Easy Does It

Things are getting back to normal around here after The Holidays and the DC training and the new puppy.  Last week Max and I resumed our sometime tradition of spreading a blanket across the rocky sand of Ain Diab and watching the sun set on Sunday evenings. A lot of expats are frustrated by Casablanca because it’s too dirty/crowded/hard to drive in/rough/whatever but we have really taken a shine to it. You have this great pulsing city with all manner of people (from even more diverse income brackets) and there are decaying French Art Deco buildings alongside shantytowns alongside ultra modern high rises and French bakeries with 98% butter croissants sidled up to black markets selling burned photoshop disks for the price of a chalupa. Then you drive 20 minutes to the coast and you get this:
Sunday night is when all the families come out and when, much to my surprise; young couples come to nuzzle - away from the eyes of their parents and neighbors. Last week was our first beach adventure with Buckley and we were both shocked and delighted when our tiny pupster chased down a man on the beach who walked a little too close to our blanket. To have an 10 inch guard dog – everyone should be so lucky.
But things can change in an instant around here… the day before our lovely evening we almost drown in swampy sewer water. We drove across town to check out the new Morocco Mall, which is enormous beyond belief and includes such delights as The Gap, H&M, Burger King, and TWO frozen yogurt stands. But on the way(ish) we swung out near Dar Boaza to pick up some non-pesticidal veggies. The roads out by the Dar Boaza coast are not as well constructed as those in the discotequed corniche area and we found this out when it started to pour. I mean rain like you just stepped out of a bathtub. I couldn’t believe it. It’s a good thing really, because Morocco hasn’t gotten a lot of rain this year, but as we chug-a-chug-chugged through the rapidly rising water pooling in the middle of the street we started to get that ah-oh feeling. The water was reddish brown from the dirt on the sides of the road…but also from something else our noses told us.

At one point I jokingly said to Max “what happens if the water gets really high? How deep of water can cars drive through…?”

Just a few minutes later we drove through a particularly deep stretch and looking out the passenger window I could see the water level reaching the door crack and sloshing above. We were very quiet for a few seconds, waiting for the torrent of murky water to breach the door and spill onto the floor mats but we soon arrived at higher ground and were spared. The moral of the story is don’t drive your tiny grey car on crappy roads when it’s raining a big dog. Even if you have to have fresh goat cheese and organic red peppers.


Single Girl in the City

 I know that single people live in big cities all over the world and don’t congratulate themselves after spending a week alone in country, but I’m not one of those people. Max had his first training last week back in DC and I’m glad to report that no houses were burned down, much Project Runway was watched, and a many things were caught up on.   

The things that were good

 As previously mentioned, I watched a lot of Project Runway. After catching up on the latest season I flung open the doors to my closet and said “This has to stop.” What has to stop? Keeping things I don’t love for ANY reason and having so much dang stuff. I purge fairly regularly but still hold on to things that I could look cool or that I used to like or that I might need to wear when we go to the dessert/Saudi Arabia/ community garden/opera/mountains…you get the idea. I read a few articles online about minimalist closets and I’m very pleased to say that after a few “fashion show at lunch” evenings my closet almost fits that profile. There is something really awesome about choosing from one of your 8 tops and knowing that each one is fabulous. …then I did some shopping. But not too much!

Going it alone. I am an alone kind of gal – I like social things and humanity in general, but for every chunk of time I spend being with other people I need an equal chunk of time not being with people. One to one is kind of a ridiculous ratio, but you do what works people. I always get tricked into hanging out with Max when he’s around because…duh, I like him and he’s fun, but it was nice to come home to an empty house and ask myself what the heck I was going to do for the next 5 hours.  I drew a lot, painted, cooked things that were delicious but not healthy and then ate them, and finished about 4 books.  I’m pretty serious when I say that I will take a job on the cleaning crew just to be able to stick around in the future event that we are evacuated from post and only “necessary” staff are allowed to stay, but the truth is we will probably be separated at several junctures for undetermined amounts of time. It was good to have a mini test run.

The things that were lame

I had big plans of making organic feasts every night but I mostly survived on strawberries, brownies, and grilled chicken breasts. I know, am I a college freshman?

My dogtastrophy. The plan was for me to keep the puppy a few days after Max left and then have him go stay with the puppy whisperer and his enormous German shepherd for the rest of the week. The puppy needed to start making friends and I was really unsure of my ability to play with and discipline and feed and clean and walk and pee a tiny yet to be potty trained dog by my lonesome. Remember, I don’t come from dog people.

I was feeling pretty confidant the first night after Max left, making creamy chickpea soup from a new recipe and pulling out my watercolors, but the dog was fussy from a long day at home and things went downhill the minute after he ate his chow. He was bitey and yippy and my creamy chickpea soup turned into a chunky bowl of tahini flavored yuck. A short training session was met with wiggles and naughtiness (adorable naughtiness) and grooming his shaggy locks went much the same way. While I was laying on my back, trying to regroup from being bested by a 4 kilo dog, Buckley ate a little corner of his eye wipes. I don’t know if it was the late hour or the bowl of chunky yuck sitting a little funny, but I became convinced that it was poison and he was going to die. I called the after hours vet number in a panic but he couldn’t quite understand my English and I couldn’t quite understand his French so he had me call his wife at the supermarket and explain to her in a mix of English and French that my tiny dog just ate a part of an eye wipe and is it going to block his intestines and/or poison him and will he die? Max’s first day away and I had killed our dog! The end of the story is that the dog was fine and I resisted the urge to drive to the doggy hospital for a miniature body scan. I did, however, call the dog whisperer to have him take the dog the next day.  Even though I spent the rest of the week saying “I’ve abandoned my boy!” in Daniel Day Lewis’ accent from There Will Be Blood and hearing phantom doggy yelps, he came home happy at the end of the week and I had a quiet week to recharge.


Arf! Arf!

It must have been a pretty funny sight, the two of us scurrying down Casablanca's dark moped lined alleys whispering "Business time. It business time" in much higher than normal tones.

But that image makes more sense if you know that we have a brand new puppy!
His name is Buckley, Buckley Barnam, and even though I have fought it for several years, this little guy melted my heart and thus, he came home with us a few weeks before Christmas.

At the puppy palace on that fateful day: 

Me: I don’t know if I really want to play with them. Remember how I don’t really like dogs? And we aren’t ready to buy one yet. And these aren’t even the types of dogs we talked about. 

Max:  Well let’s just see. What about that one? 

Me:  That Yorkie? Well….he is kind of cute. Ok …hhmmm, he’s so calm and adorable…. 

Other woman entering the store: Let’s see, where’s that cute Yorkie we saw here last night? 

Me: Oh, she means my adorable, chill, snuggly, wuggly ball of crazy hair. I’m sorry, he’s not available anymore. 

And that was it.

Max and I had a really ridiculous moment as we faced each other between the TWO bedazzled puppy bed isles with the soon to be named Buckley in my arms. “Is this our dog!? Did we just get a dog!?” Our eyes welling up a little. We swooped through the store, puppy tucked under arm, picking up things one might need for a puppy. Bed? yes, he’ll need that. Toenail clippers? Puppy toenails grow…right? Toys? Just a few. This is going to be so much fun and he’ll be so good!

But then we got home, and freaked out a little bit.

Oh my gosh, it pees in the house. How do we potty train him? We both have full time jobs! How can we walk him outside when our neighborhood is full of broken concrete and glue sniffers? What do puppies eat for treats? Ah! How can we get him to stop jumping on the couch!? He seems nervous, is he nervous? How can we make him not nervous…? Oh no, he started to bark!

Enter the Moroccan Dog Whisperer.  Mustapha comes to our house once or twice a week to teach us how to train Buckely.  After only a couple of minutes at our first session he had him laying down and sitting and all sorts of things on command.  And everyone has been very calm since that night. We have been practicing our little doggy rules and our little doggy is catching on very quickly.  We've even passed the "getting up in the night to piddle" stage - I know, aren't we ridiculous?