Deranged Moments and Lessons Learned

(Written October 2011) So I am slowly settling in to life as an expat again.  I’m trying to set up some type of schedule or routine, which will ensure that I shower daily.  I ventured out yesterday in a taxi to a new grocery store because I heard they had some higher-quality cat food.  They had a few cans, which I grabbed, but otherwise it was a little too posh for my comfort level, and my initial intention of grabbing some fresh veg for dinner was quashed when I saw their broccoli was $7 a head.  All in all, the cat food, some bread and juice cost me as much as the taxi there and back – about $14.  But at least I showered.

I then spent an hour in the afternoon doing some tree pruning and “picking up” the yard.  In hindsight, I should have reversed these activities, as the heat of day was peaking around 96 degrees while I was out huffing about.  I started by trimming off some of the smaller branches from the trees that interfere with our gates.  This was all well and good, until I got a little too ambitious and snapped the scissors in half on a thicker branch.  So, feeling the pruning moment had passed, I decided to check out the sidewalk area that wraps around two sides of our corner villa.

We have two gates, one for pedestrians and one for cars.  We primarily use the car one, so as I walked out of the pedestrian gate, I was surprised to see that the sidewalk on this side of the house was littered with all matter of, well, matter.  There were broken concrete blocks strewn about, dead leaves piled up from our trees, miscellaneous paper trash, an old tire, dried palm leaves, and a broken kitchen trash can complete with trash.  So I started by dragging all the big stuff around the corner to the driveway, where we put our trash out (which is picked up seven days a week, thank goodness).  I dragged the trash can, adding bits of paper trash along the way.  I rolled the tire up the sidewalk and around the corner.  Then I lugged the concrete blocks over to the small palm trees along the road, and stacked them up.  I dragged all the dried palm fronds around to the pile, all the while trying not to stab myself with their four-inch spines.  The highlight was probably when I had to drag a large rotting wooden pallet, using a broom as a tether.  I then started sweeping all the sand and dust into the road, hoping the entire time that no one came running out of their villas to admonish me.

As I worked, I looked around at our neighbors’ sidewalks; they were relatively spotless and trash-free (we do have one neighbor a few houses down who has an interesting collection of ever-changing living room suites displayed on his front lawn, from wicker, to fabric, to wooden – he’s either remodeling, or eccentric, only time will tell).  The other thing I noticed, was that no one was out and about.  Other than the steady stream of cars going by (why are there so many cars driving through a neighborhood?), I was the only human out.  I do realize that as the “lady of the house” (which brings to mind calling cards, smelling salts and hoop skirts), the last place I should be is outside sweating profusely and lugging about old tires.  Never in Kuwait would you see anyone but a housekeeper or gardener out doing manual labor.  I’m sure my behavior was quite scandalous and I hope I have not ruined my husband’s reputation as a manly man unable to control his sadly deranged wife.

This morning, after opening the gates for hubby to leave for work, I decided to water some of our trees while I was out and the weather was a cool 82 degrees.  As I turned on the hose, I noted our front porch area was covered in dust from a mini-sandstorm we’d had the week prior.  My attempts to brush the dust off with the ancient yard broom I found, had been less than successful.  So I figured I should hose it off properly; which I did, with great gusto.  Unfortunately I found that the slope of the marble at our front door wasn’t sufficient enough for the water to run off down the step, so I continued hosing generously, then dropped the hose to water some trees, while grabbing the ancient broom to swish the water off the porch.  All was accomplished and I finished watering the trees and went inside.

As I entered, two of our cats, Chuckles and Louie, were sitting on the dining room rug looking at me as if to say, “It wasn’t me!”  I looked down to see a huge lake of water across the marble floor heading in to the living room.  Apparently our front door needs some sealing.  So I grabbed some towels and started mopping up, all under the watchful, but not helpful, gaze of Chuckles and Louie.  I managed to soak it all up and ran to the laundry room with an armful saturated and dripping towels.  Then I went to my “fix it” list, and under “broken light above stove” added “seal front door”.  Never-ending fun in the life of an expat.