Archive for August, 2013

Not much new

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

John and Honey

This was a pretty slow week. I’m trying to just come home after work to study Spanish and not plan anything social to distract myself. I did make it to the gym three days after work – good to get back in the swing of that. We stayed home all day last Sunday to study, which was nice.  We did manage to watch the rest of Season Two of “The Hour,” and the latest episode of “Breaking Bad.”

We’re really enjoying Honey, the little Chihuahua. She’s very well-behaved, although she will occasionally bark at Flavie – but they seem to have established a truce of sorts. She loves nothing better than to get treats and sit on John’s lap.

John spent two afternoons this week interviewing applicants for Fulbright scholarships. He really enjoyed it and said it was interesting to hear the students’ proposals for studying in the U.S. He also went to a going-away dinner for his boss on Thursday night.

Saturday I went to an all-day orientation for the school board at the superintendent’s house. It was actually informative and a lot of fun – the superintendent and the board members are just really nice.

When I got home I studied for a bit, then we watched a very raunchy, trashy movie called “The Paperboy.” Despite how extremely disturbing it was, we really enjoyed it. It had a great cast, and Nicole Kidman played a campy Florida tramp – I really enjoy her acting.



Two- and four-legged guests

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Settlers of Catan

Last weekend was a lot of fun. Sunday afternoon, after some pampering at the spa, we hosted a Settlers of Catan afternoon party (a board game). We had Howie, Petit, Joseph, Sunera, Joe, and Christy. The game lasted for three hours – lots of fun and snacking.


Honey, with a coin next to her for scale

Our big news of the week is the guest puppy in the house! One of our friends is on R&R in Washington, so we have Honey, their darling little Chihuahua, for a while. She’s so cute! It’s fun to have a dog in the house, although Flavia doesn’t really share that opinion. She mostly glares at us from the safety of her cat tree. Honey is really curious about Flavie – oh, and she loves Flavia’s food. That probably hasn’t endeared the dog to Flavie…

Monday I went to the International School to officially open the school year. I thought I was just going to say hi to the teachers and staff, but when I got there, they were all in the auditorium and the podium and microphone were set up! Granted, it’s a small school and there were only about 75 people in the audience but I was still surprised. Luckily I had rehearsed some talking points on the drive out, and my old Toastmasters kicked in, so it was all fine (and short)! The school is lovely and everyone is really friendly.

Tuesday night we went out for a nice steak dinner and to celebrate getting handshakes for Guadalajara. Now we have to get over the Spanish hurdle. We are cramming for a phone test in September – hopefully that will allow us to finalize the deal so we can start getting excited!

Friday was a nice dinner party at a local restaurant to celebrate Howie’s birthday – lots of fun and a nice group of folks who we don’t normally see. Dinner was interrupted by a flurry of “emergency visa” emails about a VIP, but luckily it all got settled pretty quickly and I could get back to the party.

This week we watched the latest episode of “Breaking Bad” and finished Season One of “The Hour” – thanks to Christy, we are now on Season Two. Lots of fun.

On the wildlife front, this week was interesting. I didn’t see the goats, but the local staff supervisor came one morning to tell me he needed to enter a maintenance work order for the “died buffalo” in the creek. I had to go out to see what that was all about. Sure enough, a dead water buffalo was stuck in some trash and foliage in the creek outside the Consular section – emitting a putrid smell, as you can imagine. While we were out looking at this lovely site, we saw a huge turtle (about 1.5 feet across the back of his shell) swimming in the creek. I assume he was a snapping turtle given the length of his neck and the shape of his head.

I was skeptical that the city would do anything about the died buffalo, but sure enough, they sent a crew out. Not to remove it entirely from the creek, but to give it a shove to keep floating downstream. At least it’s out of our smelling range now. Wonder who’s downstream?


The agony of jet lag

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

John at Superior Brewery, Hot Springs

The worst thing about home leave is the jet lag that ensues upon return to Pakistan. Conventional wisdom is that it takes a day to recover for each time zone you cross – which means 10 days. Our sleep cycles are so convoluted, but I finally got a great night’s sleep last night and it felt so good.

To add insult to injury, I got some kind of allergy/virus, so I spent all day last Sunday on the sofa. The health unit at the Embassy fixed me up with some meds, so after a couple of days I started feeling much better.

We had torrential rains a couple of days this week – monsoon season. The upside is that everything is green. Wednesday was a holiday here (Pakistan Independence Day). I went to the office to try to get caught up. One thing that is really strange is the personnel turnover at post. My friend Scott had warned us about how strange it would be, and he was right! It seems like all of the people I knew have left (tours here are generally just one year; John and I are the exception since we are here for two), and it feels like I don’t know anyone anymore! That will change as we start meeting the new folks, but it is a weird feeling.

Thursday evening I had a school board meeting. The Embassy historically has two representatives on the Board, and last spring the Management Counselor approached me about doing it. It’s a lovely group of folks who care deeply about the school, and I think I will enjoy working with them this year. Even though Embassy personnel can’t bring children to post right now, there are lots of other foreigners and Pakistanis who send their children there.

This week we watched the new episode of “Breaking Bad” – it’s the last season. And we started a good British mini-series called “The Hour,” which we are also enjoying.

Saturday I worked most of the day (where does all of this work come from?!!), then ran some errands – to the Afghan bakery for their yummy goat cheese, homemade crackers, and a bouquet of sunflowers, and then to Kosar Market to pick up some odds and ends. I always seem to find a little piece of jewelry or something at the little vendor who sets up a stand there and yesterday was no exception. And I went by the tailor shop to pick up a couple of linen shirts they made for me – J.Jill knock-offs at a fraction of the price!


Too short

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Lake Hamilton

As usual, vacation went by way too fast! John and I had to leave Hot Springs at noon on Thursday to start the trip back. Everything was fine and dandy until we got to Pakistan. We couldn’t land in Islamabad due to weather, so we were diverted to Lahore. After several hours sitting on the runway there, they announced we had to return to Abu Dhabi, then would get a new aircraft to return us to Islamabad. Chaos ensued on board, and finally the airline just dumped us all out in Lahore!

There were seven of us from the Embassy on board. John arranged for the Embassy to get us by car and take us to Islamabad. Finally, after a five and a half drive to Islamabad, we made it home!

Flavie was glad to see us…eventually. She pouts for a while and won’t come out from hiding, then she just wants to sit on my lap non-stop.

Last Sunday we had a wonderful morning on the lake with David and Alison. We went out for a three-hour boat ride on Lake Hamilton – lovely! (Again, we got the itch to buy a lake house!)

Alison made us the most wonderful present ever – she painted miniature flags representing all of the countries where John and I have lived. They are displayed on small easels – what a wonderful gift! Thank you, Alison!

Alison Parsons originals







Monday we met Pete and Ginger for lunch in Little Rock at the Faded Rose. Good to see them! Later that day we went to Mary’s house to catch up with her. She’s doing great.

With Mary and Cruella










Tuesday, the movers came to pack some things to send back to Islamabad. I stocked up on paper goods, detergent, etc. That evening, we stopped by Superior Brewery for a drink, then had an incredible meal at The Porterhouse. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs!

Superior Brewery










I was happy to see both Aunt Bonnie and Aunt Louise on this trip. Bonnie seems to be doing well and has a good group of caretakers. Louise is not doing well health-wise, but was in pretty good spirits nonetheless.

I spent my last full day of vacation getting a great haircut/color with Mike and Peggy at their salon, then Mom took us to lunch at Smokin’ in Style. That night, we met the Stokers at El Podrino, our favorite Mexican restaurant in town.

We had a great home leave, but it was way too short! Click to see all of our home leave photos.

Thanks for a good time, Hot Springs!

Bathhouse Row

The Ducks still in business

Good times

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

The RDS Girls - Leah, Kathy, Christy, Beth and Pam











The highlight of the week was a party at the Oyster Bar Friday night! We saw lots of our good friends, which was great. With a trip this short, there’s just no way to really spend quality time with everyone you would like to. So, time for a party. Just wonderful to see old friends!

I made my first visit to Superior Bathhouse and Brewery this week. It’s so great to see how the beautiful bathhouses are being refurbished and re-purposed. Rose and Todd have done a beautiful job with the Superior. And – although I haven’t seen it yet – I’ve heard that Michelle and Anthony have done fabulous things with the Quapaw – kudos to them for reviving the bath house!

As you might imagine, John and Stoker had already scoped out the Superior and were on a first name basis with the wait staff and owners. It is a beautiful place.

The other highlight of the week was finding a wonderful masseuse, Janet Gillham. My neck and shoulders were very, very stiff from who-knows-what: computer work, stress, the 30 hour trip to Arkansas – who knows? Janet is doing wonders! If you’re looking for massage therapy in Hot Springs (not just a relaxing massage), check her out. It’s been my indulgence since I’ve been home.

Here are a few more photos from our party Friday night!

With Robin and Ann










With Kelley












With Leslie

With Peggy and Ann

With Holly and Rick

With the Hoopers

John with Deb and Doug