Friday, July 24, 2015

I'm Tumbl'n

Decided to try something new- I'm now on Tumblr!  Follow me:
https://www.tumblr.com/blog/armather00

I'm armather00, and my blog is The #Texpat.  Let's see where we end up!

I'm also on Instagram as armather00, and all my posts are tagged with #texpat as well.
And if you want to see my Twits.. I mean Tweets... Twitter handle is @TnPDiamond.
Pinterest is Amanda Mather, if you want general nonsense and pretty good recipe ideas...


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Time Flies Like the Wind...

Fruit flies like bananas.

T+ 5 months or so.

Whew.  It's been over a month since I've written- yikes!  SO much has happened in that time.  Here's a brief rundown:

Graduation!
TAMUQ celebrated our annual Commencement Ceremony on May 7, and this was my first go-round here. We had about a hundred students participating in the ceremony, and it was a little different than what I was used to on main campus.  For starters, the event was OUTSIDE.  In the DESERT HEAT.  In MAY.  And those of us working the event had to wear academic regalia.  This is one instance where not having any graduate education came in handy, as I just had to wear a robe, no hood or hat, and a simple t-shirt dress underneath.  My job was to act as a student marshal, helping to line the students up beforehand and leading them in the recessional after.  Not too bad.  The speaker was the US Ambassador to Qatar, and she had a pretty good speech, short and sweet and to the point.  After was a huge reception with Qatari sword dancing and tons of heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks (water, juice, coffee) and the grads and families were able to celebrate.  It ended up being a really beautiful ceremony.  (Just made for a really long day.  Rehearsal was at 9am, also outside, then workday, then the ceremony prep and ceremony itself, then breakdown and cleanup- and did I mention all this was outside?)  My head hit the bed at 11:50pm and I don't think I moved til the next morning.

Graduation, Part 2!
Timing is everything, except when it isn't.  Most of you reading (OK, both of you!) probably know about Macey.  She is our "adopted daughter" who started as a student in my learning community, and became a part of our family- without having to go thru the painful teen years.  She's super special to us, not just because she takes phenomenal care of our dogs when we travel.  Anyway, she also graduated in May on main campus, with a degree in Theatre Arts.  When we first explored the possibility of coming over here, she wasn't sure she would let us go.  We managed to be there in person for her Ring Day, but it just didn't work out for us to be there when she walked.  BUT her super sweet boyfriend was kind enough to Skype me in the middle of the night (my time) so I could at least watch her get her diploma.

I'm always proud of all my students when they reach this goal, but Macey was so special.  We have had many heart-to-hearts about majors, job opportunities, philosophy, Harry Potter, the meaning of life, Pitch Perfect... the child really is like a daughter to me, and it was incredible to be able to see this milestone from 8,000 miles away. I couldn't be happier or more proud if she really was my kid.

Anniversary!
Sixteen. Years.  Holy shit, right?  We were young and dumb- but sixteen years ago, I married the love of my life.  I THINK Thomas did too.  We celebrated this milestone by doing... nothing.  Well, nothing fancy.  We had planned to walk to breakfast with friends, and we did walk to the restaurant- only to find they were not yet open.  (Not our usual walking-to-breakfast place, Ric's- this was a bagel place much closer.  We'd been there before, but apparently they open later on Fridays.  Who knew?)  But all was not lost, our friends said, "Come over!  We'll make pancakes!"  So we proceeded to enjoy delicious pancakes and BACON.  Yummy, yummy, real pork BACON.  Not a bad way to start the day, if I'm honest!  We'd also talked about going to dinner at a fancy restaurant, but summer school had started that week and we were pooped- so we ended up ordering dinner in and watching TV.  Pretty perfect.

Dubai!
So there's this group of friends that takes an annual trip to Dubai, to the Atlantis resort (!) and this year, we were invited to join them.  I feel like we've officially been initiated and are really part of the gang now.  (This ended up being our official anniversary splurge.)  We left Doha early- left our building at 5:45am.  Normally, when you leave at that time, it's dark- but here, the sun's up at the ass-crack of dawn, around 4.  So it was bright!  Once we got checked in at the airport, our friends (who have racked up status on Qatar Airways/One World) got us into the business lounge... so of course we had to have some champagne, as you do.  And croissants and cheese for breakfast.  Saw an older gentleman in an Aggie shirt, so of course we had to say hello.  He was on his way back to Dallas from Dubai.  Nice gent.
Anyway, after a short flight, we arrived in Dubai, cleared passport control, and headed to the Duty-free Shop to acquire certain adult beverages.  After QDC, this place seemed dirt cheap, honestly.  Made our purchases, crammed ourselves into two taxis, and sped off to The Palm.  (Y'know the palm-tree-shaped man-made island?  Yeah, that one.)  Atlantis is pretty spectacular, and one of our group had gotten us a special deal for the weekend that included breakfast, dinner, waterpark, and aquarium access.  Thomas and I, being the last ones to join, had an Imperial Club room that also gave us access to the Club, snacks and happy hour.  (We're the shizz now, apparently! ; )

Anyway- WATERPARK!  OMG.  One room was ready, so we all threw our stuff in there and changed into swimsuits and went to play.  This was the best waterpark I've ever been to- lazy river, water coaster slides, body slides, big raft slides, beachy areas... we had so much fun.  And, we all greased up pretty good and not one of us got burned!  We went back the next day too and played for a few more hours, it was awesome and very relaxing.  Just what we all needed.

We also had incredibly good food, Italian one night and French the next- three course meals each time.  SO. GOOD.  We also took a bit of time to play on the beach, in the Persian Gulf, and explore the Aquarium there too.  The last day, our flight home wasn't until 4:30, so we Thomas and I took the resort bus to the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa- the tallest building in the world.  We went up to the 125th floor observation deck, which was pretty cool.  It had been pretty hazy the whole weekend, so we couldn't see too terribly far, but it was neat nevertheless.  After a quick lunch, we also went to the aquarium and "Underwater Zoo"- they had some massive sharks and rays.  Then we caught a taxi to the airport, and again met our friends in the lounge for pre-takeoff drinks.  And were home by 7:00pm.  It was a whirl of a trip, but so fun, so relaxing, so needed.  Everyone should be so lucky!

So that's been my month... and next week, we go down under!  I have an advising conference in Melbourne, and Thomas is tagging along.  We plan to explore the city, and meet my friend who lives there, and enjoy for a couple days after the conference is done.  It has long been at the top of our list of places to go, and I am excited that's finally happening.  In the meantime, we will be working as ususal... well, sort of.  The Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan begins tomorrow, so our schedules will be shortened for the next 30 days.  We'll work 7:30-2:30, but knowing Thomas he will use the slow time to get extra work done... I may be catching rides home with friends!

So I promise to try to do better and update more regularly, especially as we experience our first Ramadan.

Also, it's hot.

More soon!



Saturday, May 9, 2015

Whirlwind

T+ almost 4 months..

Well, it's taken me a while to sit down and write a new post because it's taken me this long to process all the emotions from our whirlwind trip home to Texas.  We didn't stay in any place longer than two nights, and we managed to squeeze in approximately 1200 miles of driving in those days, and my arse has just now recovered feeling... but it was so worth it all.  I needed that- I needed to see my family and friends, to hug them like there was no tomorrow, to laugh and be goofy with my nieces.

We left Doha on the 1:50am flight... and this time we flew economy 'cause it was our dime paying for my ticket.  On all our previous trips here, we'd been spoiled in Business Class since the University/Qatar Foundation was footing the bill, but on this trip it was only Thomas that was covered.  We ended up in the middle two of a 3-4-3 configuration, with two large gents on either side of us.  They were nice enough, but we were squeezed in!  Oy.  Thankfully that was the shorter flight to Germany, and on the longer one were still in the middle section, but on the outside two seats.  So I at least only had to climb over Thomas to get to the bathroom... oh, and did I mention our bags?  So we had bought a FEW souvenirs for people back home, and we packed one giant suitcase with nothing but those.  And two large rocks- one for my mom and one for Thomas' dad, who are into that.  We've dragged back rocks from all over the world for them.  Now generally we go for about fist-size, but Thomas was of the opinion "Go big or go home."  So these weighed about 10 lbs each.  Which made that checked bag overweight.  So it was $150 US or get rid of the rocks.  I feel bad for the custodian who had to empty that trash can... once we finally got the bag underweight, we were good to go.  Two checked bags going over, plus I had my little red rollaboard.  Remember that...

After a very long day, we finally made it to Houston and I have never been so glad to see pine trees in my life.  We had gotten approved for Global Entry, so we breezed thru customs, picked up our bags, and  headed for the rental car center.  Picked up a Nissan Rogue, and I slid into the drivers seat and we headed to the Mather's for the night.  Never thought I would miss Houston traffic, but after Doha, no sweat.  Bring it, Beltway!  Since Thomas does most of the driving here, I told him I would happily drive across Texas and back.  From Houston, we proceeded to go to College Station (doc and dentist in one day!) then on to San Antonio for Thomas' conference, Round Rock, Tyler, Marshall, Fulshear, Houston, back to College Station, back to Houston to fly out.  Along the way we managed to get all our Texas food fixes in: Mexican food at Adobe Verde in Gruene, BBQ at Salt Lick in Round Rock, Brown Pigs at Porky's in Marshall, Agnor's Chili in Tyler with the family (and I brought back 24 packs of mix, one of which is simmering in the crockpot now for tonight's dinner... the apartment smells awesome), Whataburger in College Station, more excellent Mexican and margaritas at Casa Rodriguez in downtown Bryan, and lunch at Chili's with my friends.  I gained weight and I don't care, it was worth it.  Along the way we also managed to collect another suitcase and two duffel bags worth of loot- clothes (you can't go to San Marcos and not stop at the outlet mall.. Old Navy FTW!), groceries (some things we just can't find here...) and a few things I had wanted to bring in the first place and just wasn't able to.  So when we checked back in at the airport, we had four checked bags and two carry-ons each.  I was worried about being able to haul it all, but we managed.  OH, how could I forget- in one of the checked bags was 5.5 lbs (max legally allowed) of dry ice cooling 6 pounds of kielbasa sausage, turkey lunch meat, Little Smokies... Thomas insisted.  Thankfully, nothing caused issues at Qatar customs and we actually still had most of the dry ice when we got home 25 hours later.

I did better leaving Texas on this trip, I only cried a little when we left my family and again when we left our dogs at home in CS.  Oh, my doggies... I miss them so much.  When I got home, and I walked in to the house, they were happy to see me and we all rolled on the floor for a bit for puppy kisses.  Then we all snuggled up on the couch for a while, including Laura's dog Charlie.  (Laura is the awesome friend who's living in the house and keeping the babies in excellent condition, by which I mean spoiled as they ever were.  I'm so incredibly grateful to her for that.)  Charlie is a mess, he ended up sleeping with us while we were there!  He's such a cuddle bug!  It was really great, though, to see how good they all are, and know they're well cared for and happy.  Who knows what really goes thru their doggy brains, but they seem perfectly content.

This trip was good for me on so many levels- it allowed me to see everyone and catch up on sorely missed friend time, but it also allowed me to be more at peace that I am where I am supposed to be right now.  I do like Doha tons (not quite to loving it yet, thanks traffic!) but it's great.  It's the right place for me, career-wise, as I'm getting the chance to do some cool stuff and kind of remake the advising office.  It's the right place personally- as much as we have been together over the last four months, Thomas and I have really grown stronger as a couple, since we have to rely on each other so much.  Not that we didn't before, but here we do much more.  And since we are not so busy with "extracurricular" stuff, we are spending more time together too.  Both of us have less stress, job-wise, and are less prone to bringing work home with us after-hours.  We are more relaxed, and since we have less stress we are less likely to take it out on the other- so, win-win.  Also, it's the right place for us to be able to travel, something we've both wanted to do more of.  I got approved to go to an advising conference in Australia this summer!  I'm so excited.

And, honestly, I was glad to get back to Doha (just in time for the whirl of graduation week and the unique frenzy it brings... more about that later...)  Texas will always be HOME, no matter where I live- but Doha is beginning to seem more home-like.  I am really starting to feel like we are growing tentative roots- we have good friends, we've pretty much figured out how and where to get just about everything we need, I have Agnor's Chili Mix to keep me for a while (seriously, it's THAT good- you should try it. Not for nothing did it win Terlingua in '76), we have Skype, and I have Thomas.  I wrote a while back, quoting my friend Suzanne, about homesickness being like waves- sometimes great and crashing, sometimes small and lapping, but always there.  I'm to the point that they are mostly small and lapping, which is good.  I know I will be more than ready for the next trip to Texas, which will likely be in December... but it's really not so bad here.  And for that I am grateful.

(And I am also grateful for Z-Packs, and understanding docs that will prescribe them in advance of needing them.  I've spent the last week with a painful ear infection, which finally broke this morning.  Not totally gone, but so much better than it has been!  I can hear again!)

Love to you all back in the Lone Star State!



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ring Day in Qatar

What, two posts in two days?  I know, I know... but this was SO COOL, y'all!

We attended our first TAMUQ Aggie Ring Day today. Now we are seasoned veterans of main campus Ring Day and it's unique brand of chaos- we have delivered a few Rings on our time to some very excited Aggies.  So we wanted to see how they do it over here, and it's every bit as much of a big deal as it is at the Mothership (that nickname shamelessly stolen from my friend JP from TAMU-Corpus Christi!)

The event was held in the student center cinema, which is NICE.  (Sorry, Rudder Theater, you've been bested.)  We walked in and heard the Aggie Band playing and I'm not ashamed to say I had to fight back a lump in my throat and my eyes may have been a bit watery.  The Band has always had that effect on me, from the first time I saw them march and especially after I became an Aggie.  Anyway, I digress.. Seats were reserved for the Ring recipients, and as we made our way up the stairs I saw friends and family with flowers, balloons, etc and the excitement was palpable.  I know many think that, being so far removed from main campus, that the Aggie Spirit isn't really a thing here- but I beg to differ.  It's alive and well, and the Ring is just as powerful a symbol here as it is there.  Many students have noticed my Ring and commented on it (and I think are a little surprised that I am a graduate.  On main campus we Former Students are a dime-a-dozen, here we're a little rarer.  I digress again...)

The emcee was great, funny and very personable.  Each student receiving their Ring was called out and individually presented their Ring by the Dean of the University, and photos were taken of each one with him.  The students there to support their friends and classmates were yelling, clapping, cheering, laughing, and really it was incredible to see and hear.  Flowers and balloons were given, and afterwards there was CAKE.

A HUGE cake shaped like the Aggie Ring, with delicious chocolate and yellow cake and the best fondant icing I've ever had.  Usually it's too dry and flavorless for me, but this was really good, soft and sweet.  Mmmm...

Student Affairs was responsible for the event, and they did a tremendous job.  I recognized several of the students getting Rings, and it was nice to witness the camaraderie of the students and be small part of the excitement again.  It was a really great way to end the week.

I know main campus Ring Day is tomorrow, as part of the annual Parents' Weekend, and I know lots of my former students and cadets are getting their Rings too.  I'm sad I won't get to be a part of it, as I know exactly how hard they had to work to earn that shiny piece of gold, but today helped soften that a bit... something tells me, though, that the students here don't know about the unofficial Ring Dunk tradition of main campus.  Probably for the best...

Congratulations to all those who get their Rings this weekend, you've earned it and I'm proud of you!

4 days to Texas...


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5 DAYS TO TEXAS!

T+3 months, 2 days.

What a busy last couple of weeks!  Holy crap.  Trying to get approximately 500 students preregistered in at least 2 classes as the only academic advisor in the school is lots of fun.  Then trying to get through the drop deadline (q-drops, if you saw  it on Facebook) AND lifting holds for the 40 or so who didn't bother to come in for advising and trying to placate those who don't like the classes they were assigned...

I had my first student yell at me on Sunday.  He didn't like that he didn't get his way (I get the feeling that this was a new thing) and didn't get resolution immediately, but I held my ground, even though my heart was pounding and I was absolutely quaking.  Not from fear, but I hate being yelled at.  I told him repeatedly that he could take care of the issue during his registration time later this week- and guess what, he came back yesterday, was much nicer, and he was able to get the class he wanted.  I've had a few others that were less than pleased when I told them no, I don't think it's something they have heard from the advising office prior to now.  New sheriff in town...

Random:  One of the radio stations here has a "Country hour" on Mondays, from 4:30-5:30pm, and we happened to catch it on the way home that day.  This week's show was all about Willie.  Yes, please... I was singin' along all happy, then they went and played "(Mamas) Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and I. LOST.  IT.  Ugly cry.  Caught my poor husband way off guard!  It just brought back SO many memories of my dad and uncle, both guitar players, pickin' and grinnin' and singin'.  I love it here, but I don't think I had admitted to myself just quite how homesick I am for Texas.  Fortunately, we are going home in 5 days!  Not that I am counting or anything... but I am ready for family and friends, to see my dogs, for Whataburger and Mexican food and bluebonnets and wide Texas skies.  I've never lived outside the great state until January, and no matter where I am it's always going to be home to me.  We've been building a stash of souvenirs for everyone, we are gonna need a giant bag to get it all home... Thomas also has a pretty extensive list of things to bring back to Doha with us, topped by Polish sausage (beef, of course) and Kraft mac and cheese (hard to find and expensive when we do.)  I've also done some online shopping and it's all waiting for me at Mom and Dad's house.  I am so ready to be there, I really need to learn how to Apparate and just skip the flight bit altogether...

We have gotten approved for Global Entry fast track for US Customs, and we have the Qatar version of that called E-Gate.  So hopefully that will make things a little smoother along the way.  We have our passports, our residency cards, our exit permits, I guess at some point we should pack stuff... I would honestly go with nothing just so I can hug my mom and dad again.  Skype has been such a blessing, we talk on Sundays for at least an hour.  I don't know that I would have made it this long without it.  If you stop to think about it, it is pretty impressive that I can say something and they can see it and hear it 8,000 miles away!

We are continuing our weekly 10K treks to Ric's on weekend mornings, we feel pretty good about eating the giant breakfast burrito (we do share it) once we do that.  It's steadily getting warmer, though, and before too long it'll be too hot to do that.  Guess I will have to get my arse up to the gym and get on the treadmill instead... This week as we walked along the Corniche we came across a movie set, neat to see- they were filming a dhow in the bay, first one I've seen with sail raised.  Made for a pretty picture on a sunny day.

Otherwise things are puttering along here, get up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat.  It's a pleasant routine- I do like my job, even when it's stressful, our friends here are wonderful and lots of fun, and I genuinely like our life.  I am happy to be here (and I realize typing this that it sounds like I'm trying to convince myself!), I just miss my people, that's all.  But I get to see them soon!  Keeping me going...


GOD BLESS TEXAS.

Friday, April 3, 2015

More firsts

T+... Oh, about 2 1/2 months, give or take.

This week was another week of firsts for us, in a couple of ways.  We had our first really big sandstorm (we've had our share of dusty days, but this one was epic.)  Like, so big as in the campus and all other schools closed because it was dangerous to drive, as in zero visibility.  Can't say this was on my bucket list, but it's now checked off...
We were in the bedroom at about 10:00pm on Wednesday night- Thomas was piddling on his iPad and I was reading, the TV was off so it was quiet in the room.  I was sitting near the windows, and kept hearing them creak.  Eventually I turned around and looked out, but all I could see was what looked like white fog- but was really sand and dust in the air.  I couldn't see the street in front of our building, no lights in the buildings by ours- everything was blocked by dust.  The wind was blowing hard (eventually we read it was up to 70 km in some places!) and we heard things hitting the windows.  We went to bed a little later with it howling, and we were woken up at 6:30am the next morning (well, I was, Thomas was already up.  He's weird like that.) saying that due to the storm, driving conditions were hazardous and our campus would be closed for the day.  Well, hello, 3-day weekend!  No complaints here... we got up a little later, and the air was starting to clear.  By the afternoon it was mostly clear.

Which was good for today, as today turned out to be gorgeous.  Even better as we had plans to walk over to the W Hotel for their Easter Brunch.  We had heard about Friday brunch in Doha- apparently it's quite the thing to do, and most of the hotels have a lavish spread each week for this.  The W did theirs from 12-4pm, and silly me, I thought it was a come-and-go anytime between those times.  Dummy.  You ARRIVE at noon and STAY 'til 4, eating and drinking the whole time.  It's a marathon, not a spring, and you seriously have to pace yourself.  Can you say bottomless mimosas?  Also the signature cocktail, which this week was a Pimm's something or other which was absolutely delicious.  Yes, please.  And then there was the food.  Sushi? Yep.  Waffles?  You got it.  Steak, lamb, veal, mac and cheese?  Just over there.  Oysters on the half shell?  Of course, have some!  Creme brulee, cupcakes, cheesecake, ice cream, chocolate mousse (anyone else think of the movie Top Secret when you hear those words?  No, just me?  OK.) chocolate cake, caramel popcorn, crepes, chocolate fountain?  Sure, have at them! OMG  it was all SO GOOD.  We staggered home.  I felt like Mr. Creosote:

I don't have the foggiest idea HOW people do that on a weekly basis.  I have to walk to Ric's AND BACK tomorrow to work that off... but it was certainly a great time with great people.  I should be ready to do it again around Thanksgiving...
 
Happy Easter from Doha!



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Random Musings...

T+... 2.5 months...ish...Sorry y'all, I'll do better!

So Thomas is at a work training session, and I am rattling around the apartment waiting for dinner to thaw.  Random things I've thought this week...

-Baby-sister-who-isn't-really-a-baby-but-she'll-always-be-to-me moved to Chicago in November, giving me tons of inspiration to do this thing.  She flew home to visit this weekend, and I got a precious few minutes to Skype with her (as well as the rest of the family) this weekend.  SO hard seeing them all gathered together and not being a part of it... brought a lump to my throat and maybe a few tears to my eyes.  But one thing I noticed- she looks SO happy.  Happier than I have seen her in a long time, and that makes ME happy.  She and I are far more similar than different, we have so much in common, and I am so proud of her for taking the big step she did.  Also, her Sig.Other is pretty awesome, I blame him for a lot of this.  Thanks, man, for making my sister happy and taking good care of her.  (Not that she isn't fully capable of taking care of her self- she is- but you really make her light shine in a way it hasn't in a long time. Y'all really complement each other.)

-I had an advising appointment today with a student, who had some questions, wasn't sure he was on the right track but thought he might be... and after we hashed it all out he said the greatest thing to me.  "I thought I'd be OK, I just wanted to hear it from someone who knows what they are doing.  Kinda like going to the doctor!"  Made me smile so big.  He thinks I know what I'm doing!  Must be doing something right, then!

-Officially the only academic advisor here now.  The other girl has now moved into her new role on campus, so it's just me.  Yikes, no pressure to get May grads cleared, degree adjustments submitted, schedules planned...

-Thank goodness, then, that I got MY liquor permit this weekend!  Gonna need that... just kidding but seriously... I can also now officially buy pork.  Delicious, delicious pork.

-Also discovered the Jarir Bookstore this weekend!  Not quite Barnes and Noble, but they had a decent enough selection of English language books that I can keep myself occupied for a couple of weeks.

-We have found heaven, and it is called Ric's.  Ric's Kountry Kitchen, to be more specific.  It's a bit of a hole-in-the-wall place (which is exactly our type and what we've been looking for) but they have damn good breakfast and we've heard good things about lunch and dinner too.  The menu has lots of familiar foods- migas, breakfast burritos, Texas toast, CFS, grits... and ICED TEA.  Honest-to-goodness real ICED TEA.  Strong, crisp, caffeinated, SO GOOD.  I can drink a gallon of it.  We wer introduced by some friends, who invited us to walk over for breakfast a couple weekends ago.  We accepted, and met them in the lobby really early on Saturday morning.  Should have been a warning to me that they were dressed in workout clothes and we were in jeans... the walk was a BIT farther than we were expecting.  About 8 kilometers farther, around the Corniche and about three long blocks off of it.  Still, it was a great morning, sunny and breezy and the company was great, and the food was worth the walk.  We earned our breakfast burrito that day, and liked it so much we walked back this past weekend too (we caught a cab home both days.)  There's a tentative plan to go back this weekend as well, and if the weather's nice, I just might try walking both ways.  I do love being outside in the breeze when I can be, before it gets too damn hot.

-We were in one of the grocery stores this Saturday, and I was poking around looking for something when I heard someone say, Happy Mother's Day!  I turned to see who it was, and realized she was talking to ME!  Apparently Mother's Day was this weekend in the Middle East, and she was a rep for a baby formula company and they were giving roses to moms.  I told her I wasn't one, didn't have kids, and she said, "That's OK!  You get roses too!"  Uh, OK then!  So now I have two beautiful roses, one deep red and one peachy-pink, blooming on my dining table... unintentionally, a lovely reminder of Tyler, TX, Rose Capital USA!


-It rained this week.  HARD.  Surprisingly so, thunder and wind and all.  There aren't many people over here who know how to drive in the rain, since it happens so infrequently... also, very little drainage so no place for the water to go but over the roads. Was an interesting ride to work.

Dinner is just about thawed, and Thomas is on his way home... so I will sign off for now!  Four weeks to Texas!