Welcome 2019!

January 6th, 2019

Happy New Year!

We rang in the new year at our friend Amy’s house with a nice small gathering. We met some interesting new folks and had a great time – we even stayed up past midnight, believe it or not!  New Year’s Day we went to my friend Matthew’s house for an afternoon drop-in, with lots of Foreign Service folks.

With Amy and Donna

Amy’s kitty Monty with his party hat

I was off on vacation this week, while John is still furloughed. Wednesday, I met my friend Wendy for lunch at the Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington, a cute restaurant that donates part of its profits to animal rescue (it’s on the same block as their sister restaurant, the Stray Cat Cafe).  Later on Wednesday, Brett, Lara, and Claire came over for board games (we went to Brett and Lara’s wedding in Chicago in November).

John and I had shopping day on Thursday, plus went to the car dealership to pick up a new battery for the 4Runner. I’m on a kick to find a new laptop and have spent way too much time poring over the specs and prices, haha.

Yesterday we drove out to Middleburg, Virginia, to have lunch at the Salamander Resort. Middleburg is a quaint little town in the middle of upscale horse country. We poked around a couple of shops after lunch – nice to get out of the city a little bit!

Party!

A sloth’s HNY

Flavie doesn’t know what all the fuss is about.

Merry Christmas and happy shutdown

December 31st, 2018

Good times around Neil’s table

We were invited back to Neil and Emma’s house for Christmas this year (I guess we behaved ourselves last year), and we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon/evening. He cooked an amazing tenderloin – what a treat to eat his professional cooking. Julia and Richard were there, plus another couple they are friends with – such fun and interesting conversation around the dinner table.

With Neil and Emma

 

John was furloughed during the government shutdown, but I continued to work this past week, since consular operations are funded by the fees we generate from passports and visas. It worked out fine, though, since John cooked dinner Thursday and Friday nights! We had his office buddies, Adrian and Thomas, over for chili the first night, and our friend from Juarez, Justin, and his wife the next night. It gave John a chance to don his new apron – cousins David and Alison sent us both personalized aprons for Christmas – so cute!

John in his new apron

The week has been filled with friends. Saturday morning, one of the officers from Santiago came over for coffee while he was visiting DC, and we had a nice long chat. Sunday we went to brunch at my visa pal Val’s house in Maryland where we ate some great food, and enjoyed the company. I finally got to meet Rachel’s baby in person! Our old boss from Juarez, Roger, came home with us after the party and we sat around and yakked for a couple of hours – big fun.

Val and baby Scout

With Rachel and Scout

 

I heart New York

December 23rd, 2018

I Heart NY

I took this week off from work, and enjoyed goofing off at home on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday John and I took the train to NYC. We stayed near Times Square and the theatre district. I was thrilled to see four excellent shows: “Network,” with Bryan Cranston; “Waverly Gallery,” with the incredible 86-year-old Elaine May and one of my favorite actresses Joan Allen; “The Band’s Visit” that just blew us away; and “Downstairs,” with real-life siblings Tim and Tyne Daly. This last show was off-Broadway and in a small theatre, which was fantastic – and we had a bonus sighting of Tea Leoni. Seeing such great acting was good for the soul.

Fun!!!

Belasco Theatre under the full moon

We had a special treat yesterday when our trip overlapped briefly with our dear friends Mike and Wayne from San Antonio, so we had a lovely pre-show dinner with them last night shortly after they landed – what good luck!

With Mike and Wayne

John and I took the subway to the 9/11 memorial site. We didn’t go to the museum, but we were really moved by the two memorial pools on the site of the towers. Each is a large square with victims’s names engraved on the edges. Water falls from all side and flows into a deep square chasm at the bottom. It is haunting and peaceful.

9/11 Memorial pool

 

The other highlight of my trip was getting a Ouidad haircut at the 57th Street salon, when Cousin Julie and I went 19 years ago! And I was super-pumped (pun intended) to try the much-hyped Peloton bikes at the hotel gym – they were fun!

Graffiti

Getting ready for New Year’s Eve

American Airlines sent me a summary of my travel this year – the equivalent of three trips around the world!

My travel on American Airlines this year

No rest for the weary

December 16th, 2018

 

Icelandic mail box

Monday afternoon I was back on a plane, this time a return to Iceland. The weather there was wet and cold, although warmer than DC. When we landed after our 5+ hour flight, we couldn’t disembark due to high winds! They couldn’t bring the jet bridge out, nor would they let us walk down the steps for fear we’d blow away! So we sat on the plane for an incredible 4+ hours until the wind died down enough. The news reported that around a dozen planes were in the same situation; when we finally got off the plane, the airport was a zoo with all the flights backed up.

Church and Christmas decoration

Huge Christmas Cat

I stayed downtown, just a few minutes walk to the embassy. The city was decorated with Christmas lights everywhere, which was nice since it was dark, rainy, and overcast for most of my visit (even on good days they only get a few hours of sun this time of year).  Their “thing” is an evil Christmas cat (pictured above) that eats children unlucky enough to not get any clothing for Christmas.  I was super-happy to return to my favorite restaurant there (twice!) to eat a delicious Arctic char (fish) that they pan fry and drizzle with a honey-butter and slivered almonds. Yum.

My favorite dish!

I flew back on Friday (with much less drama), returning to a dreary, rainy DC.  We went to a couple of parties yesterday, and the fun continues today!

All the Iceland coins have sea creatures! So cute.

 

Trinidad, Take Two

December 10th, 2018

We returned from Philly last Sunday, and Monday morning early I was out the door heading to Trinidad. My routing took me through Houston this time, and I hung out in the lounge there during a long layover – it reminded me of the Guadalajara days.

My trip was interrupted by the National Day of Mourning for President Bush, so I had to jam four days of work into three, but it all worked out. It was a low-key trip, just staying at the hotel for dinner and not venturing out.

I flew all day Saturday to get back home in the late afternoon – in time to go to Adrian’s housewarming party. Sunday, I met my friend Pam B and her cute little girl for brunch, folllowed by our annual outing to the Nutcracker Ballet at the Kennedy Center.

At the Nutcracker