Cotton fields as far as the eye can see.
Cotton in bloom.
Hunter, preparing for his dive.
Views off St. Joe’s island–popular for fishers and surfers alike.
The husband, all decked out and ready to dive.
Dad, on the hunt. Fish beware!
Hauling in a sheepshead!
Hunter, proudly displaying his kill.
The war wound.
One of the many (
many MANY) odd quirks of Foreign Service life is a little something we call “Home Leave.” A congressionally-mandated series of leave days following the end of an overseas posting, Home Leave is designed to help culture-shocked American readjust to life stateside.
Since July saw the official end of our time in Suriname, we’ve been spending our month-long Home Leave traipsing around the country, visiting loved ones and preparing for our move back to ‘Merica, where we’ll be posted to the D.C. area. Our trails took us from D.C. to Michigan to Indiana to Texas, seeing treasured family and friends all along the way. Continue reading “Texas: There’s No Place Like Home”
Dad and me surfing on a 48 ºF day, with driving rain and 20-25 MPH winds.
My bro, me, and Dad in Costa Rica on a surf trip.
On this Father’s Day, I think (unsurprisingly) about my dad, who’s really always been my hero. As a little girl I looked up to him completely… and honestly, none of that’s changed now that I’m a girl all grown up, and moved (at times very, very far) away from home.
My dad has given me many things. A sense of safety and security in the loving family he helped build. A drive to learn, a strong work ethic. A penchant for adventure that’s stood me in good stead in my life married to a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. A love of the outdoor world that is so deeply rooted in me. My passion for all things water-related, that, as a surfer, swimmer, and ocean-enthusiast, I find to be at the very core of who I am as a person.
These mark but a few of the gifts my father has bequeathed me. But perhaps the one that is easiest to take for granted is the support he’s provided me as a writer. Many parents, I think, would’ve been tempted to herd me (out of love, of course) toward a more stable career. Instead, my dad listened to my ideas, read and edited my early (terrible) drafts, paid for writers’ conferences and even traveled with me to attend them. He’s believed in my dream even when I didn’t. And for this writer, there aren’t words enough to say thank you.
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Me and Megan: Partners in Colorful Crime
The Husband and Me
Just like Gustav Klimt’s THE KISS… except slightly stickier.
It’s hard to believe it, but the husband and I are already 17 months into our two-year tour in Suriname. That’s a fair chunk of time, but for all we’ve experienced here, one activity still stands out as the clear winner: Holi Phagwa.
As I wrote in my first post on Phagwa, this festival is an important Hindu holiday marking the defeat of evil and the triumph of light. Celebrations are held annually in the Palm Garden park, with musical groups playing, food and beer for purchase, and a tiny train for the wee ones to ride.
My favorite part, however, is the excuse the holiday presents for chunking things (i.e., brilliantly-hued powder) at colleagues, family, and friends. I mean, as adults, how many of these chances do we get (at least without being carted off by the Five-0)? Continue reading “Holi Phagwa 2018: Revenge of the Colors”
Anybody who’s ever lived far from home knows that receiving mail takes on a new–and rather enormous–significance. This was true when I left my beloved Texas for my mid-west college. And it’s even truer now that I live overseas. I’m not the only one to feel this way, either: If ever you want to see a group of adults in suits sprint, just holler “mail call” in an Embassy. Then get out of the way. Otherwise, a herd of diplomats will run you down.
Ready to raise the giddiness level even higher? Well, just let this gal rip open a mystery envelope to find a book containing this: Continue reading “Mail Call!”
My “Birds of Suriname” series. With some 700+ species in Suriname to choose from, I may be adding a few more fowl to this flock in the future.
Beautiful portraiture by Jona Giovanni.
Close-up of one of my paintings: “Mallards at Dawn.”
The ornately carved pieces hewn from tropical timber and the rainforest-themed painting make this Suriname in a snapshot.
For my artist’s placards, I prefer the term “handwritten chic” to “unprofessional” or “home-made.”
That red “sold” dot is ours! The artist generously dropped the price a wee bit… but it was still an expensive night for our household!
My first art exhibit! Hence my taking everything but the kitchen sink. You know: Just in case….
Another work by Soeris Dipai.
Check it out–that’s my name! To SIS, I’d like to say: Thanks for having me!
A very tropical collection by Frankie Martodikromo (also a member of Suriname’s Ministry of Defense.)
Because no gala is complete without a few gorgeous floral arrangements.
An atmospheric painting of a white lotus by Soeris Dipai.
A gala tickets: Cutest event name!
A macaw taking flight, again by Overdo Berghout.
Our new addition: “let me feel,” by Doro Nuyken.
A series by Doro Nuyken.
Gorgeous work by Overdo Berghout. The top painting is one of my favorites, as it captures so beautifully the gaiety and freedom of Surinamese celebrations like Owru Yari and Holi Pagwa.
My offerings: two originals and two prints.
On this blog, I’ve mentioned a time or two that I paint. But it’s purely for my own enjoyment (and the occasional gift-giving to family and friends). I make no claim to being a professional artist. Let’s be honest: trying to make it in the arts can be a heartbreaking business. Attempting to carve out a writing career is artistic excitement enough for me.
So I imagine how honored I felt when one of my dear friends in the Embassy community invited me to participate as an artist in the gala she was throwing to raise funds for one of Suriname’s international schools and a cause it supports: a local home for underprivileged children. Internally, I balked a little at being labelled one of “seven of local artists” (I’m not an artist! I just happen to have a few tubes of paint lying around my house!). But the idea of getting to showcase a few pieces was pretty exhilarating stuff. Continue reading “Art, Auctions, & Wine: Oh My!”
Here for purchase: all the colors of the rainbow.
A view of the site of our frivolity: the Palmentuin (or, Dutch for Palm Garden).
The Phagwa necessities: colored powder, water, squirt guns, and Heineken.
A view skyward, at the beautiful day we had for Phagwa.
I may have told the husband he looked like he’d been performing surgery on a Care Bear.
I’m an Oompa Loompa and he’s a grape–a match made in Heaven.
This Phagwa brought to you by Heineken. (About 2 seconds after this photo, my beer was turned leprechaun-green by a well-aimed shot of Phagwa powder.)
Proof we’re not the only multi-colored weirdos.
Exhibit A: Evidence that we did not skimp on the powder.
A successful sneak attack resulted in a rather rosey back.
When riding this ride, don’t forget your safety googles….
Because you’re going to need them if you want this chic reverse raccoon-eyes look!
My purse may never be the same.
A different type of “tan” line.
Hard to believe this T used to be pale blue….
A week later and some of this pink ink is still hangin’ ’round.
Being in the Foreign Service has meant living in and traveling to lots of unique spots. I’ve had the immense privilege of enjoying many adventures. Among these, some stand out as particularly cool: visiting an ice festival near China’s border with Siberia, holding a baby tiger, and tromping around the Great Wall definitely make top tier
Last Monday saw a new addition to that list: celebrating Holi Phagwa, Suriname-style. It might not have been quite so adventurous or once-in-a-life-timey as scaling ancient Chinese fortifications, but it was just so fun. Because what adult doesn’t enjoy an excuse to fling colored powder on friends and strangers alike, sans repercussions? Continue reading “Holi Phagwa 2017: Hilarity & Hues”
Husband and me, aboard Christmas Lights-viewing party bus.
This particular Christmas setup may become a year-round feature in my office. Nice inspiration for my Prohibition-era novel.
A penguin and buffalo-riding Santa make a temporary home of the bookshelf.
Full bookshelves at last!
I don’t have much time to be domestic these days. But I’m glad to have made a few hours to bake Christmas Even sugar cookies with husband. (Note the flour stains.)
Christmas came a day early! On Friday, we were reunited with the books we sent to storage, pre-China move.
Giant Christmas Tree in Paramaribo’s Independence Square.
You can take the girl outta Texas (and transplant her to Suriname). But you can’t take Texas outta the girl.
Some incongruous Christmas decor. Local Surinamese orchids, and exotic, cold-weather Christmas penguins.
Christmas wishes a la Surinamese lights.
It’s never easy being away from home during Christmas. My in-laws very graciously let me bawl my eyes out with no judgement the first time I spent the holiday with them in the Mid-West–my first Christmas outside of Texas. And bawl I did.
But being countries, rather than states, away can feel even stranger. I’m happy to report that Christmas is more of a thing in Suriname than it was in China. It’s more organically part of the culture, rather than a recent, Western addition. (China appears to have adopted Christmas in a mode similar to the way it’s adopted Starbucks). But no matter where you are, Christmas overseas has its side-effects, if you will. In the photos, you’ll notice the scrawny nature of our Christmas “tree.” (I’ve taken to calling it our Christmas shrub.) This sad little tannenbaum is a bi-product of my forgetting to order a tree from the States until it was too late, and there being no real ones locally available in Suriname. Similarly, I think my Indiana-born husband is having a tough time squaring 85°F with its being Christmas. (This is pretty typical for me, being a Gulf-Coast Texan.) There are lights in the house, eggnog in the fridge, presents and stockings wrapped up brightly… so why is he wearing shorts instead of sweaters? Continue reading “Christmas in Suriname”