Archive for June, 2012

I get paid for this?

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

This was a fun week at work, and I do have to pinch myself sometimes to be sure I’m doing what I’m doing and getting paid for it!

This week I was in class for counter-terrorism training – I am getting this type of training because we’ll be in Pakistan. We got lots of great information. We spent a day and a half on medical training, among other things, then we headed to West Virginia. For two and a half days, we learned about and practiced with firearms, explosives and evasive driving (the course is lovingly called “crash and bang” and that pretty much sums it up!). It was all fun, as well as informative. Of course, the driving was the most fun part – you’re on a controlled course and under the supervision of a professional driver. We learned and practiced some great techniques – and I got to drive a combat Humvee! By the end of the week, I was pretty exhausted – it’s both mentally and physically stressful.

Rodney, Moi, Ayse, Cathy and Roger

When I got back to DC on Friday night, I was happy to see my good friend Cathy, who had arrived and stayed in my apartment after I left on Wednesday. (She spent the night with me on Friday, then moved into her own apartment in my building on Saturday.) We yakked for a while, then met up with some Juarez folks for dinner in Court House – great to see my NIV Chief Roger and his wife Ayse, as well as my ACS Chief Rodney. We had a great dinner then bid Roger and Ayse farewell, as they are leaving for Azerbaijan soon.

Last Saturday I went to the American History Museum and wandered around for a few hours – it’s always fun to see the Ruby Red Slippers from the “Wizard of Oz,” plus I saw Scarecrow’s mask and shoes – obviously lots of cool stuff there.

Yesterday, Cathy and I ventured out for lunch and some shopping, then topped off the evening with dinner at RT’s, my favorite restaurant around here – yum!

Flavie is doing well – she even came out while Cathy was here, once I got back home.




Back in DC

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

My classes started this week at FSI – it was a lot of fun to be back on campus, meeting new folks and running into old friends.

This week I had a course called “Pakistan Familiarization,” a series of speakers who addressed different topics related to Pakistan. The neat thing about class was meeting people who I will be working with in Islamabad. My friend Michael from Juarez was in my class, and we’ll be working closely together in the Consular section.

Monday night  I met Pamela B. and Laura D. for dinner in Clarendon – so good to see them both. Pam and I made a stop in Trader Joe’s, then sat outside and had another glass of wine and yakked some more.

Tuesday and Wednesday nights, I went out with Miguel G., who was in from Prague for a few days (Miguel and TFran were our neighbors and co-workers in Juarez). The weather in DC has been beautiful this week, so we sat outside Wednesday night and had a drink. It was great to see him.

Friday after class, I ran into our good friend Richard S., so we caught the shuttle together, then took the Metro to Foggy Bottom. We sat outside at a nice Indian restaurant and had dinner and a glass of wine. He’ll be in Karachi, so hopefully we’ll get to see a lot of him in Pakistan.

Saturday I went over to Pentagon City to do some shopping, then came home and watched a movie and got caught up on episodes of “Mad Men.”

I’m very happy to report that Flavia is doing very well. I was a little worried about her when we first arrived because she just stayed under the bed, but the last few days, she has been very social and even playful!

John sent a link to a video of Islamabad – it’s about five minutes long and shows some local scenery – take a look if you are interested.

Also, I finished uploading all of my home leave photos – click here to see the album.

All good things…

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

"Woman Supine" Crystal Bridges Museum

This was a really busy week – and fun! It started last Sunday with a bus trip up to Bentonville with a group of Hendrix alumni. We went to the new Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, a gift to the city from Alice Walton. WOW. It was just incredible. The art is wonderful and the building and grounds are even better. I had a wonderful time visiting with Pamela, Rosemary (drama professor) and my former Dillard’s manager Beth S. After touring the museum and grounds, we had a lovely reception on the outdoor landing. Just a really fun day!

With Rosemary, my drama coach at Hendrix











Tuesday evening, Alison invited me for a sunset cruise around Lake Hamilton on the party barge. It was a beautiful evening and we had a great time visiting, drinking a glass of wine and eating dinner on the boat. We topped it off with delicious desserts from Josh’s restaurant, Java Primo – carrot cake and coconut pie to die for.

Alison on Lake Hamilton











I had my last appointments with the dentist, the podiatrist and the dermatologist – whew! I also ran by to see my favorite optometrist, Neill Clem. The doctors in Hot Springs are all really good and their staffs are really accommodating.

Saturday morning, I packed up my bags – all good things must come to an end, I guess. Boy, Flavia did not want to leave Mom’s house. She just wailed when I put her in her carrier – much more than normal. She really had a great time at Mom’s – she played and meowed and was generally right at home (unusual for her). She was really not happy to leave! But I can’t imagine not having her with me for the next two years, so she came with me.

We checked into the Embassy Suites (coincidentally, the very same hotel where John and I rescued Flavie eight years ago!) so I could go to my last event for home leave, and it was great!

My good friend Kelley threw a HUGE party at the hotel to celebrate her five year anniversary of surviving pancreatic cancer (survival rate: 6%). It was fantastic! I went to college and worked with her sister Kathy at RDS, and I worked with Kelley at Dillards, AND played golf with both Kelley and Kathy, so there were tons of people at the party who I know. It was so fun! There were at least two hundred people there (if not more), food, drinks, and a band. I was hoarse from talking by the end of the evening! Loved it!

With Kelley and Kathy









RDS Girls











After grabbing a couple of hours of sleep, Flavie and I were at the airport to catch our 6AM flight to DC. We got checked into Oakwood Apartments in Crystal City, then I walked over to the grocery store to get some basics, ate and took a nap – ready for class tomorrow! The next phase has begun!


Taking it easy

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

With Leslie at Rolando's

This was a really laid back week without a lot of activity. The highlight of the week was having lunch with my good friend Leslie. She was in Hot Springs, and we had a long leisurely lunch on the patio at Rolando’s downtown – a really pretty setting with the patio cut into the side of the mountain. It’s always fun to catch up with her!

Another fun date on the calendar was dinner with Alison at KJ’s on Thursday!

I’m making the rounds of the doctors’ offices while I’m in town. Unfortunately, a freckle that I had removed and biopsied last week needed more attention, so after having the first set of stitches out on Wednesday, the doctor took out more tissue and sewed me up again on Thursday – ouch! Hopefully this will be the last of it!