A brief introduction to this portion of my story which may seem out of place but is actually deliberate– People ask me quite often, “were there good times” ” was he ever nice” so this segment is in answer to those questions. A huge part of the emotional abuse that I went through was the constant- building me up, then just as quickly and even more devastatingly breaking me down cycle. It is hard to explain abuse or give a clear picture so this story will hopefully serve that purpose. You are living under strict rules, harsh criticism, constant fear and lack of love or attention. So these moments, even days occur where you are deluged with warmth, compliments and what appears at the time to be, love. Then just as quickly this is snatched away and can happen over a dropped tissue, a step through a mud puddle, anything.


Life remained the same on the large Riyadh compound. Temperatures made their usual dip and climb, which meant a steady but sure rise until a hot and unrelenting heat was complete. People walked the loop and savored the intermittent sunshine, discussing where R and R tickets would take them for the holidays.The compound had become a revolving door for those who entered the Kingdom with the large communications company. They unpacked, became part of our community and no sooner were whisked off to a “better” or different location. My little bakery had been an experience, but was winding down for the year, never to return. A business meeting with two ladies from a designer label, had resulted in a request for my little bakery to supply five dozen pastries early each morning for their newly established coffee bar. This had ultimately brought the current difficulties of operating a bakery from home while tending to a family of 8, to the forefront and seemed impractical. The older boys were ready to finish their first year at the big school and See See and Foof would be enrolled at the girl’s section for the coming year. After months of aggravation and incessant inquiries, he was finally transferred to a new department and a sense of relief was felt throughout the household. Summer was only weeks away and this meant a break from the back and forth school trips, waking the kids at 5 a.m. and the numerous obstacles faced at Arabic school.

With the school year winding down, thoughts of swimming at the pool, going on the shopping bus and sleeping in, made the household buzz with excitement. It seemed as if an unstoppable wave of happiness filled our home. The year had been full of significant transitions and milestones leading me to believe that finally the time had come, a reprieve from my undeniable mistakes and faults and what seemed to be recognition of my better qualities. The little girls, who had been fearful to leave my side, had now hopped on the big bumpy bus each day, learned to read English and made many friends at the American school. My two older sons had started at a new school and their Arabic language had made huge improvements.  He had secured a new position and was sure this would be the best department, utilizing his expertise and optimizing what he was capable of.

The door flung open and he walked in, smiles and laughter, announcing his new position and the change in departments. A much needed and sought after adjustment that offered a small salary increase but a more fitting assignment that would compliment his experience. He walked towards me and his eyes seemed somehow different, the past engulfed me and tingles captured my body as I stood, a young and naive woman once again. He leaned forward and touched me, both literally and figuratively, a touch that had been absent and had been replaced for years with guilt and the constant reminder of obligation. My heart was still connected to this dream, a man that had long since removed himself, but still a lingering dream inside of me that was easily revived. He laughed and joked, asking me to have lunch, to go out in the car and leave behind whatever sputtered and cooked on the stove.  In the midst of cleaning and cooking, anything left out of place was not mentioned. The usual barrage of comments about toys, food not covered properly and a chair that had shifted and touched the wall, were now replaced with talk of the amazing woman that stood before him. A dependable, powerhouse, someone no one could touch or come close to and no one would value like he did. I stood basking in this beautiful feeling and watching in delight, his adoration of all that surrounded us. I knew that my patience had paid off and things would now return to where they had started, winding our way in the old green vega, through the Palouse to that hidden wedding chapel.



Meatball subs

Ok I have to just say it–I love these turkey meatball subs. I do not eat much beef any more because I am always looking for lower fat alternatives to help in the fight against high cholesterol.  Two weeks ago after weeks of experimenting with old middle eastern dishes that we have not had for years and new dishes that sounded interesting, I went back on a mission of making basic and hearty! I bought some ground turkey and tossed in things that sounded good, but quite honestly it is still about the kids! I added basics that I know they will like and that will guarantee a big winner!  When the kids were growing up, I often made 2-3 dishes each day, in order to please everyone. With 11 people to feed there were many different opinions and so I made variety. While those days are over I still try to make things that most of the 6 kids still at home, will like. This sub was a huge hit,  no one talked, argued or even laughed during our after school meal. They are delicious!!



2 pounds ground turkey

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp oregano

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 green bell pepper sliced

1 onion chopped

Marinara sauce of your choice– see Lynz marinara sauce recipe under favorite recipes.

Mozzarella cheese– grated

Sub buns


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

In a saute pan place olive oil, peppers and onions. Saute until soft and cooked.

Put milk and bread crumbs into a bowl and mix with a spoon.

Put ground turkey into a bowl, add salt,garlic salt, basil, oregano.

Add eggs and milk mixture. Mix all ingredients well.

Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray. Take a handful of turkey and roughly shape into a ball, do not form or roll. Place on greased cooking sheet. Finish all of the turkey making meatballs. Place in oven for approximately 45 minutes or until well cooked and done. Remove meatballs from oven. Add cooked meatballs to marinara sauce in a pan on the stove and simmer.  Turn oven off to toast buns.

Place buns on a clean cookie sheet and put into oven ( should still be warm)  to toast. Leave for 2-3 minutes and then remove. Put mozzarella cheese on bun. Spoon out meatballs and sauce and place on bun over cheese. Put desired amount of pepper and onion mixture on bun.






Review and edit of beginning 1994–Too polite

Each week I post old stories for those who have not read them, also editing them as I go- Last week- At the end of our tour he mentioned a tiny detail, as he always did, to make sure I understood and accepted, no electricity. The building was finished but waiting for a simple hook up which would be coming any day. Until that time, it was rent free and electricity was supplied from the building next door. The atmosphere and ability to view the outside world precluded logic and in reality the decision had already been made. I had no idea that days would turn into months, enduring temperatures as high as 115 degrees, struggling with hours of no a/c, no lights and no way to cook on the swap meet stove.



We said goodbye to the villa, I kissed Um Abdullah (Saudi neighbor living downstairs) on each cheek and gave her my regards. We barely understood each other but she was a light for me in what had become a dark abyss. She offered her home, her phone and brought me tea and sweets on her visits. Looking back I can imagine it pained her to see nothing on top of nothing. For Arabs this would be considered a shame, something I didn’t know until years later when I watched young brides move into fully furnished apartments, new wardrobes filled with dresses, shoes and gold sets. One evening days before we moved, Um Abdullah sent her son to tell him(husband) that she would make a visit to see me. He (husband) rushed up the stairs and once again whispered to me, “make sure to shut the doors, she cannot see that we have no beds”  so being the dutiful wife that I had become, I did as I was told. Even with the bedroom doors secured, Um Abdullah had to have noticed, the lack of typical adornments, pictures and doodads that Arab ladies place proudly around their residence. Instead a single large cloth was haphazardly tacked to the plywood that had been nailed up where an a/c should have been. We sat chatting, eating  biscuits and drinking the mint tea she carried on the ornate gold tray.  A kiss, kiss and words of God’s protection were exchanged until her black coat disappeared down the stairs and into her villa. I waved goodbye to her and to the villa as the huge brightly colored truck drove off down the road ending that first chapter of our life in Saudi.

Summer temperatures steadily rose to 115 degrees, opening the large picture windows in hopes of a breeze, only brought dust and sand and little relief.  Days wore on as we waited for electricity to come, but days turned into weeks and eventually months. Our building was hooked up to a neighboring complex and took whatever power was left over. So after an hour of morning chores I could hear the dreaded thud and chug as the a/c abruptly shut down, signaling the end to electricity for an undetermined amount of time.  An air conditioner was purchased before we moved to the apartment under the proviso that it be used only on low and intermittent.  In order to obtain this much needed item I agreed and followed the terms for usage. This is how our life progressed, a measured step forward with many stipulations. My baby was 6 months old and woke frequently at night so at 5 a.m. I took the opportunity to start my morning routine.  I vacuumed and started a wash, hung it on the drying rack and prepared the afternoon meal. A good day meant finishing morning chores and getting a meal started for the day. An average day was met with power being spotty and nothing much being accomplished before the discontinuation of electricity.  We were the only tenants who lived in the building and an eeery feeling fell over the apartment when lights had gone and clicking could be heard in the hallways just outside the door. Prospective renters walked the halls, looking at various units and then just as they had entered, they exited. The children entertained themselves, running and playing tag through the empty apartment, carting each other on the back of a tricycle their aunt had purchased and making forts out of the bed pads. I passed time, looking out the large, clear windows, taxis sped past, workers washed cars with a rag and bucket in hand and feral cats rummaged through the garbage dumpsters.

A few weeks after moving in, a cousin who lived in Riyadh, came and brought his family for dinner. In Arab society it is obligatory to visit and congratulate people when any significant life event occurs.We had no real furniture, but hospitality being what is is in the middle east, no one can be refused. I was to cook a large dinner for them and started on it as early as possible. With no electricity and a stove that barely functioned, this was a difficult task that I spread out over several days time. When they arrived, the woman, Um Tarik (mother of Tarik) came into the family room with her four children. She greeted me, removed her scarf and coat and sat, positioning herself directly in front of the a/c.  We chatted back and forth in bits and pieces of English and Arabic. She fanned herself and tended to her younger ones, pushing them to join my kids, riding the rickety blue trike. After the initial niceties, awkward silence set in and the language barrier once again became evident.  I told her I had to check on dinner and left, shutting the kitchen door behind me. Minutes later the door flew open and Um Tarik entered, she looked around and smiled in approval of the cheery white cupboards with bright red trim, but just as quickly she seemed to search for something. Her eyes darted towards the a/c in the living room and she moved swiftly, twisting knobs, shifting the vents and putting this machine into high mode. I stood watching her, feeling the wave of cool air as it dried the sweat that had pooled under my eyes. I felt a twinge of worry and walked to meet her, cautiously and politely explaining the rules for proper usage, which were my job to enforce. Turning the a/c to high and opening the door was a waste of cool air, it would be automatically sucked into the kitchen and wasted on cooling.  I adjusted the knobs back to the appropriate settings,  shut the door and returned to my work. Um Tarik repeated her previous actions and ended her movements by flinging the door open once more and tying the door knob to the kitchen counters with a string she removed from the onion bag. She ended her tirade but stood firmly in her place, “Um Osama,you, too polite, he will come to this Mutbukh (kitchen) and cook instead of you”???


This week

A review of this week in case you missed anything.

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