This Expatriate Life

I’m going to diverge from earthquakes for awhile, not because they have stopped, because they haven’t. The earth moves every day, our hearts race, but it is the new status quo. I’m going to share a little more about the day to day life of living away from home; wherever that might be. The posts will be labeled “This Expatriate Life”.

Starting with the very mundane “Where is the pepper?”

Our little can of McCormick black pepper was empty, and somehow we missed that on our numerous trips to Costco this summer. Since our return we had checked for ground black pepper at the two major supermarkets, Bhat-Bhateni and Salesway, and at the US commissary. No luck. But we did find pepper seeds. We do have a pepper grinder, however it is sitting in our kitchen in California. It is one of those moments of “I know we have one, just not sure in which country”.

But one thing we do grind up a lot is coffee! We did buy a lot of that at Costco.

So I thought, “I’ll use the coffee grinder!”
I may have been a little too ambitious as the pepper I produced was not “grounds” but dust. When I opened the grinder, some of the pepper just floated away. But we filled a small container with our pepper dust and had pepper with our evening stew. All was fine, until the next morning.
It was Monday morning and we didn’t have ground coffee for the espresso machine — no K-Cups here. When I went to grind the coffee, I realized the grinder was still fouled with pepper dust. In typical Monday morning fashion, just not enough time to clean.
Not good to send Bill to school without his espresso coffee in the morning, but that’s another story.
I was on my own in the evening as Linda was part of the “Back to School” event for the elementary school. Our house keeper was unable to work today due to a general strike in the country, so I tackled the domestic chores of washing up in the kitchen. I could go on for volumes about the water, and maybe someday I will, but in summary the water we use for cleaning our dishes, our clothes, and our bodies, smells rather disgusting. You would never dream of swallowing it. It is a lot like the irrigation water we used in desert farming in El Centro… after it had gone through the fields. When we wash dishes with this water, we let them completely air-dry, in the wishful thinking belief that the nasty germs don’t like dry surfaces.
I clean the coffee machine only with bottled water. I tackled the fouled grinder with paper towels, trying my best to loosen the fine dust that just wanted to float back to the bottom. My previous experience as a science teacher kicked in and I realized that all of that rubbing was just creating a static charge that attracted the fine pepper particles. What I needed was a new strategy to get rid of pepper dust.
I may be a “blow hard” so I thought I would put that to the test. I leaned in close over the grinder and blew into it with all of my strength. Which as a scientist brings me to this law of nature: crap has got to go somewhere, or in this case dust. As I blew into the grinder, the dust flew into my eyes.
Now you know where the pepper went.



Yesterday we went shopping for groceries, including a trip to the commissary. As we were checking out, I saw a package of marshmallows above the chocolate section. I fought my primal urges (surely there were S’mores cooking at the caves of our ancestors), and did not buy that the tasty combo. Then REI sends me an email containing the photo below. Is there some cosmic message I missing? Has Google Search engines become so strong that even my looking at something at a grocery store now steers product placement to my inbox. ¬†Perhaps my marathon watching of Mr. Robot is effecting my observations of the universe. I will try to stay strong, and deny the S’more ….

and please take my paranoia in jest. That said, a chili-chocolate S’more sounds crazy good, but REI, my membership is part of a healthy-life choice, help me out.