Thursday, March 22, 2012

Soul Searching

I've harbored a big dark secret. And I feel so guilty. That's why I have to tell you what I did and face the consequences of my actions. Whatever those may be. I think my soul may be at stake.

It happened about a year ago. It all started out so innocent. We were invited to a celebration for a friend of ours. It was a perfect sunny day, one filled with reflection, love and possibilities. One where you feel so in line with the universe.

And while the day was waning, the celebration continued on into the evening. The way these things do. Everyone brought a dish. We barbecued. Swigged back a few in toast. I confess, there was a lot of toasting, which resulted in some being toasted. The way these things do.

When the evening ended, I still felt a bubbling bliss. And I crawled into bed at peace with the world. What I didn't know was my transgression happened that fateful night. But I wouldn't know that until weeks later.

When I was at a friends house and we were in her kitchen and I noticed a familiar package of pepperoni. So I picked it up and proceeded to read the label to see what else was in it besides turkey. Except there was no turkey in it. At all. And then the oh shit moment happened.

And I replayed the events of that night for my friend. Except I skipped to the part. The part where it all went wrong. I was at the food table trying to balance another scoop onto an already heaping flimsy paper plate. And someone asks me if the pepperoni in the pasta salad I made contains pork. No, I reply. It's turkey pepperoni.

Oh my god.

Three weeks after the fact, I realize I fed a Muslim pork.

I didn't know what to do. So, I did what anyone in this situation would do. (I think.)


Because I thought it was better for them not to know. After all, the damage was already done. And it wasn't malicious. But what plagues me is the fate of their soul. And mine.

Or is it more Collective Soul? Cause I probably shouldn't have pirated Heaven Let Your Light Shine Down either.

Damn it. That's it. I'm going to hell.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sword and the Family Stone

If there's one thing I really want to learn to do, it's belly dance with a flaming sword on my head. Seriously, how cool is that? Well, actually it's kinda hot. But, my instructor doesn't teach flaming sword. Nor am I ready for the potential maiming and third degree burns that I imagine may accompany it. Yet. But I'm sure with practice and no regard for my own safety amidst my klutziness, I can get there. What I need to do is take it step by step.

Step one. I must find something to balance on my head in lieu of a sword. Because, although all my kids have asked for, priced and shopped for swords. We're pretty sure one or more of them would wind up decapitated if we actually owned one. But, what I do have is a back scratcher from that tropical itch I had when I lived in Hawaii.

Please. How easy will it be to belly dance with a back scratcher on my head? Come on. Totally easy.

Ok, the problem is that I put shine gel in my hair this morning before I put it up. Obviously this made my hair extremely slippery. A little hair spray to make it tacky will solve the problem.

So that didn't really work much better. It's probably because my hair's thin. Clearly I need thicker hair for this. Rogaine? Hair-club-women-who-wanna-be-flaming-sword-belly-dancers?

No, I need a quick solution.

Maybe that was just the wrong wig.

Or maybe, just maybe it's me. And who am I kidding? I'm just everyday people. And, I'm pretty sure the afro is a huge fire hazard. Dude, I just want to dance to the music. Wait, does Sly and the Family Stone need a dancer?

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Pork Lady

All the expats know her. She's the only one in town. They all go to her. Even though I know exactly where she is, I've never gone. It's nothing personal. But what it is, is an extra stop. That's why I've never met the pork lady. She'd be just another errand on my list. And while I enjoy pork, I don't enjoy errands.

But I've had my fill of halal meat. If you're not familiar with halal meat, it is meat that has been blessed and has had the blood drained from it. Except for pork which is forbidden to be eaten. Oh, and birds of prey. Which I guess means I can't eat a vulture. And I'm ok with that. Morocco is 99% Muslim, so all the meat served here is halal. Even if you go to an American chain like Mc Donald's the meat will be halal. Don't get me wrong. It will still be crap. It's Mc Donald's after all. But, it's crap blessed in the name of Allah. I wonder if pink slime in the chicken nuggets actually contains enough meat product for it to be blessed? Or not?

But, I'm getting off topic.

What I'm saying is, we expats miss our pork. And bacon. And salami.

In enter the pork lady. She's French. She likes pork enough to refer to herself in the 3rd person as the the pork lady. Any other given name is unnecessary. Although I'm pretty sure she has one. Somewhere. Oh my god, what if her name's Petunia?

Again, I'm getting off topic.

Saturday is the first time we went to see the greedy piglet.

Which is of course the name of her store translated into English.

The tiny shop was crammed with expats from at least 6 different countries. It was like the United Nations of pork. And everyone was trying to get their piece even if it took stepping on someone else's toes. I'm pretty sure it wasn't accidental either. And it became clear, the kids needed to wait outside so they wouldn't be trampled into veal cutlets.

She had sausages.



Whatever the hell this is.

Pig's feet.

Oh and I couldn't get a good shot of the brains, but she has that too. Obviously, she has brains.

And if you're vegetarian and completely grossed out by all of this, then she has cheese. Gouda cumin cheese, among others.

And though the king's picture is hung in every business. It just seems kinda wrong that he's hanging on the wall at the non-halal butcher. Doesn't it? And he doesn't look happy about it.

But the unhappiness of our kids we've made wait outside for over 25 minutes and subjected to the head pats of random passersby in our pursuit of pork products is much more acute.

But we made it up to them in salami.

The next day I made the best pork loin we've ever had. But that's probably just because I can't remember what anything other than chicken tastes like anymore.

But, I'm telling you, it was good. So good that the kids even scarfed it down. Except for one.

This greedy piglet went to the pork lady.
This greedy piglet had to wait outside.
This greedy piglet had pork loin.
This greedy piglet had no creamed spinach.
This greedy piglet cried
why, why, why and of more she was denied!

That's how it goes at the Loerzel house with our greedy little piglets.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I knew she didn't have long. I just wanted a few more months with her. She was such an integral part of my life here. Even though the time we shared was brief, the memories are enduring. How could she leave me? We still had so much to experience together.

It started soon after we got here. Things were so hard. I needed something to get me through the transition.

Then I saw her at Aswak Asalam.

She was beautiful. Even though she was a bit cheap. But she knew how to get everything done. I knew we'd be best friends. And I was right.

I saw her almost everyday. She was fabulous in the kitchen and helped me make a quiche crust, grind almonds into flour, shred carrots and puree soup. And even though it didn't happen very often, my favorite was making guacamole and margaritas together.

Then one day she had a fall. She wasn't the same after that. But, we still made it work. I was just more delicate with her in such a frail condition. We went on like that for months.

Until last night when she had another fall. A fatal one. I didn't know it was the last time. After all, she'd just whipped me up some of the best guac I've ever made just an hour before.

RIP my friend.

Rest in Pieces.

It's gonna be hard to go on without you. But I will find a way to puree those avocados to make that chocolate avocado pudding recipe I just got in your memory.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where in the World...? (Part Deux)

We're taking one last big trip. But I'm not going to tell you where. Use the following clues to see if you can figure it out. And don't cheat and google them!

The Dutch originally got their tulips from this country. Talk about false advertising, those sneaky Dutch!

In the middle ages, it had over 1,400 public toilets, meanwhile none of the palaces in France had them yet. But, toilet paper wasn't invented until the mid 1800's. Ewww.

It boasts the 3rd oldest subway in the world. (Not the restaurant, just for clarification.)

This country introduced coffee to Europe. And that's why Starbucks owns Europe. Or at least some of the best real estate in it.

Oil wrestling has been a sport here since 1361. In olive oil, just in case you were wondering. And before you imagine hot women in bikinis, it's a male sport. Cause I know where you were going with that train of thought.

It's one of the few countries in the world that is agriculturally self-sufficient. Isn't that nuts? Which by the way they export a lot of. The nuts that is. Not crazy people.

95% of people from this country believe that there is a God, while 99% of people identify themselves as Muslim. I'm not real good at math and I don't know a lot about Islam, but doesn't that doesn't quite add up right?

The CIA classifies it as a developed country. I had to go deep undercover to get that out of them and I used a wire and a pair of pliers to extract some teeth. And boy am I glad I did.

Noah's Ark landed here. No kidding! But it might have just been for a potty stop.

It's biggest city is the only one in the world to span two continents. What a fat ass!

Extra added bonus: When you figure out what city that is, then you won't be able to stop singing that really catchy song that was written about it. Which gets really annoying after the first 100 times you sing it in your head. Trust me.

Anyone have it?

I hope you do, so putting it in your head will make it leave mine!

If you liked this guessing game try our first Where in the World post here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


We're moving back to the states in 3 short months. And it occurred to me I've become a bit Moroccanized living here. And that in order to reintegrate into American culture I need to start polishing myself. And I need to start now.

1. Teeth

Americans are obsessed with teeth. They must be brushed, flossed and straight. Oh yeah, and white. Really, really white. So I ordered some white strips from A-mar-i-kah. Because no one sells that crap here. Moroccans are simply grateful to have teeth that have not rotted out from drinking uber sugary teeth staining Moroccan mint tea. But I'm American, being grateful for what I have isn't enough. And now, the only thing coming between me and perfect little chiclet teeth is 10 days of putting a plastic strip laden with a non-toxic, enamel safe gel in my mouth that I should keep out of reach of children. And that makes me feel tingly inside. Well, inside my mouth. And not in a good way. But I think we all know the success of an American is judged by how well his or her teeth glow in the dark. And you get catapulted to Snooki status if they contrast with your spray tan.

2. TV

I've never been a watcher of sports, soap operas or reality tv shows. Which automatically, makes me pretty unamerican. But, I used to watch my fair share of news magazines and hgtv in the states. But since we've lived here in Africa, we don't have television. But what we do have is a lot of bootleg dvds in the medina. Not to mention free illegal downloads. (Mind you, not that I would know anything about either one.)Some time ago we acquired season one of the tv series How I Met Your Mother. I had never watched it in the states because seriously, is that not the worst title for show that is going to be more than one episode long? But one night, with nothing else to watch, we put it in. We're now completely addicted and currently starting season 6. So we will be able to catch all those How I Met Your Mother cultural references when we return. And I think we might be caught up on the whole series by the time we get home. Never mind the fact that I have no idea who won the Superbowl this year. Or who played. And I couldn't care less.

3. Social Graces

Soon after we moved here I dispensed with all unnecessary social graces. You know so I had room for all that French and Arabic I was going to learn. So now, I no longer have the instinctive reaction to bless someone when they sneeze here. Blessing someone here would require a lengthy explanation as to why we do that, but yet deny Americans with preexisting conditions health insurance. And I don't want to go there. Not only that, but I've gotten far more lax about other social graces. Like refraining from picking my nose in the car. After you get over laughing at the guy in the next car over for picking his nose. And then being grossed out by it. Then you move to a level of acceptance where removing that obstructing flake basically equates to scratching an itch. And everyone else does it here. Why not? I imagine this is the kind of thing that self corrects after that first humiliating nose pick back in the states when I remember that people can actually see you do embarrassing things through translucent car windows.

4. Music

I have come to truly appreciate Arabic music. Even though I usually have no idea what the song is about. This is big for me, because as Craig would tell you, I have the most narrow taste in music. I don't like country, nor western. I don't like techno or dance. I hate rap. And I abhor pop. And we do get non-Arabic music here. We get some frap (french rap), although I call that crap. Of course we get pop. And even though a lot of these songs are in English, I usually assume they're locally produced and written by a non-English speaker because they're too bad to be international sensations. But then just yesterday I saw a video for the song International Love in an ice cream shop. Wow, that's a real (crappy) song! I did however, buy an Adele cd recently, but Jade has hijacked it and keeps it in her room and I have a feeling I'll never see (or hear) it again. At least she's not listening to (f)rap!

5. Personal Hygiene

Americans are very sensual. And we like it everywhere. In our car. At home. No. No. That's not what I meant. I mean we're scentual. Like everything must have a scent. And that starts with our bodies. Oh, and that smell must be a pleasant smell. Something like baby powder fresh or mountain fresh. Emphasis on the fresh. Which probably means I should start using deodorant again. But before I do that I should probably start shaving my pits again. And I can't decide which of these things Americans would find more vile. Hairy pits or stinky pits. Therefore I should do both. Sometime. Before June.

6. Queing Up

I used to know how to stand in a line before I moved here. I also used to know the rules of the road and who had the right of way. Now I just don't care. Because if I did care and I was polite, I wouldn't get anywhere. I'm pretty sure I can stand in a line without elbowing people because I'm pretty sure I'm just doing that in self defense. And no full blooded American is going to allow you cut them in line. But, I'm going to be really honest here, I don't know that I can go back to following road rules again. I wasn't so good at it the first 20 something years. And it's been extremely liberating. It's like I'm Danica Patrick here, but I don't have to stay on a stupid oval track. I don't have to stop for police. And I never come it last. Ever. And it's totally freakin' awesome! I'm just wondering how long I can go before I get a ticket. And how long it will take the cop to catch up with me.

So I guess things are looking a bit bleak for a seamless reentry. The only thing I've got going for me are those teeth whitening strips. But I forgot to tell you that Ember opened some of them and pasted them in the sink. Which at least my sink is all clean. And white. But it's probably really sensitive.

Just like my teeth are.

This picture is for my dad who endured lots of orthodontist bills for braces, rubber bands, head gears and a retainer. Even though I chewed gum, snuck nuts, gorged on caramel when you and mom weren't looking. Nice teeth are the one thing I got that makes me an acceptable American. Well, half American. And half acceptable...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Test Kitchen

There is nothing more depressing to me these days than dinner. Now this is coming from a girl who loves to cook and loves to eat. The problem here in Morocco is finding the ingredients to make what you really, really want to eat when you really, really want to eat it. But, what's even worse about making dinner here? Moroccan kitchens are completely segregated from the rest of the house. So it's like the cook is condemned to solitary confinement. Which is of course completely different from what I'm used to. An American kitchen is the heart of a home. It's where the party's always at. And the party never ends and the people never leave.

That's the short sweet sanitized version of my dinner depression anyway. Oh, I could go into excruciating detail. But if I do, you'd lose your appetite for whatever deliciousness is in store for your next meal.

I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I'm a total food slut and recipe whore. I prefer to say that I just love food, not that I'm over easy. (Get it? Sorry, we've been eating a lot of eggs lately.) So anyway, I got this recipe from my friend Sara a while ago. She swore up and down it was good. I like to experiment with food, but this just sounded way too unconventional (and healthy) to actually be good. I'm pretty sure I called her a big fat liar.

Because how on earth could cauliflower pizza crust be good? HOW?

So I decided to test it on my unsuspecting kids. Who should really be a bit more suspicious by this stage in the game. The thing is, I've tried a lot of homemade pizza crusts. But, I haven't found one that we really like yet.

So I get out my overused, but clinging to life food processor and my scrubbed head of cauliflower and I go to town shredding. This is while I'm carefully holding my hand over the hole in the top that I inflicted on it a few months ago when I dropped it, trying to prevent cauliflower from pelting me. But it still did.

Exhibit A:

(It looked far worse in person. And on my person.)

I decided I should make a big salad to supplement this pizza, which come on is probably really gonna suck. Not having any decent lettuce at the store today I headed to the garden where our romaine is coming up. A little anyway.


After the cauliflower was shredded and cooked in the microwave I added the cheese, eggs, garlic, garlic salt and oregano. (That's it people. There is no flour in this crust. At all.)


And I baked it. Or was I the one that was baked because that's when I remembered that I forgot to spray the pan with oil. Duh.
I will need to supplement...


At least we'll have the world's smallest salad to rescue us from this impending disaster of a dinner.


I added sauce and topping and it looks good right? Except now I have to get it off the pan.


And then it doesn't look so good right? It looks like mush. So right there the kids are probably not going to like it because it requires a fork.

So, I know the question you're asking yourself. Is Sara a big fat liar?

The kids start to eat.

"Where'd you get this recipe?", Sky inquires.

"From Sara.", I deadpanned.

"You need to keep it. This is awesome!"

So then and over eager Craig is like "Tell them what it is!" I personally would have waited until they were done eating to make the big reveal. But since Craig already blew it, I really had no choice but to tell them. And River, my picky non-vegetable eating child, paused momentarily before he said, "Who cares." And resumed shoveling forkfuls of cauliflower pizza mush into his mouth. I'm not lying!

And of course neither was Sara.


This is all that was left of two large pizzas. And the world's smallest salad? It wasn't even touched.

If you too would like to try this recipe out on some unsuspecting people in your life you can find the recipe here at Eat. Drink. Smile. Just don't forget to oil the pan. Duh!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Time After Time

When we moved to Morocco over two years ago, I had the most masculine watch that I wore everyday without fail. It dwarfed my tiny wrist with its massiveness. Until one day soon after our arrival it one day it stopped. I went to several shops in search of a battery that would fit it. Finally, after a few frustrating months of looking (frustrating being and understatement), I finally found it. And I found out that that it didn't need a new battery. My beloved watch was clinically dead.

I mourned its loss, but I didn't replace it. Which is what I would have done before. But, before I lived in a place where time mattered. Now, I was in Morocco, where nothing happens on time. Ever. So it seemed like the perfect time to brave the world. Alone.

I'd always had the habit of being habitually early to things. It was fueled by a chronic anxiety that I would be late. And in that lateness, that I would miss something. But do you know uncomfortable it is to always be the first one at the party? Very. And now I've been freed. Instead of arriving early or late, somehow without a watch, I arrived everywhere right on time.

Until I went home last summer and found a simple classic watch at Target for $10. So of course, I bought it. And while I admired its simple classic elegance and the fact that it was dirt cheap, I never wore it. Because, the strap was so delicate I thought I would break it. Mixed with the fact that I am not the most delicate girl. So I kept in in my purse where it sunk to the bottom amidst the lint and that sweaty piece forgotten gum. Abandoned.

And life went on quite happily.

Then, I saw it. My beloved watch's twin. It was almost identical. Big, clunky, functional and oh so gigantic. Which these days is really practical because then I don't have to dig past the sweaty gum on the bottom my purse to find my reading glasses to actually see what time it is. Before I had the chance to think, the watch was in my cart. My cyber shopping cart that is. And then I clicked "place order". It was after I did that that I remembered that Embassy does not accept shipments that contain batteries. So, I resigned myself to the fact that my beloved watch and I were simply not meant to be.

Until miracle of miracles, my watch somehow made it though package inspection. And was now on my wrist.

But what once I felt naked without, now seemed so cumbersome. It slid up and down my slender wrist. It poked. It itched. It got stuck under my sweater sleeve.

Why the hell did I buy a watch? So I could hang on to the past? So I could anxiously time my future in order to get there uncomfortably early?

So from now on I vow to live in the moment. Neither clinging to what was, nor nervously anticipating what will be. Watchless.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Yella Habibi (Inshallah)

Sometimes when I start writing a post, it ends up going in a whole different direction. Quite like this post. It was supposed to be all about firsts. Like this weekend was the first time I went running in Morocco and sucked up tons of exhaust fumes, questioned if I did more harm than good and reaffirmed my hatred of running. And this weekend was also the first time we've ever left all 4 kids home alone while we went to a party and when we returned home they were all lying in their beds. Then after we checked that they were all breathing, we deemed it a success.

But then, we did something I've been wanting to do for a while. I had this idea that we should make our first Arabic music video. And then I decided not to write anything else. Because really, there are no words.

So without further ado, I give you Yella Habibi (Inshallah)...

And yes, that's about all the Darija (Moroccan Arabic) we know. Excluding the swear words of course...

You can view our first, first music video ever, Follaback Girl here

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I've done a lot of travelling in my life. Lived a lot of different places. And loved it all. Ok, not Oklahoma. Really who came up with the state motto "Oklahoma is ok"? Ok is stretching the bounds of mediocrity and the truth. But, in all my travels, I've never been homesick. Until now.

For most of my adult life I was homeless. Don't get me wrong, my husband and I always rented an apartment, condo or a row house, like in Germany. But when the perplexing question of where are you from came up, I never knew how to answer. Was it the town I grew up in that I hadn't lived in for years? The place we lived last? Or the place I loved most? So then I would go into a long explanation, the way military people and nomads of the desert do, covering all three. Just for clarity's sake.

Then one day, free of any obligations for Craig to return to that double wide tent in Iraq or any post housing that ensures that you have absolutely no privacy whatsoever, we got to choose. Which was really confusing for the first few minutes. Should we move back to the small town in New York I grew up in? Did I mention it's right outside of Buffalo? Um. No. Do we move to Florida where my husbands from? Have you been to Florida in August? Um. No. We decided to move to Colorado. Sight unseen, jobless, friendless and having no idea that everyone in Colorado owns a bike and those really tight biking shorts. And we don't.

But, we moved there anyway. And despite the fact that we didn't graduate from the Air Force Academy, train at the Olympic Training Center, compete in triathalons, ski at Breck (that's Colorado code for the mountains of Breckenridge) and weren't the founders of a conservative religious group, we fit in. Surrounded by trees, mountains, fresh air and the occasional bear, mountain lion or rattlesnake, but most of all, friends. This is home.

And it's where I want to be more than anything today. Don't worry, tomorrow's another day. And don't get me wrong, I love Morocco and I'm sure someday I'll be writing some sappy ass post about how I miss it. I know I will. But I'll be writing it from home where I will be swaying in the breeze on a hammock tied between two trees on my laptop. Until I see a mountain lion and then drop the laptop and run. In which case, I'm pretty sure that sappy ass story is gonna go down with me.


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