Uncle Jimmy

Jimmy and LJ

We received the sad news this week that Mom’s younger brother Jimmy passed away. I’m very thankful to Julie for calling Mom and having her and Aunt Bonnie come to the hospital to see him before they disconnected life support after his heart attack. And, I’m thankful to David and Alison for taking Mom to the services in Mt. Tabor. He was a nice man and will be missed.

On top of a particularly hard week on the visa front, I’ve also been working on an issue near to my heart, the cats that reside on the Embassy compound. The Embassy management team has been getting complaints about all of the cats on the compound. We had a couple of litters of kittens born over the summer and they were really becoming a nuisance, along with all of the already-existing cats. People feed them (including me), several of them are spayed or neutered already, but the kittens were bothering people trying to eat outside on the patio.

There’s a loose-knit group of cat-lovers, so we mobilized to see if we could do something. Management was threatening to do a “round up” which just means round them up and either kill or dump them. They have done it in years past, but luckily it seems that this Management team understands that if you do that, more cats just come onto the compound. So we are working to stabilize the population and keeping a healthy, spay/neutered population there. Our little team dubbed the C’attachés quickly raised money, and yesterday Mike and I got four of the naughty kittens and one pregnant female and took them to the vet to be spay/neutered. We’re are also going to establish formal feeding stations around the compound to draw them away from the restaurant and cafeteria, and we are embarking on an educational campaign to get people to stop feeding them at the tables. These are all measures that have been established at other Embassies, and we’re excited to get a good program going here.

Pakistan is extremely primitive when it comes to animals and pets. For one thing, in general Muslims think dogs are unholy. Their animal control consists of having the city periodically go out and shoot stray dogs. The senior local staff member who works for me, who is so smart and has worked with Westerners for years, heard me talking about spaying cats and asked me what that was. When I explained it, he just shook his head and said he had never heard of such a thing. There are no shelters here, of course. It’s very depressing – but, I think we are on the right track with the cats on the compound.

It occurs to me that I don’t think I have announced in this blog that John and I are slated to go to Guadalajara in Fall 2014 after we leave Pakistan. We had to wait a while before we got “paneled” into the job, but everything looks good at this point. The sticking point was our Spanish. Our official scores had expired last spring, so we had to take an informal phone test before DC would agree to put us in the jobs. But we still have to pass a formal test before we go to Post, so we are studying as much as possible. We are very excited about Guadalajara! If all goes as planned, we’ll be there for three years.

Some friends here put me in touch with a lovely Honduran woman. We met for coffee after work on Thursday so I could practice Spanish with her. She was so nice and helpful, and we plan to meet again. It was a boost to my confidence to be able to carry on a conversation for an hour and a half without too much trouble. That said, my real work is still ahead of me in terms of preparing for the actual test.

John and I have laughed and laughed at this cartoon this week – it pretty much sums up our relationship:



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