Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Dog Sitting & More

Sam, as always, expectant

I’m in Grand Rapids this week, house and dog-sitting for my son Robin and his family while they are going on their first-ever cruise. Their dog, Sam, is a highly kinetic, one-year old muensterlaender. The contrast between him and my 14-year old golden retriever, Jack, is amazing. Jack tolerates him, and I’m learning to. He’s very sweet-tempered, just a lot more active than I’m used to.
My son, Joe, is home from college. I had lunch with him last Friday (he’s staying at his mom’s right now), but he’s driving over on Thursday to hang out with me. My older brother John is driving over from Detroit on Thursday, too, to spend the holidays with us. I didn’t expect to be here at this time, so this is one way in which the Lesotho cancellation worked out well, the opportunity to spend these holidays with my family before I go overseas. I’m very grateful for that.
I spent three hours yesterday visiting with my cottage neighbor, Frank, the one I mentioned in the "Peace Corps Brother(Sister)hood" post, who was a PCV in Morocco 40 years ago. It was a fascinating several hours, mostly talking, but also looking at some books and slides. In many ways, the experience has been central to his life. Prominent on his walls are two spangly fabric pieces that he brought back (don't know the name for them) that are used in the pise houses to help catch reflected light. And the rug on his floor - a beautiful white rug, still in very good shape - is one he also brought back. Peace Corps is quite different now from then. He trained in the U.S., we'll be training in Morocco. He was not required to learn Arabic or Berber (we are), though he could speak French well, and that got him by. He was posted to Casablanca. Nowadays, volunteers are seldom posted to large cities. Interestingly, his country director was a young Richard Holbrooke, who went on to great renown and accomplishments as one of the U.S.'s great diplomats (Dayton Peace Accords, special AfPak envoy, etc.). But one thing that remained the same is the indelible impact service appears to have made on his life. He's near retirement himself and wondered about how Peace Corps works now. But he's already connected to some mission program where he can contribute his talents as an architect and has already received his first assignment, somewhere in Mexico next year.
As for my new Morocco program, one of my co-volunteers has mapped the locations where we rural health educators may be assigned. Except for two on the Atlantic Coast, the rest are in the Atlas Mountains, with a few on the eastern edge of the country, where the mountains kneel before the desert. Gives me a better idea of what to pack!


  1. Jim...In 2005 to 2007 I was an over 50 PCV in Kenya...I am now cleared again medically and awaiting Placement for my second tour... enjoy the ride...if you want to contact me...my name is Nancy Hannibal(nchkenya@yahoo.com) and currently work @ Purdue University..seems you have had an interesting experience with the PC even before you have left...it is indeed a journey...every day is and will be a new normal...The Best Nancy

  2. Aww. That is a cute picture. I am glad that you enjoyed the week here with Sam. I am sure that he enjoyed seeing you as well as Jack.