Getting married – and then divorced – again….

FamilyGroup with NamesOn Friday, August 29th, 2015, on what would have been our 45th wedding anniversary, if we hadn’t been divorced for 33 years, Steve and I remarried – again on the Friday of a Labor Day weekend.

The original ceremony was held at Steve’s parents’ house in Salt Lake; we had a honeymoon night and breakfast at The Pancake House on State Street, then loaded a van with our stuff, and drove, with my daughter, Kim, down to Cedar City, UT where Steve attended college.

This time we got married in the house in Las Vegas that I share with our daughter Krys, who treated us to a night at the MGM Signature Resort and we had breakfast at IHOP, then returned to the house in Indian Lane.  Steve spent his honeymoon visit installing a brand new front door for us and working down his “Daddy-do” list of stuff for his daughters.

Steve’s brother-in-law, Kent Winder, brought his wife Suzy, Steve’s sister Karen Strebel Eaton and his mother Kay Butters Strebel down from Salt Lake for the ceremony. Steve’s mom and sisters attended the ceremony in 1969 and we were delighted to have them with us again.

New attendees were our children and two grandchildren – and our youngest son and his wife attended via “FaceTime” from Phoenix!

We’d like to give a shout out to Rev. Roland August, the Mobile Minister, who performed the ceremony in fine style.  He managed to combine solemnity and chuckles and hit all the right notes!

Addendum: By mutual decision, we divorced again in May, 2016, again with the support of our children.

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More than a Year in Las Vegas . . .

I came down to Las Vegas in June 2012 to give my sister, Sarah E an opportunity to take her husband on vacation for two weeks and to enjoy total irresponsibility.  I moved into her house and spent the two weeks taking care of our 97 year old mother, Norah Marie.  Then I spent the following week making slip covers for my daughter Sarah P before, I thought, returning to the relative coolness of a Salt Lake summer.

During that week my mother fell and exacerbated at old injury to her knee and Sarah E asked me if I would stay a while and help care for Mum as she was bedridden.  I moved back to my room at Norah’s house. The physical therapy folks came several times a week and Mum was soon up and about on her walker.   However, she decided, in the middle of the night, to check on her 16 year old grandson and fell, breaking her right wrist. That was quite a set-back and significantly increased the care-load.

Sarah E had learned about Solari Hospice from friends and decided to enroll Mum in their program – given her age and her recent injuries.  Soon Mum had a “spa lady” who came to shower her twice a week and a nurse who came once a week to check on her health – and access to social workers and a spiritual counselor – Father Steve. Without this dedicated team for backup – they came every time we called – we would not have been able to maintain Mum in her own home.

In the early Fall 2012 Sarah E discovered she had cancer, and started chemo therapy and radiation treatments – and I moved into her back bedroom as she could no longer care for Mum by herself.  In January she had surgery and a second – reversal – surgery in June.  She has since been pronounced “cancer-free.”

I spent my days taking care of my mother, sitting in the blue rocker by her french doors, doing genealogy, and being “Granny Jammin”-  crocheting texting mitts for sale at Jammin On Haight.  Sarah E slept with Mum at nights so that she was never alone.

Every day Mum would supervise me feeding the birds in the back yard – we ended up with over a hundred doves and pigeons in our “Breakfast Club.”  The constant comings and goings of doves, pigeons, and a wide variety of  sparrow and finches to the bird feeders – and even a few hummingbirds to the feeder – meant that there was constant movement in the back yard and always something to watch.

Mum slowly declined until she passed away peacefully in her sleep on September 16, 2013.

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I’m a nomad now….

Well, I THOUGHT I was just back in the US for the summer.  However, Al Khaleej were sanctioned by the Saudi Ministry of Labor for bringing workers – like me – in on Business Visit visas and having us work…so, between that, and my being 67 and TOO OLD to work in the Kingdom, they could not, apparently, get another visa for me.  Nor do I get the last 6000 riyals that Al Khaleej still owes me from my May paycheck 🙁  While our project manager was easy to get along with, I can’t say that I would recommend the company as an employer.  I very much miss my Saudi family and friends, especially Amal and Umi.

However, DrJohn came back to Las Vegas for his Hajj vacation and brought me my big blue suitcase, carefully packed by Amal and Umi – that included a big bag of Umi’s wonderful khubz and 4 boxes of hand-picked dates (I wonder if the seeds would sprout and grow in Norah’s back yard?) home ground cawa for Krys and Bralin (Praline) coffee for me from the Lebanese nut shop.  There’s a TESOL conference in Dubai in March and Amal and DrJohn are presenting…and I just happen to have enough riyals left to buy my return plane ticket so I could go, visit with my friends and Umi, and collect my other suitcase and the last of my belongings.

I am SO glad that I brought back all my souvenirs at the beginning of the summer so I have tangible memories of my 6 months in Saudi.  The “hit” was the bars of Virginity soap I brought home for all the girls 🙂 I keep promising myself that I will write down the story that goes with all the photos of Facebook.

Summer at Jay’s went very quickly.  I got to know the grandchildren better and to make sure that their dad had his Snowbird pass in September so that he can look forward to a winter visiting his “Happy Place.”  I was able to put a lot more stuff up on and get his business paperwork organized.

Now I am in Nevada – living with my daughter Norah.  I came down to escape the Salt Lake winter, collect my suitcase from DrJ and go down to Phoenix for my ninth grandchild’s baby shower on 11/12/11 🙂  We figured out that #6 of 9 children (Krys) produced #6 of 9 grandchildren (Holly)….and that #9 of 9 children (Josh) will have #9 of 9 grandchildren (Ethan Collins Strebel) 🙂 – born February 2012.

Just to prove that everything always turns out just exactly the way it should – the best news of the summer is that Steve Strebel and I spent the evening of what would have been our 42nd wedding anniversary together!

Steve and Mauri on what would have been their 42nd Wedding AnniversaryWe also had dinner together several times, took several drives to admire the scenery around Salt Lake, looked at many of the homes that Steve had worked on, and we visited the Bingham copper mine. We have discovered we have a lot in common (43 years and 5 children’s worth!) and really enjoy the people we have become. The children are not quite sure how to take all this socializing between their parents (but they’ll get used to it!).

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Going home for the summer . . .

Well, I had intended to keep this up as a journal of my days in Saudi Arabia – but, as you can see, that didn’t happen, for a number of reasons. I have, however, posted many public pictures to my Facebook page (  I will find a photo plugin for this blog and add them all here eventually.

I have been here in Saudi Arabia on a “business visit” visa for the past 6 months and Al Khaleej Training and Education, who hold my contract, are sending me back to the States for the summer to get my work visa, inshallah.  That will allow me to have useful things like an “iqama” (the official identity card depicting an individual as a resident of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and a bank account – oh, and exit and re-entry visas so I can leave the Kingdom to visit my cousins in South Africa at Hajj time, and come back.

Packing is not fun!  I bought two more big suitcases and have divided my stuff – souvenirs and stuff I would be heartbroken to lose comes home with me – the rest is packed into my two huge original suitcases and will be stored here. If the unthinkable happens and I don’t come back, I have friends who will bring those suitcases back to the states for me when they travel.

I am looking forward to a week or 10 days in Vegas, cat-sitting at my sister’s house while they are off on my mother’s 96th birthday cruise.  While I am there, I will get everything done that I need for my visa application. Then I will be cat and Alex-sitting at my son Jay’s house in Salt Lake City, so that he can go on tour and sell Benjammindyes all summer.  I have an invitation to my Saudi sister Amal’s family Eid party starting August 29 – the end of Ramadan – so, inshallah, I will be back in the Kingdom by then!

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Sunday morning…

After two days of dedicated work by my moving crew (son Paul, and daughters Krystal and Norah) under the direction of Sergeant Norah! we are down to the tail ends of cleaning out the house.  Only my bedroom and bathroom need to be cleaned and the last few piles of stuff sorted.

Friday morning Norah rounded up her furniture moving crew: Pauly, Jason and another of her neighbours, and the U-Haul truck and got the furniture moving underway.  Stuff went to her house, Krys’ house and SarahP’s and some furniture even found its way to her neighbours’ house.  The crew was so efficient that the U-Haul truck was turned in before 6 PM – but, as she had warned me, it was the mileage – 97 miles at 85 cents a mile – that got to be VERY expensive.  Norah and her room-mates were thrilled with the new fridge and washer and dryer – all of which work! We were all amazed at how Norah managed to “jenga” all the furniture and boxes into neat stacks in her garage – and SHE was the one who drove the 14 ft long truck!

Today Krystal and I will go over and move all my “I want to take this with” stuff into the livingroom and spread it all out, re-sort and repack my suitcases.  I did buy two corrugated cardboard shipping cartons that we will pack with the “gotta have but can’t stuff in the suitcases” things and leave them for shipping as soon as I have an address. USPS is the cheapest shipping but even then …. WOW!! (or should I say OUCH!)

There will be some more garbage sacks filled and a few more added to the “donate” pile and we will clean the last two rooms and then we are DONE! So far I don’t appear to have lost anything critical – except some package that were supposed to have been shipped to me in the mail that have not yet arrived.

A small family dinner is planned for this afternoon and I only have three items left on my “gotta do” list – two involve my hair and the other a trip to Sam’s Club to pick up some prescriptions. Oooops, add an item quick: have to call Verizon about the mobile phones.

I was just thinking that we didn’t take pictures of the moving crew at work…everyone was too busy…this blog looks much more interesting with pictures so I will need to keep my camera handy from now on. I know where it is! I do… I THINK I do… (which is more than I can say for my mobile phone this minute!)

I am looking forward now to Wednesday night (which means I will have made it through London and all the way to Riyadh) because I will be having dinner-and-shopping with three of the delightful ladies I met at the September workshop.

Friday morning Krys and I went over to the smog station and then to the Department of Motor Vehicles and took care of the registration for the car – all in less than an hour.  DMV have installed two kiosks that scan the bar code from the emissions station receipt and print out your license plate sticker on the spot!  (That will be $277, please!) Technology is WUNNERFUL (when it works!)

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Thank you, Steve…

This blessing deserves a post of its own!!  Norah insisted this morning that I call the used furniture store where I bought my matched pair of recliners and ask if they wanted to buy them back.  There is no room in her garage OR her house for them – deep sigh because we BOTH loved those recliners and spent many hours in them.

The Monster Trainer

So Steve, the buyer, came out to the house and looked at them and pronounced them buyable…so we introduced him to a lamp, three Oak World pieces: two curio cabinets  and a media cabinet (that I used to store my vintage quilts in) and a pair of rattan rocking chairs.  THEN, as an afterthought, the HUGE elliptical trainer that has lived behind my bedroom door for two years – and has been used…but it was BIG!!

Bless Steve’s heart he bought the LOT!!  Funnily enough – for Clark County Public Auction – where most of this stuff came from in the first place 🙂  What REALLY impressed me was that he took the “arms” off the trainer and then maneuvered it out of the house and into the back of his pickup all by himself! It took four guys to bring it into the house – and Steve was (and I hope he forgives me for saying this) not a young man!

I am so thankful that Steve relieved us of having to move that furniture  and that trainer around one more time AND he paid me cash so I have more dollars to take to KSA with me!

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Thursday 12-9-2010

Norah and I made great strides yesterday with the “Trash it!”-“Donate it”-“Give it to Auntie Sarah for her yard sale!” I want everyone to know I am SO over this moving business!!!  I am amazed at how much STUFF I had accumulated, even though a lot of it moved out with Norah when she went to her new house

The cats: Charlie and Coraline are getting settled in their new homes.  Coraline has already met the dogs in her new house and spent 30 seconds hissing and spitting at them – informing them that SHE was now in charge and their lives had changed forever (sounds like my girl!).  Charlie had spent the day hanging out under the couch and generally being disgruntled.  But I coaxed him out last night and spent an hour or so with him and my mother, while Charles explored his new living quarters and found himself places to perch and more places to hide.  UPDATE: Sarah says she will have to clean off the top of her desk as Charlie has decided that the warmest spot in the room is either sitting on her router or snuggled up under her lamp.


My Mom at 95.5 years old

I printed out some maps for my mom (she’s 95 and getting a little vague) – drew lines on the world map and wrote down my travel schedule. I circled Buraydah on a KSA map and wrote down what I would be doing there – both are taped up in her bedroom.  She spent quite some time studying the maps – they will, I hope, help her over the transition.  I will be able to Skype and talk to her and Sarah can read her my blogs postings and share my facebook postings with her.

The picture was taken the last time I took her to IHOP – our favorite breakfast place.

The first good news of the day: PaulSimon made it through customs and TSA and is on the plane.  I will pick him up at the airport at 5:30 PM tonight: one more pair of hands to help with moving furniture tomorrow and he will drive my car up to Salt Lake City so Jay can drive it while I am gone.  His plane kept getting delayed, but will arrive at 8:45 PM.  We will be very grateful for his help tomorrow.

I let the DEOS-L folks know today that I am moving – Zane will tend the list while I am travaling.  I have been list moderator for 15 or so years (although most folks don’t even know I am there!)  It has been nice receiving good wishes from old list friends!

Today we will spend packing boxes ready for the big furniture move tomorrow.  Oh my! I hadn’t realized how much cat hair has sifted into all the nooks and crannies and corners in my house.  I am going to take two BIG sticky rollers with me – I am sure a year from now in Saudi Arabia, I will STILL be picking cat hair out of my clothes!!

Norah was ruthless with tossing stuff – Mostly I didn’t even look and only rescued two items from the pile – a drawer that held old fashioned type  and the “tree” that Zane’s Dad made me to hang my key tags on.  I know they would not be on the “can’t live without” list – but both have sentimental value for me.

Now, off to the airport to collect my son and take him over to Norah’s for the night – no beds or bedding here for him!!  Guess we will be camping out with Norah and Krys for the weekend.

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Well, less than seven days now!!!

I started off today listening to three different sets of visa woes!! I was selfishly VERY glad that mine is safely in my passport and my passport is here in my desk drawer. I have decided that all governments are inefficient in their very own fashions – but that matters do run more smoothly in the US than most other places – you don’t HAVE to know someone or pay a bribe to get what you need to done!

I had to talk to the phone company today to get my house phone moved over to my daughter’s house – most of the other utilities allow you to move stuff and stop service online.

All my winter salwar kameez are clean and hanging up out of the way of the cats (and their hair!) They will be in a suitcase for a week or so; there is no point in ironing them.  I even located all my silk longjohns – haven’t worn those since Chicago.

Did you know that you can buy a one terrabyte Seagate pocket drive for $99 and tax from Walmart? I didn’t but I do now! Nuisance – I had to totally reformat the drive to use with my MAC and lost access to the movies that came on the NTFS formatting.  Now the tedious part is moving all my backups over – and then setting it up for Time Machine to get a back up of the MACbook before I leave.

Who would ever have thought that I have almost 4 pounds of jewelry to take with me – those Indian necklaces and earrings are HEAVY. But if I leave it all here I will only replace it when I get to Saudi so I would end up with twice as much….hmmm….how is that a bad thing?

Paul didn’t make it down from Canada today – but Norah will be here tomorrow – bright and fairly early I am sure to make sure that I make our Friday deadline to have everything out of the house.  Utilities won’t be turned off until Wednesday 12/15 and I will be in Riyadh by then!

I added yet another frequent flyer program to my list – but at least this one gives you an extra baggage allowance for being a member! I paid British Airlines for my extra bag and realized that I can buy a bigger carry-on bag than the one I have – the problems will come when I shift down to the flight between Riyadh and Buraydah/Gassim – much tighter baggage allowance – I am going to have to save Riyals to get my bags there.

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Apparently I will have the day and a half that I am in Riyadh open – so I am planning to get together with three of the ladies who were part of the NCEL workshop in September – we could do some serious women stuff…like SHOPPING!!  I am most certainly going to seek their advice about a whole long list of questions I have about being a woman in Saudi society.

I had the opportunity in Church this morning to bear my testimony – for the first time in 15 years!  I attended this Ward almost 30 years ago and when I returned this past year some of the members still remembered me.  They all made me feel at home and comfortable, so this morning I thanked them all.  I wanted the members to know that they had helped me along what has been a long and difficult path.  After Church the Bishop was doing tithing settlement so I took the opportunity – nice to be able to smile and say This year, I paid a full tithe!  Let’s see if I can keep THAT up! I will keep my present Ward as my Home Ward – I think the nearest Ward to Buraydah will be in India!

Coraline has a HOME!!!!  I am so thankful – one of the Sisters in Relief Society offered her a place to live.  Coraline will have two small dogs for companions so will soon get her life sorted out to her satisfaction!  I will send her to her new life with a carrier, 40 pounds of litter and a BIG bag of catfood.

I went out to lunch at the Fiesta Buffet with Mom, my sister and brother in law and mynephew.  My Dad (who died 12/14/2001) used to take Mum out to lunch there on Sundays and we maintained the tradition.  It might be the last time I will join them in QUITE a while.

Last night I watched two Jimmy Stewart movies while I sat with the file cabinet and the shredder.  I was amazed at how much PAPER I had that I really didn’t need – years of utility bills and bank statements! It is all online now and I can print out anything I need.  I even shredded my 2002-1999 tax returns.  I didn’t realize that I had been using Turbotax and filing online for so long!  I will even be able to continue that while I am in Saudi.  However, my “tax home” next year will be KSA and I am likely to be out of the country for the whole year – so I can file for an exemption and would have to earn over $91,000 before I pay any US taxes (oh, I WISH!!)

Right on cue Bank of America has decided that I don’t get to keep the trial morgage loan modification they offered me and I have been paying since April. They say I haven’t provided all the paperwork they wanted (shaking my head – I did – at least THREE times!) so they are going to accelerate the loan.  If I don’t bring it current by the end of December, they are going to start foreclosure proceedings.  (I see another hit to my slowly recovering credit score coming up!) I gleefully sent their notes off to my attorney, who is already preparing a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure 🙂 That’s one way the bank says I can cure the default 🙂 and the best choice as the house is way too far upside down to sell.

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More steps. . .

Big things out of the way today – in no particular order:

My winter coat, not worn since I left Chicago 4 years ago, is at the Dry Cleaners.  I did my best job getting all the white cat hair off it. It hangs to my ankles and even has a hood – might double as an abaya if it were baggier!  They looked a little doubtful when I asked if they could dry clean my winter Salwar Kameez – which I also haven’t worn since Chicago. Wearing silk longjohns under them cuts down on the need for cleaning but I think I will take the embroidered (but not blinged) SKs over and let them give it a go – at $11 plus each…hmmmm…I DO have a gentle setting on both washer and dryer…

Ordered Saudi Riyals from the bank – I got over a thousand for my $299 and change.  I am told the exchange rate is held at 3.75 riyals to the dollar within the Kingdom and not to change too much money here…which I didn’t.  The guys at the recruitment company who actually hired me on behalf of the university floated the notion yesterday that, as my plane arrives at 6:15 AM, I might have to take a taxi by myself from the airport to my hotel, so I figured I’d best have some riyals in my purse.  Notwithstanding that 1) the Saudi Embassy web site says unaccompanied women are not to leave the airport without their sponsor representative 2) I don’t speak the language 3) I am a woman 4) I will be in a totally strange city 5) the helpful phone numbers kindly provided presume a) I will have a cell phone that works in Saudi or b) I will know how to work the local phone system. There is an implicit assumption that the world will work exactly the same for one tired and bewildered western woman with no abaya and no hijab as it does for 6 male locals.

I was in a right panic by the time I got to Skype with the Dean.  He gave me his usual, comforting “NEEEEEDn’t worry about that…” and he found a google site for the hotel with the address and a map. The hotel name wasn’t spelled at all like the one in the email – but same hotel. He suggested that I print out the map and write the hotel address on it, and then, if I have to, contract a taxi from one the stands within the airport rather than going out to the curb. All I will have to do is show them the map and say “Take me to this hotel, please” – which I can even manage to say in Arabic!  Panic immediately subsided and my “travel in a strange land” scripts kicked in – I’m fine as long as I have addresses and maps!

Location of Al-Sulaimania Hotel

I did discover the hotel is a couple of blocks from a McDonalds – how American is THAT! I am only there over Wednesday, Dec 15th night as I fly to Buraydah on Thursday evening where I KNOW there will be someone to meet me!

I went through my coin collection and found that I have 33 pounds and change to spend during my 7 hour layover at Heathrow.  At least the shopping there is interesting.

My durable power of attorney is now notarized so that one of my daughters can handle any financial affairs that may come up while I am gone.

Now, while I edit book chapters for Badrul, I will sit on interminable hold while I try to arrange for utilities to be turned off, my phone moved, etc.

Well, that was what I was going to do…and then Norah turned up – all full of energy and we have loaded both cars with boxes and stuff. So now, off to Norah’s then dinner and then the new Harry Potter movie with Norah and Holly.

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