The Death of Justice Ginsberg

September 20th, 2020

Remembering RBG

I fear the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the ensuing fight over her replacement will further divide the United States. I’m not sure how much more our country can take, as it is already stretched to the breaking point. I hope the chaos following her death will not overshadow the chance to celebrate her amazing life and intellect.

The work week was pretty normal. We are handling some visa cases as a result of a court order, and we opened routine passport appointments. I had a conference call with colleagues in China to discuss adoption best practices, as I move forward with an adoption case here. More new officers are rotating in and coming to the embassy after completing their quarantine.

I had a nice chat with old college friends Jamie and Jackie last weekend, and John and I dropped off groceries to a new officer in quarantine while we were out shopping. We continue to enjoy the rainy season, and had a couple of very rainy days this week. John has seen some incredible birds outside his office window – I’m jealous!

 

Confession

September 13th, 2020

Sunset

I spend an inordinate amount of time on realtor.com. While some people are addicted to games on the computer, I am equally as bad when it comes to houses. My friend Muffy has joined me in scouring listings in Arkansas (sometimes I venture to Hawaii or Santa Fe) and we’ve talked multiple times over the last couple of weeks as we walk through photographs on-line and critique houses one by one. While John and I are a ways off from retiring, it’s fun to look around!

Last weekend I had my bi-weekly video with Muffy, Ann, and Jackie – Ann took us on a walk through the beautiful (and deserted) Hendrix campus (they are 100% on-line this fall). I also talked to Tammy back in DC (she has me dreaming of retiring in the Caribbean!). I love being able to connect so easily with friends.

Last Monday was the Labor Day holiday (I’m still wearing white, shoot me, it’s hot outside). John and I went to do some grocery shopping, he talked to Stoker, and I read “The Art of War.” (Not pretending I understood it all.)

Friday we observed a moment of silence at the embassy in honor of 9/11. It’s hard to believe it was so long ago. I was doing a modeling gig in North Little Rock when the first plane hit.

Last night, we went to the embassy to watch “Hamilton” with a small group of folks, hosted by the Charge and her husband. It really was fun and clever, and we really enjoyed it. The first act was especially captivating – we had it on the projector with big screen, and subtitles helped me follow the very wordy rapping.

Congratulations to John on a group Superior Honor Award he received via Zoom this week for his work standing up a diversity council for WHA last year (ahead of the curve). We also found out he was on the list to be promoted but the numbers ran out before they got to him on the list – argh. But it’s wonderful news and hopefully bodes well for next year!

Quiet week

September 6th, 2020

This was a relatively quiet week without much to report. I enjoyed staying in all day yesterday, chatting on the phone with Muffy for a long time as we searched online for the perfect house for her back home. I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at houses in Arkansas – usually lake houses for John and me, but lately also for Muffy. It’s a fun way to pass the time and think about retirement, and what that might look like for us. I also read “Pride and Prejudice” this week, so I did do something productive!

John and I have been engrossed in the French intelligence series, “The Bureau” and finished it last night. It is so well done and subtle – we really enjoyed it.

Short-ish week

August 30th, 2020

Boy carrying water below our apartment

Monday was Liberian Flag Day, and ostensibly a holiday, but I spent most of the day at the office trying to catch up. I also sent a security alert to U.S. citizens regarding the demonstrations around town this week. Most of the demonstrations had to do with protesting rape – it is a bad problem here, and often committed against minors, some as young as three years old. A local said some of the rapes are ritualistic, which completely surprised and shocked me. Liberia also has a problem with female genital mutilation, something else I didn’t expect here — yet it does.

John has some great trees outside his office window, and during rainy season when the bats are gone, he’s seen some cool birds. He regularly sees the Western Plaintain Eater and this week was excited to see a hornbill!

Western Plantain Eater outside our apartment

John and I met with a local official we like very much on the veranda of the chief of mission residence (CMR) one morning this week. It was good to catch up with her over a cup of coffee and get a little business done, too. We went back to the veranda last night for dinner, mostly with John’s team, including our newly arrived permanent doctor. I enjoyed chatting with Rick (the Charge’s husband) and our new IT officer, J.

I made a quick trip with my upstairs neighbor to a small crafts fair Saturday morning, where I picked up a shopping bag to send as a gift and some great shea butter. Later in the day, I had a good chat with Pam and Jackie, although we missed Ann. It was a good tonic to an otherwise frustrating work week.

 

Rainy season?

August 23rd, 2020

Thanks, Hendrix!

Although we had lots of rain and loud storms a couple of months ago, August has been relatively dry and cooler. The locals say it means September will be really rainy – we’ll see. I was prepared for constant downpours in July and August, but it hasn’t really happened.

I had a couple of calls this week with work colleagues around the world. The first was with a very kind and generous local staff employee in one of our embassies in east Africa – she walked me through the complicated process of doing an inter-country adoption “from scratch” so I could attend to an adopting couple this week. The other was with my new regional consular officer (the job I used to have), who is just getting settled in Frankfurt. I love having supportive colleagues ready to help!

John and I were guests of the Swedish ambassador, their new management/consular officer, and his husband at lunch on Monday. We ate outdoors at a local restaurant and had a lovely visit. It was the first restaurant we’d been to since the pandemic started and it felt both odd and good to be out.

Last night we were invited to dinner on the veranda hosted by Alyson and Rick at the CMR (chief of mission residence) – it was a bigger group than last weekend. I sat across from the deputy country director for USAID, and enjoyed getting to know her better. It’s such a pretty setting by the ocean and hearing the waves crash.