Pennsylvania to Arkansas

October 14th, 2019

John’s class plaque

Last Sunday we made the two-hour drive to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for the unveiling of John’s War College Class plaque Monday morning. It was rainy both days, but luckily it stopped for the ceremony. Afterward we had lunch with Ray B., John’s old boss in Guadalajara before heading home.

John with his former classmate Jason

On Wednesday, I walked (!) down to meet the Pink Ladies for happy hour – Tammy, Amy, Roya, Janine, Christine. It was a lovely evening, and we took advantage of the nice weather and set outside. It was great to laugh and enjoy the fresh air and good company!

Since it looks like I’ll be cleared to move soon, John and I booked a last minute trip to Arkansas. We flew into NW Arkansas on the direct flight Thursday evening, and spent Friday with Pete and Ginger at Butterfield Trail Village. Saturday morning we took the backroads so we could see elk around Ponca and Boxley – they were amazing and we were so happy to see them!

The rest of the herd of about 50 had moved farther from the road, but these two guys stuck around.

Pretty Lost Valley

View over the foggy Buffalo River

Leaving Fayetteville in the early morning fog

We stopped by Conway to say hi to Ann and Jim, and meet their darling kitten, Bon Bon. After lunch at Star of India in Little Rock (where Sami, the longtime owner, greeted John by name – something that always amazes us), we rolled into Hot Springs. We’ve rented a lovely house just feet from the water with a lovely view and covered porch. It is so relaxing and quiet – I just love it. Yesterday, John went to see his friend Russ in Mt. Ida, and David and Alison came to pick me up to  spend the day together (we’re just a couple of bays away from them). We had lunch with their good friend and neighbor PeeWee – a nice relaxing day. After all the trauma of the last few months, we’re both happy for a change of scenery that still allows me to recuperate and take it easy!

David & Alison left us a welcome basket!

Check-up

October 6th, 2019

The highlight of the week was my doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. He wants to see me again in five weeks, but agreed I can start planning our move to Africa in December – great news. In the meantime, I will continue physical therapy to focus on building strength and walking normally. John took me to Ris for dinner to celebrate!

It’s so nice that I enjoy so many of the people I work with! I saw several of them this week when they came over to visit. Monday morning, the two new juniors officers going to Monrovia came over to introduce themselves and have coffee – they were both delightful, and I think they will do well.

My successor, Beth, spent two afternoons with me, going through our handover process. She was also my successor in Islamabad – I see a pattern developing!

One afternoon, three analysts from the visa office came for happy hour  – Kaitlin, Mike, and Amanda. We had a great visit – Mike really makes me belly laugh!

The rest of the week was focused on work and physical therapy. I walked the farthest I have yet, down to Columbia Plaza to get a flu shot. It was gorgeous, cool weather and was great to be outside for a change.

RCO Workshop

September 29th, 2019

All 10 of the regional consular officers came to D.C. this week for the annual workshop. John and I hosted everyone at our apartment Sunday night for an informal get-together before the week of meetings started. It was great to see everyone – RCOs are posted in Africa, Germany, Bangkok, and D.C., so it’s a rare chance for everyone to get together.

I did most of the planning for the workshop again this year, and was happy that it was an overall success with only minor glitches. I didn’t attend, but called in to a few of the sessions to listen. Otherwise, I stayed busy answering the email inquiries from consular sections around the world so the RCOs could focus on the workshop.

My boss from Germany stopped by to visit one night after work. I had a good phone call with my friend Cathy in Ecuador one afternoon, and we finished the week by hosting our friend Elise (who we worked with in Juarez) for brunch yesterday. It was fun to see Elise; I had seen her on my trips to Paraguay, but John hadn’t seen her in years, so it was fun to catch up over coffee and good food.

Last night we celebrated Rick’s birthday with him and Claire at an incredible Afghan restaurant – I especially loved the pumpkin dumplings, and my eggplant dish was delish!

Another busy week

September 22nd, 2019

The week was filled with co-workers coming either for work or a social visit (or both), starting with last Sunday morning. One of my favorite junior officers from Georgetown came for coffee.

Monday afternoon, the new officer going to Grenada came for a long briefing (an oxymoron?) on consular operations there, and my replacement Beth joined us (her first day on the job). She stayed a couple of hours after he left, and I started training her on some aspects of the job.

Tuesday, another new regional consular officer came for coffee – we worked together in Israel. Wednesday, my boss from Germany brought lunch and we worked for a couple of hours, going over logistics of next week’s workshop that I’ve been planning. Finally, Thursday, one of the desk officers who works on cases involving U.S. citizens came for a glass of wine.

Throughout the week I had PT as usual, plus the gym regimen. I overdid it one day and ended up with a very swollen knee, something I’m fighting more and more. I actually did some cooking yesterday, in preparation of having all of the regional consular officers over tonight (they’re all in town for the workshop next week).

We watched “Unbelievable,” a mini-series with Toni Collette that was really good. John went to the Kennedy Center yesterday to see “Cats” – he laughed, he cried!

 

Flying solo

September 15th, 2019

I started walking the two blocks to physical therapy alone this week – it’s such an exhilarating feeling! I said goodbye to Nataly on Monday – she’s the woman who’s been taking me one day a week, and has been so dependable. I really appreciate her help. I also went to the gym a couple of days this week to try to get back in shape. I’m able to ride the bike, do some upper body weights, and then my PT exercises (including leg presses!). Progress!

Friday night, I met John, Tammy, and Scott for dinner at an Italian restaurant a couple of blocks away. Such a fun way to end the week. Marcus came for a while yesterday to play a board game with John.

We watched an interesting mini-series this week, “The Spy,” based on the true story of an Israeli spy in Syria in the 60s – quite good and an amazing story.

We also tried a pizza with cauliflower crust – who knew?! It was good!