Friday, June 11, 2010

some days are like that

It has been a few weeks since the occurrence but felt the blog was an appropriate place for an update.

In late April, my aunt (let's call her P), suffered a massive stroke. P lives in the Austin area and has spent the last 6-7 weeks in recuperation and rehabilitation in local hospitals and rehabilitation centers. While progress has been steady it has also been slow. Her speech and right side were greatly affected but physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy is ongoing on a daily basis. She has use of a few words such as YES or NO, but speech is challenging as is use of her right hand and walking. Her eating has also been affected, both from a swallowing perspective but even more so from a desire to eat (hence a feeding tube).

I was able to see her right after the stroke occurred, and visited with her for about a week. Buddy and I will be heading back again in a few days to check in with her, and see progress.

The good news is that P just relocated to a skilled nursing center in the Austin area a little over a week ago to continue her therapy and rehabilitation. The bad news is that she was re-admitted a couple of nights ago to the hospital with chest pains. Tests are in progress so we will see what the results show.

P is my mother's sister, and is one of 2 living relatives on my side. Having never married or had children herself, P and I have had a special bond that was more than just niece and aunt. Besides her health challenges, there are clearly some financial, legal, etc. issues to address...of which puts me squarely in the mix. This hits in an even harder way than in traditional family relationships between aunts/nieces. Being halfway around the world further complicates these challenges.

Thanks for those friends who knew something was going on with me, and the struggles I am facing. Truthfully said, I have felt a bit overwhelmed and lonely...away from the infrastructure of friends and my support network.

I know this is departure from the usual blog posts but since my blog is my journal of time living abroad, and this is a significant life event for me, felt it was important to note. Not sure what the future holds, except for lots of long distance calls and flights to Texas...for now, important enough simply to know I am a bit blue.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

It's official....and major congrats are in order

Well done, Jordan! 75th pick in Round 2 of the MLB Draft...going to the Cardinals!

ASU Baseball

A little background: Swagerty, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound draft-eligible sophomore, has a 1-0 record, 2.05 earned run average and14 saves in 32 relief outings for the 50-8 Sun Devils, striking out 39 and walking 10 in 30 2/3 innings. The Sachse, Texas native also has played first base and caught some, compiling a .352 average in 15 games this year, but his future seems to rest as a reliever, probably as a setup man if he should reach the major-league level.

The curveball is said to be Swagerty’s best pitch although he can reach the mid-90s with his fastball. Swagerty’s next action will come this weekend when the Sun Devils face off with Arkansas in NCAA super regional competition at Tempe, Ariz.

You have worked hard and been focused...we look forward to exciting times ahead for you ...

Much love,
Uncle Boo and Aunt Holly

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Well, that time has arrived...World Cup fever is grabbing the Brits (and most of the rest of the world by storm.

Although the games will not officially start until the weekend, there is now hourly coverage on Team England and all that this could possibly include. If you can picture the media frenzy for the two weeks leading up to the NFL Super Bowl, you ahve the mental image about right for this event - only difference, 3/4 of the world are following these games, not just one country.

For example, today's newsworthy story was the interesting (not) airport landing signalling the arrival of the English lads (yea, I know...been in the UK too long if I actually pulled that word out and used it in a sentence). Followed shortly after this about how the footballers' wives were not keen on the choice of the Englis team's secluded hotel by the English coach because there was nothing to do in the area, no shopping, etc. Yawn...!

Things should spice up significantly this weekend when England's first match is against...who else, but the USA. As is my custom, I always root for two teams in these types of international competitions, the US and my host country. In this case, England. I just did not expect the showdown to come so early in the games. Oh well!

Hard to believe this is the 3rd World Cup that has occurred since living abroad...with the first one in Korea when we lived in Seoul (remember that riveting Korean battle cry - "Be the Red"? was a big deal but I never understood it), followed by next World Cup which was held in Germany when we were living in Dusseldorf. No, I was never interested in relocating to South Africa, in case you were seeing a trend here.

So, go Teams USA and England. Either way, my team wins this weekend.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Felines of Marrakech

Somehow we always seem to snap the cutest photos of felines around the is our Marrakech photo album.

A very pregnant group of mother cats and their kittens.

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Kits, cats, sacks, and this one going to St. Ives?

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El Bahia baby!

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Raising a head up to check out the tourists.

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Is the kitten free with the purchase of the basket?

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Yea, call me a sucker....

El Bahia Palace

The creme de la creme of the Marrekech historical sites is the El Bahia Palace.

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This 19th-century palace, once home to a harem, is a marvelous display of painted wood, ceramics, and symmetrical gardens. Built by Sultan Moulay el Hassan I's notorious Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed, the palace was ransacked on Bou Ahmed's death, but you can still experience its layout and get a sense of its former beauty.

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Don't forget to look up at smooth arches, carved-cedar ceilings, tadlak (shiny marble) finishes, gibs (stucco plasterwork) cornices, and zouak painted ceilings.

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Fancy a room? Each one varies in size according to the importance of each wife or concubine. American writer Edith Wharton once stayed in the most favored wife's glorious private apartment.

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I must admit this...

I can absolutely say that the entire show of Lost came and went without me ever getting caught up in it and seeing an episode.  Sky just aired the show finale and I figured, why let that streak end.

I will just remain oblivious.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

All aboard the Marrakech Express

While not an abundance of historical sights are to be had in Marrakech, there are a few interesting places to check out if you find yourself in the city. Granted, it is more about the feel of the place rather than the historical sights but we did enjoy glorious sunshine, warm breezes in a walking tour of Marrekech....all easily done on foot or carriage.  If you have the chance to visit...go!

Koutoubia Mosque

The soul of the city is the nearby Koutoubia Mosque, the main place of worship in Marrakech. Like all Marrakech mosques, entry is forbidden to non-Muslims.

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El Badi Palace

This 16th-century palace was once a playground for Saadian princes and visiting diplomats—a mammoth showpiece for opulent entertaining. Today, it's a romantic set of sandstone ruins, policed by nesting storks. A huge swimming pool in the center (still there today) is flanked by four others, along with four sunken orange orchards. The main hall was named the Koubba el Khamsiniyya, referring to its 50 grand marble columns. Along the southern wall is a series of below-ground corridors and underground dungeons.
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Bab Agnaou and City Ramparts

One of several gates into the city along with pictures of the city ramparts.

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RabbaKedima, "Old Square"

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Saadian Tombs

This small, beautiful 16th-century burial ground is the permanent resting place of 166 Saadians, including its creator, Sultan Ahmed el Mansour, the Golden One. Here, Hachie Gal meets up with a "Water Man" outside the entrance to the tombs.

The central mausoleum, the Hall of Twelve Columns, contains the tombs of Ahmed el Mansour and his family. It's dark, lavish, and ornate, with a huge vaulted roof, carved cedar doors and moucharabia (carved wooden screens traditionally used to separate the sexes), and gray Italian marble columns.

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True to his name, he did it in style—even those not in the lavish mausoleum have their own colorful zellij graves, laid out for all to see, among the palm trees and flowers.

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Because the infamous Moulay Ismail chose not to destroy them (he was apparently superstitious about plundering the dead), these tombs are one of the few Saadian relics left. He simply sealed them up, leaving only a small section open for use. The complex was rediscovered only in 1917 by General Hubert Lyautey during the French protectorate.

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Architectural detail of the tombs.

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