunch at Westin.  The Toy Brunch is different than most brunches.  It’s set in a swanky black and silver night club decked out with lego blocks, trucks and other toys.  A duck taco stand is in one corner, a bar in the other and a moveable platform somewhere in the middle.  Waiters bring you platters of Asian food —- beginning with an assortment of dim sum and sushi and ending with miniature pastries.  The food and perpetually flowing champagne is nice, but the acts are what give it its extra umph.  One minute you’re inhaling a skewer of meat, the next you’re watching a ballerina in a helmet pirouette on that platform, followed by a contortionist, minions, mimes, pokemon and a whole assortment of toy-themed fun, including a little-man magician.  It’s surreal.

 

Some of Haneefa’s pics (my phone sucks)

The young in slinky, sexy outfits abound, and I was feeling just like one of them until a 22-year old said to me, “I wanna be just like you when I’m your age.”

My age?  What in the hell?  Did she not realise in my head I am still 19, and hello?  I thought I looked pretty darn cool in my macrame sweater (hahaha typing this I realize hmm maybe not the best choice) and black dress.

But check it out, here I am riding a jackass (and I beat off a few young ones telling them I’ve had plenty more years experience).

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It’s all good because age aside, my table —- of 30, 40 and 50 somethings —- was one of the first to be moved to the upstairs portion of the club (when the food service part was over), where we got our own couch and perfect view of ‘toy’ dancers, and I had a fabulous time showing the young how it’s done ‘when my age.”  One day in their too-near future they will live to regret those words.

I even woke up the next morning feeling perfectly fine, but as the day wore on indigestion kicked in, and then an old back injury started acting up.  Long story short I popped some tylenol PM and alka seltzer before going to bed in hopes of a good night’s sleep.  Then boom!  the scariest headache of my life kicked in.  I, honest to god, thought I was having a stroke.  I called my neighbour Haneefa (and also the youngest playmate I had this weekend) who took me to the ER.

Five hours later, an EKG, Cat Scan, IV drip of something and blood work, and I learned that there was nothing wrong with me — well except for the fact that I’m 51 and my body is rebelling against this thing called ‘the change.’  I tried to rationalise what had happened —- too much good food and prosecco?  bad reaction from tylenol pm and effervescent antacid?  But, no the obvious answer is on the Internet.   Apparently, women my age can experience this kind of thing when there’s a drastic change in estrogen.   Who knew?  And, there it is: I’m facing my age all over again.  If only this thing that’s happening would hurry up and delete my cycle I’d be much happier about it.

That said it is what it is, and I’m not going to dwell on it now that I know what it is.  The next time my brain explodes I’ll just live with it.  Am I embarrassed that my poor friend had to sit with me at a hospital for too many hours on a work night for something that was just hormonal?  A little, but two other things happened to put it all in perspective.

  1. My friend stayed with me even though I told her several times to go.  I could take a taxi home.  She said no.  We don’t have family here, and no one wants to stay alone in the hospital.  Scary is scary regardless of the outcome, and thank God I don’t have some sort of brain-eating worm embedded in my skull (another thing I thought might be a reason).  I am so incredibly blessed to have the friends I do (and know that any one of them would have done this), and I am glad she stayed with me.  I was scared, and having her there made a difference.  Our friendships here are what guide us through the good, the bad and the ugly.
  2. The reason we were in hospital for so long was because there was a bad car wreck.  A man died just a few feet away from my little corner.  A woman who knew him wailed loudly.  Her cries tugged at my soul.  I so badly wanted to hug her and tell her it would be okay, but right then that was a complete lie.  For her at that moment nothing was okay.  She violently lost someone she obviously loved.  My friend and I would get to go home, and I’d get to joke about my hormonal headache.

Yes this aging thing is a bitch, but I get to do it.  And I thank the powers that be for every second that is given to me —- and rock my damned crocheted sweater and heals while doing it.

14804719_587384868136981_1226444721_n putting this here just so in 20 years I could look at it and say, “damn I looked good when I was ‘young.'”  Plus it looks a little cosmoish!

Waiting on dirham day…

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Luckily pay day is tomorrow because this lil traveler is down to her last fils.  It’s all good because being broke forced me to have a low key weekend, which worked out just fine for me.  Some friends came over Thursday night and we whooped it up with apps, bevies, gossip and games in my living room.  Doesn’t matter where in the world you are, time alone with the girls is always one of the best ways to recharge and love life.

Yesterday I never even left my apartment — um didn’t even bother to change pajamas.  I used the day to clean a little, grade a lot, and plot and plan my December break.  So far the only thing that’s official is Joe is going to Iceland.  His ticket (and some of our lodging) is booked; mine is not yet.  That’s because I’m trying to find the best deal for me without the hellish layovers (I really am over sleeping in airports!), and I’m trying to work out where I’m going before I meet up with Joe.  Long story short I’d like to fit in a quick visit to my family in Germany, but don’t think I can, and I’d also like to check out Finland and Sweden before meeting my man.  Sadly, he cannot spend all of my vacation time with me.  So yeah finding the right airline booking — and finishing my grading — is what stresses me out.

But it won’t for long because in a few hours I’ll be chilling at the pool with some friends.  I can’t spend another day without getting some sun and sand on my face.  And that’s pretty much life on my end right now.  Next weekend a few of us are sharing an apartment in Dubai to do some beach and shopping time (so I can be broke again).  I’m searching for waterproof hiking boots and snow pants — lol don’t think I’ll find those in Al Ain.  How cool is it that in the same weekend I’ll swim in the Arabian Gulf while also shopping for snow gear?

And, I’m really, really, really freaking excited about the Iceland trip!  We might even get the chance to hike into an ice cave.  Yeah, yeah I know it’s dark most of the time and it’ll be cold, but I live with hot and sun, so bring on Winter.

 

 

Skydiving, yachting, graduating and brunching

 

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There’s a whole lot of inging going on over here.  Last Thursday I went to Dubai to watch some of my friends sky dive over the palm (notice how I said watch, not partake), the next day I was swimming in its waters thanks to another friend’s bachelorette party on a yacht. Day after that I was practically mugging the frozen drink guy thanks to me melting on Jumeira beach.  The heat is definitely back!

On Sunday I watched my girls transform into Cinderellas and then glide across the stage to nab their diplomas.  Oh how I wish I could show you how mature and beautiful they were.  I am so very proud of each and every one of them, and I can’t wait to see what they do after they graduate from university.

This weekend I joined friends in Abu Dhabi for brunch at the Intercontinental — we have a soft spot for that place since it was our first UAE home.  For those of you back home brunch isn’t your typical Mother’s Day affair.  Um, in 4 hours I was able to destroy what good a month’s worth of dieting and exercising has done for my body.  Back to the drawing board, although we have another brunch next weekend.  It’s a never ending battle — the living here sometimes is just too good for my own good.

Thanks Ashley for taking and sending brunch pics.

Ramadan begins again in a week, so we’ll calm down on the splurging and get ourselves ready for all of our trips home to loved ones this summer.  Just a few more weeks, and year two is already khallas.  Where does the time go?

Girls Just Wanna have fun…

The yacht party was so much fun.  I totally plan on attending more of these next year.

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The view from our Dubai apartment.  We found this great place near Jumeirah beach, which will just happen to be our new digs every time we go.

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And now I get to chill.  Some girls are coming over to watch last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, so we’ll inhale some Indian food and OMG at whatever surprises HBO throws at us tonight and then again on Monday.

Hopefully, everyone back home is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend.  I’ll see you all soon.

Onto trimester three…

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It’s been a busy two weeks.  Joe landed on Easter, and we had a week of catching up and seeing some sites.  In his short time here he got to play in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, and Dubai.  Saying goodbye was really hard (although my friends and time on the beach made it easier).  A week is not enough time, but I’ll be home for the summer in three months, and then before you know it he’ll be retired and living here with me.  I think he’s ready for the expat life  — his liver maybe not so much.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again I so love my friends.  We manage to really do this living thing well together.  Joe’s first two days here we holed up in Al Ain, but then we joined Suzanne and Craig in Abu Dhabi where we showed Joe a taste of the city night life.  Then we all took off to Muscat for a few days, where we took advantage of our resort’s pool, beach and club room.  We had good intentions to visit the city.  I hear the souk and opera house are must sees, but alas we only waved at them from our taxi.  It’s all good; it’s only a 45 minute flight from Abu Dhabi, so we can visit again and actually do the tourist thing.  This time was all about laughing and loving life.

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Here’s what Suzanne had to write about it.

After Muscat, we headed off to Dubai to catch up with Jordan, Shannan and friends of theirs (who are now also friends of ours).  We splurged on a nice hotel on The Walk and whooped it up, although for Joe and me it was bittersweet since it was also our last night together.

City Lights and Laughter

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This past week was professional development, which worked out for Nasirah (my department chair whom I adore) and me because we pretty much planned out the whole trimester.  It’s good going in knowing we have our resources ready, and by the looks of it we may have only around 6 weeks of teaching because our exams have been moved up.  I’m not complaining, but my poor girls are going to be slammed with studying.   It’s okay, they’re tough, they can handle it.  I can’t believe my time with them is almost finished. The school year has gone by as fast as my breaks.

Last night some of my friends — same old crew, so really they’re more like sisters/cousins — came over for dinner, and tonight I’ll go over to Shannan’s for a cookout at her place, so basically I have a few more days of kicking back before the mad dash to the final exam line begins.  While I’m missing my people back home, I’m still totally content and grateful to be over here.  It’s weird to be so at peace when the world around me is losing its shit.  I’ll keep hoping the rest of the world will catch up with our little corner and learn to relax, love life and be productive in a good way.

Do I have to go back to work?

I’m on the last day of having 5 days off.  Bummer.  For the most part it’s been a whole lot of fun.  I mean look how relaxed I am on this beach pic…

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I love this pic.  It just sums up some of what I love doing most — chilling by water with friends.  Wine and food on the beach with some more of my loved ones would make it even better.

Tuesday was National Day, so Lisa, my infamous neighbor, and I drove to Abu Dhabi to spend time with fellow Phoenicians Naomi and Kelley.  I absolutely love where they live, and sometimes I’m a little jealous.  But, my corner of the emirate has its pluses too.  Best part is we can all visit each other’s corners at times like this.

We went to the Corniche (beach area), watched an air show, relaxed, watched the cars honk and parade up and down the street, strolled and relaxed some more, and then the sun went down and the crazy string and shaving cream wars began.  It’s insane, but a lot of fun just as long as you stay on the family side of things.  Loved seeing families picnic all over the park with their grills and shisha.  The kids and moms had a blast spraying us, and we had fun spraying them.

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Our major lesson learned was that it’s best to stay on the family side because if you cross the street — at night — to the beach side when a free event is taking place, you just might find yourself on the single male side of things.  Their idea of fun with silly string and shaving cream is a little more brutal — especially when unsuspecting western women walk their way.  Nothing bad happened, and the best way to sum this up is to say I can now add getting assaulted by silly string to my list of shit I’d never thought I do.  We quickly made it back to the family side of things and decided to just watch the fireworks from their balcony versus the beach.

The next day was all about shopping, and then we headed home for a night’s rest before taking off to Dubai.

Here are a few more fun pics of the Abu Dhabi portion of this week’s trip.10389280_10205604744343699_447312307029142301_nDSC05861 DSC05832 DSC05782 colored smoke from planesDSC05768 DSC05731 DSC05726 the lovely CornicheDSC05771

The Dubai portion of trip was all about exploring new things.  Shannan and I went to our first rugby match, and it just happened to be during the Rugby Sevens, which seems to be a pretty big deal to rugby fans.  Yay us, we got to watch our girls kick China’s shins.  And let me just say this is not a sport for sissies — they beat each other down!

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We were pretty pleased to learn a few of the mens teams were staying at our hotel and that our hotel had a rooftop pool and bar, but then way disappointed to learn it was a juice bar — drinks looked awesome though.  So, yeah, we booked at possibly the only dry hotel in Dubai, but it’s all good because we were so tired when we got back to our room we passed out, which was good because the next day we were busy, busy, busy.

First we ate breakfast on a patio at a lovely french restaurant, then we learned how to use the Metro, and then we explored Dubai Mall (which was a first for me).

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And then we checked out Global Village, which is a massive state fair, except it’s an international one.  Games, shops, rides, food — oh glorious food! — and shows.  Lot’s of fun.

DSC05952 DSC05955 the Americas exhibit was a let down.  What made me laugh was they had an Abaya stand there, and these abayas showed cleavage.  I guess that Americanizes it…DSC05956 DSC05957 DSC05958 I never knew honey was such a big deal in Yemen, but it is.  We got tons of free samples.DSC05959 Honey there’s a honey for us…DSC05963 want a cup of tea?DSC05967 DSC05968 DSC05972 roar!  monsters and moon!DSC05984 Three continents in one swoop DSC05992 DSC05994 Yep, I went to Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, etc. all on the same day!

DSC06000Aaah and my favorite stop, the Turkish Restaurant.  We shared a table with two Russian women, and enjoyed watching the men work as much as the food they served us.  I’m a fan of grilled meat and cheesy dishes!

Needless to say, I had a wonderful 5 days off.

I wasn’t going to mention the bit of UAE news that made it’s way back home because it’s not my story to tell.  Sadly, it does belong to others.  But, I’ve gotten so many emails on it that I feel like I have to end this happy post with ugly news.  Yes, I heard about that poor woman who got stabbed in the mall, and, yes, if I were stationed in Abu Dhabi that’s probably the grocery store I would use, and, yes, we are all shocked and horrified this happened.  I did not know the woman, but like everyone else my heart goes out to her family and friends.  I am so sorry the woman who wanted to create havoc did indeed end an innocent woman’s life.  I’m sure had I known the woman who died, I would’ve loved calling her friend.

Violence isn’t normal here. Crime isn’t normal.  The only time any of us feel in danger is when we’re on the roads, and then we learn how to drive here and we don’t mind so much. Heaven help the U.S. when we return.

Whether or not the murderer was associated with any terrorist groups is unknown, but her act was obviously one of terror.  To everyone back home I cannot stress enough that, for the most part, we are safe here.  Of course because we’re Western and because we’re in a Middle Eastern country we do keep our eyes open, but we hear of more horrors going on at home than we do in this country.

I want to thank everyone back home for their love and concern, and I also want you to know that I am quite happy with being here.  I am learning so much good from the people here, and I know one day I will enjoy sharing their tales with all of you around the fire pit in my yard back home — until then, know this is still a really good place for me to be.

Okay, time to fit in some t.v. before having to go back to doing the work thing again…

Doooobai!

When I started telling people I was moving to Abu Dhabi, the reaction was normally “Abu what?”  So, then I’d say it’s near Dubai.  Once I said that it was all about how lucky I was to be going to such a cosmo, ritzy, famous place.  Anyone I knew who had been to Dubai said that I’d love it and needed to go as soon as I got off the plane. Well almost two months into my time here, and I finally got to go.

I didn’t go to see the Burj Khalifa, the malls, or the Dubai fountains.  I didn’t even go check out the Palms or any of the other famous resorts.  Nope.  I went to chill with friends, get some beach time, some food, and a little bit of souq shopping. I’ve been swamped with work and moving into my new life, so I needed a whole lot of relaxation.  And OMG was the beach soooo sooooo soooo worth it. The chilled pool with a view of the beach was even better because I could cool off, wash off salt and sand and get a drink. Walking the beach at night is amazing.  Dubai is a sight to see when the sun is awake, but when she goes down it’s a whole other level of OMG.

The ride from Al Ain was an easy hour’s drive.  My friend did the driving, but if you leave on a Friday morning the traffic is something even stressed-out me can handle.  Good to know because I totally plan on doing this again and again and again.  I’ll even get around to checking out all the other touristy spots.  My monthly budget now includes Dubai because I’m doing this city as much as I can.  I absolutely love it, and I’m a whole lot jealous of the friends who are living there (but it’s all good because I totally plan on taking them up on their couch offers). Because I’m still busy with work and moving in (TWO cable guys are here working on my stuff as I type this — holy hell I think I might actually get my own Internet today!) I’ll stop writing and post some pics.  I’m sorry I’m not taking that many.  I promise I’ll get better once I’ve settled in more.  Now, I’m just taking it all in.

DSC05498Dubai on the horizon DSC05497Um this cow’s Eid break might not have been as nice as mine, but she doesn’t know it yet.  Or maybe she’s just going for a ride and eating grass right now. DSC05513I normally see one of these guys on the back of a pick up DSC05514hey there! does my hump smell? DSC05525I look evil posing in front of this parked RR, which we thought was for show, but no it belonged to someone. DSC05522 movies on the beachDSC05521 DSC05518 the sun setting on our little beach.  The water is bathwater warm and very salty, but heaven just the same. DSC05517 DSC05548 DSC05531 DSC05528 the beach area at night.  It’s even prettier in person. DSC05553 the burj in the distance.  The bottom right is the top of another very tall building.  I’ll take Joe to visit this in December.  I hear the best time to go is during sunset.   Below are shots from the gold and spice souq area.  Obviously the old boats fascinated me.  I also plan on taking a dhow ride when Joe visits, and doing one of the dinner cruises (on a nicer boat). DSC05593 DSC05592 DSC05589 DSC05585 DSC05576 DSC05577 DSC05581 DSC05582 DSC05575 DSC05573

2014-10-05 15.37.17and last but not least had my hair done by a Russian in the hotel salon.  I figured a salon in Dubai would be less likely to burn my hair.  AND, I went in there because there was another guy who reminded me of Zohan, and I just had to get my hair done by an Adam Sandler character.  But, the guy had another client, and there was no dancing or Zohan antics, so I’m glad I got the other guy, who was great.  Jill, if you’re reading this, don’t worry you’re still my favorite stylist!

I’m back to a darker shade of blonde because our sink water comes from the ocean, so it’s hell on everything including the hair.  And why my head looks like a pumpkin is beyond me, but there you go. Time for me to heat up some dinner and get back to working on work stuff.  This gig isn’t all Dubai and glamour!

p.s. Cable guys left.  Um, they say it works, but it’ll be two hours before I can use my Internet and 24-hours before I can use the cable T.V.  The whole cable thing just cracks me up.  Best part is I already came to grips with not having it.  I was just going to pay my neighbor for her wifi access.  Hopefully, the next time I post it’ll be using my own router.

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