Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas at Home

Posted in Family, Home at 6:03 pm by graceandpoise

There’s nothing better than spending Christmas at home with the ones you love.  Especially when you are pretty sure you won’t be able to do it again soon.  And you’ve got to admit, this is the cutest (and, might I add, the sweetest) dog ever.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ms. B

Posted in Family, Friends & Other Travelers, Generalities, Home at 11:29 pm by graceandpoise

I was still in middle school when my older brother started coming home raving about all the great things he was learning in his new Humanities class from “Helen and Bob.”  My brother, an extraordinarily smart young man in whose mind very little was deemed comment-worthy, was thoroughly enamored.  I, looking up to him as I did (though I’d have denied it to my last breath back then), couldn’t wait until I got to high school and could take Helen and Bob’s Humanities class.  I had no idea what “Humanities” referred to, but I knew I wanted to take the class.

I was fortunate enough to have Helen – or Ms. B (I never was quite as forward as my brother) – as my English teacher in addition to taking the Humanities class she team-taught with Bob.  She was known for pushing her students hard, making them do a little more, a little faster, and a little better than they thought they could.  Her special mix of tough, comical, intense, wistful, wise, and hard-driving made her one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.  The addition of an undeniable and genuine enthrallment with the art, poetry, or literature she was teaching made her my favorite teacher ever.  And I’m definitely not alone.

I owe Ms. B a lot of things.  I am still known, on occasion, to tell people “you don’t need to have a point to have a point” (this befuddles them every time).  During my junior year of college, studying abroad in Paris and having gotten my hands on a year-long pass to the Louvre, I would sit at the feet of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, writing letters to my mom or my friends, looking up from time to time to study the statue, echoing Ms. B’s “ahhhh.”  She and Bob are the reasons the names Khufu, Khafre, and Menkure pop into my head every time I see a photo of Egypt’s pyramids.  Ditto with Ur, Uruk, and Lagash, whenever someone mentions certain parts of Iraq (happens more often than you might think).  Many a museum visit has been made exponentially more meaningful because of that Humanities class, from seeing the Stele of the Law Code of Hammurabi to gazing at the frescoes by Giotto in Florence’s Santa Croce, Vermeer‘s scenes of Dutch domesticity, Degas‘ dancers, or Georges de la Tour’s exquisitely wrought candlelight.  She’s the reason I know what a “Pre-Raphaelite” is, and why I have a special fondness for this painting.  Ms. B is the reason I have never, ever, written the word “alot” (until now, and she’d probably still try to have my head for calling it a word).  She’s also probably a large part of the reason that I have been so successful with my writing in my current job; her standards were high, and so mine are too.  She’s the reason I still tell myself and others, “Say it three times and it’s yours.”  And she’s the reason that, after all these years, I not only went out of my way last month to visit Canterbury Cathedral, but annoyed my companions by reciting the entire “General Prologue” to the Canterbury Tales, in the original Middle English.

Ms. B is retiring this year.  It’s a great loss to the students who haven’t had the chance to experience that special thing that is a class of Helen’s, but she has made a profound and positive difference in more people’s lives than most of us can hope to make in multiple lifetimes.  There is a retirement party this week, and you can bet if I weren’t three timezones away and not independently wealthy, I’d make darned sure I was there to show my appreciation.  As it is, I can only say from afar, “Happy retirement, Ms. B., and my door – wherever it may happen to be located – will always be open should you get bit by the travel bug.”

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What I Neglected, Part III: Road Trip

Posted in Family, Home, Travels at 4:04 pm by graceandpoise

My husband and I took a fabulous road trip, up around the Olympic Peninsula, across to Whidbey Island, up to Anacortes, and across to the San Juans.  One week, just the two of us and a hybrid car.

Olympic National Park…

Olympic Peninsula beaches…

Cape Flattery – the sopping wet northwesternmost point…

Lake Crescent…

Port Townsend…

Ferry Rides…

Deception Pass…

San Juan Island…

… aaahhhhhhh.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What I Neglected, Part II: Home

Posted in Family, Home at 7:19 pm by graceandpoise

How could I neglect home, you ask?  Well, I guess in one sense I’ve been doing it for years.  That’s one of the deals we make when we get into this line of work.  But no, really – the answer is: I was lazy.  I realized that, now that I’m back in the States and living a pretty normal life, able to call my loved ones up on the phone and all that, I don’t have a bunch of “isn’t this crazy?” stories to talk about.  So I started saving them up.  And that leads to ridiculously late blog posts sometimes.  So without further ado, earlier this summer, I went home.  It was truly wonderful.










Thursday, May 13, 2010

Home Leave

Posted in Foreign Service Life, Home at 12:07 pm by graceandpoise

Some Foreign Service Officers consider Home Leave more of a curse than a blessing.  We are not those officers.  We are comparatively free agents, being basically homeless, without children or pets to haul around, and with parents and other loved ones who are not only willing but eager to host us for a while.  We’re got errands and doctor’s appointments to do that we couldn’t – or were scared to – do in India.  But mostly we are trying to rest, relax, recharge, reconnect.  It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to do so.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year at Home, now Back in India

Posted in Family, Foreign Service Life, Friends & Other Travelers, Home at 8:14 pm by graceandpoise

I rang in the new year together with my wonderful momma, a bottle (and a half) of moscato d’asti, and a couple of sleeping animals.  It was a pretty quiet new year’s gathering, as you might imagine, but I had bags to pack and had been running all over until then trying to accomplish everything on my always-too-long list of things to do.  I had a great time at home, though, even if it was pretty busy, and I’m glad I took the time and spent the money to go (just wish I’d been able to spend just a little more time there).

I keep telling people about my great long list of things I want to do, people I want to see, places I want to go, foods I want to eat, etc, etc…  There’s always a long list every time I go home, and it only grows if I’m coming from someplace where I can’t get a lot of stuff.  Allow me to share a short sample of some of that list from this trip…

  • Hang out with the mom – check!
  • Get a few last-minute Christmas presents for family – check!
  • Eat steak – check!
  • Visit my brother and his girlfriend – check!
  • Eat Mexican food – check!
  • Shop for shoes – check (but still didn’t manage to finish the list of needed replacements for worn-out pairs)
  • Buy some additional Christmas presents for the hubby (his “big” gift this yr came from India) – check!
  • Visit with J & S (and F); R & J-P; E (and K and P); L & K & M – check (except for F, who I’ll have to make a point of visiting next time); not-check; check; check!
  • Eat some of my favorite homemade, mom-cooked meals – check (though the list on this one is virtually never-ending)
  • Spend some major snuggle-time with my cat – check!
  • Go to La Conner and spend some time exploring the shops, and maybe find that beautiful wooden box I’ve been looking for – not-check (next time I’m home, maybe)
  • Pick up some Beecher’s cheese to bring back with me – check!
  • Get my hair cut – check!
  • Eat some Ezell’s fried chicken and yummy rolls – check!
  • Clean out all the unnecessary stuff (old clothes I’d kept around for painting and such, old papers, mementos of this and that…) from my room chez mom – not-check (top of my list for next time, though)
  • Buy some beef jerky from B&E Meats to bring back with me – check!
  • Go to the Pike Place Market – check!
  • Go to the eye doctor – check!
  • Eat lots of crispy, crunchy, non-dangerous fresh vegetables – check (though I could always have done better on this)
  • Visit some of my favorite places in/around Seattle – check (mostly)
  • Drink some good wine – check, check, check!

So after the enjoyable low-key new year’s night, and long day-or-three of travel starting the next morning, I’m back in India.  Had one of those rather ridiculous “welcome to India” moments before even getting off the plane, when the cockpit was unable for the longest time to get any response from the airport authorities about where to park the plane, meaning we spent about 45 minutes on the tarmac just sitting there after landing.  Luggage was also slow in coming, so I didn’t get home until about 4-ish in the morning.  All this is to say, I’m now crazy-tired.  It’s only just 8 pm, and I’d like nothing more than to be snuggled into bed right now.  Mmmm, bed.  G’night, all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Still Alive…

Posted in Family, Foreign Service Life, Friends & Other Travelers, Home, India at 3:13 pm by graceandpoise

Yeah, I know, it’s been a very long time since I wrote anything here.  Been having a hard time with a couple of things, which I won’t go into here any more than to say that I’m pretty sure my toothpick was broken and/or faulty.  But there are some updates…

My husband’s parents have been here for the past 3 weeks, and we’ve been having a good time showing them just how different Mumbai is from what they thought they knew of India.  They came together with his sister and spent some time in Mumbai with us, we all had Thanksgiving together, then they headed off to Calcutta to visit some extended family.  After that, the sister flew back to the States and the parents came back to Mumbai for a few days, then we sent them off to the middle of the state of Maharashtra to see the Ajanta and Ellora caves (which they LOVED, as did we when we went).  They’ve been in Mumbai again for the past couple of days, and are taking off tonight.  It’s been fun having them around, going shopping and driving the guys crazy with it, and showing them some things about the country of their birth that they may not have seen before.  Also: my husband has been super-thrilled to see his parents after so long apart from them.  Thrilled husbands are a nice thing to have around.

On the horizon:  I’m going HOME for Christmas!  I’m really, really looking forward to it.  I’ve been needing a good dose of the Pacific Northwest for a while now.  I’ll get to hang out with some long-time friends, and even meet the 1-yr-old daughter of one of them for the very first time, see my cat and my mom’s neurotic-but-sweet dog, and generally relax.  I’ll also probably be wrapped in about six layers of fleece, heavy sweaters, blankets, comforters, and probably some hats – I’m afraid living so long in Bombay has made me weak and I’ll be one of “those” people who come from hot places and are constantly complaining they’re cold!  🙂  Should be a sight to see.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Posted in Generalities, Home, Travels at 5:51 pm by graceandpoise

Okay, we’ve been in Sydney for three full days now, and we’re having a great time!  What keeps striking me, though, is how similar this place seems to home.  No, I’m not saying the two cities are long-lost twins or anything, but Sydney seems to have more similarities to Seattle than any other city I’ve ever traveled to.  The people are laid-back, there are signs about caring for the environment, everybody is out doing active things in the outdoors, and the downtown areas have the same sort of mix of small businesses, office buildings, department stores, and even similar architecture styles.  People drive Subarus, and we haven’t found a restaurant yet that looks at people askance because they’re not dressed formally enough.  Both cities love their street markets.  Both have one main road that’s the center of the “alternative” cultural scene and can surprise you with its sometimes-unexpected gems (here, Oxford Street; home, Broadway).  Both have beach areas (Bondi here; Alki at home) that have the same kind of quiet-neighborhood-plus-beachside-cafes feel.  Both are large, world-class cities that simultaneously have a bit of a small-town feel, and both have a sort of frontier, withstand-it-all mentality that is a holdover from earlier days.

Yes, I’m having a grand time.  We’ve been eating beef, and walking on real sidewalks (without even having to watch our feet the whole time for fear we’ll step into a hole or trip over someone sleeping or step in something nasty), and when we cross streets the cars actually stop for us, and we can drink the tapwater without fear of dying from it, and there are shops that carry clothes that I can actually fit in, and restaurants that have menus that I can order from without wondering whether I’m going to be able to eat the food.  Ahhhh, the good life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Every Bird Should Get to Fly

Posted in Family, Generalities, Home at 1:05 pm by graceandpoise

It’s my last day at home in Seattle, the end of what was again (is always) an all-too-short visit home, and I just saw what is probably one of the best commercials out there.  Thankfully, someone was kind enough to post it on YouTube so I could share it with you.  It’s just too cool – more people should think this way.

Monday, September 1, 2008

One year ago today

Posted in Family, Home at 9:52 pm by graceandpoise

… was the happiest day of my life. And it just gets better every day we spend together.

September 1, 2007

September 1, 2007

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