Saturday, June 28, 2008


I was in the chemist (aka pharmacy) the other day picking up some things, and I saw some "kiddie" band-aids.  I have never seen those here, so I picked up a couple of boxes.  They happen to be characters that he has heard of (Nemo, Mickey Mouse), so that was a plus, too.  Well, today I guess he decided that he needed to hurt himself bad enough to be able to wear one.  He scraped his toe up pretty bad on the bedroom door (enough to bleed), so I pulled them out.  Ahh...the power of distraction!  He wanted one to match on his finger since it is hurt, too (not really, just a fingernail issue).  As you can see, he is happy to pose for me and show off his matching Nemo band-aids! 

City Center construction

This is probably the best picture of City Center Mall that I am ever going to get.  There is construction all around it, from the road work to the 4 hotels they are building right next to it. The road construction is not finished, but there used to be huge backhoes and dump trucks in the way of a good picture.  Anyway, I finally have a picture of the place that I dread going to, but manage to visit at least 2-3 times per week.  As much as I loathe this place (mainly due to the parking situation...everyone loses their minds in the parking garage), I will probably miss it when we move to Yuzhno, where there aren't any malls at all...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What a difference a few days makes!

Well, the dust has settled and things are back to normal.   This picture is of our compound with the West Bay skyline in the background.  The temperatures are back up my car said 47C, which is around 117F.  Yes, that's hot, but without humidity, it is tolerable.  

Gill's 40th Birthday

My friend Gill will turn 40 on July 4, but she decided to have her party early since a lot of her friends are going home for the summer soon.  I had a great time catching up with people before we all leave Doha (most of them going home, but we of course are moving in August).  

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Okay, only 1 more...I promise!

Taken today

Taken in early January

I just can't get over the sandstorms this year!  I don't remember it being this bad last year.  It is all anyone can talk about, which leads me to believe that it is a worse than normal season.  The sandstorm "season" is supposed to be March to early May, easing up in the summer.  Two things are visible from just about anywhere in town - the West Bay skyline (the buildings in the photos), and the Asian Games torch.  Right now - neither can be seen from more than a block away!   One positive thing?  The temperatures are pleasant - staying down below or right at 100F (yes, that's a good thing)!

Our new houseguest

This is Boomer, our houseguest for a few weeks while her "parents" cruise around Alaska.  Adam was so excited to have her back, and they have done nothing but play since she got here.  When I came up for bed I found here like this...but don't worry, she doesn't stay up there.  When Shane comes to bed, she heads for the corner behind the chair...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where is the sky????

On the other side of those trees is the water!

You can barely see the water

View of West Bay from Lusail St. (at the Rainbow R/A)  - taken today

Same view - taken last October

Coming up Lusail Street toward Rainbow Roundabout - you can barely see West Bay

Ahhh...summertime is here.  Or should I say UGHHH!  We arrived back in Doha on June 3, and haven't seen the sky since!  It has been nothing but high winds and sand/dust storms.  Sheets of sand were hitting my car like rain!  And literally, everything is gray.  I think it is starting to affect me (in the same way I am affected in Houston when it is overcast for a long time) - I want to see the sky!!!  However, I am complaining now about not seeing the sky, and in 1 months time, I will be complaining about the heat...and then in 2 months time I will be complaining about the humidity (and well ready to get the heck out of here!).  It hasn't really been hot - today it is 38C, which is around 100F (yes that is cool for here).   Without the humidity, 100F is tolerable - that is without all the sand and dust blowing around...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Little Ballerina

Mom gave me these costumes to give to Catrina, Robert's big sister.  She is really into princesses and ballerinas right now.  Samantha has enrolled her in another dance class this summer, so she is excited to have "real ballerina" costumes to practice in!  Thanks, Mom!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Listen for the bell...

Margaret and Vic with Adam (7 weeks old)

Today is Victor's last day of radiation treatments!  Vic is the father of my best friend, Kim.  Their family "adopted" me when I was young and they haven't been able to get rid of me yet!  Vic was diagnosed with Sino-Nasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma (SNUC) earlier this year and has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.  So far, things are looking up, as the chemotherapy shrunk the tumor down to nothing!  The radiation treatments have been hard on him, leaving painful ulcers in his throat and mouth, making it difficult for him to speak or eat.  Earlier this week, his temperature rose to a scary 104, and he was admitted into the hospital.  He is doing better, and his white blood cell counts are back up.  His last radiation treatment is scheduled for today at 1:00 pm Houston time.  Once that happens he will get to ring his "Vic"tory bell (literally - there is a bell outside the radiation room) and be able to start the healing process.  I look forward to hearing that bell, Vic - and I will be listening for it around 9 pm (in Doha)!!!  

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I was completely impressed and pleased with this story. It is refreshing to know that honest people still exist and not everyone is out to profit off of others' losses. This would, of course, NEVER happen in the USA, as most people would consider this a strike of luck, instead of considering the fact that the bag actually belongs to someone else, and that they might want it back. The cab driver was just doing what he felt was his out his car and turning in items that didn't belong to him (it is also worth noting that cab drivers make only about 600 QR salary per month - about $165 USD - plus their fares). He didn't even look inside the bag to see what was in it!!!! Granted, the fool that left the bag in the car should be a little more careful with his belongings (especially if they contained a large sum of money). Being an Arab, though, the thought of someone stealing it probably never crossed his mind, as he lives in Qatar, which has proved time and time again to be country full of people who would react the same way. I only hope that I would react with the same integrity, and I honestly think that I would....since knowing that I had stolen something from someone else would definitely keep me up at night and prevent me from wanting to get near a mirror...

Taxi driver praised for returning bag containing QR111,000
Published: Thursday, 12 June, 2008, 02:06 AM Doha Time

By Ramesh Mathew

Al-Mansouri giving a gift to Shetty

AN INDIAN taxi driver handed in a bag mistakenly left in his car by a passenger to find it contained QR111,000 in cash.
Balakrishna Shetty made the discovery a few days ago after giving a lift to an Arab national.
The modest driver, who works for the government-owned firm Mowasalat, said: “He is lucky that I found his bag before any other passengers boarded the car. Otherwise, things could have been different.”
Yesterday, Shetty’s bosses publicly commended the driver for his “honesty and dedication to work”. They presented him with a certificate and gifts.
According to company sources, Shetty, who comes from Mangalore in southern India and who has been working as a taxi driver for about two years, handed over the bag to the company’s main call centre in Mesaimeer, without even opening it.
It was only when one of the officials checked the bag in a bid to identify its owner that it was found to contain a number of valuables and a huge amount of money.
Shetty’s honesty was honoured at a special meeting, attended by Mowasalat executive director Ahmed Busherbek al-Mansouri as well as the senior business development manager Ahmed al-Ansari, acting marketing manager Tim Garcia, and senior shift controller in the taxi department Asif Nazeer.
According to Mowasalat, it is not the first time that their employees have acted with such integrity.
In a statement, the company said: “This is only a part of the bigger things that we do regularly from maintaining our cars inside-out and bringing our passengers to their destinations safely and comfortably.”
In other cases of refreshing honesty, a taxi driver, called Shaly Dharmarajan, returned foreign currency worth QR16,000 to a visiting Switzerland-based Arab who had left it behind in a wallet after taking a cab ride to Doha’s City Centre in 2004.
Moved by the Gulf Times report on Dharmarajan’s honesty, a Western expatriate living in Doha gave him a cash reward of QR3,000 and a two-way ticket to his native India.
It was the second time Dharmarajan had been in the news; previously he had returned a Western expatriate’s wallet containing approximately QR2,500. It had taken him two days to find the owner.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More pictures of Sakhalin

A look at Yuzhno
The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport - I sure hope I don't get lost!

Map showing Sakhalin Island's proximity to the USA
(well, Alaska)

I have been searching the web looking for photos and information about the place we will soon call home. In my search, I have 
come across a great blog that is run by a British expat living in  
Sakhalin. He and his friends are very adventurous, and they 
always have their camera. One of the most interesting photos to me was one of the frozen Sea of Okhotsk. Click here to view the post and his great pictures.

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Persian Rug

I bought this rug in Dubai.  It will be a souvenir of our time living and traveling in the middle east.  It is a Bakhtiari rug, which are from the province of Chahar Mahal-and-Bakhtiari in west central Iran.  This particular rug is the Garden of Eden design, with each compartment filled with a floral design.  There is a willow tree, a cypress tree, a bush, grapevine, a vase containing flowers, a bird sitting on a branch, Heriz medallion, an all-over boteh (cluster of leaves), and the tree of life.  I had it framed because it is woven of pure silk and I didn't want to risk ruining it with a 3-year-old and 2 springer spaniels running around the house!  


This is one of Adam's toys that we brought back from Texas.  We blew it up today and now he is bouncing all over the house.  Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The weather in Yuzhno

There has been a lot of questions about what the weather will be like in Yuzhno.  Mostly, people think that it will be like Siberia or Alaska, but actually it will be a bit milder than that.  Don't get me will be COLD, and there will be lots and lots of snow, but it is nothing like the weather at the north part of Sakhalin island or Siberia!  I found this chart showing the weather averages for Yuzhno, and thought I would share it with my (few) loyal readers!

Some pictures of Sakhalin

Fall in Sakhalin

Production platform surrounded by ice

A view of Yuzhno

Sakhalin's east coast

Ice fishing - a popular sport in Sakhalin

Snow trench

Dude...where's my car?

We have been able to obtain a few shots of Yuzhno from some people that work many thanks to them for the images!  As you can see, the climate is quite it will definitely be an adjustment for us!  We have never lived in a place where it snows, so it should be interesting to see how we like it.  Sakhalin island is located just above Japan, so we will be near some great vacation destinations as well.   Sakhalin is 16 hours ahead of Houston, so that will be an adjustment also.  People that live there have a saying, "It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there!"

Jumping from the oven to the freezer!

Map view of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia (at the bottom of the fish-shaped island, north of Japan)

Our new compound in Yuzhno

One of the houses in the compound

Shane's office building in Y-S

Well, it's official....finally!  We are moving from Doha to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, in August.  The move comes with a promotion for Shane to Financial Reporting Manager.  It is a big move for his career, so we are happy to do it.   We are all pretty excited...and getting stocked up on cold-weather gear!  

Dubai to Houston: a 16 hour trip!

We opted to take the direct flight from Dubai to Houston on Emirates instead of having a layover in Europe as we have had in the past.  Even though the flight was 16 hours long, it was nice to not have that layover.  The in-flight entertainment was probably the best we have seen, with more movies, television shows, and games than we could possibly watch.  There was a port to plug in our iPod so Adam could watch his cartoons anytime he wanted.  There was even a power outlet to plug in electronics so we didn't have to carry a bunch of battery packs.  The trip to Houston was a day flight, so we all watched movies and TV most of the trip.  The trip back was a night flight and we all actually got some sleep, so we weren't complete zombies by the time we arrived back in Doha.  Overall, I would say it was a good plane experience, and if we had to do it again - the direct flight is the way we will go.

LHS Class of '93 Mini-reunion!

While in Liberty, I was able to catch up with a few of my friends from high school.  Kim drove in from Bandera, Marie from Brownwood, and Jennifer (not pictured) from Wimberly.  Kim and I have kept up over the years, but I haven't seen Jennifer since we moved to Doha and it has been 15 years since I have seen Marie!  It was so great to see them all again!  Thanks to all of them for making the trip into the Big L to see me - you made my trip!

Last stop: Liberty!

Our last stop on the "tour":  my hometown of Liberty.  By then we were all exhausted from the previous week, so we tried to do as little as possible and get some rest before our big journey back to the desert.  We did manage to squeeze in a few shopping trips, trips to the doctor, and dinner at Pappasito's, our favorite Mexican restaurant.  While in town, Adam really enjoyed swinging and playing with the dogs in Matish's backyard.  

Happy 21st birthday, Joseph!

While we were on vacation, my brother Joseph turned 21!  We had brownies and ice cream, and we loaded that brownie pan with candles!   Adam sang Happy Birthday to Joseph and helped him blow out the candles, which is his favorite thing about birthdays!    

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Next stop: Yoakum

At the zoo

Swinging with Oma

Playing golf with Daddy

Helping Mommy drive the cart

Showing off my outfit from Key West

Checking out the train at the zoo

Watching the ducks

Taking a trip down the slide

Our next stop was Shane's hometown of Yoakum.  While we were there, we took a trip to the zoo in Victoria.  It was a small zoo like Doha's only without the big animals (lions, tigers, bears, elephants, giraffes, etc.).  I think Adam's favorite thing was the otter!  He chased it from one end of its pool to the other!  It was also at the zoo that Shane and I realized that we were no longer used to the humidity!  It gets really hot in Doha, but there is very little humidity (with the exception of August) - and you don't sweat!  What a difference a year makes....I guess we are "climatized".