Home is Where the Cat Is

IMG_1007.jpg

Our new house, Day 1. In my next post, you'll see what the front entrance and garden looks like now!

My husband and I arrived home after several weeks of travel (he was returning from the U.S.; I had been in Thailand) to find that the housing assignment we had been waiting for since last November had finally come through. The announcement had been sitting in my husband's work email for two weeks before our arrival back in Saudi Arabia! Once we confirmed that the house had not, in the interim, been given away to somebody else, it was time to get packing. We had two weeks to box up the household and move.

We were being transferred from the company's smallest and most remote family community to its largest. Our new place is in Dhahran, which is the city in the Eastern Province that has an international airport and is connected by bridge to Bahrain. It may not be as small-town friendly as our old hometown--but it sure is nice not to have to drive for two hours to get a crisp head of lettuce or a bag of decent coffee beans. (First-world kvetching, I know, I know!)

IMG_6219.jpg

The new place is smaller than the old, but we love the open, airy floor plan. We decided when we moved in that this is it: we're not moving again until it's time to pack up and leave the Kingdom for good. So we're nesting. We're settling in. It feels great.

IMG_6206.jpg

The details are what make this home: on the bookcase are my grandmother's butter mold, a set of Venezuelan maracas that my sister gave us, and a basket made by my husband's grandfather. 

IMG_6214.jpg

Here's the horseshoe-shaped kitchen (at right, you can see that a wall bisects the room.) It's so big that I set up my office in here. Weird for some, but perfect for me. I've often got a loaf of bread rising or a pot of soup on the stove while I work, so this is very convenient. Okay, right here's the the part where you can make comments about the little lady's place being in the kitchen. Go ahead; let it rip. I'm usually barefoot, too (but not pregnant.) 

IMG_6188.jpg

The nerve center: here's where I work. The two clocks show the time in Riyadh and Washington, D.C.  

IMG_6189.jpg

My mom embroidered a set of tea towels as a Christmas present for us one year. They're so sweet and old-fashioned! I recently had them framed, and now they hang in the kitchen next to the pizza peel.

IMG_6193.jpg

Unlike our former desert home, Dhahran is humid. I'm already seeing that plants grow much more quickly here. We're going to try to sprout some avocado seeds and plant them in the garden. The summer heat is starting to build up already, so it's probably not the best time for this experiment, but we'll see what happens.

IMG_6194.jpg

We picked up an espresso maker from the classified ads, and a dark, metal-studded Afghani sideboard from a shop in town.

IMG_6195.jpg

The folding screen came from the same little shop in town. The shopkeeper, Ajab, remembered me by name the second time I visited. The screen is Pakistani, and has a bit of brass inlay.

IMG_6197.jpg

I bought this inlaid tile in Agra, on the day I visited the Taj Mahal. The materials are so thin and fine that light shines through it! That's why I propped it up in front of a bathroom light fixture (though I couldn't capture its translucence in a photograph.)

IMG_6201.jpg

When we helped a friend move, oh, a dozen years ago, he told us to throw this poster in the trash. We threw it in our car instead, and it's still one of my favorite things. 

IMG_6202.jpg

In another trash-to-treasure saga, this huge painting was going to be tossed. Before she put it out on the curb, a family friend called me about it, thinking it might be nice for the yoga studio we used to own. It seemed too ominous for Greenbelt Om Community Yoga--but great for our house!

IMG_6203.jpg

We hung this sheet music cover (from my mother's trunk of sheet music) in the guest bathroom.

IMG_6213.jpg

We set up a proper guest room because people from the company's other compounds sometimes need to come to Dhahran for meetings and appointments. Instead of getting back on the bus for the two-hour return trip home, friends from our old town can crash here for the night. We've already had several visits, which makes us really happy.

My mother-in-law typed her college papers using the typewriter on top of the cedar armoire. The baskets were made by her father. 

IMG_6210.jpg

The five-star guest suite (as rated by our first houseguest, who may not be the most objective reviewer.)

IMG_6221.jpg

A Bedouin water jug and a dallah, which is traditionally used to serve coffee in Saudi Arabia. The dallah is also a symbol of hospitality.

IMG_1084.jpg

Eid al Fahm (Eddie the Lump), ensconced in our new home.

Next I'll give you a tour of the garden, before it gets too hot to go outside during the day!