So sorry, mes amis, to have been such an utterly remiss host over the past two weeks. Life has been something of a trial, and I post the above snap, of the palms at our favorite seaside café, only so that neither you nor I lose the context that, horrid as some things have been, there are still consolations to be found.
To pick up where we left off, our little gathering all that while ago was in fact very pleasant indeed, and a much-needed moment of fun before things went to the usual place in the proverbial handbasket. Much good food was prepared and enjoyed, there was music and dancing and gossip, and it was a very late morning the day after. All to the good.
And then, as had been planned (but which I always manage to put at the far side of consciousness until it's actually happening), Mr. Muscato jetted off to be a good son and brother chez la famille. We get irritable on our own, Koko and I, and this time has proved no exception. Although this time around we have had very good reason.
First, I had to deal with a weeklong visit by Important People From The Home Office, a phrase that strikes fear in all of us who operate almost (and almost is the key word there) independently, but remain nonetheless part of a larger entity. They arrive, they expect to be entertained in High Style (but then get snarky about one's knowing how to do so, with dark hints of misuse of the corporate dime), they want to know why this is happening and why that isn't, they unnerve one's colleagues who are unused to such periodic descents from on high, they offend one's local network, they make a long series of almost entirely irrelevant, impractical, or utterly laughable recommendations, and then they fly off at 4:00 in the morning and expect you to take them to the airport. We were not amused.
And while that was happening, our irreplaceable Ermilia had to be replaced, at least for ten days, to deal with various issues back in her far-off home. I know this will stir not one scintilla of sympathy in something like 99.99% of readers, but really it's difficult to cope without her; I've been feeling very Georgie Pillson-deprived-of-Foljambe, even though before taking flight, Ermilia brought in a pinch-hitter in the form of a tiny, silent, and rather mysterious presence called Flordeliza who is at least keeping the dog happily walked.
And then I got the 'flu, or something equally nasty. Splitting headaches, among other joys too disgusting to enumerate.
And another (albeit comparatively, next to the floods of September, minor) plumbing disaster.
And so on, with lots that I've doubtless already put out of my mind. I have been sufficiently shaken by all this nonsense and negativity as to require getting an early jump on the approaching long holiday, the Sultanate having combined the observance of the Eid al Adha with the days off given for November 18's National Day (which in a curiosity of local life is never actually itself a holiday, reputedly so that everyone doesn't travel and leave no one to say Happy Birthday to the monarch).
Said early jump has meant a heavenly morning under those palm trees with a very content terrier, even in the trying presence at the next knot of sofas of a pair of terrifying blondined Russian housewife/socialites, chain-smoking impossibly long, thin, and vilely scented cigarettes whilst chatting intimately at top volume about, from what I could gather, the inadequacy of local luxury shopping and (inevitably) the iniquities of their husbands, neighbors, and servants. Nice to know that worldwide financial collapse is sparing some people...
So things do seem on the upswing. Having begun to regain my senses, I've organized a little treat, more of which doubtless anon, and for the next few days will try to enjoy life seul before that begins.
In any case, I hope to be a little bit less of an absence henceforth. Did you miss me?*
* Pardon the intrusive and recurring Francophony; I'm currently reading André Aciman's quite marvelous Out of Egypt, a memoir of his family's cosmpolitan existence in Farouk-era Alexandria, and finding that his dialogue is contagious...