Wednesday, August 31, 2005


There but for the grace of God...
Last night was surely a long one for the folks in the disaster area. The nation is pulling together it's resources and coming to their aid, but it must seem slow to those sitting hungry in the dark heat, surrounded by fouled water.
It is hard to see that in months this devastated area will start rebuilding and will end up, in a year's time, renewed.
Hard to see that the people who have nothing now will disperse into this rich land, find other areas to live in and be surprised to find themselves better off than they were back in New Orleans. This is what tragic diasporas do: like seeds blown on the wind, some will find deep ground, better than they had before. Some will not.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thanks to all who donate Blood and Platelets

Having been a blood donor since 18, I appreciate the inconvenience and sometimes discomfort of donating. Watching Sam walk steadily last night for the first time in a very long time I appreciate the wonders blood products can cause. This is one of their minor miracles. He ran a 100 degree temp and for a while his blood pressure soared, but he gritted his teeth and sat the infusion out, in great discomfort. His IV line was burning badly, so he asked them to do a new one this AM. He is so hopeful now that he has started walking better.
Macks and I found out that there is a doggy daycare in C-ville, behind Bodo's Bagels, and off US 29. For $22 they will let him play from 7AM to 5:30 PM. That might be useful if Sam has to be hospitalized again.
Honey Bear, the neighbor's female who seems to stay here more than there is in full heat now and Macks is frantic. A part-lab is hanging out in the yard, waiting for her to be ready. I have her on the downstairs porch with food and water to keep her from being bred. It is more dangerous to spay her if she's carrying puppies.
Back to C'ville, and to see who's at the dog play lot...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Trip to CharlottesVille

We went over to C-Ville to get Sam an IVIg treatment for his peripheral neuropathy. Apparently his version is an autoimmune problem. This treatment is designed to get his immune system to stop destroying his myelin sheath, the insulation on his nerves. It usually tires him; more with each treatment.

Macks went with us and he and I found an off-leash dog play area. I look forward to going there tomorrow and watching him gambol with the other dogs.

I have been looking for a good explanation of the blood lipids (fats) for my sister, CH. I recommend the June 28, 2005 Jane Brody article in the (Archives: Know Your Numbers and Improve Your Odds). It's the best short explanation I've seen.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Dark Side of the Diplomat's Life

From an e-mail to a friend, passed along to us:

I think enough has been said on the subject of diplomats' lives abroad, but I also think some people have skewed ideas about "diplomacy" in today's world, and assume it's all big embassies in capital cities. Not nearly! So here goes:

This State Dept representative is assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. I share a dusty tent with three other guys (including a very capable L-- diplomat), and we can't keep it clean because of the incessant dust storms that send 95mph whirlwinds through the area every day. The wind last week was much stronger, and the tent next to mine simply disappeared. The sink spigots and showers are outside, near the outdoor toilets - all about a block and a half from where I sleep. We get one hot meal a day. My feet are cracked open from wearing heavy boots and never having a flat surface to walk on (the camp is covered with loose stones to keep the lunar quality dust at a livable level, and there is no asphalt road or flat sidewalk that I know of anywhere in this area), and the temperature extremes have removed - painfully - a thick layer of skin from my face and head. My clothes are always dirty because of the dust, and because we have to wash our clothing in mesh bags that can't be opened during the washing. But this is the pleasant season, because roads to Ch-- become inaccessible most of the winter, and the temperatures in this mountainous area hover way below zero. And yeah, my colleagues and I will be staying through it all.

I meet with Afghans of all kinds all day long, and I conduct my meetings in Dari. Yes, I speak it, along with a couple of other regional languages. (But I am also giving an English class every night to our local interpreters, so that they can communicate with the soldiers better.) My colleagues and I walk on the streets, go shopping, visit the local villages, listen to what the Afghans are saying and laugh and joke with them, and in general cooperate with our Afghan friends here on a range of assistance projects involving the local schools, bridges across the town river, construction of better facilities for the town hospital and general security for the upcoming elections so that the voters in this Province can cast their ballots freely and safely. In between these activities, I try to write reports that will help the State Dept and NATO recipients understand this area better. And late in the evening, I finally get to my email (we have a generator here), where I sometimes enjoy the luxury of accessing Gulf List to remind me that there is a wider world.

The funny thing is, there are lots of diplomats like me in places like this in Afghanistan. Americans and Europeans and many others who have left their cuff links and silk ties and dark suits back home. We tend to show up for meetings with back packs and wearing jeans. And funnier still, we think we have the best of worlds here. I know I wouldn't trade my tent for the biggest Ambassadorial residence in London, Paris or Rome. If any of the recent critics of the State Dept and other countries' foreign services care to make the 3 day overland trip here (via a very bad dirt road from Herat) I would be happy to introduce them to this version of the diplomatic life.

The Lost is Found: A Peripatetic Bag

Fedex says that the wayward bag from Grenada was mis-sorted and landed in Miami. It's being sent to DC, where I will have to go to get it. Better to drive six hours to pick it up than confuse the FedEx folks by changing the address for delivery. AS is on her abbreviated honeymoon and GT started Pathology classes this morning. I put a note on Instant Messaging so she'll know asap.
It's raining and drizzling so I can only dash out for short forays, but I picked the greenbeans since the wetness seems to enable them to be seen. I also found that the long sleeves of the rain jacket help protect me from the fiery itch they cause. I thought we'd picked the tomatoes clean, leaving only green ones. They must have ripened overnight!
Today is going to be a bookkeeping day. Since I have everything on auto payment I only have to do this about once every three or four months, and this is a good time.
Also, since I'll be gone most of the days this week I will spend Saturday making Blackberry Jelly to box up with the rest of the canned goods to take to DC when I go pick up the wandering Bag!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Back to the Wonders of the Real World

It was a lovely interlude, and a lovely wedding of two classy people. My brother was a generous host, and my sister stayed with us so we got the maximum out of our short time in Pensacola. GT worked hard at her role as the Maid of Honor to AB (now AS). We stayed at the Hilton Garden In on Pensacola Beach. It is very family and child friendly with shallow pools with fountains for the kids to run in amongst. P&B's two girls, 5 & 8, were adorable flower girls, taking the role very seriously. They impressed us all with their excellent behavior. In sum, it was as picture perfect a visit as it could have been. We all caught up on each other's lives and laughed alot at our various soap operas!
I returned in good shape, found tall weeds in the garden, but help coming to tackle it, in the form of BG's daughter and sister.
GT is back in Grenada, facing a term of Pathology, where they learn the symptoms of most diseases. I wish there were two terms of that, but surprisingly there's only one: Very Intensive !!
Sam and Macks are glad I'm home, too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Off like a Herd of Turtles

Headed to the SD Box and then to the plane. Miss home already.