Category Archives: Diplocat

Three strangers took my stuff!

Well, packout has come and gone.  Three strangers came and took 98% of my stuff and I was actually happy about it.  It all seemed to go smoothly enough and my preparation of putting a lot of things in to bags and totes seems to have speeded things along.  We’ll see how everything fares and how things turn up when I get my stuff in DC.  Whenever I start worrying about that, though, I repeat to myself “It’s just stuff and you got the good insurance.”

I didn’t do anything super-exciting for Canada Day, since I was in full-on packout prep mode, but a friend did invite me over and it was nice to relax for a bit and spend a couple hours with her and a few of her friends.

The 4th of July party went really well, as far as I could tell.  There was a great turnout and the weather was wonderful.  People seemed to have a really good time and I got to see a lot of the people I wanted to see, though it was such a big party, it was hard to find everyone.

I also neglected to mention in my previous entry that my friends L & S visited a couple of weeks ago.  We were all in Ciudad Juarez together, and now they’re posted in Northern Africa and were on an R&R trip to the U.S. and Canada.  It was really great to catch up with them and we did some fun things like see the actual RCMP Musical Ride performance and go to the Museum of Civilization.  Mostly though, it was just really great to catch up with them.  Going through an experience like CDJ forges some pretty close bonds and then it’s hard when your really good friends are spread out around the world and you see them so infrequently.  Fortunately, modern communication technologies make it easier to stay in touch than in the past, but they still don’t replace the face to face time.  So, anyhoo, it was great to see them.

And, since my apartment is now empty, I’ve moved in to a hotel for the rest of my time in Ottawa and will spend the next while sorting out things at work and getting everything ready to make the transition to my successor as easy as possible.   Then, I start the epic trip back to the Austin-area for home leave followed by another trek back to Washington, DC to start the econ course at FSI.  The Diplocat has handled the transition to the hotel well but little does she know about the epic road trip that awaits her. 😉

Hope all’s well in the blogosphere. 🙂

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Filed under 4th of July, Austin, Canada, Canada Day, Diplocat, Friends, FSI, Home, Home Leave, Moving, Ottawa, RCMP, Texas, Transfer, Washington DC

Blog slacker

I’ve really been slacking on any kind of substantive updates.  No real excuse, unfortunately.  Things here have been busy, but not so busy that I couldn’t update my blog from time to time.  As I’ve posted, I’ve made it to Toronto and Quebec City for fun in the last couple of months.

Spring has finally arrived in Ottawa.  The snow’s been gone for a bit and sometime in the last two weeks all the leaves started to come out and everything’s all nice and green now.  It’s a very, very welcome change after what even local Ottawans say was an awful winter.

My EER (State Department-speak for annual evaluation) is now in to Washington.

We’ve had a number of official visitors, events, etc. to manage and such.  Canada Day and the 4th of July party are coming up in just over a month.

The wheels are starting to spin toward my departure from Ottawa.  I’ve had my packout survey, the dates are set, and I’ve given notice to my landlord.  I’ve got an appointment to take the Diplocat in for her vaccinations, so there won’t be any problems bringing her back in to the United States. There are still more things to do before I can actually leave, but despite occasional feelings of panic that I’m behind on where I should be with my departure stuff, I do seem to be on track.

I’ve also made reservations for my drive from Ottawa back to Texas for Home Leave.  I’ve signed up for the Hometown Diplomats program and will at the very least talk to students at my old grad school, and possibly some other groups at home.  I’ll also plan to visit friends in Austin and maybe Houston.  I don’t really have plans past that, though.

I have a reservation for where I’m going to stay for my first 60 days at FSI.  I don’t know where I’ll live for the other 8 months I’ll be in DC, but I have some ideas and I have time after I get there to figure it out.  I’ll be assigned to DC, so will have to take possession of all of my stuff, but at least I don’t have to decide what to take to Frankfurt more than a year before I’d actually get there.

I’m paneled for the FSI economics course and have also taken a distance German course to refresh some of my German in preparation for entering German class after the econ course.

And, the Texparents are coming to visit next week!  I’m excited to see them and show them Ottawa.  Then, later in June, L&S, friends from CDJ, will visit Ottawa.

So, it’s shaping up to be a busy last two months!  I’ll try to be a bit better about blogging, but no promises. 😉  I should be able to catch up a bit over home leave though.

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Filed under Canada, Diplocat, EER, Family, Frankfurt, FSI, Germany, Home, Home Leave, LQA, Moving, Ottawa, Paperwork, Snow, Spring, Texas, Transfer, Travel, Vacation, Washington DC, Winter

Escaping the Ottawinter

I went home to Texas again to see family and to escape the cold, snow, and ice here in Ottawa.  I had a great time seeing my parents, spending some time in Austin, shopping, enjoying the awesome weather (I wore flip flops!), aaaaand going to see the Alamo!!  I went to the Alamo when I was about 10 but didn’t really remember much about the visit.  And, what kind of Texpat can I be if I can’t remember the Alamo?

My flights home went smoothly, but my flights back to Ottawa were a different story.  I was originally scheduled to fly back to Ottawa through Dulles airport in the Washington, DC area on the 21st, but got a notification on the evening of the 20th that my flight from Dulles to Ottawa had been cancelled.  I called the airline’s customer service line and the agent rebooked me on an earlier flight through Dulles that had not been cancelled.  However, that meant that my flight from Austin would leave at 7:20am.  Add in the extra time to drive down to Austin from my parents’ house, get through security, etc. and we had to leave at about 4:30am.  I made it down to Austin, through security, and was waiting for the flight when I got a notification that the new Dulles to Ottawa flight had been cancelled.  The agent rebooked me for a second time on a flight to Ottawa through Chicago…the next day.

So, we went back home to my parents’ and I crashed for a couple of hours.  The flight to Chicago left Austin even earlier, so we had to leave home around 3:30am.  Fortunately, all went well with that flight, and I got to Chicago on time.  However, the flight to Ottawa ended up delayed close to 3.5 hours.  It did, however, eventually get off the ground and I ended up in Ottawa about 30 hours later than intended.  I was exhausted and relieved to get home.  And the diplokitty was very glad to see me. 🙂

So, without further ado, here are a few pictures from the trip.

WiFi and Inspiration.  What more could you want?

WiFi and Inspiration. What more could you want?

The Alamo

The Alamo

Alamo Grounds

Alamo Grounds

Alamo Grounds

Alamo Grounds

Alamo Grounds

Alamo Grounds

Lovely Austin Weather

Lovely Austin Weather

Neat tunnel at the Chicago airport

Neat tunnel at the Chicago airport

Back in Ottawa!

Back in Ottawa!

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Filed under Alamo, Austin, Canada, Chicago, Diplocat, Home, Ottawa, Pictures, San Antonio, Texas, Texpat, Travel, Vacation, Washington DC

Ice Ice Baby

Lately, the weather has been hovering around freezing which has resulted in temperatures a little bit above freezing during the day and below freezing overnight.  The resulting melting and re-freezing has turned some sidewalks in to virtual ice skating rinks and, though I’d deftly avoided a few close calls over the last week or so, it was only a matter of time until I fell victim to their iciness.

This afternoon, I decided to walk to the grocery store to get a few things and as I was walking, one second I was upright, the next second I was on my hands and knees halfway in a slush puddle, my purse also halfway in the slush puddle.  I’m sure I looked thoroughly ridiculous.  I certainly felt thoroughly ridiculous.  I’m still not sure exactly what happened or how I fell, but both of my upper shins and one of my elbows are sore to the touch so we’ll see whether I get any pretty, colorful bruises.

Is it summer yet?

And yes, for those of you wondering, I did make it all the way to the grocery store and back.  Next time, I’m sending the diplocat for groceries.  Cats always land on their feet, right? 😉

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Filed under Canada, Diplocat, Ottawa, Shopping, Snow, Texpat, Winter

Mewy Christmas from Catnada!

Mewy Christmas from Catnada!

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Filed under Canada, Christmas, Diplocat, Holidays, Ottawa, Pictures, Winter

Happy Annifursary!

Three years ago today, I went to the humane society, looking for a cat or dog to adopt.  I played with a couple of dogs and a couple of cats, and then spotted a very plain looking tabby in one of the cages.  I spent some time with her and was sold on her sweet but adventurous purrsonality.  So, I adopted a sweet, silly kitty cat and took her from one home with bars to another, larger home with bars on the windows in Juarez. 😉  She’s been a big part of my life for the last three years and I hope she’s as happy with the adoption as I am.  Happy Annifursary, Diplocat! 🙂

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Filed under Canada, Diplocat, Ottawa

I’m in Ottawa!

I actually arrived in Ottawa about two weeks ago, but between getting checked in and starting work, exploring Ottawa, and looking for a place to live here, I haven’t had much time to blog.  However, I shall try to catch up in this entry!

Work:  So far it’s great!  It’s a lot to absorb and get up to speed on since the work is completely different than what I was doing in Juarez.  However, my coworkers are pretty awesome and I’ve been lucky that there haven’t been too many urgent issues to deal with in these first two weeks, so I’ve been able to read up on what my predecessor was doing, talk with people, and start to wrap my head around what I’ll be doing.

House hunting: It’s going ok.  I’ve looked at a few places and found one that I like, though we’re still waiting to hear if they’ll allow the cat.  If not, then I have plans to look at a few more places and see if I can find a different place.  It’s stressful though, since I’m not familiar with the city and am also trying to find my bearings in a completely new job here.  Still, they give us plenty of time to find a place, so I’m sure something will work out soon.

Exploring Ottawa: Ottawonderful!  I’m sure that winter will be challenging for a Texan like me who’s barely spent any time around snow and ice, but so far the city is really, really nice.  It’s very walkable and there’s a lot of neat things to see and do.  A lot of my exploring so far has been centered around house hunting and exploring different neighborhoods, so I haven’t really had a chance to check out museums or anything, but so far I’ve enjoyed walking around and taking in the sights as I walk.

So, in short, everything’s going pretty well so far.  I’m glad to be here and am looking forward to getting settled in to an apartment so I can put that behind me and start exploring the rest of Ottawa!

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Filed under Canada, Diplocat, LQA, Ottawa, Transfer

More Home Leave!

So, in my last couple of weeks of home leave, I went up to Oklahoma City for a weekend to visit family, talked about Foreign Service careers with students at my alma mater, took the Diplocat to the vet, celebrated the Diplocat’s birthday, got my hair cut, and took care of a few more odds and ends!  It was a busy couple of weeks, but I got a lot done.

I took my new car on its first long trip when I went up to Oklahoma City to see family up there.  It was nice to see them since I hadn’t really seen most of them recently.  The last time I was up there was almost 3 years ago, before I joined the Foreign Service.

In the spirit of paying things forward, I did a Foreign Service career info session with some students from my alma mater.  A lot of people were out of town due to the summer break, but we still had about 20 people show up and hopefully they got some useful info.

I also took the Diplocat to the vet.  She was due for her yearly shots and I also needed to get a rabies vaccination certificate so I can take her in to Canada in August.  We should be good to go on that though.  Also, I adopted her in June 2010, so I count that day as her birthday.  The shelter said she was about 2 years old when I adopted her and I’ve had her for 2 years now, so that makes her about 4 years old now.

After putting it off for forever, I also finally got my hair cut.  I’ve had the same hairstyle for about 6 years now, so I was debating whether or not to change it and put off the decision.  I finally decided to just keep the style I’ve got, so I went in to the lady who’s cut my hair for almost forever and got it cut.  It’s nice not to be in hair-limbo!

On top of those things, there were a lot of other odds and ends I needed to take care of before I left, like last minute shopping, packing, etc.  So, it made for a busy couple of weeks, but I got everything done, in the end.

So, on the 4th of July, I set out for DC.  I was able to take 3.5 days for the drive and the trip went pretty smoothly.  The hotels were decent, the car was fine, and the Diplocat only howled for part of the trip each day.  On Saturday, I got to the DC area and got settled in to my hotel.  I think that the Diplocat was relieved to not be shoved in to her carrier again this morning.

Finally, tomorrow, I start training at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) for my next assignment.  I’m not here too long, but it will be nice to learn a bit more about the things I’ll be working on, meet with some people in DC that I’ll be working with from Ottawa, and to catch up with some FS and non-FS friends up here. 🙂

So, that’s what’s new in the last couple of weeks!

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Filed under Austin, Diplocat, FSI, Home Leave, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Texas

Packed Out

As I get closer to leaving, it’s all getting a little bit more real.  Last week, a couple of strangers showed up and took all of my stuff.  I was thrilled!  The movers came and packed everything up and took it away so that it can meet me in Canada in August or September.  The house is now really empty and it seems so much more real that I’m leaving in just a few weeks.  The Diplocat was a bit confused for the first day or so and seemed to be wandering around, wondering where everything had gone.  She’s settled in now and doesn’t seem bothered by it any more.  We’ll have to see how things go when we drive home.

I have some other things to check off of the departure checklist, a few more meetings and such, and there are the visas to adjudicate but the only big project I have left is to finish my part of my EER (employee evaluation report) before I leave.  So, I’m trying to convince the tenure and promotion boards that I have walked on water in the desert while saving all the puppies and kittens in the greater Borderland area. We’ll see how it goes. 😉

That’s about all that’s new here.  Not much longer and I will be leaving Ciudad Juarez and heading to home leave, DC, and then Ottawa!

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Filed under Canada, Ciudad Juarez, Diplocat, Mexico, Moving, Ottawa, Transfer

Happy Anniversary of the Mexican Constitution!

This weekend is a long weekend for us due to the Anniversary of the Mexican Constitution.  It’s always nice to have a long weekend.  The weather here is getting warmer and the days are getting a little longer.  It won’t be too long before the dust storms are here and making the skies brown.  😉

I’ve been working in the front office for a little over a month now and it’s been a really nice change.  I’m getting to work on some new projects and learn more about what goes on in the consulate outside of the consular section.  I’ve gotten to sit in on some meetings and learn about what the public affairs section does each week, what the political section is watching, and so on.  It’s been really nice and will hopefully be helpful when I get to Ottawa since I’ll be working in the Econ section there.  I’ll be working in the front office for the rest of February and then I’ll go back to visas for my last couple of months here.

Last week, I got my TMFour, also known as orders, which means that everyone who needs to has signed off on my proposed itinerary and there is now money set aside to fund my travel and moving my things.  So, one step closer to being able to move to Ottawa!  There’s still a ton of administrative and logistical stuff I have to do here before I can leave, but things are lining up.

I realize that I haven’t written anything new about the diplocat in awhile.  She’s doing fine.  She enjoys her strings and catnip miceys and looking out of the window.  While there’s a lot of things I’ll have to consider when I look for housing in Canada, one of the things I want is a nice view for the diplocat.  Hopefully, I can find something that will have a view of some trees with birds and squirrels in them for her to watch.

So, that’s the big news here.  Hope all’s well in the blogosphere!

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Filed under Canada, Ciudad Juarez, Diplocat, Mexico, Moving, Ottawa