Friday, October 30, 2009

You Know You Are Back in Dushanbe When...

It took about 30 hours to get home, door to door. One rental car, two airplanes, eight suitcases, four people, four carry-ons and two strollers.

The girls were stellar! They slept a ton and didn't shed a single tear. Its amazing how far an incentive of a singular piece of gum can get you. Never underestimate the power of chewing gum over a four and a five year old.

They embraced the adventure. They were excited. Especially when we flew over Baku, our old stomping grounds.

Transitions for little people and big people alike can be hard. From vacation to scheduled life. From chips and salsa to naan bread. From endless hours of Food Network TV to NPR podcasts. From America to Tajikistan.

Just in case the line gets blurred, you know you are back in Dushanbe when...

...the toilet on the Turkish Airlines flight has two footprint marks on either side of the seat indicating it was used as a squatty potty. takes longer to get through the immigration line at Dushanbe International Airport than the five hour flight from Istanbul.

...the heavy Chicago Metallic jelly roll pan you just lugged back from the U.S. doesn't fit in your puny oven.

...the furnace room smells of burning electrical wiring. are awoken at 10.45 pm on your first night home by an earthquake that was 6.0 at its epicenter in the Hindu Kush. sleep soundly (despite aforementioned earthquake) with your own pillow and your kitty purring next to you all night long. look forward to a fun Halloween weekend full of Trick or Treating for the kids and a party for the big people. have a spa morning planned with your girlfriends on Saturday. celebrate your girlfriend's birthday at the Hyatt brunch on Sunday.

Yes, it is good to be back in Dushanbe. Home.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Breakfast on the Eastern Shore

After a blissful 30 minutes in the Trader Joe's in Annapolis en route from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to St. Michaels, Maryland we were armed with goodies for the first few days in the weeklong rental house we are sharing with Paul's family.

Weary after more travels that left us sans luggage, I must've been craving all things orange-hued.

Fresh and perfectly ripe papaya with wedges of lime.

Prosciutto and smoked salmon. Perfection on a platter.

Ok, so it may be a stretch to call a bagel orange, but in the morning light the whole wheat does take on the appropriate hue, don't you think?

Even our sunrise cooperated with the color-themed breakfast.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Take a Load Off

When you combine 24 hours of travel with a 10 hour time difference, this is what you get on Day Five.

This is Sparkly Girl #2.  And for those of you that know her, she never stops moving.  Not until her head hits the pillow after a long, hard day of work.  Except for once a year when we make our trek home to see family and friends. 

It's like she has an on/off button or a flip switch.  Going fifty miles an hour one minute and this the next.  And this is before dinner.  Sparkly Girl #2 never misses a meal.

Our bedtime routine has been the quickest and easiest ever.  If only I could figure out how to install an on/off button.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gym Locker Bliss

Hi. My name is Julie and I'm addicted to magazines. Always have been. Perhaps always will be. I cannot walk into a house - even that of a stranger - and resist the temptation to flip through their magazines.  I know!  Your thinking that's a violation of someone's privacy. So incredibly rude.  But I can't help it. Thus, the addiction confession.

We are staying at my sister's house while on vacation - which to date has mostly been a string of doctor and dentist appointments. Just to put things into perspective, this morning I sat in the doctor's office waiting for my annual physical, (very) contentedly reading Fitness magazine with a cup of real coffee, when I heard my named called.  Ten minutes early.  Geez, couldn't they see how happy I was?  Alone. Magazine.  Coffee.  I was tempted to avert the eyes of the receptionist and pretend I was Jezebel Hamel.

So, you can imagine how my heart sang when I saw this in my sister's house.  My palms started to get sweaty.  I resisted the urge to grab a stack of magazines and hide in a corner. I eagerly peered into each cubby imagining how I'd curl up on a couch and spend a lazy afternoon peering through each magazine, back to front as I always do.

It may just be an old gym locker stuffed with magazines to some, but to me it's heaven. Honestly.  Periodical bliss.  Particularly considering that about 2.3 magazines have touched my fingers in the last 11 months.  

Here's an old favorite. I love Saveur.  It was a huge splurge subscription for me when I was right out of grad school.  

And there's this one.

And this one.

And this.  Although I've never lived in the South.  Well, the south of the U.S. that is. I've lived in South East Asia before.  And south central Turkmenistan.  But this is an altogether different kind of south.  Love this one, too.

As for this one, it brings back memories of the bit of renovation we did to our old house a few years back. Love that house.

There are forty cubbies that used to house stinky old sneakers. Eight across and five down. Forty cubbies providing company during the sleepless hours of early morning jet lag.  Forty cubbies full of recipes and design ideas.  

And should the forty cubbies not be enough, there's this. 

Despite my efforts, I haven't found a detox program for my affliction.  And until I do, I'll happily continue my one-month long magazine binge.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

From Scratchistan is on Vacation!

I'm typing early morning on Saturday from a hotel in Chicago. We flew to the US this past Thursday for our annual home leave! After enduring 17 hours of actual flying at 35,000 feet, a non-stop screaming 2 year old in the seat behind me and lost luggage, I'm in the throws of an annual tradition that keeps me sane, connected and grounded. Five girlfriends from college -- my dearest friends who know the good, bad and the ugly about me -- have all convened upon Chicago to reconnect. I love how we can always pick up where we left off a year ago, as if no time has passed at all.

I'm hoping that our one piece of misplaced luggage was delivered last night to where my husband is staying. After that sinking feeling when they turned the conveyor belt off, we realized that we may never see one of our suitcases again. When we approached the Turkish Airlines lost luggage desk, I informed the nice lady behind the desk that we were missing one of our pieces of luggage. She immediately said, "Oh, you must be the Hamlins. What did you pack in your suitcase that made them not put it on the plane in Istanbul?" Apparently children's and men's clothing and my camera were somehow in violation of international safety standards.

So, no pictures to post until I get my camera back. And considering the amount of debauchery and antics that's been going on, it's probably best that it's not documented. At all. Ever.

I'm looking forward to cooking up some great meals while home and sharing them with you! Once I can muster up the nerve to actually enter a full-on grocery store and negotiate my way around it without passing out or hyperventilating, I'll be back in the kitchen having fun!

Ok, on my way to Starbucks for a tall skinny latte. Cheers to you all in The Dush! I'll make sure to have an extra one for you, too!