Archive for October, 2008

Bees and things

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

John and I went to a great Halloween party at Matt’s last night – they really went all out on food and decorations, and people’s costumes were wonderful. We went as a work pun – when visa applicants are refused because we think they are intending immigrants, we refuse them under section 214(b) of the law…so John had 14 bees on his shirt and I had 14 bees on my shirt…together we were two 14 bees (get it?). Anyway, it was a big hit among our consular friends and made us giggle.

Click here to see more photos from the party.

We’ve done several things with TDYers this week. Last Sunday we took a woman from Monterrey to lunch, then later in the day, we picked up another TDYer from the El Paso airport. Also throughout the week, we’ve tried to help out with carpooling them to different events.

We had a professional development get-together Thursday night with the Congressional staffer from the El Paso district that was very interesting. He immigrated through the Juarez Consulate when he was 14 years old. Then on Saturday, John and I went to a local El Paso high school to give presentations to parents and answer questions about the visa process – they were having a Family Summit day.

The weather here is starting to cool off – mornings have been as cold as 40 degrees and we’ve even turned the heat on! I’m in denial that we are going to have a winter here…

We’ve managed to catch a few episodes of “The Wire” this week, too – love it!


Soldier for a day

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Decked out in Kevlar

John and I got to go on an outing to McGregor Range yesterday, along with 6 of our co-workers. McGregor is part of Fort Bliss in El Paso, and a lot of it is set up to train soldiers going to Iraq and Afghanistan. We visited three main sites, and learned about IED detection, guard training for detainees, and how to clear “close quarters” – basically, how they train soldiers to enter a building and clear it of bad guys. It was a lot of fun, but more than that, really pointed out the seriousness of the Army’s training for those going to combat. Much of the site is set up like an Iraqi village, complete with Arabic graffiti and people hired to dress and act like terrorists. In the desert landscape here, it’s pretty convincing!

To give us a true experience, our hosts even opened a box of MRE’s for lunch, which was fun for novelty’s sake, but unfortunately was loaded with calories fit for a working soldier – oh, well!

Last night, we went to a great neighborhood dinner at Michael and Teresa’s – they made an excellent salmon with a little soy and brown sugar glaze. And Friday night, Caroline and Harold had us over for a delicious Jägerschnitzel dinner – unbreaded pork schnitzel with a mushroom sauce. So, aside from the MRE’s, we’ve eaten well this week!

On the home front, we watched the last Presidential debate on Wednesday night. Thursday, we trekked over to El Paso after work to buy a new laptop.

I also wanted to give you an update on the grass – John has done a wonderful job with it this summer!

Back home

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

John at the Redondo Beach Pier

We had a great time visiting Aunt Bonnie and Kohlie in California last weekend. We flew home on Monday, and luckily had Tuesday off from work. That gave us time for “re-entry,” as John calls it – i.e., time to relax, get caught up and visit with Flavia.

We watched a couple more episodes of “The Wire” this week, plus the “Sex & the City” movie finally arrived from Netflix.

It was a short, but busy, week at work. I was responsible for the logistics of a visiting computer guy, so I went to the airport on Wednesday to get him and have worked with him over the weekend doing helping him do some testing. (So much for a 3-day weekend…oh well.) I got to visit the new Consulate building – wow – it’s really big. John’s been working out there a lot and had been telling me about it, but it was pretty amazing to see. We’re scheduled to move next month.

On the social front, we had dinner out with the (new) visiting TDYers on Thursday night, then went to a surprise going-away dinner for a friend on Friday night who’s moving to Africa.

 With Kohlie

Just beachy

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

With a few of the local staff from the Consulate: Claudia, Missy and Martha – all dolls

John and I flew to Los Angeles on Friday – me to visit with Aunt Bonnie and John to attend a brainiac conference at CalTech (origins of the universe, anyone?). Aunt Bonnie, Kohlie the Poodle and I drove him up there Friday afternoon.

Kohlie and I have gotten lots of good walks in. Manhattan Beach is a great neighborhood for walking, and the weather has been fantastic.

We drove up this morning to get John, after breakfasting with the Elks Club group. John and I drove down to the Redondo Beach pier to walk around – I hadn’t been down there in ages. We sat outside to have a drink and listen to the waves crash.

The week leading up to our mini-vacation was pretty busy. Monday night was book club at our house – we read Amy Chua’s “World on Fire” and had a good discussion.

Tuesday night we had a cookout at our house for a new entry-level officer who we were sponsoring. Wednesday night I took my TDYer friend Cathy from Nuevo Laredo out for dinner at a little Italian place, then Thursday night was a happy hour. Glad I’d had a cocktail before the VP debate…