Art, Jordan, Travel

Settling in.

This last week has had a lot of ups and one down for me. It feels good to have some time in Amman under my belt, getting used to the different work week schedule (Sun-Thur), and settled into the timezone. In a couple of days is my three week anniversary here, crazy!

What I’ve been experiencing:

  • Sunday – First Uber trip without Mike – the girls and I met up with another pair of (awesome) sisters who were in Amman visiting their parents. We went to Rainbow Street which is a shopping area in the city with cobblestone streets! We went to Trinitae soap shop on the recommendation of a friend and absolutely fell in love. I needed to find a local source of handmade soaps which had to be approved by Amelia (she approved!). The shop is in an old home and is decorated with gorgeous artwork done by the grandmother of the family.
  • Next we went to Books@cafe as the result of some travel research that our new sisters did before coming to Jordan. We had a lovely lunch and did some much enjoyed book browsing.
  • Our final destination was Wild Jordan where we perused the Nature shop to check out the local artisan selections of crafts and picked up a couple of things. I hope they post some Adventures coming up, I’d love to be able to go on one of the eco-tour hikes.
Street cats outside Trinitae had the attention of my animal lovers.
One of many beautiful paintings, I can’t wait for my art supplies to arrive so I can paint!
Another scrumptious lunch in Amman. Mine is Feta ZA’ATAR; like a Lebanese calzone!
  • Monday – Second Uber trip, this time all by myself! You might recall from an earlier post that I lined up a stylist in Jordan so that I could get my hair done once I got here. Well, first solo Uber trip in another country was to see JeniD and I’m happy to report that I found her place and that my hair is just perfect! I texted Mike and the girls once I was done and since it was a little earlier than expected and they were still about a half hour away from meeting me I got out my phone and mapped myself a short walk to the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and slipped into the smaller of the two buildings to view the work on the first floor before I got the message to catch an Uber to meet my family at the Citadel.
  • It was a sunny, clear day but cold and SUPER windy, it made for an exciting trip to the highest of the seven hills of Amman to the Citadel. The Jordan Archaeological Museum is also here, it is a smaller museum with artifacts arranged in chronological order.
Here we are with the Temple of Hercules behind us! Our Smith Selfie.
Hercules, Hercules!
Walking toward the Umayyad Palace and Mosque, and Byzantine Church.
  • Tuesday – I went on a job interview (I was offered the job!!) While I’m here in Jordan my plans are to volunteer at CRP, practice yoga so that I can undo 25 years of sitting at my desk at GEICO :), practice my painting and do some work.
  • After my interview, the girls and I ventured back out into the city and took an Uber to the Jordan Museum – this experience solidified for us just how friendly (to foreigners!) the Jordanians are. The Uber dropped us off and we finished up our coffee in the courtyard before going through security and then up to the ticket booth. I was excited to be able to use my Jordan Residency card that I’d gotten the day before which allowed me to get the locals only price. We successfully communicated that the girls were over 18 and when I started to hand my credit card I could tell by the look on his face that it was cash only and sadly, I had none! There was a bank with an ATM somewhere outside of the museum and I turned to the girls to say “lets go see if we can find this bank” and when I turned back the ticket man was on the phone and gave me the universal gesture for ‘wait one minute’. He spoke for a few minutes, hung up and started typing on his computer and handed us our tickets for 0.00JD. We all smiled and thanked in English and Arabic (“shukran”) and enjoyed the beautiful and interactive Jordan Museum. I can’t wait to go back. One of the common characteristics of the Jordanians I’ve met is how welcoming and proud they are. Each person has made some sort of recommendation; about a local artist I should research, about a food I should try, an Arabic phrase I could use (to ask “how are you?” it is “kayf halakum”) – it really is a pleasantly surprising human experience.
We had fun hanging out with Al-Jahiz in the animal room!
Gorgeous!
‘Ain Ghazal Statues – nearly 10,000 years old, they are the world’s oldest full figure human statues!
  • Wednesday – Finally, the one thing about this entire move that made my heart sink every time I thought about it – getting Finn (aka Baby Face Finster) my Boston Terrier, to Amman from Virginia. He is a pretty resilient little guy but he hasn’t travelled much except for some car trips to Duck, NC. I researched, asked questions, made a decision and put my faith in Capital Pet Movers to make it happen. Which they did. Amazingly so.
  • He arrived at our apartment after Judith of Welcome Home Kennels in Amman handled all of the receiving tasks for bringing an animal into Jordan.
Everyone got to spend one whole day together, my heart was so happy!

Thursday – No bullet point needed for this one, the one down – sending the girls back to the US, it was my second most dreaded thought of this move because they’ve never flown on their own (or been this far away from me!). Of course they handled it like professionals, especially when they missed their connecting flight from JFK to National. True to their characters, Amelia was frustrated at the idiocy of the reason they missed their flight and Jillian was annoyed but motivated to make sure they got on the next flight to DC. I did have an Up moment they day they left – my air freight was delivered so I have some books, pillows, blankets, my clothes, and a few small rugs just enough to make the apartment a little more like our home. The timing was just right to distract me.
Back to the girls, I’m happy to report that they are in their apartments ready to start work and school and Finn is sitting next to me on the couch.
Exercise wise – We have been on a couple of almost a mile walks with Finn around our neighborhood, worked out at the Embassy gym and last night I attended my first of many Sunday evening Vinyasa Yoga classes at the Embassy.

What I’m watching: Mike has already watched but with the next season coming up he is watching again and I’m joining in – Peaky Blinders – already started season two! It’s pretty great.

I hope everyone has a nice week, thank you for reading! bye for now!

Jordan, Travel

Welcome to Jordan

I’ve made it, on December 20th when I wrote my last blog post I couldn’t imagine being where I am now. It was too stressful to think that far into the future – because it was a future that I couldn’t really fathom, I didn’t have anything to grasp onto in my mind to imagine where I’d be today. I followed my tried and true advice and I lived in the moment as best I could. Thinking of all the things I had to do stressed me out but I asked for and accepted help where I could. My new “team” – friends, neighbors and businesses – allowed me to get so many things done in just one week! December 27th – the girls and I headed off from DC to NYC to Amman with all of our tasks behind us!

What I’ve been doing: Landing in Amman, getting off the plane and walking right into a new country was pretty cool. After buying a tourist visa for our older daughter we went down to the luggage carousel to find our driver and wait for our luggage believe it or not, this was a first for the girls and I since we always carry on! – and then out into the airport where Mike was waiting to greet us! Driving to our apartment felt like being in any other place – on a highway from the airport and into the city, but once in Amman the driving got a little more ‘exciting’. Our neighborhood is Abdoun and has a lot of huge houses with lovely gardens. We back up to the US Embassy which means there are guards on either end of our street and farther up the road are the Gendarmerie, who are Jordanian security officers. Many places in Jordan have security, on our first outing we went to a grocery store and walked through a metal detector and had our bags scanned on an x-ray machine like at the airport, same process at the mall and at the hotels.

Falafel, hummus and tabouleh! Amman is perfect for this vegetarian.
Falafel, hummus tahini and tabouleh! Amman is perfect for this vegetarian.

What I’ve been eating: The food so far has been phenomenal, especially for a vegetarian. My older daughter is vegan and this trip has been the easiest for her to find satisfying meals. We walked to Zain Circle from our apartment and got an inexpensive meal that the whole family enjoyed. There is a Tandoori Oven right up the street and we picked up dinner there last night and it was AH-MAZE-ING. Also in our neighborhood is a coffee shop called Seven Pennies – with indoor and outdoor seating and a mission; for every JD (jordanian dollar) you spend you get to donate to your choice of 6 local causes.

Camel crossing

After getting settled into our apartment (I’ll share a few pictures once I get some of our things here – first batch should be arriving within the next couple of weeks and the second batch within the next couple of months!) and trying to get used to the 7 hour difference, we rented a car and took a 4 hour road trip to the Red Sea. The (bumpy) Desert Highway was just that, lots of stretches of desert and then we would slow down to go through small towns to quickly observe. There were people walking along the road or sitting out with their cars selling fruits and vegetables. We saw herds of sheep, herds of goats and the occasional camel.

Even though we saw the sign, I really didn’t think we would see a camel this close to the road!

After about 2 and a half hours on the road we drove through an area of Jordan called Wadi Rum which took our breath away. Check out the link – as you can see from the list of films that have been on location here, it is otherworldly. We will definitely be planning excursions to investigate further!

Mountains http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/geo_env1.html

Our stay at the Intercontinental in Aqaba was exactly what this over stressed, over tired, over travelled lady needed and a great time to spend together as a family. We relaxed at the pool, at the sea and walked into the town where we had lunch, picked up some souvenirs and met the Imam of the local mosque; his nephew was the very nice souvenir salesman! 😊 We also saw some cool street art.

We were close to other counties, the sun is setting over the mountains in Israel.

What I’m reading: it has been so nice to be able to read again without the nagging worry of the things I needed to do for the big move. On Jillian’s recommendation I’m reading Just Kids – a memoir by Patti Smith. If you are a fan of music, art – really of any “scene” – you will find that Patti is a captivating writer about her experiences in NYC in the late 60s/early 70s. I hope I’m developing a writing style just like I hoped to have a painting style – I guess it does emerge over time if you are patient and stick with something. I also need to work on my blog photo process since I’m literally taking a picture with my iPhone and just uploading it to the blog without any edits. I’m not a fan of how they look once they are uploaded so I’ll work on that. Thank you for reading, bye for now.


General, Music

Packin’ out.

Wow, yes, this is a crazy time… Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week – even Sunday – have been an emotional roller coaster for me. Trouble sleeping, mind racing, stomach churning and then each day as the teams arrive to pack out the various shipments, I get to spend some time with funny, interesting, hard working people and I am recharged. Spending time alone has never been an issue for me, I don’t get bored or lonely but I do miss people. I’ve been missing my Fredericksburg work team – funny, interesting and hardworking people that they are 🙂 – since they were the people I’d see the most. A week ago today they joined me at the Service Awards breakfast and it really did feel like my family was there with me. Since my husband has been in Jordan since September we already have friends and coworkers to spend time with so I will ease right into that new group, I’m sure! I applied for a job at the Embassy too, so we shall see… who will be my new people?

Mummy man.

The mummies have caused quite a stir during this move, I was asked by the moving company if they were antiques during the pre pack-out survey a few weeks ago. LOL what the heck would I be doing with actual mummies in my house. I liked what one of my friends at work said “you should have told them there was a secret word that they cannot say in front of the mummies after midnight”. I was mindful to ask anyone who encountered the mummies this week if they were OK with them and everyone was.
One other stir that even I was freaked out by was on Tuesday when the team was here packing and wrapping everything and one of them said “is that a spider up there?” I stood on my tippietoes to look into a high cabinet and I did see partial legs as if a spider had maybe died up there? Once I showed my confusion the rest of the people in the house became concerned. I am the spider capturer (and sometimes killer if they are the big ones we get here in the woods, sorry big spiders I don’t like to kill anything) in my family I got on a chair and looked and reached in and picked up…

Her.

This spider LOL it still looked real after I got it down, I think Bobbi must have gotten it for my family one year for Halloween because she knows how much they are scared of spiders. It got me too and the three ladies packing up the house. It was funny, I wonder what insects I’ll see in Jordan. Of course my sisters have already asked what kinds of bugs are there; why am I the only one not afraid?

What I’m listening to: TV on The Radio – Happy Idiot. They are such an interesting band! But anyway, I’m feeling like that right now – the big big things are done, just have the little things to do. One week from today the girls and I will be on our way, and as anxious as I have been this week in particular – I am equally so excited. Not a big post this week, just wanted to get my feelings down since I was really feeling the stress but I’ve made it through and onto my next tasks. This is a great song too, (Trouble by TVOTR) the “everythings gonna be okay” line goes through my head every once in a while. Really, give TV on the Radio a listen they are just cool. Thank you for reading and keeping me company. bye for now.

General

Thank you for the snowstorm

I am definitely on my goodbye tour – since I last posted I have been to Long Island to see my family and was treated to a delicious dinner and the cutest cake! Don’t let the cuteness fool you, it was huge, SOLID to it’s core and delicious. I got to spend some nice time with my very first friend; my uncle who is 2 years older than me. 

My cake

My next stop was to NYC to visit with my friend from college who lives in CT and likes any reason to come back into the city, we went to the Howard Greenberg Gallery and checked out the Vivian Maier exhibit (as well as the stunning Anthropocene.) If you are a fan of street photographers you should check out Vivian, the story of the discovery of her work is so interesting – I highly recommend the documentary. Next visit was with my friend – my sis in law and her friend, we had a yummy lunch in Warrenton with pretty drinks. 

Pretty drink

Next stop and city – DC to see MY DC (3)TEAM and friends, it was funny to see people stop in their tracks and say “wait, didn’t you retire?” Great to catch up and to get to say goodbye to some of my favorites who weren’t in town for my ‘goodbye’ party, shake the hand of our Executive President who has been at the company for 57 years (to my 25) and pick up one last slug in the carpool. This post is dedicated to friends, ones that are in your family, those people that you meet and have an instant connection, those that build into friendships over time; it really doesn’t matter how it happens but the people in your life are what make your life what it is. I went to see a show (Soccer Mommy and they do a beautiful cover of Springsteen’s I’m on Fire btw) with my daughter, her friends, my friend and her daughter – we had so much fun with each other. Friends. 

Snowy

What I’m doing: Tickets to Jordan = arranged! The girls and I will leave on December 27th and arrive on the 28th! The girls will come back to the states on January 10th! In between we’ve been told that the presence of our company is requested at the Red Sea! I can’t wait to see it and share it with you! Finn’s transport to Jordan = arranged! He will be staying behind because I misunderstood a requirement – thinking he only needed to have a current rabies vaccine, which he does have but it was administered 2 years ago and for Jordan he has to have one that was administered within the last year. So I got him a new shot, his microcip and he is going to stay at a ‘resort’ too and then join us on January 7th. House photographed for the rental listing = completed! Now to send it all to the company and get this house listed!

creek

The snowstorm yesterday was a beautiful one with big fluffy flakes, a perfect snow to see me off to the Middle East where I don’t plan to see snow.  That is until we travel to a European city this time next year to hopefully celebrate Christmas. I am thankful that I didn’t have anywhere to be and that I could get a lot of keep/donate/recycle of my daughters things completed. Most of the photos on my phone right now are of random things with texts to the girls asking “do you want this anymore?” Next up is to arrange to have our SUV shipped over and then plan for the pack-out of my house which is scheduled for the 17, 18 and 19th… NEXT WEEK! Ahhhh….  

What I’m listening to: XMU on Sirius XM. My fave DJ is Josiah Lambert (@josiahOnAir on Twitter) so I’m just waiting for his shift! So much music I’m loving lately, it keeps my mind distracted when I start to get overwhelmed, writing this blog post helped too – so thank you for being here to read it. I won’t wait so long next time…  bye for now.

Jordan, Knowledge Management, Music

Task list and milestones. Check em off and meet em.

It feels like today was two full days. I am a live in the moment kind of person so once I have my moment I move on and put things in my past. I emailed, phone called, texted, facebooked, instagrammed; I TCB’d to put it mildly and I barely remember anything! Thankfully I have a check list that I cross off once I have gotten something done so I have a record of my productivity. Yes, I have my mammogram scheduled and no, the mortgage company didn’t make it out to inspect my roof repairs – but some things are beyond one’s control and don’t get checked off and that is OK. Chunk it out, batch it – if it is in small groupings that you can tackle you will feel so good. Check off the little tasks until you meet your big milestones… I have a lot of tasks til my ‘arrive in Jordan’ milestone but I’m up for it!

Checklist
My checklist for the day.

What I’m doing: One of the most important things I did today was finding someone to color my hair in Jordan. This post is dedicated to knowledge management – I used many of the KM practices I utilized at work to find things out and get things done today. I am using my knowledge network to figure out all that I can before I arrive in Amman by belonging to a Facebook community of expats and it has helped greatly. “Any brunettes out there that have a colorist they love?” Asking a question last night using natural language got me some results by the time I woke up this morning! I shared what I learned by checking in with my subject matter expert (stylist)here at home who enthusiastically approved of the recommendation I’d gotten. She is going to transfer the knowledge (my color formula) of how I get my glorious color and hopefully there will not be any interruption of service and my roots will be as brown as the day I was born! I practiced knowledge elicitation by asking the property management company a bunch of questions that hopefully they can answer soon and I can make an informed decision and sign a contract to have them in charge of my house and who lives in it while we are gone! I also talked with a company that does pet relocation and am hopeful that they can get Finn (our Boston Terrier) and Gracie (our Graygirl Cat) to our new home in Amman with little fanfare. Gracie is an outside cat, she adopted us so we have done our best to have her live inside but she was raised in the wild and she ‘goes’ outdoors. In Jordan she will be an inside cat only – so tonight after dinner with Amelia – I got Gracie a litter box that Finn was more interested in than she! Not sure what he was expecting to happen, but he sat there in front of it after sniffing it a bunch. 

Finn wants to use the litter box.
Finn wants to use the litter box.

Using some more knowledge management practice I reviewed and followed the documentation; sprinkled in the litter – it is enhanced with an attractant *catnip – and placed it where the subject matter expert (my daughter) advised was the best spot; at the back door where Gracie usually goes out. We shall see, she has to use it because she will not be going outside in Amman unless she is wearing a leash. Tomorrow is chock full of tasks too; mail some records, make a deal on some American Girl doll stuff, and drop off coats to Micah

What I’m watching: just finished watching the latest episode of Riverdale. Love it.

What I’m listening to: I don’t know how many times today I listened to Jupiter 4 by Sharon Van Etten but it was a whole lot and I put it on again after Riverdale was over. I hadn’t listened to her stuff before but Comeback Kid and now Jupiter 4 from her upcoming record have both been awesome! I’m going to listen to it again, it reminds me of being young and wanting to be with Mike every waking moment, I’m glad that soon I will be with him all of the time. I’m listening again. bye for now.

Art, Jordan, Minimalism

What is next? Stay on track.

Next stop on my journey to Jordan was to move inside and upstairs and get my daughter’s rooms homogenized for rental photographs. Yesterday the pre-move surveyor arrived at 8am so we could go through all of my belongings and make determinations; what is going over by air, what is going by sea and what will remain in the US in storage. Thankfully, I started practicing minimalism two years ago and have already donated or disbursed of the things that no longer hold value to me or bring me joy. I cannot say the same thing for my older daughter – she loves the thought of my brand of minimalism but she is a collector like her dad – so she will have some belongings to contend with. But, minimalism doesn’t mean you get rid of everything or that you live with so little that you are depriving yourself, it is unique to each person’s practice.

What I’m doing: I feel good about what I accomplished yesterday, met with the moving rep, cleaned up my daughter’s rooms, mailed some records from my husband’s collection, bought pet food, wrote up a lil bio for the 25 year service award ceremony, met my older daughter for dinner and went to my final painting class at LibertyTown. This blog post is dedicated to oil painting and my final piece completed there as a student. I started taking classes in February 2017 after not having painted ever in my life. I feel that my first year of minimalism in 2016 (I watched The Minimalists documentary on New Years Eve 2015) allowed me to free my mind of mental clutter and my home of physical clutter which empowered me to pursue creativity; both personally and professionally.

Finn in Foyer.
Finn in Foyer.

Not only did I learn to paint from my teacher, I learned that having a process to follow is a great contributor to success and I have so enjoyed learning this process. We project a photograph to a canvas, sketch it in, apply a base and then start underpainting to block in the right values. From there you add your layers, colors and values of mixed oil paint until it looks like the image above – you sign in, varnish it and Voila it’s done!

Red!
Red!

I intend to continue painting while I am in Amman, I have an easel (It is a Bob Ross one!!) and some of my own oil paints, brushes and palette – I have the process down but will start flying on my own without my safety net of my teacher and fellow students. I’m looking forward to new subjects, new students and teachers and expanding my creativity so I can feel like a success when I finish another painting. 

What I’m listening to: Radiohead Hail to the Thief which turned 15 this year. Radiohead are in my top 5 favorite bands and the song Where I End and You Begin is up in my top songs of all time, I don’t know if it was written as a love song but it invokes that feeling in me. 
Now its time for me to do my homework so I’ll be prepared to meet with my finances guy later and then with my friends for a happy hour. I will celebrate my painting being finished, that I’m moving along in my process to join my husband in Jordan, and that I will get to see my daughters, my sisters, my nieces and nephews tomorrow morning as they wake up in my disheveled house. bye for now.

General, Jordan

The road to Jordan begins today. Focus.

Kinda…I picked a good week for my first day of retirement, current weather in my part of Virginia is 60 and sunny!

What I’m doing:  After a few chores inside the house this morning I took advantage of the sun and headed outside to ready my yard for the family that will hopefully rent my house soon! My first order of business before I make the trip to Jordan is to get our house rented. I have a realty and property management company picked out, just need to get the house ready to show and rent.

Leaves everywhere you look!

We live in the middle of the woods – which we love, lots of trees, wildlife and privacy but tons of leaves in the fall. I hadn’t had a chance to get out and do pre-emptive leaf blowing or raking so I decided to break it into sections today, the section above is next. 

This blog post is dedicated to the moss in my yard, I think moss is the coolest groundcover and if I could, I would have my entire yard covered in it. My front yard has some moss but the small cleared area in the back between the house and woods is a glorious green carpet right now and for the next few weeks I will admire it and hope that it is still here when I get back from Amman in a few years. I got as far as the extension cord on the leaf blower would let me, so I came inside for lunch and to get a blog post under my belt. I’m trying to figure out my style since the last blog I contributed to was my team blog at work. 

Moss in my yard.
Cleared the leaves to let the moss photosynthesize! 

What I’m listening to: currently listening to Deceased Ghostly White for the 20th time. If you like metal (heavy, speed, thrash, death) you’ll love it; my husband writes the music and plays guitar. Our younger daughter speaks and sings on it, too.

Now it’s time for me to make some phone calls to arrange for my ‘pack out’ of household items to ship to Amman and things that we will store here in the US while we are gone. Then off to tackle the leaves in picture number one above and sit and admire the moss from picture two. I did get a work “page” so fingers crossed that my G peers are able to quickly resolve the issues.

Hope everyone is having a great day, bye for now. 


Update: at 2:17 I got a page that the issue resolved. Coincidence? My finger crossing is magical!