29 September 2016

I have been so very tired since moving here, mostly because I cannot get enough sleep no matter what I try- I always wake up before I've hit eight hours.  It doesn't matter if I exercised a lot the day before, if I was exhausted the day before, if I wore a mask over my eyes and ear plugs, if I go to bed at 9 or at 11, whatever.  It's also not helping that the dusty air is bothering me a lot more than I expected it would.  Pollution and pollen have never bothered me, but the dust is hard for me to breathe in.

Yesterday was the worst of all and I had to use all of my energy to get the grocery shopping done because I have no flexibility on that point and if I didn't go, I wouldn't have another chance for days.  I couldn't go on a bike ride and I didn't go to Arabic because I couldn't bike there and couldn't imagine saying anything coherent even in English.  Getting up to the third floor to work on the laundry was almost not doable. It was awful.  

But last night I finally came closer to eight hours of sleep and I feel so much better today.  I woke up with the alarm which I've kept setting even though this is the first time in two months that I've needed it because I have faith that someday I will need it again all the time.  It's still been an up and down day, like days always are when you're trying to adjust to a new place, but it's so much easier to deal with the problems when you're not so very tired. I even felt like blogging today, as you can see.

We borrowed some extension cords yesterday so I could finish trimming the lawn.  There are no outlets outside for some unknown reason and the weed whacker is 110 so it has to plug into a transformer, and the extension cord isn't long enough to get all of the grass.  I did as much as I could a couple of weeks ago, but there's one chunk in particular that's pretty shaggy, as it would be after two months.  But most of the extension cords were two-pronged instead of three so I couldn't use them, then a power strip blew out when I plugged it into the transformer (and I am very glad it was just a power strip and not a blender) so I only ended up with about 3 feet more range.  Then the trimmer spool exploded.  So I have now ordered more spools and a long extension cord because getting to the store that would have that kind of stuff isn't on the schedule for at least the next ten days.  

But I did go to the pharmacy (I can always schedule a trip for medical reasons), signed up for our absentee ballots even though Utah is going to give its electoral votes to the worst presidential candidate in living memory, went on a bike ride between getting people out the door, moved my computer into another room where I get to choose how cluttered the space is or is not, and it was only 77 degrees outside this morning at our house.  

14,000 Saudi women signed a petition earlier this week demanding the end of guardianship here.  I am lucky that I don't have to worry about this (and a lot of other things that Saudi women have to deal with, and expats with browner skin than mine because white privilege is even more noticeable here than just about anywhere else I've lived), but it is high time it ended.  The religious decision makers have made various statements about this recently, from showing some willingness to at least change the rules somewhat to saying that ending guardianship would be the end of Saudi society, so I very much hope this goes somewhere.

I also have a long post in me about why I am voting for Hillary Clinton, and not just voting against Donald Trump.

Going on a bike ride in the morning has been so lovely.  I can ride on an interesting trail and squeeze in a ride between pickups for the people leaving.  It's a lot cooler now in the mornings than when I first got here, but bike rides are so much more pleasant than walking when it's hot.  Soon it will be cool enough in the morning that I'll be able to go on a walk.

Also, I see lots of couples here holding hands or touching each other. Including Saudi couples.  I still have never, ever seen the religious police.  

That was a very eclectic post.

18 September 2016

History of the Church in Mexico

I think I've mentioned the newish LDS lessons on the history of the church in Mexico.  These were apparently commissioned by the Mexico area and were written in Spanish for members of the church in Mexico by an American scholar/missionary (maybe someday there will be a set of lessons written by a Mexican scholar).

It appears that not all of the lessons are on the lds.org Spanish website (that website is clearly not updated as often as it should be), but they are on the sud.org website.

I have never seen an English translation so you either need to read Spanish, or, even better, call a Mexican in your ward who speaks English also to teach these lessons as an alternative Sunday School class for a couple of months.  Learning about the history of the church in other countries is very worthwhile and church history in Mexico has some important and overlooked events, especially regarding the Third Convention.  

The stuff arrived.  We thought it wouldn't come till this week, after Eid al-Adha, but in a surprise move, it came at the beginning of the holiday.  That worked out really well since we couldn't go anywhere and didn't have much to do.  Getting the house put together was lovely.

We had the movers unpack for us for the first time.  I will never do that again. I know some people love it. but it took longer overall to get everything put away.  I much prefer opening one box at a time, putting each thing away, and then moving onto the next box.  No one digs through the stuff, things stay somewhat organized, and there's just a stack of boxes sitting there when you need a break instead of a room filled with junk.  I'd always had a suspicion that it wouldn't work for me, and now I know.

I have done a lot of exciting things since the stuff came.  I've gone a bike ride every day, which means I've left the house when I chose to and came home when I chose to and went where I felt like. I was in control of my own wheeled vehicle. I got some things done without calling for a ride. I love it.

I made tortillas and chapatis with the tortilla press.  It was so good to eat tacos again.  We had them on the 16th, of course, with rajas and crema, chicken, salsa, pickled vegetables, and frijoles.  

We've also made ice cream three times.  You can't get mint extract here but we tried steeping real mint in the hot mixture while it was cooling down and it worked really well.  We've also used coconut milk because that's super quick, although several of my children didn't like plain coconut milk which is sad.  Just with cocoa. 

I'll spiralize some carrots for dinner tonight.  I still haven't used the molcajete or pasta maker yet.

It's nice to have everyone back to school and work today.  

05 September 2016

Mutabbaq, Again

I made mutabbaq again a few nights ago.  This time I use roumy cheese in some of them, just the cheese, which was really easy.  I chopped up some green onions and tomatoes for some more of them.  The mixture should be green with a little red, and just add some salt, nothing else.  That one was amazing.  And I did some with chicken and potato.

Saute lots of garlic in some olive oil, then add about 2 diced potatoes.  You can microwave them a bit first to move things a lot, but you're mostly cooking them in the pan, not the microwave.  Cook the potatoes till they're just tender, or not quite tender, and add some cooked shredded chicken, feta, salt, spice, chopped fresh mint, and enough yogurt so it isn't dry.

I baked some and pan-fried some.  I preferred the baked ones (I brushed them with a bit of oil and baked them at 200/400 for about 20 minutes till they were golden brown), but everyone else liked the fried ones.  It was nice to have both.

We'll certainly have these again and try new fillings, but these three fillings were all amazing.

01 September 2016

Mexico, Immigration, Trump

So, nothing new from Trump's speech yesterday.  But still, hearing his immigration plan all at once, with all the asides, made me sick.  Teleprompter Trump would have been better. I don't want to live in the America that Trump wants to create.

This morning I read an email from an LDS missionary living in Southern California in a largely Iraqi neighborhood.  He sees Islamophobia and anti-immigrant abuse too frequently. He wrote about stopping a man who was loudly verbally abusing an older Iraqi woman on the street, getting threatened with a knife when he stepped in, and then helping her carry her groceries home when the man ran away.  I'm so glad he did that, but angry that he had to. 

The speech had the usual misrepresention and spin, which is normal and easily looked over.  But it also had some things that are factually untrue and policy proposals that are unacceptable in my mind. Throughout the speech it's often hard to tell sometimes which group of people Trump is referring to.  Sometimes he lumps all foreign-born people together, whether they're US citizens, green card holders, or undocumented; he seems to consider anyone who wasn't born in the US as an immigrant even if they're only in the US temporarily (being an immigrant means you are intending to settle in a new country permanently); sometimes he's talking about refugees who have a very different entry process than anyone else who enters the US; etc.  This lack of clarity isn't particularly surprising though.

First, I completely and thoroughly reject the idea that the point of our immigration system is to make life better for US citizens (and I don't think Trump sees increased diversity as one of those ways to make life better for US citizens). Our immigration system is to allow people from all over the world to move to the US and to improve everyone's lives, both the people born in the US or anywhere else in the world. Nearly all of my ancestors who immigrated to the US after it was an independent country didn't look that great on paper (except they were white) but I'm glad they were allowed to enter, obviously. America First is not an immigration system I can ever support.

Second, I have a serious problem with Trump's continuing to pit minorities in the US against immigrants.  This is also part of his America First rhetoric- trying to make people believe that immigration hurts the US rather than creating it (and I think we are still creating the US). Also, immigrants are humans and as important and worthy of respect as any US-born US citizen.  I care about immigrant families whose legal status makes their lives difficult. And people who cross the border illegally are not fish, so it is not acceptable to refer to them in fishing terms.

Third, Trump continues to lie about the refugee entry process into the US.  There are a lot of lies and spin out there in politics, but this should not be acceptable.

Fourth, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall.  Peña Nieto has made that clear.  Trump's plan to get Mexico to pay for it would have significant diplomatic repercussions if he tried to implement it.

Fifth, Trump is awfully fuzzy with his math throughout the speech.  I'm looking for a good fact-checker to explain why I say this.

Sixth, this extreme vetting is concerning and vague.  Trump did list some ideological differences he would screen for (too bad there are already US-born citizens who wouldn't pass his test because Americans are allowed freedom to have offensive opinions), but the point for anyone, citizen or not, is not belief, it's about agreeing to be subject to US law.  That is the only ideological test I am interested in, and immigrants already do agree to that.  Also, this is the main time when Trump lumps all foreign-born people living in the US together.  He made his attitude clear about foreign-born citizens when he disparaged Judge Curiel.

Seventh, I am absolutely opposed to complete bans of people entering the US from certain countries.  No country, not Mexico, not Syria, not Libya, not one country has an entire population that should be viewed with that level of suspicion by a US president.

Eighth, look forward to long lines when leaving the US so your passport can be checked by CBP.

Ninth, his statistic that 62% of households headed by an undocumented individual get some type of welfare benefits neglected to mention that the report he was quoting from said that the majority of those households get those benefits for their citizen family members.  It is obviously legal for US citizens to get welfare benefits.

Finally, I really disliked how he talked about immigrants and immigration at the end of his speech.  Assimilation and limiting immigration are conversations from one hundred years ago and we have moved far beyond that. I am also extremely opposed to the idea of only allowing immigrants who are already financially self-sufficient. Immigration from all over the world and from all sorts of demographics is a good thing for the US.