Archive for January, 2010

Relax and have fun

Sunday, January 31st, 2010


With Leslie, John, Donny and Jim at the Oyster Bar

This was another great week of relaxing and visiting with friends and family.

Tuesday, John, Mom and I took some steaks out to Alison’s to grill. Yum! We’ve missed our grill since we’ve been here. It was fun to relax with Alison – she’s always a hoot.

On Wednesday, all of the ladies from the family (plus John) had lunch together at a favorite little BBQ place. Afterward, Kay, Annette and I went thrift store shopping during the afternoon and brought home several treasures. Made it back just in time to drive to Little Rock to get together with friends at the Oyster Bar. In a good example of “when worlds collide,” my good friend Leslie now works with an old college buddy of ours, a good friend of John’s, and another wonderful woman from Nuvell, so we all got together to visit (plus Leslie’s darling boyfriend). It was great fun.

It was back to Little Rock on Thursday to have dinner with Mike and Debbie at Star of India. As soon as we opened the door to the restaurant, Sami, the proprietor, holllered “Mr. John! Long time no see!” His name recall is incredible – he hasn’t seen John for at least three years! It was fun to catch up with Mike and Debbie and get updated on their two boys, one of whom is at the Coast Guard Academy. On the way home, we stopped by the Magic Shop to say hi to Jim.

Winter weather started moving into Arkansas on Friday, so we stayed tucked inside on Friday and watched a British mini-series, “State of Play,” all day (yep, all day). It was great, and better than the American movie version. I also became a home health nurse and got Aunt Bonnie in and out of her compression stockings – no small feat!

By Saturday, the roads in Hot Springs were clear, so John and I went to the library and went out for a Mexican lunch. I spent a while in the kitchen making homemade tomato soup and chicken curry. Last night, Mom and I watched the Miss America pageant, followed by Law and Order.

John and I have also played a few games of Scrabble, one of my favorite things to do! I also finished another Chris Bohjalian novel – he’s one of my favorite authors.


John and Alison

I heart home leave!

Monday, January 25th, 2010











With Ann and Pam

Home leave is a very, very good thing. It’s mandated by Congress that Foreign Service Officers spend at least 20 business days back in the good ol’ U.S. every couple of years to reconnect with America.

We spent the week reconnecting with some of our favorite people. On Wednesday, I went to Little Rock to have lunch with my good Nuvell friends, Lynn and Jim (I also know Jim from growing up in Hot Springs). We had a nice long lunch and got caught up.

Thursday night, it was back to Little Rock for a wonderful dinner with Dail and Nancy (Dail is a cousin on my dad’s side of the family). We had a great dinner at Caper’s and visited, and also got to hear Dail play a little on his new guitar.

Friday, John and I had coffee in Hot Springs at Josh’s coffee shop and visited with him and his wife, Shelly. They’re doing a great business and seem happy. That night, our good friends Kelly and Brian drove to Hot Springs to have dinner with us at Central Park Fusion. Afterwards, we walked down to the Arlington Hotel lobby for drinks, and were thoroughly entertained by the older folks cutting a rug on the dance floor. Watching them always makes John and I want to take dance lessons – they’re so cute and have so much fun.

Saturday was an open house at Aunt Bonnie’s, so I got to see a lot of family. That night, Ann and Pam drove into town to stay at a friend’s lake house for the weekend. I went out Saturday night to visit for a while, then went back early Sunday and stayed until late Sunday night. I don’t think we took a breath from talking until late in the afternoon! I went back this morning and stayed until they got packed up late in the afternoon. They’re both doing great, and it was wonderful to visit with old friends.








With Brian and Kelly at the Arlington








Dail with his new guitar


Sunday, January 17th, 2010











Chuck, Ruth, Bill, Frank

Talk about a relaxing week! I’ve basically done nothing and it feels great! We’re really taking it easy. The days for me have been distinguished primary by what I’ve eaten – otherwise, they have pretty much blurred together. It’s been nice to have Aunt Bonnie come over for a few dinners and get to see her.

We did get out on Thursday night to visit with some of my old high school friends. We went to Chuck’s cool apartment downtown and visited with Frank, Bill and a couple of other people. It didn’t feel like 30 years had gone by since the last time I did that! They look great and pretty much are the same witty guys they’ve always been.

On Friday morning, we drove to Mountain Home to spend the weekend with John’s parents. Out for a good steak dinner Friday night, and Ginger’s yummy enchiladas on Saturday night. We hadn’t been up that way for about three years and it was great to be there again.

We came back to Hot Springs today, and I’m looking forward to another relaxing week!

Home again, home again

Sunday, January 10th, 2010


At our farewell at the office

Wow. After almost two years, we have left our life in Ciudad Juarez. It’s still unbelievable.

The week leading up to the move was busy and, for the most part, fun. Last Sunday, our friend Neal had a small wine and cheese get-together in the afternoon for us and a few friends. It was relaxing and the cheese was yummy.

Monday morning was not so relaxing. We woke up to about two inches of water completely covering the downstairs! Water was still gushing from one of the toilets where the line had broken during the night. Everything dried out pretty well – we were happy that most of our stuff had already been moved out, so we just lost a book or two and a few other things. It was not how we wanted to start the week, though!

That night, we had dinner at Corralito’s with our friends Keith and Whitney, whom we have really enjoyed getting to know.

Our Principal Officer Ray and his wife Patty invited us over on Wednesday night for fondue. It was nice to have a chance to visit with them outside of the office before we left. I’ve worked with Patty on several events – she is a dynamo and so personable.

Thursday was our last day in the office. In the afternoon, the consular section all gathered together for a farewell party. Our Deputy Principal Officer gave us a nice farewell speech and everyone signed a card for us. I didn’t have a chance to eat cake (even my favorite coconut that was on the table) because we were hugging everyone (and yes, by that time I was crying like a baby). We’ve made so many good friends in Juarez, especially the local staff. Several of them were crying, too, so, of course, I didn’t stand a chance! It was really, really sweet.

After a last dinner at Corralito’s (where we said goodbye to the manager, Raul, who always took such good care of us), we went home to do our final packing for the car trip.

We finished packing up on Friday morning and drove for the last time (at least for a long time) across the Zaragoza port-of-entry. We drove pretty much non-stop to Weatherford, just outside of Ft. Worth, where we spent the night. Flavia did well on the trip – I gave her a sedative, so she slept most of the way.

We got into Hot Springs around 4 PM yesterday, and immediately went out for pizza and beer with David, Alison and their fun friend Diane at a little dive on the lake. David is heading back to Diego Garcia this morning, so I was especially happy to get to see him for a little bit.

So! Here we are at Mom’s house. She is fostering a cute little kitten, but Flavie isn’t too thrilled about that. We’ll see how that goes! It’s great to be back for a while!










A groggy Flavia in Texarkana

Happy new year!

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010













TFran on New Year’s Eve

We’re all packed out – the movers came on Monday and Tuesday and loaded up everything! It’s weird being in an empty house. We have the Consulate furniture, and they bring us a kit of basics (sheets, towels, dishes, etc.) but the house really echoes!

Last Sunday before the movers came, we went to Las Cruces, making one more run to the used book store. We tried to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant there, but unfortunately, it was closed.

Back to work on Wednesday and part of the day Thursday (the office closed early for New Year’s Eve). Wednesday, I went to see two U.S. citizen minors who were in the hospital after their family had a horrible car wreck – that was a tough visit.

Wednesday night, Pam and I had a nice dinner at Corralito’s and yakked for a few hours.

I was called downstairs at work one morning for a mysterious reason…about 20 people had gathered around. I was quite happy to be presented with an “Extra Mile” award for mentoring a distance learning class for nine of the local staff – the best thing was that I was nominated by them, which made it all the better and very touching. The class was a great experience for me.

Thursday in the late afternoon, John and I went to Lara and Ryan’s for a drink. We had a great time – her parents and grandmother were there, and Neal came, too. Her mom is originally from Chiapas and is so cute and funny. She and Lara’s step-father live in Kodiak, Alaska, where Dean is a fisherman, a la Dangerous Catch – he had some great stories. We really enjoyed ourselves.

Afterwards, we went to Michael and Teresa’s for a small get-together – the Nieves crew, Pam and Sam, and Jason. It was a perfect party for me – just the right size. We ended up outside by the fire pit until 2:30 AM. Click to see photos from New Year’s Eve.

John and I were amazingly up and dressed and at Caroline and Harold’s the next day around 11 AM for a yummy brunch. We hung out there most of the day as people came and went. Caroline is an excellent cook in addition to being fun – her sweet potato biscuits were out of this world!

The rest of the weekend we relaxed and got some things done – for relaxation, we watched “Angels & Demons” and started the latest Harry Potter movie.

Yesterday we took both cars  to El Paso for oil changes and to take more things to Goodwill. We had our farewell hamburgers at Geske’s.


The movers, after getting the reclining sofa down the stairs