Archive for August, 2010

Final stretch

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

John with Daphne at Meghan's BBQ

We are starting to feel like we are in the final stretch here. John’s Hebrew test is next Friday; we changed teachers this week and our new veteran teacher is focusing on the test, which is good. I’ll still have another three weeks of Hebrew while John is in political/economic tradecraft training to prepare for his job working for the Ambassador.

We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon on Meghan’s back deck in Maryland, at her father’s house. It was wonderful to sit outside and we had a great BBQ lunch. I really enjoyed visiting with her dad, a Navy doctor who specialized in maladies associated with diving. (It’s funny to me that I guess I’ve reached the age where I have more in common with our young friends’ parents!)  They have a wonderful house, filled with art from his travels around the world. And, I ate a delicious tomato from his garden…yum…nothing better (although not as good as Aunt Gusta’s!).

We’ve started our rounds of consultations, where we meet with various people who work on Israeli issues. That means wearing a dress or suit instead of capri pants, and going downtown to the main offices for the morning or afternoon.

Friday afternoon after work, we made a trip to the mall to buy shoes for John, then came home and watched an excellent Israeli movie, Ajami. (Slow, but the ending was worth it).

Saturday morning I drove up to Maryland for a hair appointment and stocked up on a few things from the nearby Sam’s. That night, John treated me to an excellent steak dinner in downtown DC – we’re making a point to have some good dinners before we leave, because steak is so expensive in Israel! We went to Smith & Wollensky’s – really good, and it was a beautiful night to be out and about.

I wanted to share this great link – John’s cousin Jeff works at an animal park in Arizona and got some recent news coverage.

Feeling patriotic

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

At the Marine Parade

Friday night, John and I went to the Marine Barracks to see the Marine Parade – it was just wonderful. I had met a young Marine a few weeks ago at a party and wanted to see him perform. He’s in the elite 24-person Silent Drill Platoon, and they were just amazing. They have an incredible routine with their guns, absolutely silent except for the sound of their hands on the guns. Three Marine bands also performed – it was just a wonderful evening.

Tuesday evening, we had a Juarez reunion happy hour – lots of fun to see our former managers, Ray and Laura, as well as the usual suspects – highlighted by a guest appearance of Jeff, our first boss in NIV who happened to be in town from Canada.

The rest of the week was pretty calm. We had some rain, which cooled off the city a bit. We took a friend to the airport yesterday, and ran a couple of errands.

John is in his final two weeks of Hebrew classes before he moves on to a class on political and economic reporting.

To give you a flavor of Hebrew, I’d thought I’d mention a few basic things about the language – things that continue to trip me up:

The Hebrew word for “he” sounds like “who.”

The Hebrew word for “she” sounds like “he.”

The Hebrew word for “them” sounds like “him.”

Yes, it’s fun…

The girls of Juarez

You’re stuck with us!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010









With Carolyn, Konstantin and Richard

Our big news this week was that John and I got tenure in the Foreign Service. The cable came out on Tuesday, and there was much merry-making! We didn’t expect to get it this year (it was our first time to be considered). I’m happy to report that lots of folks from my A-100 class were with us on the list (and sad to see a few favorite names omitted). It was great news, and John and I immediately went to Harry’s to celebrate.

The celebration continued Thursday night, when we went with Richard to Carolyn and Konstantin’s neat house on Capitol Hill. It was stormy, so instead of going out to dinner, we enjoyed a nice meal at their comfortable house. And I got to see their dogs, back from Nepal.

Friday night, we went to dinner at Harry’s with Dink, a good friend and mentor from our A-100 days. He’s in town working on a special project, and we were happy to be able to spend time with him. With 20+ years in the Service, he has lots of insight and good advice, and he’s just a darn nice guy and enjoyable to be around.

Saturday night, we drove to an area in NE DC to meet our Juarez neighbors for dinner and a de las Nieves reunion: Neal, TFran, Miguel and Meghan. It was a funky little sushi/tater tots place (yes, what an odd combination!). It was great to have the neighborhood gang back together. In Juarez, Neal was famous for making Spam Sushi, a nod to his Hawiaan upbringing – we did without the Spam last night, and had a good visit.

Last Sunday night, we had dinner with some good friends from Juarez who were in town for just a few days. The husband in the family just returned from being in Afghanistan with the State Department for a year – it was great to hear his stories and observations.

Yesterday, John and I spent the day running errands and test-driving cars. Yes, the Volvo will be going to the country…Arkansas, that is. Looks like Cousin Kay has decided she wants to fly out and drive it home. I’m thrilled that my car of 19 years won’t just be religated to a dealer parking lot (the Volvo is a 1988, and I bought it in early 1991, if I remember correctly). I’m looking at buying a Honda Fit to take to Tel Aviv.

Luckily, the weather has improved markedly, so we’re enjoying some much cooler days. Hope my friends in Arkansas get a break soon, too!










With Kathy, John (and their kids) , Beth, Tom

Whirlwind trip

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Mom, David and Alison

I took a whirlwind trip back to Hot Springs this weekend, arriving after midnight Friday night and left early Sunday morning. We had a fun family reunion at Iron Springs Campground, where we used to have reunions after “Decoration Day” at the Mt. Tabor Cemetery. It brought back a lot of childhood memories of being there in the cool shade and playing in the creek. We also got to see a lot of relatives from Uncle Shorty’s side of the family who we don’t normally get to see, which was a lot of fun.  Click here for photos.

It was a special weekend because David was also home from Diego Garcia. He and Alison came to the reunion, and then I went to their beautiful place on Lake Hamilton to sit and yak some more. Too bad James couldn’t have made it up from San Antonio!

I had a lucky day coming back from Hot Springs. I thought I had lost my favorite sweater (I bought it when we lived in Costa Rica), but the nice folks at Avis had found it in the parking lot and saved it for me! Then, I got an exit row seat on the long flight from Dallas to DC, and we were on time! Life is good!

The rest of the week was pretty quiet; just lots of studying. We watched “Sesame Street” in Hebrew, which was a hoot. We actually understood some of it and picked up some grammar rules, too.

John finished up his magic workshop last Sunday, and went to a magic lecture on Wednesday night. He’s gotten our friend Miguel interested in magic, too, so Miguel went with him.

New digs

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Rooftop party

The big news this week is that John and I moved into a new apartment, just down the hall from our old apartment. It’s newly renovated and so nice. It was kind of a pain to move, but it was worth it. We also have a washer/dryer in the apartment now, which is a big improvement from having to go down the hall to do laundry. TFran, Miguel and Pam have all made stops by to see it and say hello.

Thursday night we went to Dupont Circle for a couple of going away happy hours – one for Dean, who is going to be the Consul General in Juarez, and another for our Hebrew-speaking friend Liz, who is leaving for Jerusalem. It’s kind of odd, because out of our A-100 class there will be five of us in Israel.

Our teacher was doing tests Thursday and Friday, so John and I were mostly left to our own devices during class, but we made good use of the time. Speaking of tests, John did a Hebrew progress test this week and made a good score, so he should be on track to pass (just before Labor Day).

John is at a magic workshop in Maryland this weekend (it’s close enough to come home at night). He’s having a blast with all of his mentors and friends from around the country.

Last night, I went to a fun party on the rooftop of a cool building with a beautiful view of the Capitol in the distance. The party was given by a friend from A-100; he and his wife cooked up Brazilian food, which was delicious. It was a gorgeous evening, no humidity and perfect temperature.










John and Kellee












Dupont Circle