27 April 2007


The second decision I made about blogging, after deciding to start one, was to blog using a pseudonym. Conversations like the one I just had remind me why that was such a good decision. I figured there would be times when I wanted to talk about experiences I had with people and not reveal my identity when I immortalize their words on this widely read (not) blog. Said another way, I want to be able to rat people out without ratting myself out. Life is unfair. As one song goes, “sometimes even ponies get sad.”

So let me first remind you that I’ve been to Syria three times on my Jesusland passport. Each time I had no visa. Each time I waited for hours. Each time I was eventually granted a visa. Since then, I’ve been asked by several Americans to explain this process. The latest group was on Wednesday. Two Texan women asked me. I began my speech, and they cut me off pretty quickly. In about two minutes I realized that they are the kind of folks who ask questions, and have no intention of listening to answers. So, I sat there mute for the next 45 minutes while they talked about dating mishaps, nursing, and Republicans. I really thought they would not try to go to Syria, as I took their behavior to indicate lack of interest rather than inability to listen for more than one minute.

Let me pause here and tell you that these two women are with a group from Texans who oppose the war in Iraq. These ladies self-funded to come to Jordan and talk with Iraqis about how much the war sucks. They disclosed to me that their neighbors said awful/stoopid things to them about this trip including: “Those people [Muslims] are heathens, and they need to know the lord, and this war is necessary to civilize them,” and they rightly told their neighbors to go pound sand. They mean well. But, as a graduate student once reminded me, so does cancer. So, here they are in Amman, and they speak no Arabic, and have not a shred of cultural competency, and good intentions won’t fix the latter issue.

This brings me to my general observation about foreigners, mainly Westerners, in Jordan. Generally, there are just a few types of Americans and Europeans that come to Jordan. I watched one subset at Books@Café this morning. They are mostly European, wear jewelry made from large wood beads, smoke, and want the experience of living in a developing country, but without actually engaging directly with any serious and icky issues. Then there are academics who come here because they really care about the serious and difficult problems in the region, and they want to do something about it, but they are in over their heads cultural/linguistic-competency-wise. I read one's blog regularly, and frankly I’m often embarrassed for her at the way she uses dramatic language to politicize a cause that needs no more of that. I’ve met my share of these folks. They like to sit with their Western friends and talk about how many times they’ve been to Jordan, and how they know how to take taxis here, and how once they even went on that tour of some of the camps in Amman, and Gosh, it’s so sad how people live here… What I will call Misery Tourism is both an important component of Western street-cred here, as well as a standard Westerner-in-Jordan right-of-passage that makes no difference to the people who are on display for us to gawk at. And, there are people like my Australian friend who came here to live abroad for a year and try to learn some Arabic. She is low key, grateful and gracious about her time here, but realistic about the problems with this place. I’m no bead-wearing European, but I reckon I’m a combination of the rest.

The Texas ladies are your standard Misery Tourists. They are here for two weeks, and in that time are supposed to glean information about this region and the political problems. For reasons I don’t understand they hired a taxi driver who speaks no English to take them around to tourist sites here. The day after they talked to me, I was having breakfast and one of the Texas ladies, we’ll call her Texan Lady 1 (TL1), came to me accompanied by the taxi driver and asked me to tell him that the following day they wanted to go to Um Qeis and then to the Jaber border crossing into Syria. He was to drop them off there, and how much would that all cost? The follow up question from TL1 was if he understood that this was to be “tomorrow.” Bukra! Mashee! Now let me have my coffee! The following evening my comrades here and I discussed how late they would return to Amman once they failed getting visas.

Well, today I was in the kitchen heating up Maglooba when Texas Lady 2 came in at around 17:30 and said, “I want to talk to you!” You see, they should be at the Jaber border hella. TL2 told me that something weird happened. Before I tell you what she said, I’m going to pause again to mouth-off. This is always the moment that makes me cringe. It is the moment when normal-seeming, nice people suddenly realize that even though there are KFCs and Burger Kings in Jordan, we’re not actually in the States. Misery Tourists, who come here prepared for quality misery, are initially disappointed when they decide that Jordan is pretty “advanced.” Later, and usually as quick as whip-lash, they realize that they were wrong in their initial assessment, and they panic and instantly become professional Orientalists ready to diagnose Jordan’s problems. I feel uncomfortable about these conversations because they are racist, and banal simultaneously. Why, yes, I do know that people eat with their hands here; Oh, yes they don’t usually shut off the engine while getting gas; Well, You go pick up the trash if it pisses you off so much. So, I’m holding my bowl of Maglooba, and TL2 tells me that the driver obviously didn’t understand something. This driver has a Syrian passport, and was going to go see his family, she said. But, they went to a restaurant (in the Ghour?) where people came to stare at them, and everyone ate with his hands! Even the waiter put more veggies on the table with his hands! I assured her that hand-washing was not new to Jordanians. But, then they went to Um Qeis, and met a Palestinian man who told them that they were looking at the Golan Heights, and that this is land illegally occupied by the Israelis. And, now, here is the punch line for me: she told me that she has very different opinions from this man, and that in her opinion the Israelis won that 1967 War fair-and-square, and the Palestinians need to just shut up. Now listening to her through my bleeding eardrums, she went on to tell me that she didn’t tell the Palestinian this directly. Suddenly, the two Texas Ladies sensed tension between them and their driver and the Palestinian. They asked to leave, and the driver began to head to the border. He passed a turn-off to Amman, and then they realized that while hand-washing may be a recent colonial gift to Jordanians, or whatever, ESP has not penetrated the Middle East. They kept screaming “No! Amman!” at the confused driver, who eventually did bring them back to “Amman!”

Now, I am not chronicling this simply to make fun of them. Like I said, and like I mean, they really do mean well. I guess I’ve been at the receiving end of these conversations for too many months now not to vent about it. Cultural misunderstandings are remarkably uniform in their tragic paths:
1) Foreigner sees McDonalds; foreigner feels s/he is in (place American city here).
2) Foreigner goes to Books@, Blue Fig, Wild Jordan, has epiphany that Jordanians are actually a little “developed.”
3) Foreigner takes taxi to the Balid for an authentic Jordanian experience. Taxi driver: a) doesn’t use meter, or b) goes to the Balid via Ma’an. Foreigner feels bad and stupid for being swindled.
4) Foreigner focuses on: a) trash, b) women in hijab, decides that Jordan is backwards and wants to go home ASAP.
Thinking they have learned about Arabs, they fail to see that the real lesson is about us foreigners and our own world-view. Culture has this amazing ability to make us think that everything we do is natural and timeless. While it makes us feel comfortable at home, it makes us have freak-out moments abroad. Perversely, the initial focus on our similarities actually makes the pill harder to swallow. I think that’s because we are not focusing on similarities as much as we’re actually focusing on our shared shallowness.

My Culture Shock experience was only painful to me because all of the Jordanians I know failed to dramatically change their cultural standards and live as I do. That is true. But, it’s also true that expecting such a thing is idiotic. Working though culture shock, for me, was having this obvious lesson reinforced. Why are we foreigners, including myself, still spending time and money on this? How can we make the time and money we spend here have some purchase? I have been pondering this for some months. Is there any way to cut out all these intermediate steps I’ve just detailed and get right to cultural competency and effective activism?

25 April 2007

Archaeology, Cappuccino, Mandrin Mirage

Once again Miss A has done the heavy lifting, blog-wise. In any event, yesterday Yo, Miss A, W and me went to the Dead Sea to look at archaeology stuff.
It’s already wicked hot down in the Jordan Valley. This, coupled with the mobbing gangs of flies makes the whole experience a good exercise in Amman-appreciation.

We departed Amman at 06:30, and did stop for coffee. That’s good, or I would have gone on strike immediately. We went to Yo’s site to look at ground stone.

We found, photographed, and mapped what we came across. The site is on a plateau with a great view of the Dead Sea and the approaching Bedouin.

We had lunch on the side of the road. Yo kindly fed us really good hummus, though the sardines were really icky looking. After lunch, we went to look at Bab ad-Dhra’, an early Bronze Age site that has been looted beyond repair. This was my 3rd visit to the site, and it never fails to bum me out when I see looter’s pits stretching out to the horizon. Here is a nice picture of the site. Erosion will do this place in soon. It’s been cut away by a wadi adjacent to this picture. Here is a photo of human bones. Looters dug up graves in search of burial offerings. Totally uninterested in the people, their remains are scattered all over the site.

After Bab ad-Dhra’ we drove up the Karak road to the Neolithic site of Dhra’. This site always amazes me, though I think it bored most of my companions. This is a PPNA site, one of only 6 in that we know of.

From Dhra’ we headed up to the new Dead Sea Panorama museum/restaurant. It was a wonderful way to end the excursion. The view is amazing, the weather is much better, the flies are at a minimum, and the cappuccino is highly recommended. The waiter wanted to make sure Yo and I appreciated his coffee. The foam was perfect, and the coffee was Illy. I did not leave disappointed.

After showers, we went to Nai for half-price drinks. Thank God for the Absolut Mandarin Mirage!

20 April 2007

Au Revior, Mo

19 April 2007

Keep Fingers Crossed

For Alan. What an 'effin mess this world is.

15 April 2007

Wadi Mujib

Yesterday Yo and Mo, me, B and A went for a Saturday drive in honor of A’s birthday. We went to Madaba and continued on to Wadi Mujib. It was both beautiful and fun. A has a wonderful post about the day including many great pictures which I’ve already stolen. Early on we encounter danger, but having ridden in taxis for the last half year, none of us feel fear.

We picked up B at her place near Abdali, and then tried to convince Yo, the driver, to go to the Starbucks in Abdoun, but he wouldn’t. We headed south to Madaba while we deconstructed a talk we’d endured this week. I’ll leave it at this, as you kinda needed to be there: many jokes were made yesterday about trash and bananas. We didn’t stay too long in Madaba. B went and saw the mosaics at the church while Yo and Mo went to look for antiquities. We went and made a reservation at the best restaurant in Madaba. Then we sat in a wind tunnel and had falafel sandwiches. That done, we got into the car and tried to decide what to do. Should we go see the Panorama, or south through Diban? We chose the latter. We meandered through green valleys that reminded me of San Elijo Canyon near San Diego. There are old oak trees that are actually healthy, unlike those in SoCal, and the wild flowers are still out. We continued south and went through Diban, and then rather suddenly the road dropped out of sight and a huge canyon was in front of us.

This was the first time I’d seen the Wadi Mujib Dam that took out a lot of archaeological sites. Coming from the South West US, and having read Cadillac Desert at a young and impressionable age, I’m opposed to Dams and other stupid water projects such as this.

We stopped at a touristy view point, and I made a new friend. This dog had a hurt paw, but he was very friendly and he kept biting my skirt and purse. He was funny. We continued down into the valley to go and see the dam close up. Yep, that’s a big dam. I think A said it was completed in 2002. We actually got to drive over it. This seems like a big deal to me since most dams in the States that were roads are not any more. We continued up the other side of the canyon and stopped to get a better look at the new lake. It was difficult to get a good picture of the dam from far away because the light was ever shifting. It’s difficult to get a sense from my pictures of how big this canyon is. Trust me, it’s big.

We headed back the way we came and returned to Madaba for a wonderful dinner. We were all really tired. We’d gone too long without coffee, and it showed. After dinner we headed back into Amman, and this time we convinced Yo to take us through the Starbucks drive through in Abdoun. It was pretty disgusting. Though, I will say the coffee was good. They have real espresso machines here still, unlike most of the US stores. From there we took the long way to B’s favorite ice cream shop on Abdoun Circle.

Then home, and to bed. It was a really enjoyable day.

13 April 2007

Dead Sea Marathon

This morning W, Mo and I drove down to the Dead Sea to watch A and Yo run. Despite the fact that I was driving, and despite the fact that the roads were seemingly all shut down, we made it in time to see the band play as A, and soon after Yo, made it to the finish line.

The band is playing just for A and Yo.

I really did turn this picture before I uploaded it, but New Blogger sucks. Steal it, and turn it yourself.

Yo emerges from the parking lot and pretends to have run 10 K.

12 April 2007


Warning: This post contains gore.

This morning I went to the Palestine Hospital in Amman. Two days ago my ear began to swell up around my earring, and by lunch one of the earrings had been completely enveloped in my earlobe. The two earrings I had were post earrings, not hoops, and they didn’t just stick together, the jewel on the front screwed into the post, so once the jewel disappeared into my ear, there was no way to undo the earring. I let this go for two days because I’m a big baby, and because I thought I might be able to deal with it myself. And while the former statement still stands, the latter statement turned out to be untrue.

W very kindly went with me to the Hospital. We arrived at 10:30 in the morning. He sat down with his book and I went into a room where there were men in white coats. One man asked me what I needed and I told him I needed him to extract my earring. I sat down next to him and he looked at my ear. He said, “Ok, wait 10 minutes.” 10 minutes later a room was available, and we and the nurse went in. I sat on a table. Let me pause here in the story to point out that I’d been at the hospital for about 15 minutes at this point, that an actual M.D. was going to help me, and that everyone was speaking English with me. Dr. Yousef (I only had an opportunity to read his first name on his name tag) said my ear looked painful. He asked me if I really needed an analgesic before he could remove the earring. As I told him that I’m a big baby and would appreciate that, he was turning the back of the earring very carefully and explaining that the shot(s) would probably be worse than if he just removed it. He said he could probably just remove it, and as he said that he pulled it out the back of my ear. I’ll give you a moment to wince. I have to say, I’m sooooo glad he just did that, and it actually didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. He dealt with me so well, and I wanted to hug him because it was done quickly. He told me the second earring needed to come out since it might promote infection otherwise. He took that one out as well. It actually took longer to unscrew the earring and take it out than it did for him to pull the problem one from the back! The nurse cleaned up all the gore, and Dr. Yousef told me not to pierce my ears ever again. He wrote a script for anti-biotics, and told me he hoped I’d had a nice Easter.

I went to the pharmacy window and handed the young woman my script. She went to a shelf and gave me a box of pills. I went back down the hall, said bye again to Dr. Yousef, and paid 10 Dinars and some change for the entire day. W and I left the Hospital at 11:30.

I’m still in shock at the whole thing. Let me put this in perspective for you: My round-trip taxi fare cost 3.500 JD (including tip), my visit to the Emergency Room and prescription cost 10.400 JD. When my ear made it clear to me two days ago that I was in for some problems I initially lamented that I’m in Jordan because I’m not sure how to say in Arabic all of the things I said to the doctor this morning. But then I realized that I have no insurance, and if I’d needed to do this in the States it would have taken easily 10 hours, and likely cost me 1,500 dollars. Though I speak the language, a doctor in the States would never have had the time to listen to me that way Dr. Yousef did. Somehow I went to an ER and had something pretty icky done, and it wasn’t that bad. What really made it bearable was that I didn’t have to sit in a waiting room all day and worry about how much it would hurt; it was done before I had time to get worked up.

Thank you Dr. Yousef!

08 April 2007

No Black Iris

Well then. The week started off ominously as I couldn’t sleep and the Khamseen dust storms came back to pay Jordan another visit. The dust storms here are more amazing than I imagined as they envelop the city in what seems to me like a matter of minutes. I just wish that Amman had an air siren they could use to warn me to take my contact lenses out before they adhere to my eyeball. I hate that sucking sound I can hear sometimes when I take them out and my eyes are really dry. Ick.

But that’s not what this Easter’s post is about. Today I spent Easter with The Man and Crazy Neal walking around Ajiloun. CN has an eerie similarity to Dr. PJW; I mean they both wear all-denim outfits and seemingly subsist only on beer. Anyway, I mentioned earlier this week that I wanted to see the Black Iris if still possible. CN said he’d just been in Ajiloun that day and the flowers were great. He was headed back in a few days, and I was invited. I volunteered The Man to go as well. We took the bus up to Ajiloun and then a taxi up to the castle. CN needed to meet someone who turned out to be in Petra, so we did actually go into the castle for a bit. The Man had never been, I guess. I really love that castle anyway, so I didn’t mind. Ok, really, I should just admit that I wanted to go inside because I remember that there was a man who sold coffee outside the gate. Thank God he was here this morning. CN and I had coffee, and then we went inside. I didn’t take many pictures since I’ve been a few times now. CN promised “Byzantine shit” so I wanted to wait and take pictures of the shiz.

We headed south-west from the castle on a dirt road. There were zillions of flowers all over the place. I’ll save you the suspense: there was not a single Black Iris to be seen. There were a lot of cultivated purple Irises, does that count? Still, I was not disappointed. The flowers and the weather were perfect. I saw lots of ruins. I tried to listen to The Man and CN talk about this, but since it doesn’t involve Naviform core technology, it’s obviously not that interesting, so I’ll spare you the details. So, this stuff is old, got it? And it’s close to the castle, and they are clearly living structures and accompanying water systems. I don’t know what the difference between a well and a cistern is, but there were big-ass holes in the ground that were plastered on the inside. Those were there. We saw one mysterious cave structure, and one quarry. You can see all of this on the slide show. We walked a zillion miles, and then finally headed to lunch at a hotel. Us three and another two were it for Easter lunch. After a lengthy lunch we caught the bus back to Amman. It was really restful, and CN is actually really cool and hilarious in a PJW-way.

A restful day was needed for many reasons. Among those reasons was the excitement here on Friday night. I invited myself to the cook out up at CBRL. A graciously made me a St. Frances (we’re going with the feminine spelling, ok?!?) and I was sitting out on the patio with a bunch of white people when we heard shots fired. We figured it was getting to be wedding season. Well, it turns out that the guard here shot himself. It was pretty nasty. I heard that the kid was sad because he wanted to marry a girl and his dad said No. Ten shots were fired. When we returned there was broken glass, blood, and tree bark all over the driveway. I hear he got himself in the leg and bled a lot. He’s ok. This is Jordan, so when a man is bleeding to death there are not a lot of options. Our neighbor evidently came up and finally thought to grab the guys radio and use that to alert his boss. The guard spoke no English, but was apparently asking that no one be called. Yikes. Miss A, always a wittier writer than I, wrote about this on her blog. Check it out. What a night! But, other than the bark, blood, and leg, the cook out was great!!! This followed uneventful, but delicious Indian food co-cooked with The Man on Thursday. It was fricken good. We got all the spices freshly ground down at the Souk, and the dinner was great.

Lets hope for a week that’s just as delicious, but less bloody.

06 April 2007

Black Iris

These live outside of my apartment building. They are a tad past their prime, but I still think they're neat. The Black Iris is the flower of Jordan. It's illegal to pick them. These came from a nursery in Amman. The man who sold them to the folks in my building told them that they came from a person who was cultivating them and who went out of business. He sold his stock to the nursery owner. Possibly believable.
At lunch the other day I asked the people who have been here longer then me where and when I can go to see them in the wild. C told me a funny story about trying to do this last year. A few people here got into the car and headed out to find Irises. As they headed into a hairpin turn they saw a man come up from off of the road with an arm full of Black Irises. They continued on, and saw no more. So, people here for last year's flowers only saw a man illegally harvesting them from a hairpin turn.
On Monday W and I are going with Crazy Neal up to Ajiloun in search of flowers. CN told us that there are tons of flowers up there, and tons of Byzantine sites. We will go to see both. Wish us luck. This picture may be the only one I have of these flowers for the year.

03 April 2007

Home Again, Momkin

I started to put my room back together. I moved all my stuff out and put it into storage so I wouldn’t have to pay rent while I was away, and when I returned last night the room looked weird. It was familiar. Very familiar, but none of my stuff was here and the furniture was moved around. The furniture is still out of place, but my stuff is everywhere. I brought only one suitcase back to Jordan, and here is what was in it: yarn, coffee, a picture of K and I, and a skirt. When I woke up this morning I laughed as I really looked at what my priorities clearly are (coffee and knitting). So now I’m sitting here in my semi-room and I’m listening to music I downloaded while we were at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, the most beautiful place in the world.

I’m coming up to my 7th month here. And, I often think about Mary Douglass’ concept of “Matter Out of Place,” as this succinctly describes my place here. I just returned to Jordan from a three-week vacation in California, and to my surprise I felt just as foreign there as I still do here. I don’t mean this as most foreigners here, particularly Americans, mean it. I don’t mean “Hey, Jordanians! I feel at home here because my country has so utterly fucked up this region and I’m with you!” Though, certainly that’s true. What I mean is that I feel out of place everywhere now. This struck me just over three weeks ago when I came back to the States for the first time in six months. I flew into Chicago, and I had to go through security to take my flight from Chicago to LA. I stood in the security line, and it was there that I learned that I now needed to put my gels and liquids into a one-quart Ziploc bag, and place this bag on the top of my stuff. I didn’t have a bag, but I did have a tube of Burt’s Bees chap stick. I placed it on top of my jacket and the security man began a tirade over it. He announced to the line, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the single biggest reason for hold-ups at O’Hare Airport is people like this young lady who fail to comply with security procedures! Your gels and liquids need to be in a one-quart bag…” Blah, blah, blah. Having been in Beirut just one month before, I found it hilarious that I was now supposed to fear chap stick. Seriously, as far as I could tell from my time in the States, all Americans need to fear is that Howard K. Stern may not be the father of Anna Nichole’s baby. I apologized to everyone in line for my egregious security breach. Last night when I got on the RJ flight in Chicago to return to Amman I saw that the man sitting next to me had a huge bag of liquids and gels. I asked him how he got that through security, and he said, “I just didn’t take it out of my back pack.” Amazingly, we arrived safely in Jordan 12 hours later.

So I felt melancholy about returning. Not because of Jordan so much as because I just wasn’t ready to leave K and my folks again so soon. I got back into Amman and I got my date stamp in my passport and I picked up my suitcase and I went out and saw A waiting for me. We got coffee and A hassled his friend for calling girls as we drove up the Airport Road. They dropped me off, and I stood outside feeling sad. But, then I opened the door and Janet was there. Her face lit up and she said an ecstatic Welcome Home! Somehow, I felt at home. I live here with this funny group of others who are also probably out of place, and for just a few months we are this strange kind of family, and it made it good to come back. W suggested Hasham tonight.

So, let me put down some of my thoughts about California before I forget them. JM asked me what my impression of the States was, and I realized that everything there is really soft and fuzzy. Everything is covered in carpet and plants. This should go without saying, but my God Americans are rich. I never realized how many unnecessary stores there are in the States. I mean, there is store after store that sells nothing necessary. There is so much stuff. Just a few months away made me see how excessive we are. Not that I didn’t suspect as much. That said, I was happy to be back in California. It was restful and beautiful. Having lived in SoCal for so long I forget that not all Californians drive FUVs with “W ‘04” stickers on them. I did not miss the righteous Christian extremists that clog the freeways, and a visit to NorCal was a good reminder that the state is actually beautiful and that it’s not subversive to recycle. It was reassuring to be reminded that I can never forget how bizarre it is to be dangerously cut-off on the highway by an SUV with a “WWJD?” sticker on it. It made me feel at home. It also made me want to leave again. But, I think this is part of what I mean by out of place; things are familiar, but in no way reassuring. In Jordan things are reassuring but rarely familiar.

K planned an amazing road trip for us which we embarked on during my last week. As with our trip in August, not a moment was a drag for me. It was beautiful everywhere we went, and the weather was nearly-perfect. It rained in San Francisco on our first day there, which sucked since I made us walk around downtown in search of Art Yarns. We found it, and I bought a few balls of yarn, and then we booked it back to the hotel, but we were soaked. I’m getting ahead of myself here. The day before, we spent in Santa Cruz. K found a bamboo sanctuary where we each had an hour massage and then we sat in a spa for an hour and sipped tea while looking at bamboo. This stands out as one of the highlights for me. We were both all rubbery from massages, and when we got into the warm water it was so relaxing. It was like forced relaxation. By that I mean that there was no way either of us could have felt anything but relaxed. Very cool. We’d had a great breakfast at Zachary’s that morning, and then after the spa we went to this neat place and had a great dinner. Then we drove to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse where we spent the night. It was cold and raining. There were German’s everywhere and one American woman who apparently knows everything. Somehow we left the next morning and avoided her. Dodged enlightenment again! Ha! We drove up to the Crapevine and pigged out. Then we went to our cute hotel which we somehow managed to find without problems. They serve shots of cold tequila upon check in. Nice. After we returned from the yarn store we were both hungry, and the nice guy at the hotel suggested an Indian place just around the corner that kicked ass! The food was cheap and delicious. I ate everything they brought me and would have licked the plate clean if K wasn’t such a kill-joy. We bought beer and headed back to the room where we watched a zillion episodes of Law and Order. I missed that show. The ones with Lenny, I mean. The new ones are not as good. But I digress. It was so nice to hang out with K and watch stupid TV shows.

From The City we drove into Sonoma. This time the grape vines were naked. Some have a few new and tiny leaves on them, but most did not. We stayed in Healdsburg (sp?) this time. I think I can safely say that no matter the time of year, wine country is beautiful. The day that K drove me around the vineyards was wonderful. I just sat in the car and looked around. Everything is cute, and there were hardly any people. The lilacs were in bloom, and everything smelled sweet. We only bought 4 bottles of wine this trip. K thinks he’s not a wine drinker any more. Several good meals and good beverages later we began to head south. That gave us one more opportunity to hang out in San Francisco for a few hours. We went to Noe Valley and ate at Pasta Pomodoro. I know, it’s a chain, but their food is good and inexpensive. We walked around and found a cheese shop a couple of blocks away from the Pasta Pomodoro. It was stinky, but we went in. We picked up a loaf of rosemary bread and asked the lady there to suggest a cheese. We got a wedge of some kind of Swiss. At first I didn’t care for it, but actually it was really delicious. K and I headed out of The City back to the Lighthouse and we had bread and cheese. The next morning we had breakfast in Santa Cruz one more time. Then we headed for SoCal via Highway 1. K drove the beautiful stretch between Monterey and Cambria. This was also like forced relaxation. I sat in the car and watched for whales. There were flowers everywhere and everything smelled sweet. That drive is amazing.

My last day in SoCal was great too. We met C and S for drinks and then my folks showed up for dinner. C and S joined us and we went to Joe Greensleeves for a great meal that I mostly remember. It was an unexpected and great way to end my time there. So, what I’ve left out is how much it sucked to say good-bye to everyone again. And I also left out my evening with A, S and Miss C. I’m saving that for another entry because it involves mimes. Two mimes were crucified before our very eyes. It was hideous.

Right now Amman is really green. The hills are green and fuzzy and I’ve seen four Black Irises already! I’m trying to organize an Iris-looking expedition for the end of the week. I guess I don’t have much more time to try and see them.