Road construction in Dhaka

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There’s a road in our neighborhood that is currently undergoing some serious repairs and construction.  I don’t know if they replaced the water lines that run under it, or what exactly, but they basically ripped up the entire road and installed new pipes and man-holes.

We arrived shortly after they started replacing the man-holes, and they were constructed at a level probably 10 inches higher than the road itself, which seemed ridiculous to me.  There were piles of bricks and sand lining the road.  I thought maybe they were planning on putting in a cobblestone road (because, in my mind, as an American, what else would you possibly do with bricks on a road?), but that would really impractical, overly tedious, and kind of stupid, considering how much traffic this road would normally get, when you could just lay asphalt.  Plus, you’d have to do like five layers of cobblestone streets just to reach the manhole covers.

Unending piles of bricks and sand

Unending piles of bricks and sand

We walk this road every day with Athena because, due to the construction which makes it impassable, there are no cars. So we’ve been able to see how they are progressing in building up the road to the level of the man-holes.

Luckily for everyone, they are not, in fact, laying down a cobblestone street.  Instead, there are men that chop up the bricks by hand, and then the smashed bricks are laid on the road and covered with sand.  Each layer gets well-trodden by pedestrians and rickshaws, and then another layer of bricks and sand goes down on top.  And so forth and so on until the road almost reaches the level of the man-holes, at which point I would imagine they will pave it (but I don’t know because they haven’t progressed that far yet).

Breaking the bricks into pieces the hard way

Breaking the bricks into pieces the hard way

Brick pieces mixed with sand, almost reaching the top!

Brick pieces mixed with sand, almost reaching the top!

Also, we have seen no power tools being used in the construction of this road.  All the work is being done with hammers and wheelbarrows.  Maybe that explains why it’s taking so darn long. Why use electricity or fuel when you have pure manpower?

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Ramadan and other random things

Ramadan started last week, and it lasts until July 17, which is the date of Eid al-Fitr (not to be confused with Eid al-Adha.  I had no idea there were two Eids before moving here.).  Eid al-Fitr is one of the main holidays in Islam, and Ramadan is the period of fasting that leads up to it.  In terms of religious holidays, just like Christmas is the big one for Christians, Eid al-Fitr is the big one for Muslims.  From what I understand anyways; I could be wrong.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, which here is about 6:30 am to 6:45 pm. One afternoon, we walked to our favorite bakery, Holey, which caters to expats and is open during Ramadan.  All the usual market and tea stalls along the way were still there, but they were covered in tarps.  You could see some people behind the tarps drinking tea, although there was definitely less hustle and bustle than normal.  This is the first time I’ve been in a predominantly Muslim country during Ramadan, and it is interesting.

I am not observing Ramadan, and now that we are settled into our apartment, I’ve started doing some baking.  I made a mango upside-down cake for our amazing social sponsors, which was so good I made a pineapple up-side down cake the next day for me and Nate.  I’m sad to say that I made the cake 4 days ago and it’s almost gone… and Nate’s not much of a dessert eater, so, yes, I’ve eaten nearly the whole thing.

Not the best photo I've made of a cake, but tasty none-the-less!

Not the best photo I’ve made of a cake, but tasty none-the-less!

This morning I made an apple coffee cake that is also really good.   Nate likes coffee cake more than I do, so I’m really hoping that he’ll eat this one.

Whenever I’m cooking in our kitchen here, I’m always struck by the amount of garbage that we produce.  This is primarily because, since moving to Dhaka, we don’t recycle anymore. Even worse, we don’t pick up after our dog.

A few nights ago, we were cooking dinner and Nate asked if we needed to save a glass jar.  I said, “No, just toss it in the recycling.”  His response was, “Um, don’t you mean garbage?” Right…. Currently in our garbage there is paper, a empty egg carton, a yogurt container, soda cans, and an empty milk box. I feel so guilty.

I’m able to rationalize not recycling here because there are people who go through the garbage and pull out the recyclables. Not that I think that picking through garbage should be something people have to do to survive, but, hey, at least someone is trying to make some money and also happens to be helping the environment.

And if we picked up after our dog, then we’d be walking around with a bag full of poop and no where to throw it away.  We do our part, to the extent possible, and encourage Athena to take care of her business on the trash piles. But still, it feels strange and wrong.

Well I’m not really sure how this when from Islamic holidays to everything we’re doing wrong for the environment, but there you go, that’s my train of thought these days.

At home, finally

We moved into our permanent residence, and we love it here.  In our temporary apartment I never really let myself get 100% comfortable because I knew we’d be leaving, but here we can arrange the furniture how we want, re-organize the kitchen, and actually spend some time making this place feel like ours.

Our apartment is really long. Like a “huh, that’s interesting” kind of long.  We are trying to decide how to rearrange it and partition out the space because you could literally have a banquet for 25 people, at least, in the dining room.  Luckily the flooring is these huge square tiles, so I could easily map out the dimensions of the rooms and furniture.  And this is what I’ve been playing around with:

Some people (Nate, most likely) would say I have too much time on my hands

Some people (Nate, most likely) would say I have too much time on my hands

We are going to request some additional furniture, and hopefully things will be set up the way we would like in no time!

My favorite things about this apartment are the living area, which gets loads of natural light, especially in the morning, and the roof-top garden. We are lucky to have houses next to us rather than apartment buildings, so they don’t block out all the sunlight.

We might not have a yard, but this is almost as good!

We might not have a yard, but this is almost as good!

The roof has a nice, high wall (at least five feet tall) and tons of grass.  In our last apartment, the people that lived above us actually lost one of their dogs because he jumped over the roof wall chasing a bird.  So, we were always very careful whenever we took Athena on the roof there, because she could definitely put her paws up on the ledge.  Thankfully, here there is no risk of that happening, and there are these glass areas where she can look out, so she has no desire to see over the wall anyways.

Athena explores new spaces and new species of shrubbery

Athena explores new spaces and new species of shrubbery

We also have loads of storage in the kitchen, which is something I’m very excited about.  This is the first time in my adult life that I’ve had a kitchen to call my own that I don’t feel totally cramped in.  I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I seriously can’t wait for our HHE to get here.  All our bakeware, kitchen appliances, and weird gadgets/dishes won’t need to be stashed in random places around the house and will finally have a place to go!

Adventures in dog walking

Having a dog in Dhaka isn’t easy.  There are tons of stray street dogs, we can’t walk Athena in any of the nice well-maintained parks, guards yell at us if she takes care of business in front of their gate/wall, there aren’t many sidewalks (and there are lots of speeding cars), and the climate makes it a less-than-pleasant experience for everyone.

That said, I am really glad we have a dog here.  Walking Athena is the best way to explore the neighborhood because people generally leave us alone. Without her, I would rarely go outside.  I work from home, and there aren’t many errands to run since we don’t have a car yet, so it’s much more comfortable to just stay inside.

Plus I’d be miserable without her unconditional love and companionship.

The best way to relax after a walk: lying on a fluffy rug on the cool tile, snuggling with a toy

The best way to relax after a walk: lying on a fluffy rug on the cool tile, snuggling with a toy

There seem to be two different kinds of off-leash dogs running around the streets of Dhaka: stray dogs who live on the street, and guard dogs who sometimes roam around freely. There are mean and nice dogs in either category, and in our neighborhood they are generally left to do what they want (rather than being beaten or mistreated).

We’ve settled into a walking routine.  In the evenings, when we are both home, I take the leash and Nate has his hands and legs free to scare away the mean street dogs. Some people walk their dogs and carry and big stick to scare the strays away, but we haven’t needed to do that yet.  There are some nice stray and guard dogs that Athena has made friends with, and when she comes by, they come running out to greet her.

The dog interactions are a lot less complicated here than they are in the U.S.: if a street dog is barking at you, stay away, and if a street dog seems nice, you have a new friend.  Because many of the street dogs have never been on a leash, their behavior is much more natural and less strained than that of dogs in the U.S.  When street dogs greet Athena they come up from behind rather than running straight at her, which is definitely what she prefers, and they are quick to submit to her.

Apparently yesterday morning, while Nate was puzzling out a billboard, a stray snuck up on them and by the time he noticed the dog, there was a lot of happy butt sniffing happening.  Athena and the stray ran around and played together, until some other strays a block away start barking and Athena’s new friend scurried off.

I think Athena is happy here.  Each walk is an adventure, whether it’s meeting a friend, human or canine, or encountering new things, like chickens in the street or hoppy bugs in the elevator.  She’s made lots of doggie friends, including her new best friend, a reformed street dog named Reggie.  Her quality of life will improve when we move into our permanent housing next week, which has a huge roof terrace with lots of grass.  There’s even a faucet where we’ll be able to fill up her puppy pool!  Apparently there’s also an undeveloped area about 20 minutes away where expats take their dogs to run around on the weekends.  We’re excited to explore that once we have a car.

Athena knows her crate is her safe place, and she's started taking naps in it.  In this photo you can also get an idea of how huge her crate is-- I could climb in there with her.

Athena knows her crate is her safe comfy place, and she’s started taking naps in it. In this photo you can also get an idea of how huge her crate is– I could climb in there with her.

Most expats have their household staff walk their dogs, but we aren’t planning on doing that.  Walking Athena is such a part of our daily routine, I’m not willing to give that up.  I am glad that I savored those last walks in our neighborhood in Virginia, where Athena could run off-leash through the fields and I wasn’t sweating my ass off.

Life in Dhaka, and everything that that encompasses, is our new normal, and we are all slowly, but surely, getting used to it.

One month in

How have we been in Dhaka for almost a month already?!

I’ve started taking Bangla lessons and, as long as I don’t have to read anything in Bangla script, it’s going well.  I know some greetings, basic life questions (“What is your country?”), how to give directions, and names for fruits, vegetables, and food staples.  Some of the vegetable names don’t translate very well.  Like lal shak, which, according to my teacher, is “red leafies.” I had to ask her to spell the second word because I thought she was saying “leafies,” but “leafies” isn’t a word, so that couldn’t be right.  Sure enough, “leafies” it was.  Similarly, pui shak is “green leafies.”  Further googling revealed that lal shak is also known as red amaranth or red spinach, and pui shak is Malabar spinach.  But I kind of like leafies, so I’ll stick with that.

We went to a runway show at Nabila over the weekend, and that was a very interesting experience.  We missed the first half of it because I insisted that we not arrive on-time so we weren’t the first people there.  Well, apparently runway shows in Dhaka actually start when they’re supposed to.  So we missed the sari part, but we got to see the gowns.  The show’s soundtrack was Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” played on a loop.  Every time I thought maybe they were changing to a new song, the chorus started over again.  I had “I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world / Life in plastic, it’s fantastic…” stuck in my head for days.

Back to the clothes.  The gowns were stunning and sparkly, and we got a quick view of the saris at the end when everyone walked down the runway.  If I want to buy a high-end sari while we’re here, I know where to go!  Afterwards everyone signed the guest book and was given a little box containing a sandwich and a fried veggie fritter, so we sat down with the models and Nate chatted with his friend, the choreographer, who had invited us.

A few days ago we were walking Athena and a young Bangladeshi woman, named Nancy, eager to practice her English, walked along with us.  She was also eager to get a job, as it turned out, but she was really friendly and said she liked dogs. Nancy got nervous when Athena tried to approach her, although we appreciated her positive attitude towards Athena.  She eventually realized we wouldn’t be giving her a job, but we all enjoyed the conversation none-the-less.  At one point she said to Nate, “Your wife’s face is very red,” and he told her, “She does not enjoy the climate here.”

Speaking of the climate in Dhaka, I realized that I’ve complained about it in every post I’ve written so far.  I think the fact that it’s bad goes without saying at this point.  Although now that monsoon season is in full-swing, it’s cooling off a little bit.  Several days ago it rained like crazy all morning long, and there was lots of street flooding.  I don’t know why people told us we should buy a sedan here.  With all the speed bumps, potholes, flooding, and otherwise uneven roads, a vehicle with higher clearance is really the way to go. We are very excited to finally get a vehicle at the end of the month, and no, it’s not a sedan, because we couldn’t fit Athena’s crate in the back.

One of my favorite things about living here is all the fresh fruit.  Right now mangoes, lychee and pineapple are in season and I’ve been stuffing my face.  I’m also freezing whatever I can’t eat right now so that I’ll still have a decent supply later.  I can’t wait until our blender comes in the sea freight.  That will be a wonderful day. Plus it will be nice to have more than four plates, cups and utensils.

Let’s see… oh, Nate needed his hair trimmed so he called a barber that came to our house and gave him an amazing hair cut for about $8.  They camped out in the guest room for 30 minutes, and then the guy cleaned up and that was that.  You’d never guess it was a temporary hair salon.  Speaking of hair, Athena is shedding like crazy.  We thought she did her summer shedding before we left Virginia, but it’s like her body realized she still had more hair than she needed for the climate here, and now she’s shedding again.  If we have this much dog hair in our apartment, I can’t imagine what it’s like for people with really hairy dogs like golden retrievers (which we see a surprisingly large amount of here).

The next post I write will be from our permanent housing, which we are moving into tomorrow.  I am so excited to finally get really settled in somewhere.  We’ll be able to rearrange the furniture, get photos on the walls, and make it feel like home!

Trip to Beximco

Over the weekend we went on a CLO-organized trip to Beximco industrial park, one of Bangladesh’s biggest private sector manufacturing companies.

Sounds riveting, huh? (That was Nate’s general impression, too.)

Basically, Beximco makes clothes for several American and European clothing lines, including American Eagle, Topshop, Zara and H&M.

Beximco also houses Shinepukur Ceramics, which makes fine china and porcelain, and this was the main reason for our visit. Wedgewood, Royal Doulton, and other fancy brands?  All made in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

So, the drive to Beximco.  It was terrible.  Thank god we had an air conditioned van to sit in while we weren’t going anywhere.  Prime Minister Moti was flying into Dhaka that day so they closed off a bunch of roads, which meant that in an hour, at least, we moved maybe a quarter of a mile. It was supposed to take 2 hours, and instead it took 3.  Luckily we got there eventually.

At least there were some interesting sights along the way.

"Scaffolding", or bamboo rods tied together with rope by barefoot unsecured men at least 10 stories off the ground

“Scaffolding”, or bamboo rods tied together with rope by barefoot unsecured men at least 10 stories off the ground

Cows!

Cows!

There are almost always men riding on top of trucks and buses.  Or sometimes there are goats.

There are almost always men riding on top of trucks and buses. Or sometimes goats.

The tour of Beximco was actually pretty interesting, and the CEO was more entertaining that you’d usually expect.  The Ambassador came to Beximco with us, and she was scheduled to have dinner with Moti later that night.  Completely seriously, the CEO offered her his helicopter for the return trip.  No biggie.

Due to our delayed arrival, we didn’t get a tour of the clothing factory, but we got to see the fashion design studio and the ceramics factory.  I only lasted through about 5 minutes of the ceramics factory tour because it was so hot.  The minute I stepped outside of the factory, a rush of cool air hit me…. and that “cool air” was at least 90 degrees.

The Beximco grounds are really nice, much more scenic than you'd expect from an industrial park.

The Beximco grounds are really nice, much more scenic than you’d expect from an industrial park.

There’s also a little zoo, with deer, black and white swans, parrots, and peacocks, near the area where we had lunch.

The trip to Beximco was capped off with a visit to the ceramics showroom, where loads of brands and patterns were on display, filled with employees eager to take your order.  Porcelain and bone china place settings and serving ware are available at stupidly low prices, and then they knock off another 20%.

Quick!  Buy some china!

Quick! Buy some china!

After two hours in the ceramics showroom (we did some serious damage, which I’ll talk more about in a few weeks when we get our order), we finally headed home.  Beximco gave us a police escort back to avoid further problems with the traffic, and the ride only took about an hour.  While traveling with a police escort is certainly not a regular occurrence, it sure was nice! At one point we even passed an ambulance with its lights on, which isn’t a big deal because apparently they are more frequently used as expensive taxis than as vehicles transporting people seeking urgent medical care.  They also double as hearses.

If you ever had the opportunity to visit Beximco, I’d highly recommend it.  Especially if you’re in the market for some bone china.

Living the good life

We’ve been here for almost three weeks, which, in the span of a two year tour, isn’t very long.  But in this short time I’ve come to realize something that I hadn’t anticipated: our life here is pretty fancy.

I wasn’t going to write about this stuff because it seems so pretentious and ostentatious.  I mean, I am a normal person.  When I’m back in the States, I’m just another asshole (as another officer so aptly put it).

But, my husband is a diplomat and we live in Dhaka. One of the reasons I’m writing this blog is to keep our friends and family updated on our life here, and, well, this is our life now.

A few weeks ago we were invited to dinner at a famous Bangladeshi singer’s house.  He and his family were extraordinarily welcoming and friendly, and we were really lucky to have the opportunity to get to know them.  We visited his in-home studio where we got to hear a track he’d laid down earlier that day.  I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

Last weekend we went to a roof-top cocktail party, hosted by the owners of our future permanent residence.  I don’t usually use the term “swanky” to describe anything I do or go to, but this was a very swanky event.  A Swedish-trained bartender was flown in from Sylhet (that’s right, they served alcohol!!!) and the canapes included ingredients like truffles and bacon. We met the French ambassador and the Turkish ambassador, and we left as the American ambassador arrived.  Nate made friends with a Bangladeshi soap opera star.

Then there’s also the whole housekeeper/nanny/driver thing, which is the norm here.  Labor is so cheap by American standards, and, even then, Americans pay twice what Bangladeshis pay for household staff.  We’ve interviewed a housekeeper and a driver (talk about feeling like a fish out of water), and hopefully they will be starting within the next few weeks.  Some people also hire bearers, who basically work as butlers, or cooks, who handle everything in the kitchen.  It’s all very Downton Abbey.

For now, I’ll enjoy this fancy lifestyle, and appreciate it for the blip that it is.  I know most of our posts won’t be like this, so I’d better enjoy the celebrity company, drink those fancy cocktails and eat those bacon-wrapped dates while I can!

Two weeks in Dhaka

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for over two weeks already.  On one hand it feels like we just arrived; on the other hand, it seems like we’ve been here for months.

It’s really hitting home that we live here now.  We are making friends and developing social circles, and creating new routines. Most of our worldly belongings are in Dhaka or on their way here.  It’s kind of crazy.

Having our UAB here is huge.  Stuff is just stuff, but having our stuff here has really helped make our apartment feel like home.  I’ve missed my favorite wooden spoons and my mini-spatulas, and there’s nothing like curling up in bed under your own duvet and blankets in the same sheets you had in the States.  Just ask Athena.

A few nights ago we experienced late-night road traffic in Dhaka and it was harrowing.  Apparently the main road through Dhaka is closed off to big trucks during the day, and then at 10 pm the roads are opened up to everyone.  This meant the roads were filled with huge trucks carrying who-knows-what, sometimes with people on top of the trucks, and enormous buses bursting with people, hell-bent on getting where ever they’re going as fast as possible.  There was one bus that was right behind us, literally a foot away, blaring its horn.  I thought the bus was going to hit us for the hell of it. Eventually the bus passed us, and when a truck wouldn’t let the bus cut in front of it, the driver thrust a long metal rod out his window and waved it menacingly. What a three-ring circus.  I can’t imagine what traffic is like outside of Dhaka where drivers can actually pick up some speed.

Over the weekend we went to the consular section farewell party, and, wow, do they know how to party!  Americans and Bangladeshis were shaking it on the dance floor for hours, including the ambassador.  The party was hippie themed, but the DJ seemed to have his American music decades mixed up and he played 80’s dance tunes all night.  But, hey, who doesn’t love the 80’s?!

Our apartment has a little rooftop where we sometimes take Athena to run around and eat grass.  You can bolt lock the door from either the inside or the outside, and theoretically when you lock the door from one side it can’t lock from the other side because there is no one there to lock it.  Well, that’s apparently not true.  Somehow we got locked onto the roof.  Neither of us had a cell phone or anything. Nate tried leaning over the roof wall and yelling for the guard, but that didn’t work.  So then he yelled to the guy across the street who was also on his roof, who then yelled to the guard.  Eventually they both got the guard’s attention, but nothing happened.  Finally the guy who lives on the floor below the roof came home, and he came up and let us down.  Nate talked to the guard, and apparently he could tell something was wrong but he didn’t know what exactly, so he decided to ignore it.  Gee, thanks buddy.

Oh, and our apartment building has kittens!  About 10 days ago there were two dead kittens by the tree in front of our building, and we had a feeling they came from a liter nearby and just didn’t survive.  Life here isn’t easy for street animals.  Well, yesterday we noticed three little black and white kittens bouncing around in our compound parking area behind the generators.  They are really cute, and I’m glad to know that some of the kittens were able to survive.

Storm clouds rolling in over Dhaka

Storm clouds rolling in over Dhaka

Our adventures in walking Athena continue.  There are lots of nice parks with well-maintained walking paths, but dogs aren’t allowed.  So that sucks.  A few nights ago we were walking by the American School and two stray dogs came out from under a bus and started to approach Athena.  Nate tried to scare them away by kicking in their general direction, which usually intimidates the strays enough for them to leave you alone, but these two were undeterred.  These dogs seemed friendly and easy-going, and we let Athena meet them because we didn’t really have a choice since neither of us is heartless enough to actually kick a nice dog.  All went well, and she had fun strutting down the street with her stray dog posse, getting the occasional butt sniff.

It’s monsoon season here, and Nate and Athena got caught outside in their first monsoon.  Luckily they weren’t too far from home, and they came back only moderately soaked and bedraggled.

So, yeah, things are good here.  Maybe I still have my rose-tinted glasses on since we really only just arrived, but we are enjoying life here.  And no matter how hot it gets outside, at least we always have an air-conditioned apartment to return to!

 

What to put in UAB?

It seems like so much of life in the Foreign Service, at this point, is having absolutely no idea what on earth you’re doing and figuring it out as you go.

When we packed up our house in Alexandria before moving to Dhaka, we divided our stuff into three general categories: UAB (unaccompanied baggage, or air freight), HHE (household equipment, or sea freight), and storage (which is stored at a storage facility somewhere in Virginia until you come back to the US).

We got 450 lbs of UAB, and we had no idea what to put in it. And how much is 450 lbs of stuff? What does that even look like?

There’s an art to packing UAB, since HHE usually doesn’t arrive until you’ve been at post for 2 to 3 months, sometimes longer.  I truly had no idea what to put in our UAB, and I’m sure there are other first time FSOs and EFMs wondering the same thing.

We decided to fill the UAB with things we use every day.  Nate and I both love cooking, so, for us, that was mostly kitchen stuff. I started tracking what I use the most often when I’m in the kitchen and what else we generally use on a regular basis. So that was basically:

  • Bed linens
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Blankets
  • Favorite pots and pans (one each nonstick, stainless steel, cast iron and Dutch oven)
  • Food processor
  • Knife block plus knives
  • Favorite bakeware (cake pans, loaf pans)
  • Wii and games
  • Stovetop spoon rest
  • Salt and pepper grinders
  • Dog beds
  • Hand mixer
  • Coffee bean grinder
  • French press
  • Umbrellas
  • Printer
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Yoga mat and block
  • Binder of favorite recipes
  • Record player and LPs

We cleared everything out of the dining room, which we designated as the UAB area, and just made a huge pile of stuff on the floor. Well, the movers packed all that and we still had an extra 150 pounds, at least, to fill.  So at the last minute Nate drove back to the hotel, grabbed our 2 biggest/heaviest suitcases, and drove back home.  We started pulling clothes out of the suitcases to make room in our luggage for other stuff that we knew we’d forgotten.  In addition to our original UAB pile, we added:

  • Hangers
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • PS3 and games
  • Glass mixing bowls
  • More pots and pans
  • Dish towels
  • Cloth napkins
  • Cookbooks
  • Wine glasses
  • Laundry basket
  • Laundry hamper
  • Boxing gloves (mine and Nate’s)

So, yeah, 450 pounds is a lot of stuff.  If I’d known we’d have more space, I would have been a little more strategic.  We wish we’d put the following in our UAB:

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Silverware
  • Coffee cups
  • Cutting boards
  • Surge protectors

We got some dinnerware in our welcome kit, but there’s only 4 of everything.  As nice as it is to have plates to use, it would be really nice if there were more than 4.

Our UAB was delivered yesterday, which was, frankly, much quicker than we expected.  I thought we’d need to wait much longer than 10 days.  The delivery company had the boxes in our apartment in unpacked in less than an hour.  And nothing was broken and everything was in good shape!

Lots of random stuff waiting to be put away

Lots of random stuff waiting to be put away

I think Athena might have been even more excited than I was about the arrival of our UAB because she finally got all her dog beds (there are 4 of them).  She somehow rationed her naptime and spent at least an hour in each bed today, sometimes in more than one bed at a time.

She put these two beds together for optimum snuggles

She put these two beds together for optimum snuggles. Note the blurred wagging tail.

Nate’s glad his extra suits are here, I’m glad to have the kitchen back in place, and Athena loves having more beds than she needs.  Our apartment is finally starting to feel like home!