Thursday, June 29, 2006

Freedom of Speech

As I have continued to read and research for my trip, I was struck by an article about two journalists who have been sentenced to a year in prison in Egypt for disparaging President Hosni Mubarak in a newspaper article published last year. Oh my.

There are so many freedoms we have in this country that I totally take for granted. Freedom of speech is a big one. It seems just crazy to me that there are places that lock you up for expressing a dissenting opinion.

Living in a land where I can worship as I wish is another.

The more I study about the details of other parts of the world, the deeper my gratitude is for living where I live. Yeah, I whine plenty about things about our culture or our political environment that I don't agree with. But the very fact that I CAN whine and complain in absolute safety is a blessing I seldom give thanks for. It's high time I did.

Taking Risks

I've had a few different people question my choice to visit Egypt, saying they would not feel safe traveling in that part of the world. So I've been giving some thought to the whole issue of what makes a reasonable risk and what is just plain foolish.

I know a few adrenaline junkies who enjoy doing things like parasailing, flying ultralight airplanes, climbing very high mountains or exploring deep caves. I think any of those are fine, if that's your interest and you take reasonable precautions. But not my style. I like staying firmly planted on good ole' terra firma, thank you very much.

Larry is an avid scuba diver. I was willing to at least give that a try. I signed up for lessons twice. I flunked both times. I just felt too panicky, claustrophobic and vulnerable in the gear. I'm perfectly happy sticking to snorkeling. There's just too much that can go wrong at 60 - 100 feet deep and the stakes are too high for my comfort level.

But travel is something I will never give up. I love seeing other parts of the world, and getting acquainted with other cultures.

However, that does not mean I go out blindly not taking heed of the risks involved. There ARE certain precautions that just plain make sense when getting away from familiar turf where the rules and social norms will be very different.

When I go to Egypt, I will have put in lots of prep time to learn all I can to make the most of my travels there and to familiarize myself with the culture and laws.

Are there risks for a fair skin, light haired American woman to be abroad in an Islamic country? You bet. But there are risks crossing the street.

This is a risk I am more than willing to take.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Egypt bound

Larry and I are making plans for a trip to Egypt this fall/winter. This evening we have been pouring over the travel agency brochures and trying to sort out which itinerary we will choose. We plan to take a camel ride in the shadow of the pyramids, see the mighty Sphinx, visit the Valley of the Kings and go for a cruise along the Nile. Then we will hop over to the coast so that Larry can go scuba diving in the Red Sea, where some of the best world class dive sites are to be found. We expect to leave sometime late November so we will be over there for both our 25th anniversary and for Larry’s birthday. I’ve been truly blessed to get to visit some exciting places with this man of mine, but without question this trip has the potential to top the list. So between now and then I hope to do some reading about the history, the culture, the archeology and such so that I will be able to fully appreciate it when I’m there. Should be quite an adventure.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fruit Salad for 185

I'm not sure where I got this recipe from, but tonight as I was deleting a bunch of old files out of my various e-mail folders I ran across it again...

For those of you who may be up for some serious feedage, enjoy:

25 quarts cubed cooked turkey or chicken
20 (20 oz) cans pineapple chunks, drained
20 (15 oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained
20 (2-1/4 oz) cans sliced ripe olives, drained
5 bunches celery, thinly sliced
10 large green peppers, chopped
5 to 6 quarts mayonnaise or salad dressing
3 large onions, grated
1-1/2 cups prepared mustard
5 tablespoons salt
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon-pepper seasoning; optional
8 (5 oz) cans chow mein noodles
In several large bowls (or one VERY LARGE bowl), combine the first six ingredients. In another large bowl combine the mayonnaise, onions, mustard, salt and lemon-pepper if desired. Cover and refrigerate chicken mixture for at least 2 hours before tossing. Sprinkle with chow mein noodles. Serve immediately.
Yield: 185 (1-cup) servings

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Monkey Golf

One of my favorite stories is "Play the Ball Where the MonkeyDrops It." This was first relayed to me by my eldest brother several years ago. I recently found it again HERE

It goes like this:

"The story is told of a golf course in India. Apparently, once the English had colonized the country and established their businesses, they yearned for recreation and decided to build a golf course in Calcutta. Golf in Calcutta presented a unique obstacle. Monkeys would drop out of the trees, scurry across the course, and seize the golf balls. The monkeys would play with the balls, tossing them here and there.

At first, the golfers tried to control the monkeys. Their first strategy was to build high fences around the fairways and greens. This approach, which seemed initially to hold much promise, was abandoned when the golfers discovered that a fence is no challenge to an ambitious monkey. Next, the golfers tried luring the monkeys away from the course. But the monkeys found nothing as amusing as watching humans go wild whenever their little white balls were disturbed. In desperation, the British began trapping the monkeys. But for every monkey they carted off, another would appear. Finally, the golfers gave in to reality and developed a rather novel ground rule: Play the ball where the monkey drops it.

As you can imagine, playing this unique way could be maddening. A beautiful drive down the center of the fairway might be picked up by a monkey and then dropped in the rough. Or the opposite could happen. A hook or slice that had produced a miserable lie might be flung onto the fairway. It did not take long before the golfers realized that golf on this particular course was very similar to our experience of life. There are good breaks, and there are bad breaks. We cannot entirely control the outcome of the game. "

I've been thinking about this a lot lately in regards to my job search, events going on in my family, and a few other things over which I have utterly no control. I'm trying to remind myself to trust the universe to open the doors that will ultimately bless my life and keep tightly shut those doors that would open before me the wrong path. I'm practicing allowing myself to feel at peace with whatever happens rather that take on my traditional M.O. of stewing and storming and giving myself all sorts of grief.

That doesn't mean I don't care about the outcome. I do! And it also does not mean I don't have to try my best or prepare or plan. Those golfers in India still sought out just the right kinds of clubs, took lessons to perfect their swing and did all they could to master their game. But in the final analysis, the learned to accept that no matter WHAT they could do to be the best golfers they knew how to be, in the end we all have to play the ball wherever the monkey happens to drop it. And that's ok.