Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day 

Fred pointed out the other day that this is the second Memorial Day weekend in a row that he has spent in Kuwait. We need to start some less sucky holiday traditions, don'tcha think? As I said in my last post, the kids and I have spent this weekend trying to get organized for the move, so this weekend is in no danger of going down in history as the Best Memorial Day Weekend Ever. Even if it had been a little more memorable, it would have tough competition, for the Best Memorial Day Weekend Ever happened in 2001 in Hawaii.

My sister was visiting at the time, and we went all went together for the day with Mike's Cub Scout pack to Punchbowl National Cemetery, where the scouts were charged with decorating the graves for the observance of Memorial Day.

The grave-decorating activities kicked off with the Navy band playing and several speeches. During the invocation, I found myself studying the crowd, and . . . what the heck?! Was that a MOUSE crawling out of that scout's shirt collar?

Why, yes, yes, it was in fact a sweet little pet mouse! I had to take another picture, because who was going to believe this without some photographic proof?

Soon the boys were cut loose to start fixing up the graves. The Boy Scouts were charged with planting an American flag on each grave:

And the Cub Scouts followed along on lei duty. Hawaiian scouts have been adorning the graves with leis for Memorial Day since 1950. Here's a lei that Mike placed. We strung this one ourselves from plumeria blossoms we took off the trees in our yard:

Some of the graves are decorated by friends and relatives, and it's always interesting to see what they choose to leave in remembrance. This grave, I'm pretty sure, wasn't decorated by the scouts:

The scouts swarmed across the cemetery like so many flag-bearing, lei-laying ants and accomplished their work in short order. In less than an hour, the cemetery had been transformed from the smooth expanse of grass that you see behind Mike and Fred in this picture:

to this:

And THAT, my friends, was the Best Memorial Day Weekend Ever.

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Crawling out of my hole 

Well, I wound up canceling our trip to Belgium and Holland. It stings to realize that I can't do it all, but I just can't. It hit me when I actually laid it out on a calendar that I have exactly 3 weeks to get this place ready for the movers, and I was planning on spending the better part of a third of that time traveling. Something had to give, and in this case it was the trip.

My friend Kathleen sent me a really sweet email in response to my most recent post:

It is probably like the last few weeks of pregnancy now - you are on the countdown so you can finely feel safe letting go and admitting how stressful and trying the whole adventure has been along with the fun and the good times but ... enough is enough ...let's just get it over with. At least that's how I felt at the end of each pregnancy!!

YES! That is EXACTLY what this feels like!!! I am over 12 months pregnant with this stupid deployment and just want to get the damn thing out.

I've spent most of my free time this weekend working on stuff for the move. This afternoon, I gave our carport an initial cleaning to bring it up to plain old dirty (it was REALLY bad out there) and rearranged stuff so that I can actually park a car in there.

Yesterday morning the kids and I worked on cleaning out Mike's room. I am too overwhelmed to pull off a garage sale and it's a bureaucratic nightmare to put items into our community thrift store. The kids, however, work best when motivated by the almighty dollar, so I pay them a buck a pound for any crap they're willing to let me put into the Sort Center. They are pooling their earnings to buy accessories for the rec room they want to make in our new home in Kentucky. They've made at least $25 this weekend to go towards their goal.

We spent yesterday afternoon at the Kinderzirkusspektakel, which is a whole 'nother post. I need to do a little work on my videos first though. Soon, I promise.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Not feeling very bloggy lately 

I just haven't been able to summon up the resources to blog for the past few days. For one thing, I have all my pictures from our trip to Garmisch, Venice, and Switzerland last month that STILL need fixing and posting. For another, I'm pretty overwhelmed with everything that is involved in making this move happen in LESS THAN A MONTH ALL BY MYSELF. And now I'm trying to get us ready to go on another trip on Sunday, and it's just hard. I realize that there are people out there in the world with real problems, problems that don't go "but I don't even have my pictures from Italy optimized and now I have to go to Belgium in 2 days!!!" But I am really tired.

I just typed out a long saga of the number of ways dealing with just the shipping of our Blazer has been a tremendous pain in my butt, but Blogger just ate the damn thing, and I'm too wiped out to try and re-create it. Suffice it to say that it has been A TREMENDOUS PAIN IN MY BUTT!!! Every time I turn around, nothing is working the way it should.

You know that scene at the end of the movie A Little Princess, where Shirley Temple's father, whom she has just found in a hospital for war veterans, has amnesia and doesn't recognize her? He tells her that she can't possibly be his Sarah, because Sarah would never cry--Sarah, after all, is a good little soldier. And you know how she just goes completely batshit on him, stamping her pretty little feet and screaming, "I have been a good soldier, Daddy! I have, I have!" That's pretty much how I feel.

I have been a good little soldier. And I am tired.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Watch out, Dr. Demento! 

Baby steps, baby steps! I've spent the better part of this rainy Saturday working on my computer. My D drive is still a disaster, but my C drive can breathe again.

I started working on my Venice photos but quickly got overwhelmed. It's almost impossible to take a picture in Venice that isn't beautiful or interesting, so I've got quite a stack (digitally speaking, of course) to sort through. I decided to take a break and work on this short video clip of my 2 crazy kids in St. Mark's Square (click on the picture to view using Windows Media Player):

We had a great time with the pigeons that day. Mike forged a particularly close bond with this one whom he named Steve:

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Friday, May 20, 2005

So sad yet so sweet 

Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door.
His name, as I ought to have told you before,
Is really Asparagus. That's such a fuss
To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.

Ever since we made our trip to Düsseldorf to see Cats, Annabelle has been obsessed with the show. I will often hear her sitting at the computer in the kitchen, singing away as she tends to her Neopets. I bought her the DVD of the show, and if it is possible to wear the data right off a DVD through repeated use, she might just wind up doing that.

In the DVD production, the part of "Gus the Theater Cat," an old cat who looks back over his life and re-lives his glory days on the stage, is played by John Mills (or Sir John Mills, as Annabelle will be the first to tell you). Sir John Mills passed away on April 23, 2005, at the ripe old age of 97. We had just watched the DVD with my sister a couple of nights before, and when I heard about his death, I mentioned it to Annabelle. She took it quite well, rationalizing that he was after all very old. Until . . .

Two nights before Jenny was set to return to the States, we agreed on one final viewing of Cats. All was going fine until it came time for Gus's piece, which is preceded by a short snippet of Memory:

Moonlight, turn your face to the moonlight
Let your memory lead you
Open up, enter in
If you find there the meaning of what happiness is
Then a new life will begin

By the time Gus actually went into his spiel, Annabelle was sobbing. She refused to consider simply turning off the show and instead opted to snuggle in between Jenny and me, weeping violently through the entire number. At the end, she looked up at me and wailed: "I just don't get it. I wasn't this upset when I found out T.S. Eliot was dead!!!"

Tonight, Annabelle has a friend over to spend the night. Always eager to spread the gospel of Cats, she dragged out the DVD and set it up to show off a few of her favorite numbers. It would be necessary, she explained to her friend, to skip Gus "unless you want to watch me cry."

I know very little about Sir John Mills, but I can't help but think he would be touched to know that he is deeply mourned by a little American girl in Germany.

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So behind 

I'm swimming as fast as I can, but the current of Stuff To Do threatens to overtake me at any minute. I've spent a lot of time this week working on details for our upcoming move, and I have also started going to the gym again.

I know I still need to blog our most recent travels (and the kids' circus performance at the street fest last weekend!), but I can't do any of that until I clean up the hard drive on my computer. I think that will be my project for tonight--Mike is at a sleepover, and Annabelle is having her own sleepover here. So I should be able to hunker down at the keyboard and delete, delete, delete.

Please be patient with me!

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Happy (?) anniversary 

Wow, it's been a year. A whole year, if you can believe that. One year ago today, we left Fred up at Rhein-Main AFB and returned home to continue life as usual, minus one.

I feel like I should have some wise words to offer to mark the occasion, but I'm stumped. Maybe I would be wiser if this were the end, but it's not. According to my calendar, we have either 47 or 53 days left, depending on whether he returns on July 6 (he has a seat reserved on a flight for that day) or on July 12 (the backup plan).

Cross your fingers for July 6!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A bee in my bonnet 

When my friend Sandra was visiting, I was horrified one day to discover an enormous stinging insect had taken up residence in my shower. Seriously, this sucker was a good 2 inches long. You could see the muscles rippling in its legs. So naturally, I hollered for Sandra, who gallantly raced up the stairs and sent my unwelcome invader to that big beehive in the sky. (Reason #382 why I suck at being a single parent: I don't kill bugs.)

A couple weeks later, I was once again horrified in that very same bathroom to discover yet another buzzing, stinging critter hanging out like he owned the joint. One bee in your bathroom--that's bad luck. Two means that maybe you have a nest in your attic and they are coming in through some unknown hole, and THAT, my friend, is a distinctly oogy feeling!

I called Phil and Amy, who immediately came to my rescue. Phil trapped this new bug in a plastic container so that the pest control guys I was going to call could get a good look at the enemy. Here is Phil with his trophy bug:

Unfortunately, nobody could come until the next day, so Mike released Mr. Bee into the wilderness. This gave me a little time to do some googling, and here is what I found out:

My 2 unwelcome guests were European hornets. (Go ahead, click that link! I dare you!!) And European hornets are--it turns out--protected under German law, so killing them is not an option (except for Sandra, who is now an international fugitive). But that's OK, because they are really gentle, misunderstood creatures who exist solely to help keep other insect populations under control. Whatever. I just don't want the damn things in my house!!!

When the wildlife agent came over the next day, he decided that they are not in my attic after all, but he does see the beginnings of a nest in the tree next to my kids' trampoline. But don't worry, because if the nest gets big and is dripping with these hornets later in the summer, he will gladly come back and put a rope (yes, a rope!) up around the tree. He better be prepared to lay down an invisible fence and equip each hornet with its own tiny little shock-collar though, because I just don't think bugs respect rope boundaries.

Apparently, the invasion of the bathroom bees is much wider spread than I could ever imagine. Phil and Amy's daughter Rebecca recently started her own blog. Check out what Rebecca found in HER bathroom earlier this evening:

Call me crazy, but I think that one looks a little bit like John Belushi.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Caution: Evil genius at work 

It's not enough that my house is a disaster. I have a virtual mess to deal with as well: tons of picture to go through from our Venice trip; a hard drive that is almost totally full; 13 years worth of videotape to transfer to DVD.

Mike said that I looked like an absolute nerd tonight, sitting here in the dark surrounded by my computer, phone, 2 DVD burners, a digital still camera, and a digital video camera. I have 5 different firewire cables right here beside me on the couch! He took this picture using the nightvision setting to show me in my natural habitat:

My big accomplishment for today: I put my sister's high-school class play onto DVD. Do I get a cookie or something?

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Well, would you look at THAT?! 

I have been meaning to go to bed in 15 minutes for at least the past 2 hours. I got caught up playing around with some video clips though, and here I am--still glued to the computer at almost 2:00 a.m.

One of the tapes I've been messing with is of Fred's Baghdad promotion. I've cut it down to the most essential 2 minutes, which I have uploaded here. The video quality falls apart a couple of times, but I'm not sure if that's something I'm doing or just something that's in the original.

I like the part where Fred realizes that he is now on a first-name basis with the colonel who did his promotion and that he has suddenly become a "sir" to one of his LTC friends in the audience. I also like the part where COL Dunn hammers the new rank onto his collar--I was tempted to do that myself at his last promotion and just might, in fact, do it when I have the chance this July. And finally, I like the part at the end (this is close-captioned for those who for whatever reason can't view the video, I guess) where he talks about how his dad always told him he would make colonel one day. "Dad, I am one!" My father-in-law is absolutely going to love that!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Please let it be noted for the record 

I cooked supper tonight. I don't do that very often anymore. About halfway through the deployment, I discovered that our local pizza joint DELIVERS, and somehow that set a tone for the past few months.

Tonight though, I went all out: Salmon marinated in Soy Vay's Island Teriyaki and cooked on the good ol' George Foreman, a cooker full of hot steamed jasmine rice, peas for the kids and a kilo of Spargel for me, along with my friend Tess's butter-mustard-vinegar-honey sauce. Mmmm . . .

Tomorrow it will once again be Cap'n Crunch for everybody, but tonight . . . tonight was good.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My invisible friend Kathe . . . 

. . . puts presidential stuff on her cat:

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Stuff that amuses me 

My house is a disaster. I am up to my eyeballs in things I need to take care of before I singlehandedly ship all of our worldly possessions to Kentucky in just over a month. And I have hundreds of pictures from our most recent trip that need to get weeded out, edited, and posted. So instead of doing any of the above, I am sitting here putting together a few unrelated items that have brought me untold joy over the past couple of days.

Item the first: Remember you read it here first! It's the new recreational craze that is (or soon should be, anyway) sweeping the nation. Yes, I'm talking about piling stuff on a sleeping cat. My friend Tess likes to put stuff on her cat Elmo:

I am insanely jealous, as my cat is in Florida with my parents, and I shall have to wait until after the move in order to be able to put stuff on him. I suppose I could put stuff on my sleeping children, but it is very hard to get them to go to sleep, so that would be like playing with fire.

Item the second: What more can I say? It's Fred on a CAMEL:

Item the third: Somebody sent this to Fred, who in turn sent it to me. He said it was OK for me to publish it as long as I removed the procedures for clearing weapons, which I have done:

I probably find this funnier than most people will, as I am ultra-sensitive to rewards as a means of behavior control. Pizza parties for children who read books, stickers for good conduct, etc. All of that stuff makes me itch. I'm sure it's a mild form of PTSD from the trauma we suffered at the hands of our Blue Ribbon (!), Exemplary Rated (!) school in the great state of Texas. Anyway, the idea of giving soldiers stuffed toys for successfully clearing the ammo from their guns just sets me to cackling.

Actually though, now that I think about it, I hope it really is a joke. After all, when Fred was with the 82d Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, NC, I distinctly recall that they would get a day off when they could go 82 consecutive days without a training fatality. As though not getting killed just wasn't reward enough . . .

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

JAG Prom 2005 

Well, tonight was the JAG prom that I told you about back in March. I went back and forth as to whether or not I would go at all, but I did wind up going and I had a great time.

I went with my friends Amy and Phil, but I also took a rodent date of my own. The kids insisted that I allow Pux to escort me, as he is always dressed for a black-tie occasion. I added my rhinestone JAG pin to his top hat for that special added flair. I couldn't decide which picture I liked better--the formal one I paid 15 euro for or the candid one that Amy took for free--so I'm posting them both:

Because of Fred's ongoing deployment as well as his recent promotion, I was invited to sit at the head table. My friend Jane even left flowers for me at my place! It was a really good experience, although I did feel like I was playing grown-up at times. Don't worry though--I never scratched with the wrong fork.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

It's a baby mouse! 

We're home! (Did you miss me?)

Sandra, Theresa, and Heath are on their way to Holland for the weekend, but the kids and I are planning a quiet weekend at home. I'm sure I'll be spending the bulk of it working with my 100+ photos, getting them ready to upload.

Our big news from the trip is that there is a new rodent in the family. When we stopped at Neuschwanstein, Ratzo and Rizzo adopted baby Ludwig. He is my first rodent and my first Steiff as well. Here he is posing next to his ancestral home:

Even with their new parenting obligations, Ratzo and Rizzo were able to get away while in Venice for a romantic ride along the canal:

OK, so that photo is a fake, but I have lots of others that aren't. Stay tuned!

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

How old is this little boy? 

Yep, Fred will be 44 years old tomorrow. Happy birthday, sweetie!

Come on, everybody--don't be shy. Fill up the comments with birthday greetings for the Fredster!

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