Monday, June 25, 2007

A Log Cabin in New Hampshire

The children and I arrived back in the United States last week. M will join us soon.

We are staying in a log cabin in a rural part of New Hampshire. (Our own house is rented.)

I am soaking up the change of scenery, trying to burn it into my memory for when we return, in late July, for a second year in Abu Dhabi.

The sky is dusty blue, it seems bigger here, and it often has a gorgeous display of cotton-puff clouds across it. The road we travel into town cuts through hills covered in trees that make me think of gigantic heads of broccoli standing so close together you can't see their stalks.

Twice last week, when I was driving to the cabin late at night, deer loped out of the woods and and paused at the edge of the road. I slowed down, in case they charged my car. A deer did run into my car a few years ago in New Hampshire. But both times (last week) the deer walked back in to the forest.

Our log cabin is on a lake. The air is cool and dry. We don't need air conditioning, and my sunglasses don't fog up when I go outside.

Yesterday I saw beautiful lilac-colored dahlias for sale; I'm trying to resist buying them because in four weeks we'll be back in Abu Dhabi.

Two of my goals for when we go back to the UAE: to own a small palm tree and to take Middle Eastern dance lessons. The good news is that I know where to acquire both.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Talking with some Emiratis

This was taken last October at the Emirates Palace Hotel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
M and I were invited to a special Iftar, when Muslims break their daily sunrise-to-sunset fast.
The men in the picture were telling me about the reasons for the fast, which include going without food or water even on the hottest days.
They said it is to draw the person closer to God, to live as simply as possible, to feel how it is to live as the poor do, and also to continue their tradition.

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From Ireland to Abu Dhabi to New Hampshire

On June 6th I returned to Abu Dhabi after a week in Ireland.
M was incredibly kind to let me go, bearing all the responsibilities of his work and the kids' last week of school, too. (When I booked the trip last winter, I didn't know it would be the last week of school - SAT exams, finals, a sixth-grader's portfolio exhibition, an eighth-grader's graduation, end-of-year parties for the third- and first-graders... I didn't. Really.)

I went to Ireland alone, to attend a writing workshop in Listowel and to visit my grandmother in Dublin. It was a restorative seven days, where I could call my time my own, eat or not eat, socialize and withdraw when I liked. Fantastic.

Tonight the children and I fly to the US after a year in Abu Dhabi. (M joins us soon.)

It seems fitting that my last day of our first year here will be spent thus: I'll apply for my first job in over 17 years (at a school), and then, what's more exciting, I will for the first time visit the home of an Emirati lady.

My children tease me (constantly) about my eagerness to meet the "locals." So far they've been far more successful than I.

However, the other day I was watering my garden and a woman dressed in the full black abaya approached me.

"Are you Joe's mother?" she asked.
"Are you Sultan's mother?" I asked.

We are both looking forward to meeting today.
(This photo M took last summer when we were all in Ireland together; it shows three of our boys on Innishbofin, an island off the coast of Clifden, Galway.)