Archive for April, 2014


Sunday, April 27th, 2014
John doing balloon animals for Community Day

John doing balloon animals for Community Day

After a long slog, I passed my Spanish test this week! This means I can go straight to Guadalajara without having to have language training at FSI. I have several people to thank: my Spanish tutor at FSI, Fabiola; my first tutor here, Eva (who called me from Florida on Friday to see if I had passed); and Susana, my last tutor who teaches Spanish at the language institute here in Pakistan. They – and all of my friends – were pulling for me and I really appreciate it! A very special shout-out for hubby John for his unending support! I am glad that stress is OVER!

The cat group that I work with here – the C’Attachés – are still doing good work. I trapped two females in the parking lot last week and got them spayed with C’Attaché funds. I’m looking for another tortie to get fixed this week. I saw her on Saturday on the Embassy compound but she refused to take the bait to get trapped! They are smart. It’s so great to see the cats on the compound thrive. The two down by my office, Ramonacita and Diego, are so funny. They mug for attention, roll in the grass, and laze in the sun – they’ve come a long way since we first found them. And they love being petted and scratched.

I mentioned in last week’s post that John and our friend David made over 250 balloon animals at Community Day – enjoy the photo above!

Before my Spanish test on Tuesday, I met my good friend Barb for a drink at the American Club. It was her last day in the office and I was sorry to miss it (I took the day off to get into the “zone” of the test) – but nice to have a farewell drink with her before my test.

We had a nice meeting with the Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan this week, Ambassador Dobbins. The mid-level officers had an informal happy hour with him on the patio one evening after work. Interesting to hear his thoughts on careers in the Foreign Service and the future of Pakistan.

I am so happy that I don’t have to study Spanish anymore – or feel guilty for not studying! Saturday I worked for a while, then went to a house party where a lovely jewelry designer and handbag vendor were in attendance. I bought a lovely tote, a wallet, and a fun red handbag – my first new handbag since I bought my beloved Bagellini bag back in 2010 before we went to Israel. It was a fun girl-fest, with all of us encouraging each other to spend, spend, spend!

Saturday night, we went to a lovely rooftop party at Carolyn and Konstantin’s – they are wonderful hosts and the weather was perfect for being outside. Afterwards, we stopped by another rooftop party to say farewell to friends from Lahore who were evac’d here last fall. Islamabad is fantastic right now – the weather is perfect, tending toward the hot side in the afternoon but great evenings. My basil and mint are coming back with a vengeance – I left a bundle on my neighbor Sarah’s doorstep when I went to pick delicious organic lettuce from her garden this afternoon. And our roses are amazing, plus pansies, petunias, and other flowers I don’t even know the names for – beautiful!

Click here to see photos of Islamabad by a really good photographer.


Sunday, April 20th, 2014

We had a good week with friends. Barb and Edward are about to head out, so we enjoyed a really nice going away dinner with them, Rick, and Sarah, hosted by Peter and Lizanne – who are fabulous hosts. We had a great dinner and good conversation with lots of toasting going on. We were also celebrating Peter’s great new assignment in Bolivia!

Friday was going-away lunch for them at the French Club. In addition to the usual suspects (sans Brad, who is on R&R), several of the ELOs from the NIV section joined in – lots of fun. Friday was admin day; the local staff also hosted a section-wide breakfast in Barb’s honor. The afternoon was Community Day, where many of the local staff brought their kids to the Embassy – where John made balloon animals for them. They all had a big time.

Friday night, John and I made a long-delayed return visit to the Polo Lounge, this time with Scott and Merlin. It was a beautiful night to sit outside and visit with a nice glass of wine.

I had a school board meeting on Wednesday, which I actually enjoy because the other folks on the board are so nice.

This afternoon I went to Charlie’s house. He hosted a very interesting gentleman, Richard Garstang, who gave a presentation on biodiversity in Pakistan. He’s from South Africa and worked as the conservation director for Kruger National Park at one time, so he also talked some about Africa. A really fascinating man. I didn’t get much of a chance to visit with his wife, but she is a Pakistani mountaineer and interesting in her own right. I was very happy that Charlie included me. Who knew that Pakistan used to have rhinos? Not me!

Back to the grind

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

New Zealand Shed #1

New Zealand Shed #1

After eeking out every bit of vacation time, it was back to work for us Monday. The week was fine, just a little busy trying to work through all the emails and remember all my passwords! The weather here is great, so we’ve been sitting outside for lunch every day, although we can tell that the hot weather is inching our way.

Thursday night after work, one of the entry level officers in my section hosted a going-away party for Barb. We had loads of fun! I sure will be sorry to see her go, though.

We went to the French Club twice this week for lunch – once on Thursday to celebrate Brad’s last day before R&R and again on Friday just because Barb has decreed “French Friday.” It is nice to get off the compound for a change, even if it is just aa five minute walk away.

We’ve also had fun this week in the evenings catching up on some television shows – “House of Cards,” “Justified,” and “The Americans.” All mindless but we enjoy the break.

This week marked the one-year anniversary of Cousin Dail’s death. We sure do miss him.

New Zealand Shed #2

New Zealand Shed #2


Sunday, April 6th, 2014


Spotted Shag in Marlborough Sound

Spotted Shag in Marlborough Sound

I’m in denial that this fabulous R&R is coming to an end and we’ll have to go back to work tomorrow. This vacation has been a milestone for me: I have not even once turned on my Blackberry. It’s an amazing feeling and the first time in years that I have not spent vacations checking email or doing some work. For the first time in ages, I feel relaxed! Part of that is due to knowing that my wonderful friend and co-worker Barbara can take  over for me in the office and I just don’t have to worry about it – thanks, Barb!


Our last day in Bangkok, we went to a cooking school, Bai Pai, about 30 minutes outside of town. It was a lovely setting – big open kitchen with multiple cooking stations next to a lovely garden. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do and never made the time. We had a lot of fun and learned to cook stir-fried cashew chicken (that Saleem re-created beautifully for us at home this week), Thai beef salad, a dessert, and Phad Thai. There were seven of us in the class – in the small world category, one young man knew three of our co-workers here in Islamabad!

John and his Phad Thai

John and his Phad Thai














Click here to see all of our New Zealand photos.

Click here to see all of our Bangkok photos.

We returned to Islamabad late Monday night and spent the rest of the week at home on a staycation – more fun! I was happy to see Flavia again, and like always when we return, she wants to sit in my lap constantly. I was also glad to get back into my exercise routine. We watched Season Two of “House of Cards” and just generally relaxed even more, if that’s possible.

Yesterday was the spring vendor bazaar at the Embassy, so I went to that for a while. It was fun to have lunch with Brad and Mike and get caught up on work news. And of course I found a few trinkets to buy.

This was our last R&R, so it puts us in the home stretch of our time here. Hard to believe that this time next year, we’ll be living in Guadalajara!

We loved this artwork at the cabin in New Zealand – it pretty well sums up how we felt about vacation!

My sentiments exactly!

My sentiments exactly!