Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Alhamdulillah! Our UAB was delivered yesterday! And better still, it was all intact! We now have some dishes, pots and pans and utensils, as well as work clothes. The cats now have a proper litter box instead of the Harris Teeter cheapie we bought at 2 in the morning when we finally got to DC, and we have some more sheets, towels, another shower curtain, our ipod radio and a decent tv. Life is good!

Of course, I paid for that good fortune by going to the DMV to register my Ebay truck (yes, I bought a truck in Ebay. What can I tell you? I am cheap.). I waited for over an hour only to be told that the bill of sale showed I owed $3500 (I don't) and that I needed proof of residency (challenging, since I am a legal resident of NC...because we are on government orders, we don't have to give up our residency in another state). Luckily, the condo is only about 2 blocks away, so I got the proof that I currently live here and had the dealership fax a letter saying the truck is paid in full. It took me until 5:45, but I have tags on my least for the next month. I have to get it inspected and get the emissions tested before June 30 to get my two-year tags.

This morning, our new king-size mattress and the double bed mattress for the spare room were delivered. Now the dog will be able to resume sleeping in the bed with us at night...there just wasn't room in our old queen bed for the two of us AND a border collie. So now Noostie is happy too!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Still Waiting

So today is May 28. That means that nearly a month ago, I packed out my UAB (unaccompanied baggage, or airfreight). That is the stuff that was supposed to arrive in 7-10 days after packout, the stuff you need immediately.

So why am I still eating with plastic utensils?

Because the moving company didn't manage to actually SEND our stuff that we packed out two weeks before we left until a week AFTER we arrived in the states. Our transportation tech tells us that our stuff arrived in customs at JFK on May 23 (though the transportation person in Jerusalem says it got to JFK on May 20). Either way, we MAY get our stuff by the middle of this week. That means May 30, a full month after we packed it out and well over two weeks after we arrived in the states.

Fortunately, I packed sheets, a shower curtain, towels and stuff for the pets in my suitcase. But there is still a lot that we need in that shipment, and I am beginning to get a bit peeved. After all, I packed it out early so it would be here when we got here. And since we leave on June 1 for two weeks in the southwest, if it DOESN'T arrive the middle of this week, we won't get it until we get back, which is right when we start work. And most of my work clothes are in the UAB.

And a final great irnoy and annoyance...our HHE (household effects), which was packed out a week AFTER our UAB, was actually put on a boat BEFORE our UAB was put on the plane. Nice.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Finally Home!

There are still a few boxes here and there, mostly because most of our bookshelves are in our HHE on a slow boat from Haifa so there is no point in unpacking the books. I also have a few boxes filled with paper, but the dumpster is full, so that will have to wait a few days. But finally, it is beginning to feel like we are home.

It first hit me last night, sitting on my old leather sofa watching tv with Pishik curled up in my lap, Noostie sleeping at my feet and M sitting on the chaise with Koshka perched behind her head, that we were finally home. I can't wait for the rest of our stuff to get here, but even without it, and even with the "issues" left behind by the tenant, the place is shaping up.

And as an added bonus, Noostie and I went yesterday to Towers, our favorite dog park, and several of our friends (her doggie friends and my people friends) were there, like we had never left.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Never Again On Delta

So my day from hell with Delta in JFK got even better. We went to check in on the 4 pm flight on Monday, the one they rebooked us on because the pets couldn't get on the noon flight, and they tell us that pets can't go on THAT flight. They offer to rebook us on the 6 pm flight or on the 5:30 shuttle from LaGuardia. But they said they didn't have the pets! They tried to blame ElAl...that was their standard thing, its ElAl's fault. But of course, it wasn't ElAl's fault. We got the pets from them, went through customs, and then checked them with Delta. When we couldn't get on the noon flight, Delta's folks brought them to us so we could check on them. But the supervisor said no, that had never happened, as though I was lying! So M told them to find out pets and give them back, that we would drive back. They finally found the pets and returned them to us, and at 6 pm, we left New York and DROVE to DC. Not with our luggage, mind you. They couldn't find that! We ended up getting it the next day. Luckily, it found its way to DC. What a nightmare.

Then we get home, and find that we have bugs! So today, we had the place fumigated. The tenants will be paying for that, along with a blind the broke, a mirror in the bathroom, and part of the countertop that they somehow scalded or something. Sigh. And just now, the ceiling started leaking from the condescation line of the AC. So we have an AC guy on the way....even bigger sigh. But you are least we are home!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stateside, but not yet in DC

Well, we are in the states, sitting in the business lounge at JFK. We managed to get Cayenne, our African Grey, on the plane at Tel Aviv (with a little luck and a LOT of hutzpa..she didn't actually have reservations, mainly because the travel agent the Consulate used, the one who did NOT win the contract to become our regular agent and therefore had no incentive to do a good job for me, also has the misfortune of being an idiot). Cayenne did fine on the trip. We got to JFK this morning at 6 am and had to sit and wait until 9 for the USDA folks to come get Cayenne. Then we took our bags through customs and checked them in at Delta.

Our flight to DC was late arriving, and when we finally boarded the plane, I asked the stewardess to check and make sure our pets made it on board. Oops! They tell the ventilation system on the plane was broken and they couldn't have the pets there. And they weren't going to tell us!!! They also didn't have our bags on the plan was to send us on our merry way with no bags or pets and NOT TELL US!!!! They said they could re-book us on the 4 pm flight, the one our pets, and hopefully our bags, would be on. But they said we'd have to wait in the regular waiting area, not the business lounge, because we weren't flying business class to DC. Never mind that we paid a full business-class fare and that the only reason we weren't in business class on the DC leg ISN"T OFFERED! Anyway, we came to the lounge anyway, and of course we were actually entitled, but we are furious. And the poor the time we get to DC, they will have been in their crates for 24 hours.

And to top it off...the screen on the cell phone now I can't see anyone's numbers or check messages. And I won't be able home now for at least another 4 hours! Sigh.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Almost Done

I can't believe I am almost finished. One more day, and I will be headed back to the states.

I have such a crazy mix of emotions. I am really excited to be going home, really anxious that I am forgetting something vital that I need to do before getting on the plane, and really sad that I am leaving behind some really good friends. This is one of the hardest parts about being in the Foreign Service. You make some really great friends and then you leave them. You know that with the Americans, chances are you will see them again and maybe even serve with them again. In fact, two of my best friends here will be back in the states within a couple months of my return and will be serving in DC. Another we are hoping will serve in DC next tour.

But you also make really good friends among the local staff. And many of them you will never see again. I plan to just keep hoping they will get sent to DC for training, which happens. Not a lot, but it happens.

In the meantime, I'm sick. One of my best friends here told me that at the end of your tour, especially at a high stress post like this one, you often get sick as your body relaxes, realizing you have survived it. I dismissed that...but boy was she right! Tonsillitis as an adult. Who would have thought? I remember having strep as a kid, and I have had sore throughts periodically throughout my life. I usually get them when I get a cold, though knock on wood, I am usually pretty healthy. But MAN! This hurts! I have been running a fever for three days, usually around 100 degrees. I think either my throat or my ability to delude myself is a bit improved today. If it doesn't make some rapid progress, that flight tomorrow is going to be MISERABLE!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My Crazy Neighbor Died

I think I have mentioned my crazy neighbor before. Not crazy as in "he annoys me" but crazy as in he's fine on his meds and call the cops when he is off them. Crazy as in believing that God talks to him through a stick he has with an amulet on top. Crazy as in believing that he is invisible when he has his prayer shawl on his head.

He lived in a shack across the street and the small field from me. The shack was reminiscent of the most squalid slum you could imagine, constructed of plyboards set loosely together with no electricity. I take my dog out to the field and he would often follow me around the field pointing the stick at me and Noostie. Once he threw the stick at a collegue who also used the field for her dog, and once another neighbor who didn't even know me stopped and kept an eye on him while I was in the field so the guy wouldn't hurt us.

When he aimed his stick at me like a gun, I called our security guys.

One of our security guys went by to talk to him, and it turns out the man is a retired piano teacher and has been living in the shack for well over 40 years. He thinks all his neighbors are Shin Bet (Israeli Security Services) spying on him. He doesn't like dogs because they see him when he is invisible. His and one other shack are the last pre-67 dwellings and they are grandfathered in. They can stay until the owners die or leave. The land actually belongs to the Queen of England.

I found out he died because I was home yesterday for the packout of my HHE (household effects) and saw them bulldozing his shack. The guy from the municipality told me the old guy had died. As crazy and threatening as he was, it still makes me a little sad. He added color to a very yuppy neighborhood, and I had wondered if he was okay since I hadn't seen him in a while. Now I know.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Going Away Party

T, one of my and M's best friends in Jerusalem, agreed to host a going away party for us (which is good, since I don't think I could deal with having so many people in the apartment when we are trying to pack!).

The turnout was awesome...who knew so many people liked us! Or maybe it was the free food and booze! But I have to tell you...I am too old to stay up that late very often!!

T and T, two of our best friends in Jerusalem and two we will certainly be friends with for life!