Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It’s so quiet here on our lake. The trilling and twittering from the gold finches and wrens and swallows that we hear all summer has suddenly stopped. The warbling and chirping that heralds the morning dawn, has also come to a stop. The dive-bombing of the birds to catch insects has also ended, and the lake is still. Geese fly low, just above our dock, honking and telling the world: Look out sun, here we come!

The water beyond our dock, once speckled with mallards, grebes and merganzers has suddenly become flat and empty.

They were here one day and the next they were gone. How do they up and leave so fast? It takes me a month to get ready for the winter and follow the sun south. What type of computer chip is embedded in their DNA that says: “Okay, folks, let’s roll.” What a carefree life they have.

The quail, though, stick around; I think they’re pretty glad the other pesky birds have flown the coop. Now the hills and lake are theirs to enjoy.

When it becomes still on our lake, I know it’s time to start packing. We, like the birds, will head south to a warmer climate, and leave the lake and mountains to the quails.

Monday, October 6, 2008


As I get more involved in writing my memoir of Iran, I begin to remember things that caused me great consternation as a new expat, but which now seems amazing that I was not more prepared, hence the wake-up call.

Before I moved to Iran, I never considered where my drinking water came from, other than my kitchen faucet. I never considered where my electricity came from, other than the switches on lamps, walls, various and sundry plugs located at convenient intervals throughout my home. I never considered where the heat and air conditioning came from, other than the cutesy little louvered registers at ceiling level all over the house that blew out the required heated or chilled air.

I never considered what made them all work; how the gas went into the furnace, was then heated by a flame that warmed the heat exchanger, which in turn warmed the air, which then circulated through the vents and then was forced from the register to warm our house, our bodies, and made life in the winter worth living.

But as a new expat to Iran, I now found myself worrying about everything that I had taken for granted. The heating pump in the basement; how to keep it full of oil (Naft) that kept us from freezing in 20 degrees, that kept the old radiators in each room putting out warm air, or worrying about the cooling when it reached 120 degrees outside, and which worked arbitrarily. It all depended on when the “AC” or “Naft” man came to town to make it work. Some days he was busier than others and just couldn’t get to our house. Busy also meant taking his four hours of Siesta time, prayer time and various obligations that he must attend to before showing up, if indeed he came at all.

I also had to fret about the water that came through our rusty pipes. Well, either the pipes made it rusty, or it came to us just plain rusty. Where did it originate? A brief walk through town revealed water troughs (jubes), running down both sides of the street, which were used for many conveniences; for rinsing the vegetables that merchants sold from their carts, for tossing rotted bits of produce into, for urinating into by the merchants, or any male passing by if the urge to purge came along, and a quick lap for the scabrous dogs who prowled the streets.

Which brings me back to my original thought: Some of us forget how lucky we are to live in the U.S.A.