Letters from Moldova

Last week marked the 55th anniversary of Peace Corps. Nate and I met as Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova, where I served from 2005 to 2007. Earlier today I was combing through my inbox trying to find information on what exactly I did during my PC tenure and I stumbled across emails I’d written, giving periodic updates to family and friends back in the U.S.

These emails were a serious blast from the past, and I’ve copied and pasted some of my favorite snippets below.  I edited them for privacy; otherwise they are 100% as-written by my 22 or 23 year-old self.

June 21, 2005

On Saturday I told Valeria (training village host mom) that I wanted to do my laundry and asked her if she could show me how.  She said she would after we both took naps, but then she called her friend Galina that has an automatic washing machine, so we hiked about 1.5 miles to her house, dirty laundry in hand.  We were there for about 3.5 hours and I spoke so much Romanian that I got home and my brain honestly hurt.  They asked me so many questions, and the father tried to open the way for some political discussions, but I didn’t feel that my language or cultural knowledge was quite up to par for that door to be opened.  They’ve invited me over any time i want to do my laundry, which is tempting
since i’ve heard that it takes like 5 hours to wash by hand.

August 26, 2005

We met the president of the region a couple of days ago, and he gladly showed us the picture of himself with Stalin… it’s always fun to see those relics from the Soviet era.  In Budapest they’ve taken all the statues, etc from the Soviet era and they put them in a park
outside the city so that they can move forward without being reminded daily of the USSR, but here in Moldova things are a little different. They still have all the Soviet statues all over Chisinau, and sometimes you feel like you’ve died and gone to Russia.  But I guess that’s one of the things that just makes life here that much more interesting.

September 13, 2005

On Saturday I went to Balti (the “capitol of the north”), and I must have eaten something funky because on Sunday I felt awful all day and I had a fever… Valentina (host mom) got back from Chisinau, where she’s been for a Peace Corps host family conference, and she was 100% convinced that I was sick because I’d been exposed to wind on the bus ride to or from Balti.  I told her I thought it might have been something I ate, and she told me very adamantly that eating bad food can’t cause a fever– it was definitely the wind.  Right.  Later, after I told her that there was no wind on the rutiera and she gave me the 3rd degree about what else I’d done, she reneged and decided that I must have eaten too many grapes.  That is why I’m NEVER EVER going to a hospital here.

October 4, 2005

A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed to start an after-school activity, so at my school we now have Frisbee Club!  There were probably over 40 kids at the first meeting, and I found out that they boys were there because they thought they’d be learning how to play “futbol american.”  They were a little upset when they found out that neither that week nor the next week nor ever would I be teaching American football, so there were only girls at our 2nd meeting, but I still had about 20 kids and they had fun.  I’m still a little perplexed about where the idea of American football came from, but I explained that I don’t have a football, I don’t understand how the game works, and I don’t really even like football all that much (sorry, Dad).

December 11, 2005

Back in November I went to a weekend seminar in Soroca (northwest Moldova, very pretty) that was organized by Moldovans and for Moldovans about organizational development and institutional consolidation.  Since the whole thing was in Romanian, and I was the only American, I didn’t really grasp the institutional consolidation part, but it was still useful.  Before I left, my vice director told me to make sure that I bring lots of warm clothes because she’d been at the hotel where they were having the seminar the day before, and she said it was very cold.  So, I packed my long underwear and my polarfleece, figuring that they’d turn on the heat, but I should pack on the safe side just in case.  Turns out, the hotel doesn’t have heat, hot water, or anything at all that gives off warmth.  More interestingly, this is because Soroca doesn’t even have gas, which means that ALL heating is done by sobas (wood/coal fires that heat up walls and usually provide enough heat for maybe 3 rooms).  Soroca is supposed to be one of the nicest cities in Moldova, partially because it gets a lot of tourists and it’s were all the really rich gypsies live.  And you’d think that they wouldn’t want to hold a seminar someplace that is uncomfortably cold.  It’s a little vexing how things in Moldova works at times, but I’ve almost gotten used to it.  Anyhow, it’s really a pretty city, since it’s right on the Nistru river and you can practically reach out and pet the Ukraine.  I woke up early and went for a walk, and there was still frost on the ground, the sun was rising over Ukraine, the were old men out fishing… it was really nice, and I got warm 🙂

January 21, 2006

For the Orthodox Christmas (jan. 7) I went to visit my Pre-Service Training host family.  It’s always nice to go back there, since I feel like I’m part of the family and they’re always SOOO happy to see me.  We all woke up bright and early on the 7th and headed over to their friend Galina’s house.  (As a side note, Galina’s 19 yr old daughter got married in November and she’s going to have a baby in the spring, and she’s in her first year of medical school.  Here they start medical school straight out of high school, and skip the traditional university… a little crazy, I think)  We were at Galina’s until maybe 1 pm, and then we went to my host dad’s mom’s, and then to my host mom’s mom’s house.  At every house you go to, they lay out a table with TONS of food, and you’re being rude if you don’t eat.  After stopping at home for maybe an hour, which is just enough time to feed the animals, we went to someone else’s house and ate more.  Then I (naively) assumed we were walking home, since it was 11:30 pm, but we went to yet another house, where they expected us to eat even more.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in one day in my whole life… but it was a fun day, and it was nice to see people that I haven’t seen since PST.

January 26, 2006

I thought you might want an update, even though I just sent out an email, since the situation here is really kind of laughable.  Well, not really since it’s been so cold, but it’s definitely crazy.  It’s been around -26 degrees Celsius, which is -15 degrees Fahrenheit… school has been cancelled this whole week by the Ministry of Education because it’s been so cold.  Most schools are well-heated, but the kids freeze on the walk to school at 8 a.m.  Moldovans seem to be worried mostly about their kidneys getting cold… I don’t know about that, so I usually just nod.  The pipes have frozen at my house, so we have no running water.  The water in the pipes that run to the radiators has also frozen, which means no heat.  I’m glad I have my Peace Corps heater, because otherwise I would freeze.  So basically I just spend all day wearing LOTS of polar fleece, a hat, and lying in my down sleeping bag, with it pulled up to my chin.  When I leave my room, I bundle up like I’m going outside… The count-down to summer has definitely begun.

March 2, 2006

Last week, I was lying in bed reading and my host mom burst into my room, telling me that Olgutsa is in a concert at school, and if I leave now I’ll get there in time.  I can only handle so much time spent reading in bed before I really start to wish I had something
else to do, so I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.  I threw on my boots and tromped through the muddy short-cut to school, and found the concert in the third grade class room.  I was wondering what the occasion of the concert was, and it turned out that they’d selected a completely random day of the year and named it “Bread Day.” They said poems about bread, sang some songs about bread, and then there was a little song-and-dance routine completely unrelated to bread.  There were also 2 old ladies dressed up in the traditional garb with LOTS of bread products.  They explained all the different shapes of the bread, the different kinds of bread, and their religious/cultural meaning.  It was actually kind of interesting, and we concluded the event by dancing the hora (not so sure on the spelling of that) around the classroom.  Then once the kids left the teachers broke out the house wine and dug into the bread products.  By the time I went home, I’d eaten enough bread to last for a month, and i still had a plastic bag full of bread baked into the form of little birds.  It’s the little surprises like “Bread Day” that make me smile, shake my head, and appreciate Moldova for how hard they really do try.

May 4, 2006

Easter here was on April 23rd, and it is quite the celebration because it is the end of Lent.  Here everyone does Lent, except it’s called “post” and if you do post, you can’t eat any meat or other animal products.  My host parents were both doing post, which meant the rest of us were too, and by the end all of us were pretty hungry for meat.  The week before Easter is spent cleaning the house, and just about everything else, and starting to prepare the food.  Then on Easter Eve everyone goes to the church starting around 10 pm, lays out their bread and eggs, and stays outside (and awake) all night.  The priest comes out at sunrise, does a little church service, blesses all the food, and everyone packs up and goes home.  I’d heard that it was an interesting site to see, so I woke up at 5 a.m. and walked over to the church….. it was incredible.  There were hundreds and hundreds of people and they were all holding candles and there were candles in the food and everything was lit up.  I got there right as the priest came out, and one of my students gave me a candle and invited me stand with her family (mine was asleep and didn’t wake up) and it was one of the coolest things i’d ever seen.  the priest came along with the holy water, and he splashed everyone.  it was fun since you could tell he was having a good time with it, since he’s splash people and then he’d act like he was going to splash the next group of people, but instead he’d turn around and nail people he’d already splashed.  After the festivities i went home and slept some more, and then I went for a walk later in the morning.  At my last language IST, my teacher talked about how on Easter (and up to a month after it) people great each other with “Christ has risen” and then you say “Indeed, Christ has risen” back instead of the traditional “good day.”  To me, this seemed a little overly-religious, and I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person in the first place, plus, i’m not Moldovan, so I thought maybe I’d be exempt from this one.  Nope.  I’d say “good day” to someone and they’d say “christ has risen” back, and i started to feel like a moron.  so about 10 minutes into my walk I started greeting everyone with “Christ has risen” and then they’d reply like they were supposed to.

Hootie is so owl-ish

So, remember how I mentioned the owls that fly around the field where we take Athena? A few days ago we were all at the field together, and I left to go get something from the car.  When I came back, Nate was pointing under a garbage can and motioning for me to speak quietly.

There was a small owl, maybe a ten inches tall, under the garbage can, and it wasn’t trying to fly away even though we were there with a squawking baby and a dog running around.  It looked like it was watching us and just trying to stay hidden.  The poor little owl was clearly injured.

See the small owl under the garbage can?

Trying to blend in with the garbage

When we got home, I asked on FaceBook what I should do about the injured owl, and someone mentioned that she’d talked to her vet, and if we could get the owl to him, he’d be able to help.  It was starting to get dark by that point, and we had no desire to try to extract a baby owl from the field when it’s enormous parents were flying overhead.

The next morning our driver, Kalam, and I went back to the field, equipped with a large old towel and a big cardboard box with ventilation holes poked in it.  The owl, who I have since named Hootie, saw us coming and tried to get away, but she could only fly about three feet.  Kalam tried to place the towel over her so he could pick her up, but Hootie wasn’t interested.

You know how it looks when you chase a chicken?  The chicken tries to fly, flapping it’s wings, doesn’t get far, and you dart around after it?  Maybe you’ve never chased a chicken, but that’s pretty much what happens. Anyways, that’s what it looked like as we (technically, Kalam) chased Hootie. Eventually he got the towel over her and he was able to gently pick her up and place her in the box.

The vet’s office is outside of the zone in which we are allowed to travel, so Kalam transported Hootie to the office and left her with some staff members until the vet was able to see her.  I talked to the vet that evening, and he said her wings were damaged, probably by boys throwing rocks at her.

The next day the vet called again and said they were letting Hootie go that evening.  She was not eating in captivity, and he felt that she had healed enough that she would be able to survive.  He said they could let her go at the university, where there is a forest and lots of green space, or that Kalam could pick her and we could let her go in the field, which is surrounded by apartment buildings.  I asked what would give her the best chance of survival, and he said he thought the forest at the university would be good for her.

Hopefully Hootie is learning how to fly and hunt like a good little owl should, and she will grow big and strong!

An intermission

So, I’m back in the US.

I didn’t want to leave Dhaka, but the State Department made me go because I’m having a baby.

But I’ll be back in Dhaka as soon as physically possible, newborn in tow.

In the meantime, I’m eating peaches, sweet corn, ice cream, fresh berries, and bacon, and enjoying spending time outside.  Nate sends me photos daily of Athena and keeps me up-to-date on Dhaka happenings.

We’ve already started planning how we’ll pack our six checked bags (two each for me, Nate and the baby) for the flight back to Bangladesh, and you’d better believe that one of the bags will be a cooler packed with meat and cheese.  Who needs clothes when you can pack bacon and bratwurst instead? And baby clothes are so darn tiny you can pack a year’s worth in one bag easily.

Sorry, kid, the pork products win.  Someday you’ll understand.

Two months in

I know I say this a lot, but time is flying by.  If the first two months of our tour here have gone by this quickly, I feel like if I blink for too long, we’ll already be packing up to leave.

We’re both busy with work and we’ve settled into our daily routines. I’ve figured out where my favorite places are to buy groceries, produce, pastries, jewelry, and handicrafts.  You know, all the important stuff.

We got a car on July 1, which has simultaneously made things a lot easier and been a huge pain in the butt.  It turns out when you buy a old SUV and drive it in pothole-riddled Dhaka, things break a lot.  I don’t know why that caught us by surprise, but there you go.  We’ve already had to replace a tire and we need to get the engine looked at.  And there was the time the car died in the DIT-2 parking lot.  Not in a parking space, but blocking traffic in the middle of the parking lot, around noon, on a hot day.  That wasn’t fun.

Really it hasn’t been that bad, I guess it just seems like it sometimes.  The ability to move around freely and go where we want outweighs the occasional car trouble.

The embassy was closed for four days for Eid festivities, and it was really nice to have a four-day weekend when you don’t celebrate the holiday that causes the time off.  We didn’t do any extravagant cooking, we had no guests, and almost everything in Dhaka was closed, so there was really nothing to do.  Most people leave Dhaka during Eid (expats go on vacation and lots of Bangladeshis go to their villages), so we were able to drive in minimal traffic and generally do nothing.  Plus it rained like crazy the entire four days, so that in itself was a great excuse to stay inside and watch Netflix all day.

Empty streets: an Eid miracle

Empty streets: an Eid miracle

Athena has made friends with lots of street dogs, and at this point she has established areas where she knows all the dogs and she doesn’t hesitate to go running up to them. We’ve given some of them names, like “black and brown dog” and “howly lady,” and some of them we refer to by the road that they live on. I’m trying to not let myself get too attached to any of her friends, and anytime I see one of them lying on the road I worry they’re not getting up.  But our neighborhood is probably one of the better neighborhoods to be a street dog.  Actually, the only dogs I’ve seen being abused are those that are out with their “dog walkers.”

Athena and her buddies

Athena and her buddies

Oh, our HHE is here!  That deserves it’s own blog post, but we’ve been busy trying to put things away, and wondering why we ever found it necessary to own so much stuff.  Our kitchen has massive cabinets that sadly do not contain enough shelves, so finding storage has been a challenge.  But, hey, at least all the kitchen stuff is actually in the kitchen, instead of being scattered in storage nooks and crannies in the study, dining room and living room! Our mentality has basically been that if we were able to find someplace for something in our house in Alexandria, we can certainly find space for it our much-larger apartment in Dhaka.

One of the most exciting things about our HHE arriving was the random consumables.  The pumpkin butter and huge chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s, real maple syrup from Wisconsin, and all of our spices have definitely made life a little better.  Given that we didn’t use even half of our HHE weight, I wish we’d stocked up more on consumables before we left, but now we know for next time.

If you live near a Trader Joe’s, please wander the aisles, savor all the goodies you could potentially buy, and know how lucky you are!

Our first week in Dhaka

So far, we really like it here.  Our social sponsors are awesome, the community is really friendly, there’s lots to do, the food is great, and our apartment has air conditioning!

We did a grand tour of the major grocery stores over the weekend, and I was surprised by all the things you can find here.  The commissary (when stocked, anyways) has bacon, pesto, guacamole, puff pastry, and all kinds of things you’d usually see on the shelves in a U.S. grocery store.  Some of it might be expired, but, hey, then it’s 25-50% off.  At some of the local grocery stores we saw Jif peanut butter, Smuckers jam, freshly baked challah, hard taco shells, and loads of other things.  One of the stores we went to, Lavender, had 11 different kinds of lentils!  And the spice selection is amazing.

There’s a nice bakery called Holey, which has wonderful pastries and coffee.  I had a piece of cake from there and it wasn’t as good as the croissant I’d had the day before, so I’ll be sticking to the pastries. There’s another good coffee shop called North End where we were able to buy some freshly ground beans.

In our apartment, we’ve noticed that sometimes there is no cold water.  I didn’t understand why the clothes that came out of the washing machine that were supposed to be washed at the temperature of “snow flake” (rather than 30, 40, 60, 80, or 100 degrees celsius) were warm.  Well, apparently wherever the washing water is stored isn’t immune to the Dhaka heat.  So, no cold water.  We take showers with the knob mostly on “cold” and the water that comes out of the faucet is always lukewarm.

But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal.  We have running water!

I don’t think I’ve been industrious enough in washing our fruits and vegetables… we’ve only been eating peel-able fruits raw, and apparently I’m supposed to wash them with detergent before I even peel them.  Oops.  I’d only been rinsing them.  We’re also supposed to wash vegetables, even if we’re going to cook them, with detergent too. Luckily we haven’t gotten sick yet.

Also, I vacuum every day.  EVERY DAY.  I don’t know how so much dust and dirt makes it’s way into our apartment.  Having a dog probably doesn’t help.  Plus, the tile floors are white, and Athena has black hair, so every single hair that she sheds is visible.

Before we left the US we ordered a VPN configured router, and it has been awesome.  It took us a little while to figure out exactly how to link all the computers, phones, and AppleTV to it, but it’s one of the best things we put in our luggage at the last minute.  No regrets there.

Let’s see… yesterday Athena got her first BarkBox in Dhaka!  They ship to DPO addresses (like a PO box with an American address, so we can still receive mail sent at domestic rates), but I was wary of whether or not it would actually work since sometimes we had problems with BarkBox shipments when we lived in Virginia.  And then Nate came home yesterday with Athena’s BarkBox!  Her tail was wagging non-stop.

In other Athena news, a few days ago she went running with Nate, one of his colleagues, and his colleague’s dog.  Usually she hates running, but they went over a mile before Nate dropped Athena off at home!  Apparently she went on strike while they were walking to the meeting point and Nate had to pick her up and carry her.  For some reason, the minute you put the running harness on her she won’t budge.  But as soon as she saw their running buddies, she changed her mind and had a great time.

Things are good here.  We’re all still adjusting in some ways, but we’re looking forward to experiencing more of what life in Bangladesh has to offer!

Accepting risk

The first thing most people ask when we tell them we’re moving to Bangladesh is “Is it safe there?”

Generally, yes, it is.  Although over the past several weeks, months even, there have been a number of hartals.

Hartals, from what I understand, are political protests or strikes that occur when the government does something unpopular, and sometimes they can turn violent.  When there is a hartal in Dhaka, the embassy community is told to stay in the diplomatic zone and not to walk around at night.  There are other precautions that I’m sure we’ll learn more about when we get there.

When we decided to rank Dhaka “high” on our bid list, we knew about the possibility of hartals. All things considered, the possibility of political strikes in a city that, otherwise, meets all our criteria for an amazing post, wasn’t enough to deter us.  And we don’t regret this decision.

We have to accept a certain amount of risk in our lives just so we can live as human beings and do the things we want to do.  I realize I could get hit by a car, which is why I look both ways when I cross the street.  I could get in a car accident (been there, done that… twice), so I drive carefully and wear my seatbelt.

Last week, on the metro, a yellow line train travelling to Huntington got stuck in a tunnel due to some sort of electrical fire, passengers were instructed not to evacuate, the train cars filled with smoke, and a woman from Alexandria died.  If this incident had happened literally two hours later, I probably would have been on that train.

All of this is to say that life can be dangerous no matter where you are.  We try to maximize our safety while also doing the things that we love.  The hunger to explore new places and experience different cultures is a huge part of who both Nate and I are.  We did, after all, meet each other while we were serving in the Peace Corps.  And we are so excited to continue our journey in Bangladesh, hartals or not.

The best (insert holiday here) ever

Ever since Nate became an FSO, we’ve been fully embracing every holiday that comes our way, knowing it’ll probably be our last in the USA for the next several years.

So this year for Thanksgiving, we cooked a lot of amazing food, used the fine china and crystal, and hosted a relatively fancy dinner party.  We even made a seating chart and place cards.  Place cards!  Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be googling “homemade Thanksgiving place cards.”

IMG_4894

You can’t really see it in the photo, but I wrote each person’s name on a leaf with a silver sharpie. Yes, I am someone who apparently makes place cards.

I also created a spreadsheet timeline with all the different recipes and tasks (like washing the china, making the cornbread for the stuffing, making pastry for the pie, picking my sister up from the airport, etc), which we generally followed.  Thank goodness we’d planned everything out in advance, because it didn’t all go perfectly.

But how boring would life be if things went 100% as planned all the time?

First, there was the ice cream.  My sister Bridget and I decided to make maple walnut ice cream, and instead of tempering the eggs, we scrambled them.  Have you ever tried scrambled eggs with cream, milk, and maple syrup?  Don’t; it’s gross.  So we made an emergency run to Trader Joe’s on our way to out dinner on Wednesday night and made a new ice cream base when we came home later that night.  It chilled in the fridge overnight and we churned it the next morning.

Thanksgiving desserts!

Thanksgiving desserts! Our ice cream is in the top right corner.

Then there was the gravy.  Nate made the gravy on Wednesday night, and on Thursday afternoon we heated it up on the stove top.  I tasted it and it was oddly sweet.  We looked over the recipe to see where the sweetness could be coming from, and the only possibility was either from the bacon or the sweet paprika, neither of which are actually all that sweet.  It also wasn’t very thick, even though Nate had added a third of a cup of flour.  We added some lemon juice to cut the sweetness, which didn’t work and only made it taste lemony.  I suggested we add some more flour to at least try to get it to thicken up a bit, so Nate started adding flour one teaspoon at a time.

And that was when I realized what the problem was. He was adding powdered sugar.

The powdered sugar is kept in a clear plastic container, which I never bothered to label because I’m the only one who uses it.  I felt pretty bad because flour and powdered sugar do look similar.  Luckily we still had enough ingredients to make the gravy from scratch again and it wasn’t a big deal.

So, yes, it was definitely a Thanksgiving to remember.  We finished the night off by watching the beginning of A Muppet Christmas Carol, and ate left-over pumpkin pie for breakfast.  We all did our Black Friday shopping early in the morning, came home, and put pajamas back on.  And then we ate some more, because that’s what leftovers are for!

Some restaurant recommendations and other things

Time sure is flying by.  We leave for Dhaka in less than 6 months!

I remember on Flag Day (I initially typed “Flay Day;” I think that’s what it would have felt like if we’d gotten a “low”) thinking that we won’t leave for another 9 months, time will go by so slowly, this will be torture, etc.  Well, now we are 1/3 through those 9 months!

Things have been crazy busy around here.  Nate and I just got back from running the Richmond Marathon on Saturday, which was one of the most exhilarating and exhausting things I’ve ever done.  If you’d told me eight months ago that I’d run a marathon this year, I would have told you you were bat-shit insane and then asked for some of whatever you were taking because it had to be good.

I am a photo thief!

I am a photo thief!

If you ever find yourself in Richmond looking for a restaurant, we love Comfort and Saison.  Both have amazing cocktails and super-yummy food.  We went to Comfort several years ago, and as soon as we signed up to run Richmond, I knew that was where I wanted to have dinner after the marathon.  They have happy hour every night from 5-7, so we sat at the bar and gorged ourselves.  It surpassed my expectations.  We went to Saison the night before the race and had cocktails and dinner at the bar.  We loved it so much, we went back the next night for more cocktails and dessert after dinner.

Earlier in November, I was in New Orleans for the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. It was a good time, although I definitely saved less of my per diem than I could have.  But hey, when you’re in the land of beignets, shrimp and grits, po’ boys, etc, these things demand to be eaten.

 

Shrimp po' boy from Killer Po' Boys

Shrimp po’ boy from Killer Po’ Boys

Beignets from Cafe Beignet (better than Cafe du Monde)

Beignets from Cafe Beignet (better than Cafe du Monde)

Killer Po’Boy was in the back of the Erin Rose Bar in the French Quarter.  One thing about bars in New Orleans: people smoke in them.  I think I’d forgotten that that used to be a thing.

Anyways, 15 minutes in that bar and I scratchy throat for five days.  The po’boy was good, but a little over-priced.

And because no one ever writes about New Orleans without a photo of Jackson Square, here:

photo 3 (1)

Jackson Square, as seen on my morning run

Let’s see, what else has been happening?  Oh, we had a ridiculously large Halloween party.  I mean, ridiculous.  I got agoraphobia in my own house.  Nate took care of most of the preparations and all the cleaning, so it was nice to be able to just mingle, have fun, and not worry about the mess people were making in our house. Nate’s birthday was in the end of October, so I made him a birthday cake that is just about the best thing ever, and then everyone brought loads of food and drinks.  And candy.  Holy crap, was there a lot of candy.  At one point people were putting mini snickers bars on sticks and “roasting” them over the bonfire.  Just in case you’re thinking about giving that a try, it doesn’t work.

Yes, we do know how to throw a good party.

I mentioned that it was Nate’s birthday in October; we went to dinner at Le Diplomate in DC and that place is amazing.  Seriously.

Now we are getting ready for Thanksgiving next week, for which we are grilling the turkey and smoking a pork belly. I already have a spreadsheet of recipes, time-lines, shopping lists, and prep work.  I love Thanksgiving, and we are determined to make what will probably be our last Thanksgiving in our lovely Alexandria home the best yet!

 

 

Watch out, world

Look what Nate picked up yesterday!

dpThat’s right, we have our diplomatic passports!

I eagerly brought mine to work to show my colleagues, and what they were truly impressed with was how pissed off I managed to look in my photo.

I have a condition commonly called “resting bitch face” and the guy told me not smile, so it looks like a mug shot.  One coworker pointed out, while gulping for air, he was laughing so hard, that I’m even wearing an orange dress which resembles a prison jumpsuit.

Hey, at least my hair looks great!