wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Or does she?

Goat is the name we gave our car that was stolen a year and a half ago. A few days before we left for our holiday, J was getting ready to throw away the key. "Wait," I said. "You never know."

J got a call today saying the police found Goat in Suez.

We don't know what condition the car is in, but it still has its diplomatic plates and these are what we need to hand over to customs when we leave the country in order to avoid heavy penalties.

Praise the Lord, whether she rides or not.

If she does, she just might come back to France with us, carrying all our boxes.
wayfaringwordhack: (art: shroom sweet shroom)
Hello and Happy New Year.

2016 was a busy year, full of good and bad. Too much to sum up, even. A few things in no particular order because how can one classify things like this:

We gave birth to Ti'Loup, who is now 7.5 months old.
My mother was diagnosed with esphogal cancer.
My grandmother died.
I wrote a Middle Grade fantasy novel.
We found a house to buy in France (our offer was accepted on New Year's Eve; we have yet to sign the papers).

2017 is the year we leave Egypt and come home, the year we have to declare that we are unschooling Sprout, the year I need to get my picture book finished...

__________
We're in France now, and everyone is sick, so I don't have much energy. I looked back through LJ, but I don't have the energy to comment on everything. Sending good vibes and get well wishes to those of you who need them.
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
Or shall we just call it, "The State of Things." Forgive me, LJ, for it has been awhile since my last post.

_________
I've never tried to put a cut under a cut, so be warned that when I say something vile happened, there should be an additional cut there to keep it out of public view unless you want to read it. If there is not a cut, don't read on, there's nothing more to see. :)
________

In which you can read about the State of Things )Vile Thing )

Anyhow. Did not mean to end on a tirade.SaveSaveSaveSave
wayfaringwordhack: (Egypt: Sphinx)
*cue Europe's song* (Oh 80's, what hilarious fashion you witnessed!)

In one year, we will be returning to Europe. This time, excepting any strange and totally unpredictable happening, we'll really be going back to France on 31 July 2017, give or take a day.

This coming year is going to zoom by. O.O

And these wee ones won't be so wee in another year's time.


Ti'Loup will probably even be walking by then, or swimming :P
wayfaringwordhack: (critters: Maki World Domination)
When you ask the parents of a newborn if you can come by and meet the baby, please, come by and meet the baby.

Because even if I don't clean my house from top to bottom, I do make an effort to tidy it for you.

I do either bake something or go buy something to make sure I don't welcome you empty-handed.

And you know what else? I miss out on my nap.

I am tired and I have hormone things going on as I recover from 9 months of pregnancy and the whole rollercoaster of giving birth.  So maybe I'm a little bit sensitive here. But seriously. If you say you are coming:  Come.

(Twice now, we've had no shows. Once, the people just seemingly forgot.  The second time, the couple did call to cancel 30 min before they were supposed to show.)
wayfaringwordhack: (flora: sunflower)
The thought that perhaps went through the gardener's* head before he ripped up our corn seedlings:

"Egads! What are these tall, healthy-looking plants surrounded by bare earth?  They must be an invavise species, intent on destroying all other plantlife! I must pull them up posthaste!!!'

And that was the end of our corn.  And also of a self-sown melon plant.

Ah well, we'll try again, this time putting stakes and other types of protection/markers to indicate that these plants should really be allowed to live.

Our idea of direct sowing into the lasagna bed  (a bed made up of layers unripe compost and dry vegetal matter, topped with soil) did not work.  One is supposed to transplant into the bed, but because we had nothing to transplant we tried seeds.  No luck. We'll plant flowers and things from the nursery for now and maybe add in seedlings as we have them (if we do) for this year.  The bed needs to be planted and mulched so the layers don't collapse.

We have a lot to learn.

______________
* It might have been the gardener or one of the two garbage collectors that our landlady sometimes pays to clean up around the front of the building.
wayfaringwordhack: (flora: sunflower - closed)
Luna, our rescue kitten, escaped from our yard and was killed by wild dogs. The only comforting thing about it was that we all got to say goodbye, even N'djema, to her little body and don't have to live in constant anxiety.


I'm going to lock this to comments, not bcause I don't appreciate your sympathy but because I just don't have it in me to respond right now.
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
A bit of a mixed bag today. Lots of emotions, not all good.

This morning we all went to the store and bought food to give to those in need, then J went this afternoon and bought lots kids clothes, blankets, socks, and hats. We went to a roundabout where we know some families sleep and handed out the stuff. After everything but two bags of food had been given, another lady came running and tried to make someone share with her. The sharing did not happen, so I gave her the remaining two bags. She wanted us to give her more, but we had nothing else. Then two other men showed up, and J tried to explain that we had given everything out and they should divide it amongst themselves. We drove off with some still begging and others sitting on their goods. Don't know what they decided, how it was settled, but it left us feeling bad.* :(

Sprout was asking hard questions today, like: How do you make yourself die when your family dies so you don't have to live lonely? :-/

On a brighter side, I bought a new sketchbook to motivate me to finally get some work done on the kids book I started last year and to organize my thoughts/ideas better since my doodles were scattered all over the place in my other drawing pad. I did two studies this afternoon and hoped to do a third, but I feel a bit beat up and am carrying stress in my lower back. I think the wiser thing to do is to go to bed.

__________
* I've been repeating to myself that the giving is not about me and was never meant to make me feel good about myself or what-have-you. I believe one should give a gift without any kind of strings or expectations projected onto the receiver. But I do feel that we weren't responsible givers in that we didn't try to spread things out a bit make to make sure more people got help. Knowing that people live in such desperation that they will fight to get or keep anything makes me feel totally hopeless to help in a meaningful way.
wayfaringwordhack: (art: christmas quail)
This might be the case for a lot of people with artificial trees, but each year, my hands are black from dust after setting up the tree. Pre-move, I had decided that this year, I would rinse the tree in the bathtub before we decorated it.  But then we got a garden.

Because of the street-cat problem we have (they mark everything in our yard! ARGH!), I set up the tree on the front end of our bike before hosing it off.


This is my normal mode of transportation with the kids: They both sit up in the carrier frame where the tree is.  Let me tell you, this bike is heavy, and cycling around 30kgs of kids is not easy. :P I don't know how much longer I can do it.

If you look closely, you can see brakes along the handlebars. They don't work. The peddle in the up position in this photo is actually almost exactly in line with the footbrake.  Very tricky to get used to, especially since you have to hike your leg pretty high to use it.
wayfaringwordhack: (art: shroom sweet shroom)
We've finally got all our stuff moved to the new place and are ready to hand the keys over to our ex-landlady. And stuff...wow, do we have too much of it. We are going to have to do some serious triage before moving back to France.  This place is significantly smaller than the other, despite having one more bedroom, and there is hardly any storage space. Makes for lots of headaches as we try to figure out where things should go.  We bought ten cheap shelving units from Ikea and still have to put in more shelves, buy a hutch for our dishes, and buy/make worktables.

We'll get there, though, and in time, I hope, to be able to relax into the holidays in this new home.

What have you been up to this past week?
wayfaringwordhack: (art: guitton - housework)
We started moving day before yesterday and plan to sleep at the new place starting tomorrow night. No idea how things are going to work out with the Internet, so I'll see you when I see you.

Be well.
wayfaringwordhack: (art: guitton - housework)
I lost track of the days. That happens rather frequently to me, but I had not a single oh-it's-Sunday thought yesterday.

Last week, I started crocheting a pair of legwarmers for Sprout.  She can wear them out when it turns cooler here, but I'm mostly making them for her ballet class. With days in the mid-20s (70F) and nights dipping down to 20 (68F) or so, I'm able to handle yarn again without having it clinging to me.

One more week and we can starting moving. But we'll have to deal with some WH--!? business first.  The electric bill collector showed up tonight and handed me a bill for 1007 LE.  Our normal monthly bill runs 110-140 LE.  They are trying to tell me that without using the A/C or anything like that, we have to pay 10 times more than normal? My neighbor, who was paying at the same time, said that his bill looked perfectly normal.  The collector lied to neighbor and said that he hadn't checked our meter in a long time and now we had to pay our "true" consumption rate rather than an assumed total.  He checks the meter every couple of months; and now, after we've been here for 3 years, he's going to tell us all the sudden we've changed our habits and need to make good.  Funnily enough (/sarcasm), two people told me that our landlady probably called the electric company and told them we are about to move so to make sure we're all paid up (because otherwise it will fall on her to pay.  As if we would have left the bill hanging. ARGH. I know other people do it, though; we were presented with the bill from the last tenant). But how did they get from 100 to 1000?  We have to get to the bottom of it. :-< I don't want to pay something we truly don't owe, but I don't want to leave someone else holding the bag, either.

And this shall be a lesson to us: Never trust the meter man again. Always write down the meter number ourselves and verify what he writes down.
wayfaringwordhack: (Egypt: Sphinx)
Not a fun morning; an admin morning.

I had to renew my passport and after toting a God-awful passport photo for the past ten years, I was determined to have a better one this time around. So, J and I spent HOURS on it. No, not trying to make me look better or Photoshop me...just to do the shot, select one, make website formatting tools play nice, and get our printer to work. After wasting sheets of photo paper and buckets of ink, I showed up to my appt with several options, size-wise.  Only to be told that they would not accept my background, which was white with a faint bluish cast, even though the "rules" state that off-white is fine. Argh. So I had to go across the street and have another taken, in which I look just as tired as the whole process makes me feel and all washed out to boot, thanks to wearing a white blouse.  

I was asked to bring along "proof" of my citizenship, just in case. And spent more HOURS looking for said proof yesterday, only not to be asked for anything at all. ( I had sorted all these papers into a special pile, and then, in the move-house frenzy, packed them, instead of refiling them.)

Thank goodness I only have to do this every ten years.

And the lesson of the day: Stick to my guns and only take a taxi with a meter. On the way to the consulate, I ended up accepting a ride with no meter, agreeing to pay 40 LE because J told me that was a good rate.  On the way back, we held out for a meter and only paid 20. o.O

Second lesson: If there are no signs saying which line you should be in, ask. Even if there is only one line.  I stood in the "wrong" line for 30 minutes. I actually had a feeling it was the wrong line but did not make a move earlier because I was waiting on J and didn't want to go inside without him since a) I had his passport, b) phones have to be off once inside. When the time for my appt arrived, however, and I was only five steps closer (out of about 30 more) to the door, I did jump the line and got to go directly inside.  I did not appreciate the slight smirk of the man at the barrier which seemed to say that he knew I was in the wrong place and could have done something about it.

I did get to see something unusual on the taxi ride this morning: A motorcycle passenger sitting sidesaddle, his ankle swathed in bandages, carrying his own foldable wheelchair.
wayfaringwordhack: (art: shroom sweet shroom)
We signed a rental contract today for a new apartment!

We can begin moving Nov 15 and will keep our current flat until Dec 1, so we'll be able to take our time with it.

The future flat is much smaller and a bit rundown, but! it has a garden!  WOOT!  I predict a much healthier, happier time here now that I'll be able to go barefoot on the grass every day.:D

And all for 100 LE cheaper than we are paying now.
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Just a little anecdote of the craziness we sometimes come up against:

J was out visiting apartments, and a couple came up to him on the street and asked about his criteria and budget. He told them and the lady said she had a place that was for rent. She gave him the address and said he could visit the next day, but that evening she called back and said he could come over immediately.

When he got there, he couldn't find the lady and she wasn't answering her phone. The doorman sent him to the wrong floor, and once back downstairs, he saw a lady and her two teenagers standing in the entryway, their belongings bundled up around them in sheets.

Turns out they were vacating the apartment he was supposed to be visiting. J was very uncomfortable, but the people told him the landlady was inside and he should go in and visit, that it was a nice place. The kids, who spoke good English, told J, "She used to be my mom's friend, but then she turned crazy." Uh-oh.

J didn't visit, and she called him the next day, acted like nothing had happened, and invited him back over again. He decided to see the place just in case it was really nice. He liked the amount of space and had me excited about it.

Until I went to see it. o.O

It was rundown in the extreme and downright scary in some aspects. And the lady wanted way too much money. Every time I would mention something that needed fixing, she would get a look on her face that said I was being ovely difficult and she would nod as if to humor me, her narrowed eyes and pinched lips telling me I was dreaming if I thought she'd do anything.

I told her I was confused as to why she even told us about the place when she knew it was over our budget. "Because it isn't that much over. You can make an effort." Or, um, she could make an effort.

"No, we really can't," I informed her, especially after she said that, OK, OK, she would fix some small things in the apartment, but that we "would have to help her."

Then she proceeded to tell me that I should get a job so we'd be able to afford it. I politely told her that wasn't in our plans. And she kept on. And on. "You can open a daycare here! It pays good money!"  Um, no thanks.  "Go substitute teach! It pays really well!" No. Thank. You. "You can do many things to supplement your income!"  Grrrr.

And poor Sprout kept saying, "Momma, can we go now?"

Once the lady realized we weren't going to budge on our budget, she told me she would look for us a place.  In New Maadi. "We don't want to live there," I told her. "Yes, but they have a lot of flats there in your price. I'll look there."  No thank you. And she said it again and again until I cut her off with, "My husband doesn't want to live there."

We are leaving a landlady who is very decent on the whole; Lord save us from going into a situation with a known "troubled" person. O.O
wayfaringwordhack: (art: shroom sweet shroom)

We had a small electrical fire in the wall the other day.

Sprout was trying to plug something into the socket while I was busy moving J's laptop. All the sudden, Junebug started coughing.  I was so concentrated on figuring out whether or not he was choking on something that I didn't immediately notice the smoke billowing out from behind the couch he was on.

I got both kids away from the outlet, cut off the electricity to the flat, and then asked a neighbor to come and see if he thought the fire was out.  Don't want to be responsible for burning down the whole building. Also, if help needed to be called, I wouldn't know who to call or how to say anything.  Thankfully, cutting the power did the trick, but once I turned it back on, we were without electricity in the whole flat except for the kitchen and one half of the living room.

As you know, we are trying to find a new flat, and our landlady is simultaneously eager for us to be gone so she can up the rent for tenants and worried about getting everything can out of us before we leave (she told us--without looking at the state of the apartment--that we will not be getting our deposit back because she will use the money to have the place repainted.  If you don't know anything about the cost of supplies and labor over here, she'll be able to paint many times over on what we pay per month).  So, wouldn't you know, she was very upset to learn about the electrical problems, said that they are our fault, and we will have to pay.

The electrician who came to look said that the wiring is 30-40 years old, seriously outdated, and a "real rat's nest."*  Not our fault. And just another addition to the level of stress we are feeling about needing to find a new place ASAP. :-<

We went into flat-hunting overdrive these past few days, with J bearing the brunt of it, and we are all frazzled.  We saw something sumptuous last night but seriously out of our price range.  I hate when people take us to see stuff that is too expensive. We made an offer, anyhow, very low but more than we want to put into rent, so we'll see. We are packing everything in any case, in preparation of moving day...whenever it arrives. :(

Any good thoughts you have to spare would be most welcome.

__________

*Landlady decided to send another electrician that she trusts more. He was supposed to be here at 9-9:30. It is past 11, and I'm still waiting. :(  Trustworthy, perhaps; punctual, no.

wayfaringwordhack: (Egypt: Sphinx)
...OK, probably not only in Egypt, but it makes for a good subject line.

There is a young man with "interesting" ideas and ethics who works in the boutique on the ground floor of our building. The other day he told Julien, "Hey, I know of a car for sale for 40,000 EGP*. You could pay half, I'll pay half, and we'll split the use of the car. You'll have it during the day, and I'll drive it from 9:00 p.m. on."

Um, yeah, that is not going to happen. Not only for practical reasons but because the young fellow thinks, among other things, thinks it is perfectly normal not to go to his classes and offers his teachers bribes to say he attended classes and give him passing grades exams he never studies for....

Today, our housekeeper told me, "Wow, it's been really cool these past few days." The lowest temperature these days was 34.5˚C (94.1˚F)  Admittedly, this is better than the 42˚C(108˚F) we had when we got back to Egypt, and the 55˚C(131˚F) that hit the country just before our return.

Had another to share, but it seems to have slipped my mind. Maybe I'll remember later.
______________
*  about 5,100 USD / 4400 euros
wayfaringwordhack: (neener)
aka Luna.

Remember the little rescue kitten?

She was still in pitiful shape before we left for the summer, but three months and many doses of ringworm meds have done her wonders.

Then:




Now:


N'Djema has come around, and the two play together, but Luna, six months old--give or take a few weeks--can already pin her.  N'Djema has lost weight. We don't know if it is the heat, the extra exercise, or stress. She looks well, in any case. 
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)

We got home almost a day late due to missing our connecting flight because of a plane needing to make emergency repairs. Kainam had a fever the first day we were traveling.

We got back safely, and he's well now; that is the good news.

We are still waiting on one of our bags. Not so good news. And the delivery guy is supposed to come at 11 p.m*....this after saying he would be here at midnight and J saying it was out of the question. Who wants to bet he'll be here closer to midnight than 11?

I'm so tired. I just want to collapse in bed. But we are home and safe. That's the important thing.

G'night and see you soon, LJ.


_________

*The airline called at 11:30 a.m. to say it was on its way. Then at 7:00, when J called, they said was already on its way and it would be here in an hour. The airport is 45 min-1 hour away.

wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
It is the final stretch of our summer in France. We leave Thursday, and as usual, there is a massive flurry of "must-get-done" stuff going on: visits, camping, loooooooong drives, yard work that includes cutting and prepping wood, stocking a cord of firewood, shifting 4.5 tons of gravel (still haven't finished that one), and putting finishing touches on the big project this year of building my MIL a chicken coop (photos to come soon)...and many other things I'm forgetting.

Tomorrow there will be lots and lots to do, so I probably won't check back in until this weekend, when we are once more settled in Cairo. And then the fun of looking for another apartment will begin.

How are all of you doing? News, please. :)

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