Archive for May, 2013

Summer’s here

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

The weather turned hot this week – we’ve already been over 100 degrees for several days in a row. I woke up this morning to the welcome sound of rain and thunder, although it probably means it will just be steamy all day. Our lunch gang had to move inside to eat this past week, so I guess we’ll have to forego the patio dining for a few months.

Last Sunday I went horseback riding! I drove out of town about 20 minutes to get to a stable run by a Canadian woman. I had a lesson in the ring until I got so hot I couldn’t take it anymore (at 9AM!). It was loads of fun! She has a nice facility and the horses are well cared for. The only downside is that she only teaches and rides English. It’s completely different from riding Western – a lot more work! I miss a big comfy saddle. I want to go back for a trail ride if the weather allows.

It was interesting driving back from riding. I had to drive through a small town, and I was reminded of how very far away I am from home! I followed a guy riding a motorcycle with a big chicken coup strapped to the back; goats and a sheppard on the side of the road; women all wrapped up in abayas doing their shopping. It’s just a completely different world.

When I got back into town, John and I went for massages, then Scott and Laura came over for more board game action. While the guys played, Laura showed me plans and furniture for their pretty new townhouse in DC. Later that night, we met Jim, Kellee, Carolyn and Konstantin for dinner at the Polo Lounge. It was quite pleasant sitting outside once the sun went down, and lots of fun to visit with them.

Tuesday – after a very stressful day at work – John and I had dinner with Howie, Petit and another friend for Thai food. Very enjoyable.

Friday night we went to a dinner party at the home of our German friends, Barbara and Franz. They are such good hosts and always have interesting guests. I talked a lot to another German woman who has worked in Kabul, Sudan, Yemen and now Pakistan. The young girl to my right was born  in Pakistan but moved to Germany when she was five. Her family just sent her back to Pakistan for an arranged marriage (although she is happy with it) – we talked at length about the differences and difficulties of adjusting from being a university-educated woman in Germany to being a housewife and mother in Pakistan. Very interesting.

Saturday I worked for a while. In the evening, we went to Jim and Kellee’s house for a yummy dinner with them, Carolyn and another friend. Jim made chili, Kellee made enchiladas and I brought an iron skillet of cornbread – very delicious! We sure will miss them when they leave next month.

My relaxation this week took the form of kittens! We have a terrible problem with stray cats at the Embassy. I finally saw the litter of five kittens from one momma cat, and got to play with them for a while after work on Thursday – excellent therapy for me! They are at that cute stage where they just want to play and they are just little furballs. They are terribly shy and skittish but I played with them with a string for a long time and they finally let me pet them. Mom just watched a bit, then went to sleep. Friday, I found another litter of two from another mom – they are only about a week old – just tiny things. There’s a group of us who feed them and try to provide some medical care (I’m not as involved as some of the others). John and I had one kitty spayed, and now she follows me around like a puppy, wanting food. Anyone, I’m glad to have some kindred souls who want to try to help them, but it’s like sticking your finger in the dyke.


Game on!

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

John and I have become recent fans of the board game “Settlers of Catan” – we learned to play from our friends Scott and Laura. Last Sunday afternoon they came over to play, and again yesterday with Michael and another friend. It was a lot of fun to have good friends around the table. After the last game, we still sat and yakked for several hours until well after dark – very pleasant.

Saturday started off well, too. After a few hours at the office, I met the gaming crew at a little restaurant for lunch. We had not been there before, but had read good reviews. It’s in an Indian lady’s house – aside from one helper, she does all of the cooking herself. She has four tables in a small room, then several more tables outside in the garden. We all tried different things, and it was all delish!

Laura and I then went to a house sale, where several vendors set up in a house to show their wares. There were really neat tapestry handbags that are hand stitched by a women’s coop – very lovely (and expensive!).

The rest of the week was just busy with work. Monday night I had a good visit on the phone with my friend Pam in DC. Tuesday I ventured back into the gym after a too-long hiatus. The weather is really heating up, but my lunch gang and I are still enjoying the patio under an umbrella – not sure how much longer we can do that, but it’s just so nice to get some fresh air. I finished up the week with happy hour with the visa staff. A good week!


Unexcused absence

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Mookie 2012

For no good reason, I just didn’t post anything last weekend, so I have a little catching up to do.

I found out today that Mike and Wayne’s dog Mookie died. She was only five years old, but became suddenly ill. I know it was tough for them to let her go. She was a sweet and pretty girl, with one blue eye and one brown. Over the rainbow bridge. She’ll be missed.

This weekend the Pakistanis are going to the polls to vote. If it goes well, it will be the first peaceful and democratic transition of power in the country’s (relatively short) history. There have been lots of stories on the news about pre-election violence and demonstrations, but it’s been pretty quiet in Islamabad. We canceled going out to dinner Thursday night because of a big rally that snarled traffic, but we made up for it on Friday night by having sushi with several good friends. Election eve was really quiet; our local staff got the day off so they could go home to their villages to vote. So, today they are voting and we will hold our collective breath that it goes smoothly.

Wednesday was my birthday! John and I had a really nice dinner with our old Juarez friend Jason, who we hardly ever see even though we all work at the Embassy. It was great to catch up with him. I had lots and lots of good wishes, and the visa staff surprised me with a cake at work, so it was a very nice day.

It’s been busy at work since we returned from Indonesia. We have two new officers in my section, which is fun. On the downside, it’s also time for people to start transferring out, so we have had to start saying goodbye to people. Also, we are all trying to get our own evaluations in on time, plus write evaluations for our employees. It’s a tedious process, all narrative with lots of nuance.

On the social scene, we had dinner with two other couples last Tuesday at the Serena.  Last Wednesday was a holiday in Pakistan, so John smoked some chickens. Jim, Kellee and another buddy came over for an impromptu dinner – lots of fun – and the chicken was wonderful! Last Friday we all headed over to the French Club for lunch to celebrate Laura’s birthday.

Last weekend, John and I worked. We’ve started looking for onward posts, which is exciting and scary.

We’ve watched some fun TV and movies the last couple of weeks. “Silver Linings Playbook” was a really good movie. And we are caught up on “The Americans” and “Mad Men.”