Archive for March, 2013

More spring

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Roses in the yard

Spring continues to bloom in our yard – this week the roses came out overnight and now the yard is full of beautiful blooms! It’s really amazing. Everything is so colorful and the fig tree is all covered in leaves again.


I had my first round of car trouble last Sunday afternoon. John was with me and we were at Rana Market to have some photos framed. We got in the car and it was dead – not one peep. We sat there for a few minutes and John looked under the hood. Some nice guy came out of a shop and starting beating the battery with a pair of wire pliers and pouring water over it. And – in a few minutes, he got it started! About that time, our new mechanic Rafiq showed up and tightened up the battery cables and dabbed oil from the dip stick around the connections (“local trick,” he said). Anyway, it seems to be fine now!

This market is a parking lot surrounded by small shops. You can buy brooms made out of sticks (you won’t find a Western broom in this city), fruit, fish (recommended only early in the day before it gets hot), and really good samosas. It didn’t dawn on me until John and I went back on Saturday to pick up the photographs that I was the only woman in the whole place! Granted, women here don’t get out a lot but it was an almost eerie feeling to look around this bustling market and see no other women.

We had several social outings this week. One of our friends in Public Affairs is leaving soon, so we went to a fun BBQ for him on Thursday night. I’ll miss him – he has a great sarcastic sense of humor and is a lot of fun.

Friday night, we celebrated another good friend returning to post from R&R and had a nice Thai dinner at the Marriott (yes, the same one that was bombed in 2008!). Then Saturday we went to Jim and Kellee’s to celebrate Jim’s 40th birthday. Jim is from Wisconsin, and somehow Kellee found someone to bake a birthday cake in the shape of a large wedge of cheese – really cute! We love sitting up on their rooftop at sunset – lovely.

Jim's Cheesehead birthday cake











The weather was perfect this week. You can tell it’s starting to warm up because we now need umbrellas over our lunch table  on the patio.

Friday in the office was pleasant – it was a admin day and all of the entry-level officers were in a meeting all day. We worked a lot over the weekend just trying to get our desks cleared off and our annual evaluations written (torturous!).

We watched Les Miz last Sunday night – I didn’t know that John knew all of the words to the songs, but evidently it’s one of his favorites! And we got caught up on “Justified” last night.

More rain

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Snapdragons along driveway

It started raining last night, along with thunder and lightening – everytime I think it’s going to stop, I hear a new round of thunder! It’s  really been a wet spring.

Yesterday we took advantage of the cloud cover and cooler temps. Nathan drove Kellee, Aryani, Laura and me around town shopping. This week’s focus was fabric. I found several yards of lovely linen at what I hope was a good price – orange, soft yellow, mushroom and khaki. My plan is to have a tailor come over and stitch up some summer pants, tops and dresses for me.

One nice thing about Pakistan is that lots of folks will come to your home to do things like tailoring. Also, yesterday, a mechanic (who also works at the Embassy) came over in the morning and took my car; fixed a bunch of things and brought it back last night. Much nicer than going to the shop!

This was a very busy week. One of the NIV staff was out unexpectedly most of the week, so that meant I had to be on the interview line…which meant I didn’t get a lot of other stuff done. My plan is to go into the office today and work on EERs and get caught up. I just didn’t have the energy to do it after shopping yesterday – instead, John and I watched two movies. “Robot and Frank” and “The Words.” I really needed some down time.

We did end the week with a nice French Club lunch: John, Scott, Laura, Nathan, Kellee and Kate. We sat outside by the pool and enjoyed the weather and  a glass of wine. A much needed end to a rather stressful week!

The roses are budding!


Roses, snapdragons and and pansies


Spring has sprung

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Our yard is really starting to bloom and bud! The pansies have been out for a while – now the petunias are starting to bloom, and the fig tree and rose bushes are budding. Things are turning green and pretty. The weather is also spring-like – except when it’s hailing! We had a big storm with rain and hail on Wednesday, then the next day was just as pretty as you please.

Last Sunday we enjoyed a really nice brunch with Marcus and Simone, followed by an excellent game of “Settlers of Catan.” Marcus and Simone are really good cooks, and you sure don’t walk away hungry from their table. Later in the day, we had Thai massages – ahhh.

Scott came back mid-week from his trip to Vienna – I’m glad he’s back in the office. It’s very lonely when he and Michael are both gone!

Friday was Consular Leadership Day. I went to the office early to print some visas for weekend travelers, then went to Reb’s house for the festivities. CLD is a day where we re-charge as a section, mostly doing team-building activities and having some fun.

Afterward, Scott, Brett R. and Brett T. came over and we sat on the deck and enjoyed the late afternoon. John and Laura eventually joined us, then we ordered out for pizza. I headed to bed as they were starting a game of “Settlers.”

Saturday I went to work to eek out a few more visas, then met up with Kellee, Carla and Brit for shopping. Kellee drove us way out of town to a furniture shop – mostly the guy reclaims carved wood from old houses and restores it or finds other uses for it. It was neat to see what he had. Afterward we went by a jewelry store and a new grocery store, then I took some cat photos in to have enlarged – I’ll pick them up later this week. I want to have some photos to hang in my office, and found several photos of cats from Israel that I think will make a nice grouping.

Saturday evening, we met Scott and Laura for dinner at Wild Rice and had a nice time.

I had a nice long chat with Cousin Dail last Sunday night – he sounded strong. He’s fighting with leukemia and he’s winning – he and Nancy sure have been in in our thoughts the last few months. And, my friend Tom had a successful liver transplant recently! He’s back home in Little Rock and sounds like he’s doing great. What a trooper he’s been throughout his journey.

On a lighter note, John has gotten me hooked an an FX TV series called “The Americans” – it takes place in the 80s and is about Russian spies who are in deep cover in the United States – it’s a lot of fun!

Low-key week

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

John at the Embassy's National Day Event


Here’s a great photo of John taken at the National Day Event that he was in charge of – he looks very handsome and official! Click to see all of the photos from the event.

We had a pretty quiet week, then lots of activities on the weekend. We had a great time with our friends from the German Embassy at their house Friday night. It was a great way to end a long week!

Saturday I worked for a while, then we went to a carpet and jewelry party at a friend’s house. We walked  away empty-handed, but saw some pretty carpets and gems. Later we met Howie and Petit for sushi, and had a fun time visiting with them.

I finally got my driver’s license this week. A man from the Embassy took me out there. I will never complain about the DMV again! There were  lots of folks there, but no women other than two ladies working there. I took an eye test, then a computer test with 10 questions on a touch-screen computer – if my hand started going to the wrong answer, the lady attendant would reach over and hit the right answer for me! This may be why people here are not the best drivers!



Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Picnic at Margalla Hills













We enjoyed a fun picnic with John’s staff yesterday out at a campsite in the Margalla Hills. It was so warm and sunny, and the sky was clear blue! The folks on his staff are really sweet – they grilled chicken and kicked around a soccer ball. I spent most of my time talking to his female employees and the wives of the male employees – they are very cute and nice. Here’s a group photo.

John's work group










Earlier in the week, it sure didn’t feel like spring! On Wednesday it was chilly and it rained cats and dogs – we even had hail! That evening, there were piles of pea-sized hail still piled up in the grass. Very bizarre!

Friday night we went out with Mike and Carla for sushi, then Saturday was the picnic. Aterward, we took Flavie to the vet for her preventive worm pill, and I wanted Dr. Rana to check out a couple of small cysts on her hips. She had a cyst removed years ago and it looks like it has come back in the same spot. We’re going to watch them for a couple of weeks and have them removed if they start growing more.

After the trip to the vet, I watched “Grey Gardens,” a documentary about Jackie Kennedy’s nutty aunt and cousin who lived in East Hampton, then stayed up late to watch “The Life of Pi”- a really good movie, and so interesting to see how Ang Lee adapted the book.

It looks like another gorgeous day – we are going to enjoy the weather now, because soon it will be too hot to do anything!