Apocalypse Over

Jet-lag has been vanquished, but I’m still making those last lingering adjustments to post-expat re-entry. (you know, finishing up the spontaneous incineration of the ablative heat shield, also known as “trailing clouds of glory . . .”) So far, I’ve been to Trader Joe’s, the Library, Macaroni Grill, and even (gasp!) Wal-Mart. But I didn’t actually buy anything at Wal-Mart. So does that make it O.K.?

I still don’t have a good short answer (or even a good long answer) for the ubiquitous question, “where are you from?” read more

Travel Update #3: Not with a bang but a whimper

You know what? I don’t think I have 22 hours worth of memories from our last 22 hours of traveling. I know I wasn’t sleeping for most of it (sadly), so I must just have selective amnesia. Or maybe nothing really happened.

Here’s the little I remember:  We ate guacamole in the Chicago airport. It was as good as I remembered it. (Also, I made a bowl of guacamole yesterday at my mother-in-law’s house, and ate the whole thing myself. I might do that again today.)

Airport security is as paranoid as ever in the U.S.A. At least we were only flying the week of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and not the actual day. read more

International News in My Backyard

International News in My Backyard

The Tunisian police are holding a sit-in today to protest all the police stations that were burned during the revolution, and make sure the 23 police officers on trial for killing demonstrators during the weeks leading up to President Ali’s exit get a fair trial. They’re considering a general strike if the sit-in fails to produce the results they want. Ben Ali’s power base was largely drawn from the police force, and so the police now feel that they’ve been unfairly blamed for the violence during the protests in January. read more

In Need of a Sabbatical

The time has come. Next Tuesday we will be on a plane to California. Sorry to spring these things on you so precipitously. That’s just the way things seem to work out.

Ever since our business failed after the 2008 credit crunch, life has been pretty difficult and stressful. We’ve had some exciting adventures, crazy travels, and happy times (the kind of stuff that typically ends up on the blog), but we’ve also had some very serious challenges. I can say that I’m physically, mentally, and in every other way worn out. My in-laws have graciously offered to let us stay with them while I recover from a persistent health issue and we sort out our finances and decide which direction we’d like to take our life next. read more

I Thought I Could Organize Freedom

It’s that time of the year when Tony and I start thinking about what we like to refer to as “the Northern countries.” This first began when we were living in Saluzzo, Italy three years ago. As in most of Italy, summers there get quite hot. And just when it gets so sweltering that it’s barely possible to even move outside without a gelato in one hand and an Italian ice in the other, the downtown travel agencies start putting up large, tempting photos of gloriously icy blue Norwegian fjords. It had never occurred to me that I might like to visit Northern Europe, but all of a sudden, countries that bordered the North Pole or had names containing “ice” began to sound incredibly appealing. read more

Things Work Out

Our internet has been nonexistent since Thursday night. We are told that the internet company has shut down service to protest some injustice or other. Ah, the joys of living in revolution-happy Tunisia. And Tony woke up yesterday morning with his right pinky toe swollen to double its normal size and an angry red rash all over the lower half of his body. Apparently, he picked up something nasty during his last Hammam visit. Fortunately, our landlord and next-door neighbor is a doctor. He looked at it right away, and then wrote up some prescriptions. Alistair kindly provided a lift to the Pharmacy. Now Tony is taking an antifungal, antibiotics, and painkillers. And sleeping a lot. It has also been raining all week. My teeth are throbbing from clenching them in the night, even with a night-guard. And I’m supposed to be making a leg of lamb for the Easter potluck tomorrow, for which I haven’t even yet gone shopping. I’ll keep the complaining to a paragraph. You’ve probably gotten the picture. read more

Where should we go first? Libya or Algeria?

I do a fair amount of airing of exasperations about moving on this blog. But there are some delightful things that happen as a result of our wanderings. And one of the best of those is meeting new friends. We just moved to a different vacation rental (closer to the beach. Hurrah!), and our newest friend is a retired British gentleman who lives downstairs. Alastair (not his real name, but I assure you that his real name sounds just as British) is one of the most pleasant conversationalists I’ve ever met. He is unfailingly polite, thoughtful, interesting, and has a brilliant dry wit made all the funnier by by his proper English accent. read more

Shifting Providence

“Fool,” cried the witch. “You will suffer greatly for this when I have conquered your world!”

Tony’s latest read-aloud for the children is The Magician’s Nephew. I’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia countless times, and just like with the Lord of the Rings, whenever I read them, I seem to identify with a different character. This time around, the one who impressed me the most was Jadis. Yes, Jadis, the proud, ruthless queen of mighty Charn, and the future White Witch of Narnia. You might think that the arch-villainess of the series is an odd choice for a heroine, especially given my current obsession with the deposition of dictators. And you’d be right. But questionable ethics aside, Jadis is a woman of strength, power, and unbounded faith. read more

Light My Fire . . . Kindle It, That Is

Yes, my #1 favorite Christmas present finally arrived today! Thank you to my in-laws for the funds, and Tina and Robert for getting it over the Atlantic for me. As an inveterate bookworm, I have been contemplating getting a Kindle for years. At first, I was one of those people who just couldn’t stomach the idea of replacing a real book with an electronic device. I loved the classic Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk visits the eccentric with the real, old-fashioned library. It makes me feel at home to have shelves and shelves full of books, preferably nice, heavy hard-bound ones. My favorite used bookstore from Fallbrook, California still sends me emails, and I just can’t bring myself to unsubscribe, even though I know I’m not going to make it to a half-price sale on the other side of the world anytime soon. read more

The Sun Egg

Overheard in my living room last week:

Dominique (to Axa): You’re the women who did not kill her baby.
Axa: Yes, I’m not the harlot.

Before I am accused of a shocking parenting lapse, I would like to point out that this is a Biblical allusion. Bonus points to you if you can guess the story.

Dominique also has his own way of coping with the winter weather. He announced a few days ago that from now on, we will read the same story at nap time every day. His chosen story is called The Sun Egg. It is a Swedish fairy tale about a forest elf who discovers a beautiful brightly-colored sphere in the forest. All the forest creatures have different theories about the strange object’s origin. They finally decide that it is a sun egg, and hope that their very own sun will hatch out, so they can have a sun to shine on them all the time. Finally, a migrating thrush appears, who recognizes the sun egg as an orange. The next winter when he flies south he takes the elf with him, and she enjoys a lovely vacation in a warm, sunny locale with as many oranges as she likes. read more