Apparently summer here starts on the 2nd of July. I say this because when I stepped outdoors at 0530 this morning it seemed like I was standing in front of an electric blow dryer, set to “hot” and full speed. Humidity…gone. In its stead a constant, slightly gritty breeze out of the west that takes one at first like that first gasp of heat when you open the oven to baste your Thanksgiving turkey – your muscles stiffen instantaneously as ancient reflexes try to prevent you from imperiling your primitive ape self, but homo sapiens quickly reasserts himself and you reach in to baste the bird. Of course, maybe this is a bad analogy, as I believe I end up as the baste-ee in this scenario.
Seriously though, there was a moment yesterday morning when the wind – which has been from the east for the past 7 weeks (7.09, but who’s counting) – switched and began to blow from the west. It’s like that cinematic trope where the coming of the tornado or the hurricane is foreshadowed by the creaky, hesitant movement of the old weather vane on the barn. Next scene is the crisis – sheets of rain, horses stampeding, Dorothy pounding on the door of the storm cellar. The equivalent scene here was me peeking out from under my covers this morning, and thinking that the alarm clock must be set incorrectly – it was just too dark. When I crossed my CLU threshold though, the reason was obvious - the sky was dark with dust. What had before been a haze, like a cinematic special effect, was now a smoky soup, dimming the light of the sun and thickening the parching air. As the day has gone on, the sun has brightened a bit, but the air is still startlingly hot at one’s first breath upon leaving the comfort of quarters or office.
Sorry to have gone on at length about the weather, but in a life of general sameness it has been a startling if predictable change. Not much else of note, truly. I’ve been afflicted for the past 3 or 4 days by an old and obscure injury which results from time to time in a knot of spasmed muscle beneath my right scapula. It feels like an epèe may have been run through me – okay like I imagine that would feel – and fades transiently only to transfix one anew with any errant move, like a deep breath, lifting a cup, or rolling over in bed. The odd thing is that this is like the visit of an unwelcome relative – not pleasant of itself, but reassuring in its familiarity. It’ll last a week or two and fade away again I imagine. Odd how one comes to term with one’s advancing infirmities, making acquaintances of old enemies. The hidden benefit here is that the only thing which seems to help is running – after 3 or 4 miles I’ll usually be good for a few hours. Must be the endorphins I reckon, but I like to think of it as Mother Nature’s reminder that the niceties must be observed if I expect this ungainly assemblage of muscle, bone and sinew to carry me along another 48 years. Okay, enough about that.
Had my second “conversational French” session with our French liaison officer. This is a class of sorts that he volunteers for on Wednesdays and attendance varies from six or so to just one. Last night it was the latter – just he and I. He is a very nice guy with movie star good looks, but no particular teaching method. In general we’ll just talk in mixed English and French until we get to the limit of my understanding – a short trip – and he’ll write out the relevant phrase on the dry erase board and go over the niceties of pronunciation and idiom. It’s good review and as it takes an hour out of his time time each Wednesday evening I am duly grateful.
The Fourth of July looms ahead. There is to be a 5k run in the morning which I reckon I will hazard, and then multiple other activities throughout the day. The US Embassy is inviting the base officers to a reception this weekend as well, so I’m glad I asked Donna to send my whites out. In the further term, we’ve been asked to assist early next week with a carotid-jugular fistula (repairing, not creating) at the Djiboutian hospital which will pose some interesting problems. More to follow.
I’ve been thinking about switching my blogging activities to a Facebook account for various reasons, but don’t know anything about Facebook and thus have no real data upon which to base a decision. Do any of you social networking savants out there have any thoughts? I’d be glad to hear ‘em.
I guess that’s it for now. Hopefully lots of interesting stuff to relate after the weekend.