Archive for August, 2008

Free at last

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

John and I are enjoying a few days of vacation in sunny San Diego with our good friends from Little Rock, Huey and Suzanne. (The real reason we came out here was to see their fabulous dogs, two mini-Schnauzers – but don’t tell Huey and Suzanne!) We flew in Saturday morning – how wonderful to see the ocean, palm trees and lots of green! We took a drive to see some sights – including a seal! – and dipped our toes in the ocean. It’s really gorgeous here.

Today we had a picnic and walked around in Balboa Park, followed by a trip to a wonderful used book store. The best part of the trip is visiting with good friends over a bottle of wine, while enjoying Huey’s efforts at the grill!

Last Sunday, John returned from his trip to Dallas to see his friend Russ. We watched “Under the Same Moon,” a rather sympathetic look at immigration with some great characters.

Monday night, we hosted John’s book club. It was a small turnout but a good discussion of Jeffrey Sach’s End of Poverty” – the first of the book club books I actually read. The basis of the book is how to end not poverty in general, but extreme poverty – and how the developed countries of the world have the resources but not the political will to do it.

The rest of the week was just work-oriented, but we did have a fun impromptu happy hour at our house with our FSO neighbors one night. Teresa and Michael are feeding Flavie for us while we’re gone.

We took Friday off, which was great. I had a check-up with a doctor in El Paso, then dropped off the Volvo at a mechanic’s shop to have some work done. I was thrilled this week because our new neighbor Lara helped me get set up with easy pass tickets to get the Volvo over the bridge without waiting in line for hours.

Friday night we met our co-worker Beth and her husband Tom for dinner at Los Bichis – it turned out to be a celebratory dinner because she just found out that she got Frankfurt, Germany, as her second tour assignment – one of her top choices. Lots of our peers are getting their next assignments now, and so far the news is all good. John and I won’t bid until this winter, so we have a while to go yet.

OK, enough work for now. Time to get back to relaxing on Huey and Suzanne’s patio with the doggies!

Nothing much going on here, you?

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Really, not a lot happened around here this week, just issuing lots of visas. The immigrant visa work has gotten a bit more routine for me, although each case is still different.

We had a meeting with the regional psychiatrist at lunch one day this week…are they trying to tell us something? Another lunch was spent with our management, talking about an upcoming inspection. John continues to do great work, helping the facilities group plan for the move to the new Consulate building.

John went to Dallas Friday night, to spend the weekend with his buddy Russ Stoker. From the phone calls, it sounds like they are having a blast. Stoker’s wife and family were out of town, so it was a bachelors’ weekend.

In John’s absence, I did a little shopping at the mall in El Paso, after dropping him off at the airport Friday night, then I had a drink with neighbors Michael and Teresa.

On Saturday, I went on an historic Juarez tour with a small group from work. We had a great tour guide, a local history professor, who took us inside some of the places we had driven by on a previous tour, like the Mission of Guadalupe (built in the 1600s and amazingly has survived) and the Customs Museum. We finished with a late lunch at a good restaurant.

Now it’s off to El Paso for a little grocery shopping before I pick up John at the airport.

Business as usual

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

This week was pretty much just business as usual, at least for me. John has taken on some new responsibilities at work, working half of his day with the facilities folks to get ready for the move to the new Consulate building in November. He really is doing great!

We had several training classes this week – what to do in case of a car-jacking, surviving terrorist attacks, rape awareness, etc. Not particularly uplifting themes, but I do have a gas-mask thing at my desk now, as well as syringes full of nerve-gas remedy.

We had our neighbors Michael, Teresa, Ryan and Lara over for dinner Friday night – it was fun. We grilled burgers and had homemade strawberry ice cream – yum yum. Ryan and Lara just moved in a few weeks ago and are super-nice.

Last night we met Caroline and Harold for dinner at Corralito’s. Today we are just reading and relaxing. I’m going to grill some ribs in a bit, and of course, there is usually a TV with the Olympics on somewhere in the house. Love that Michael Phelps!

Cousin James had surgery this week but seems to be recouperating nicely. He’ll be out of commission for a few weeks.

I forgot to mention that I re-watched a couple of Joan Allen movies recently, “The Ice Storm” and “The Upside of Anger” – both are really, really good.

It’s not big, it’s large

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

The highlight of the week was going to see Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at the Plaza Theatre in El Paso Friday night. I think it’s the 3rd time I’ve seen him – he’s fabulous. His band is great, although Francine Reed isn’t touring with him. But he has great musicians with him, including Russ Kunkel on drums (from the old days of James Taylor). Wonderful!

The Plaza is a beautiful old theatre that was recently restored. It’s an ornate adobe style – my favorite thing were the twinkly stars on the ceiling.

Saturday morning I went to the farmers’ market again in Las Cruces to buy some local honey (delicious) while John shopped at the used bookstore on the square. Afterwards, we had a great lunch at Nopalito’s before heading back to El Paso and Juarez.

The rest of the week was pretty low-key. We watched “The Other Boleyn Girl” last night, which was pretty good.

Flavia got in bed next to me last night to watch the Olympics – she’s so cute! I think my nose is red because I – of course – got teared up at Michael Phelps’ medal ceremony.

I love Marfa, Texas

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

John and I just got back from a trip down to Marfa, Texas – about 3 hours from here – to meet our good friends Jim and Joan from San Antonio. We had a blast! Marfa far exceeded our expectations. Its population is 2121 according to the sign at the city limits. It’s like something from the 1950s. I’ve never seen so many nice bikes parked on the street without locks, we left the key in door of our casita when we left, and we saw a vintage VW Bug parked on the main street…with the keys dangling from the ignition.

The town is small with a great old court house that presides over everything. It has turned into sort of an artist colony with lots of galleries. We got to town mid-day on Saturday and started our visit with beer and BBQ at the Adobe Moon Cafe. Then we checked into our casita, Casa Agave, just off the main drag. We spent the afternoon drinking beer on the front porch and visiting. The rain forced us inside for a bit, but cleared up nicely in time to walk over a couple of blocks for a fantastic dinner at Maiya’s. After dinner, we dropped in at the local theatre to catch a few of their “24 Hour Plays” at the Goode Crowley Theatre – an evening of short plays that were just written the night before and handed to the actors Saturday morning. Lots of fun, and a really nice theatre.

Of course, around 9:30 or so, we had to head about 9 miles outside of town to try to see the Marfa lights. No dice, but maybe next time.

The drive to Marfa is kind of cool – very deserty with cool mountains. On Hwy 90, we saw this big blimp thing that was hovering low to the ground. The sign said it was an Air Force Tethered Aerostat Radar Site  – according to the web site, it’s used for drug trafficking interdiction. Coming back, it was flying high above us – very strange to see in the middle of desert. We also saw lots of hawks and deer.

This morning we enjoyed some of John’s great coffee on the porch, then walked over to the Brown Recluse for good migas before packing up and heading out. It was so great to see Jim and Joan!

The rest of the week was pretty busy. We stayed home last Sunday after the torential rains the day before – the streets are just too iffy to try to get out. Monday night we hosted John’s book club. We read (or some people read…) “Arts of Power.” Another night we went to Michael and Teresa’s for drinks, and Friday night we went out for seafood with Caroline and Harold.

I started reading the new David Sedaris book, “When You Are Engulged in Flames.” Much more fun than the book club book this month (sorry, John!).

Did I mention I loved Marfa? Click here to see our photos.