Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Katie Rocks.

We got a very fun surprise in the mail this week.

Snacks for Ian.

And an awesome bag for me!
Totally unexpected and totally cool.  Thank you Katie!!  We love our Bangladeshi Paleo surprise.

Dihdis turned 15....

At 1 very cute years old.

Friday, April 17, 2015

From Qasrs to Wetland

After the Qasrs we had lunch at the Azraq Lodge which is run by the Royal Society for the Preservation of Nature (RSCN) just like the castles and the wetland.  The original part of the building was used as a WWII British field hospital.  The establishment is now a restaurant and lodge.  Jonathon stayed overnight there in 6th grade on his class field trip.


One part of the wetland
The wetland is another misnomer. Only 20 years ago, the wetlands were a source of revenue from fishing.   Due to high volume pumping it shrank to a tiny portion of its original size and even with a water infusion a few years ago, it really hasn't recovered. What once covered acres with a wide variety of wild life is now no more than a good sized pond. There is but one kind of fish and far too much stuff growing in there to support more.  If you're quiet by the water, you hear what sounds like poprocks going off.  I don't know enough about these particular fish to know if it's normal, but for -other- fish I know that the gasping sound means there isn't enough oxygen in the water for them.

Water buffalo used to help manage the plant growth in the water.  They were all eaten or something, but a not long ago a few were reintroduced to the preserve in an effort to have them get back to work.


Watching for birds

Watching for water buffalo

Love it!

Unfortunately, the wetland continues to die.  We saw a blue heron.  We saw a white heron.  We saw some form of duck - four of them!  We saw sparrow type birds, and some typical pigeony sorts.

That's it folks.

Dead tree.

Another dead tree on what used to be a flooded area of the reserve.
Kind of was a downer of a way to end the trip.

Qasrs in the Desert

Today's CLO adventure brought us to three desert castles.  "Castle" is a pretty good misnomer for all three.

Qasr Kharana

Qasr Kharana was a waystation.  A place for travelers and caravans to rest after a long trek. A lodging.  Each of those arch topped openings was a general space with bedrooms off to the sides.  Dark, windowless, filled with vermin and and a basilisk or two. The rooms were pitch black there was no telling what was in them.

Kids with Qasr Kharana
Some thought for a while that the building was a fort.  It gives off a "fort" air, no?  Those narrow windows, the curved entry.  The windows are actually ventilation as they are far too narrow and deep for warfare, and the curved entry and corners were decorative only and not watch towers.

Qasr Amra

Qasr Amra is nothing like a castle.  Look how tiny it is!  In fact, if Qasr Amra and Qasr Kharana were closer, say spitting distance, they'd be perfect together.  Qasr Amra is a bath house.  Tiny on the outside, even tinier on the inside as it has multiple rooms, each a step in the cleansing process - one for steaming, one for scrubbing, one for cooling, etc.  Putting 4 full-dressed Americans in one of those rooms felt like we were getting far too friendly.  I imagine that back when Qasr Amra was used strangers were much more comfortable getting reeeealy close really fast.  After a hard day out, who cares about personal space.

Wall art in Qasr Amra

Ceiling art in Qasr Amra

Kids with Qasr Amra
Admit it... it belongs on Tatooine.

Qasr Azraq is where Lawrence of Arabia stayed.  That's his window.

Qasr Azraq is in the middle of the town of Azraq.  Even though the town is surrounded by the black rocks of the region, the castle looks like parts have been picked apart for their stones.

Kids in Qasr Azraq.  I can't recall, but I think he bit his lip.
It too is not a castle, this one actually is a fort - with high walls, rooms for lodging, stables, shops, and right in the center a separate mosque building.  The fort has two arched entrances and a lot of collapsed roofs.

Desert castles - check.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nature Sucks.

It may be green well past Amman's normal green time, but just because it's green doesn't mean it's welcoming.

Enough said.

In the art show

Becca with her submissions.

Monochrome painting.

Mixed media.

The piece above will go on the wall in our house.  I found this project fascinating as the kids were given these two images and told to combine them into a single image.

 The results were all over the map.  Becca went for abstract minimalism.  Others went for realistic imagery blended in a surreal manner.





Photography.
One of Becca's strong interests is makeup, and another is photography.  They are great artistic outlets and she's considering pursuing a major in one or a combination of the two.  While we were looking at her piece, two teachers came by and lamented that this entry wasn't up for auction.  I think it will have an auction slip on it tomorrow.

Painting.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

While the cat's away -

So yesterday was Easter Sunday over here in the east.  Saturday we held the egg hunt over at the Embassy compound.  After the highest temperature all year last week (I think we hit almost 90), a weather depression set in and our nighttime temperatures are back in the 30s with daytime highs in the 40s and low 50s, and rain.  Or snow.  Or hail.  Or all three.

We went ahead anyway, because like so many things, rescheduling isn't an option.

Saturday started dripping right at 10 a.m. when the kids were all gathered and ready to hunt.  With the turn in the weather, there were no extended photo sessions on the Ambassador's green lawn and the Easter Bunny was the warmest dressed lapin out there.  Kids found their 10 eggs, lined up to get their goody bag, and headed to brunch or right back home.  It was that kind of day, which made it really easy on us.

Yesterday being Orthodox Easter Sunday, we had the day off from both school and work.  I dropped Becca off at school anyway to help set up the art show for this week.  And then the clouds opened. A friend, Sabrina, picked me up and we went off for an errand that landed us in the middle of Amman in the midst of an ice and snow thunderstorm.  It was awesome.  The roads flooded, cars were covered in a layer of slush, and when we picked up Becca she discovered her (husband's) car had a nail in a tire. Called up another friend to come get (the three of) us and abandoned the (husband's) car in the school parking lot.

Home again and after some lunch and a serious pile of dish washing, I banished the kids to the game (it has a computer and an xBox in it) room so the hunt could proceed.  This year it was left up to me because my husband is in Germany staring at beautiful mountains and eating his weight in schnitzel.  The clues weren't hard, but some of the kids are better at jumping to the right conclusions than others.

Candy scored.

And so we played some Band Hero and I have the drum stick blister to show for it.  Then Black Ops zombies were killed.  I may have needed 30 revivals but I also killed 50 or so zombies.  I'm a team player.

The other day we tried to watch some old seasons of Survivor and started with season 1.  Ouch.  It showed off some pretty lousy editing and really boring beach chats.  That's what you get for being the first wide consumption reality TV show.

We jumped to the Amazing Race instead: so much better.  And as we're bidding this summer, it's a fun bidding tool.  The show ran, we played some rounds of Blokus.  A few episodes in was dinner time and with a little help Nicholas made spaghetti sauce that Becca loaded with yellow peppers and spinach. Now that there is an organic farmer who sells vegetables at the Friday baseball games, we are loaded with fresh veggies for the week. Becca also had made a beer bread, just because.  It was awesome.  Jonathon prepped the cheese, dishes, etc.  While the noodles were boiling, Becca made up some spiced apple slices and popped them in the oven for a dessert.

With Amazing Race and then a little Who's Line is it Anyway, some great food, playing lots of games, and all hanging out together, I'd have to chalk yesterday up as one of my best days here. Thanks kids!