Sunday, December 17, 2006

Day of rest?

Today was certainly not a day of rest, by any stretch of the imagination - though I'm not complaining at all. I am still trying to get laundry done and the house cleaned before heading off to Chicago tomorrow. I'm looking forward to spending a day or so with my best friend from high school and beyond, Kim Mitchell (Begerow) who lives with her husband and daughter in a Chicago suburb. We are going to do some shopping and then Tuesday I'm getting up and heading into Grand Rapids, Michigan. It's about a three hour drive and I'm hoping to leave early enough to miss rush hour in both states...wish me luck! When I was still at Purdue Mike would fly into Chicago and we'd meet up downtown. I've promised him to go and have a drink at Ralph, one of his favorite spots's a little bar inside the Polo store on Michigan Avenue. It has a wonderful hardwood bar and pictures of all the old Rat Packers - it's just tucked in there so it's not busy, but it's a fun place to stop in for. It just won't be the same without him!

Anyway, I'm sure I'll get to post some while I am away, but wanted to make sure I posted at least once before leaving. News on Mike: he's doing well, besides getting a little bit of a cold that he has dubbed "consumption" in one of his latest emails (I'm sure he's exaggerating, just a tad). He's keeping busy with work, trainings and catching up on many, many emails that he got while he was away. He has said that the weather has been colder and rainier since he's gotten back. It seems like maybe that in between stage we call Fall totally missed him and it's gone from blazing hot to really, really chilly. He did bring back a Navy sweatshirt so he'll have that on top of his warm-weather gear. He is, as always, remaining upbeat and positive, but I know that being away from home, family and friends during the holiday is just as hard on him as it is on all of us. If anyone wants and has a free a moment I know he'd love to hear what everyone is/has been up to - he may not have time to reply (he still doesn't have a regular computer on his desk), but I'm sure he'll enjoy hearing from everyone.

Well, I think that's about it for now. My taxi is coming at 5:00 am - yikes! I wish the best to everyone else braving the holiday travel in the next few days!

I love you Mike!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Holiday Spirit

Today has been an interesting day already and I thought I'd share. I had another one of those crazy all-night LAN (local area network) fundraisers to chaperone last night. This all-nighter is after a long week of long days and nights, so needless to say, I'm exhausted! However, I got home this morning at 4:30 and couldn't fall asleep for about a half hour. Mike called at about 6:00am and I honestly have little recollection of speaking to him...and I'm sure he was laughing at me (I have a vague memory that he was) because I was totally incoherent. But, after he called I couldn't really fall back asleep and so, after about 2 hours of sleep I got up. I did some work around the house and then decided it was time to run errands. I went to the store and got a few things and by the time I returned, OB merchants were open. I've spent the last couple of hours walking from the post office, to FedEX, to the bank and several cute shops in my neighborhood...feeling as if I'm getting reacquainted with an old friend. The thing I find most pleasing about this morning is how incredibly nice and happy and cheerful everyone has been - and I mean everyone, everywhere...even those places with long, long lines! It's just nice when things that should always happen, but don't always happen, actually DO happen (does that make sense?). It's crisp in Ocean Beach this morning, and overcast...I guess rain is on the way. The waves are pretty intense and there is a great brisk breeze...and I know it's not a Michigan Christmas, but I think the weather has helped people feel "spirity" - at least it has for me! Anyway, I'm off to run more errands so I hope you all have a great day.

I love you Mike!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I'm back

Hi everyone! Sorry it's been way too long since I've posted. Having Mike home on R&R and then jumping back into a very crazy schedule at work (we are building a museum a museum!!!) has left me little time to write. I have tons to say and want to include lots of detail, so that might have to take place over several blog posts. Right now, I just wanted to say hello to everyone and promise that I will start to blog again more regularly. Mike and I spent a little time in Arizona during his R&R, which was fun but pretty cold, actually. Pictures are on his camera, so I'll post some as soon as sends them to me!

I'll admit that having to say good-bye to Mike again has pretty much been one huge bummer (and that's an understatement!). It was, however, so good to have him here and spend time with him and our families. I hated dropping him off at the airport - totally sucked! I got back in the car and was, honestly, crying really hard. But then something on the radio actually helped. It's a weird coincidence, actually - or at least I think it's maybe karma?? I listen to NPR (something Mike is constantly making fun of me for, by the way) and they were playing a segment with Ben Taylor, James Taylor's son. The song that was on was "Nothing I Can Do" and the words just really, really struck me. The next song, "Digest" also had words that really sunk in and helped calm me down. I started feeling better...not good, but better. Then, after these two songs finished the local radio guy broke in and said he apologized, they had accidentally replayed a show from last week...and took us to the regularly scheduled programming of All Things Considered. I sat there amazed that their mistake was actually a blessing in disguise for me because it honestly calmed me down so much and just lifted all that sadness just enough. I promptly went home and bought those songs on i-tunes. I've shared this silly story with Mike, as well as the two songs. Now, each time I listen to these two songs (which I do daily) I think of Mike and a little smile creeps over my face...and I feel just a little bit better inside. Sorry if that's too cheesy for my blog-return, but it's the truth!

On a totally different note, I've just finished watching an excellent movie that I am going to recommend to everyone out there! It's called Joyeux Noel and was an Academy Award & Golden Globe Nominee for best foreign film...which really doesn't matter because it's just a darn fantastic movie - especially for the time of year we are approaching and all that is going on in our world today. The story is of a 1914 Christmas Eve truce between French, German and Scottish troops during WWI. I can't say enough good things about this film - and the soundtrack is equally powerful. It's a must see and is out on DVD right now.

Anyway, I hope this entry finds everyone doing well.

I love you Mike!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mike's home on R&R

Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you all know Mike made it home safe and sound for his R&R. I was still out on the boat when he came in, but his parents and brother picked him up from the airport...and he's already rearranging the wine refrigerators! :)

I may not post much these next couple of weeks as Mike is home, but will try and update the blog at least a couple of times!

I hope all is well with everyone!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Happy Sunday!

I just walked back from the store where I scored more quarters so that, by the end of the night tonight, I will offically be LAUNDRY FREE!! Yes, that's right, even the beach towels are downy fresh now! Pretty excited about that. I've been cleaning pretty much all weekend. It's like spring cleaning, but in the, fall cleaning, I guess. I spent most of yesterday organizing and had half of that done before I went to bed last night. I know that normal people probably just clean...but for some reason I can't do that, I must organize first and then clean. It's almost like cleaning twice, but for me, it's way less crazy because I get rid of stuff before cleaning and then really, really clean! Crazy? Probably, but the house looks nice. I go back and forth between loving the fact that we rent and hating it. Today I actually love it, I think mostly because after nearly 6 months, it's finally looking like a house - just in time for Mike to come home! :) There are a few, last minute cleaning things that I'll postpone until just before Mike arrives so that I don't undo what's been done...but other than that, it's down to laundry! Sadly, I don't have much else to talk about. I'm going to start grading now - I think I'd actually continue cleaning but I don't have a choice.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend and has a wonderful start to the work week!

I love you Mike!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm a bad blogger

I'm really sorry that I haven't kept up my end of this blogging bargain - blogging every day has gotten a little away from me.

Anyway, just a few more days until Mike is home on R&R and I can't wait! Over the holiday we have a few "busy" days, but the remainder of the time it will be nice to just relax together! I know he's looking forward to being home too...and I know that his family is super excited as well - just a whole lot of excitement going around! :)

I have half of the house ready for Mike's return...the other half is supposed to get done tonight...we'll see about that! I bought a track light system that I want to put up in the kitchen and I bought a dimmer switch (thanks to a helpful phone call to my Dad) for it too, which will be nice I think.

Two big football wins today - ND won and so did Purdue, finally! My sister and her family (hubby Nate and son Curran) were tailgating at the Purdue/MSU game. She called me from the tailgating festivities to rub in how much fun they were having. I got them back though when I reported that at 10:00 in the morning it was about 70 degrees here...she was freezing! :)

This is kinda old news by now, but I thought I'd post the picture Mike sent because he knows a few of these people...kinda cool, even though Mike's not in the picture! He thought it was pretty funny at any rate. We all saw it, I'm sure, before he did because it hit the presses while he was asleep...but anyway, he got a kick out of it!

Well, I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend. Take care!

I love you Mike!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Hi everyone! Just a quick post on this spookie holiday evening! I just got a hilarious card from Mike's parents that made me laugh out loud (thanks, guys!). It wouldn't be as funny if I just told you about it, so I've scanned it in below.

and then when you open the card up and....

Isn't that hilarious? I seriously laughed out loud when I opened it up! :)

Things are getting a bit crazy. I'm expecting Mike home for his leave soon (SO excited) and then my parents are also coming out to visit, which will be great, especially over the holiday! I'm trying to get the house ready for both. I can't remember if I mentioned our roof and back porch problem in an earlier blog, but that is still under major construction. I'm hoping it's done within the next week. I'm also trying to organize other parts of the house...lots of work (fun, but work)! We are also getting ready for two exhibitions at school, one for our students' internship and one for our semester-long project. Needless to say, the days aren't long enough to get everything done. Last week I took my car in for an oil change and $400 later, had it back. Today something else went wrong, so now it's back in the shop...go figure! On top of that, I've been dealing with the smog check on Mike's Jeep...totally a pain in the ass (sorry, but it is!). Because I haven't been able to drive both cars as often as I'd like, the Jeep had a dead battery. So, I put my neighbor put a new one in so I could get to the smog check place and evidently you have to drive it around for a couple weeks before a Smog Check...which I learned when our car failed one portion of I bought a new battery, spent an hour and a half in the DMV to get an extension for our plates and will be taking it back to pay for yet another smog check at the end of this week!

Anyway, I'm not really complaining even though it might seem like it. Things are really going well around here...I've got nothing to complain about!! I hope everyone is keeping busy, enjoying the awesome Fall season and taking care.

Also, for those of you who know my Grandma, please keep her in a special place in your thoughts. She's going through a move right now and isn't really feeling her usual, spunky self (she's got a better golf game than most of us!). I wish I could be there to help cheer her up...but maybe sending some happy thoughts her way will help! Love you Grandma!

I love you Mike!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

ND v Navy

Wow, what a fun game day for college football! Penn State plays at Purdue but I'm not holding my breath for a Boilermaker win there. Sadly, I'm not going to be able to watch the whole ND vs. Navy game but, once again, I am taping it for Mike, so maybe I'll watch it later (depends on the outcome, I suppose). I didn't realize that Navy hasn't beat ND since 1963! My allegiances are torn today but I hope it's a great game! Enjoy the Saturday everyone!

I love you Mike!

Go Irish...errr...Anchors Away...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mike's Fun Day

Yesterday we held our one and only battalion Fun Day. It was essentially a sports day geared towards taking a break from work, convoys and the caves everyone migrates to after their days are done. I played on our command staff dodgeball team. We got our asses kicked. Apparently I need to dodge more wrenches. Actually dodging wasn’t my problem. I was put out three times because I got lazy and threw floaters which the other team caught. Otherwise I was zinging them in pretty good, although I didn’t hit anyone in the face, which I was kind of hoping too. I’m glad Dad taught me how to throw a ball, both baseball and football, because some people really look ridiculous throwing anything. So in that sense I made out ok, but my team still got crushed. We were 1-4, but at least we didn’t get shut out completely. That was the only sport I played, which was a good thing because my arm was falling off afterwards. Thank God for Advil. I watched a little bit of volleyball and floor hockey, ate a cheeseburger, and was going to play basketball but a couple of rockets hit somewhere on the other side of base, so as you can imagine the fun was over. At least I got the cheeseburger in beforehand!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Ziggurat of Ur (from Mike)

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted anything, but I guess I’ve been engrossed in work and really haven’t had much to write about. But, last week I took a tour of the Ziggurat of Ur, which is right outside one of our gates. A ziggurat is a temple, and Ur is the ancient town where Abraham and his family lived for a bit. The ziggurat itself is still standing, but most of the city is in ruins, although much of is has been excavated throughout the years. Our tour guide, who is also the site curator, is a third generation archeologist of Ur. He learned to speak English, as well as a few other languages, from reading the dictionary. Pretty impressive! We got to climb to the top of the ziggurat, which afforded us views of the surrounding countryside. A lot of sand and rocks, as you can imagine. Just beyond visual range is the Euphrates River running north-south down to the Arabian Gulf. Apparently in ancient times the Gulf came up to the shores of Ur. Anyway, after the climb up and down, we walked into the city ruins, stopping first at a small building which contains the oldest standing arch in the world. As far as you know. Inside the city we walked down into a couple of tombs, and also checked out some of the earliest forms of hieroglyphic writing on various bricks throughout the city. That didn’t take too long, as much of the city still lays unearthed. We continued our walk through the back gates of the city out to what was once an area of land in between the city’s inner and outer gates, where Abraham’s house was. Actually his father has built it (can’t remember the name, but I’m sure it’s in the bible) and after he died Abraham and Sarah lived there for awhile. The house and surrounding area has been rebuilt, which is cool in a way that you get to see what it was like, but kind of uncool in a way because it sticks out amongst the other ruins. Ah well. It was rebuilt in anticipation of the Pope visit in 1999, which was subsequently cancelled when Saddam couldn’t guarantee the Pope’s safety. After walking through the house, which was actually more like a large compound, we circled back towards the ziggurat, stopping at the palace which had once stood beside it. The square footage was as big if not bigger than the temple, but unfortunately it hasn’t survived intact like the ziggurat.

So that’s Ur and its ziggurat. I imagine one day Western archeologists will flock to the area once the country is stabilized, as they had in the 20s and 30s, but for now excavation will be slow and of course it will go unheard of while the violence continues.

Thanks for the post Mike. I love you!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Couldn't Resist

Hi everyone! Sorry it's been so darn long since I've posted. I was away for a while and then I've been super busy at work. I don't have much to say/post, but couldn't resist sharing this picture with everyone! I'm waiting for more pictures and a couple posts from Mike, but I thought this just could not wait!
Take care everyone!

I love you Mike!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quick post

Hi everyone! I just wanted to write a quick post to say I won't be posting for several days. I am going on a boat trip, sailing from Long Beach to Catalina in preparation for the same trip we'll be taking the students on in November. I hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll write more when I return either Sunday or Monday!

I love you Mike!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Apple Cider

Wednesday is market day here in Ocean Beach, I'm not sure if I've posted that before. When Mike is home, one of our favorite things to do is walk up to the market, nibble on some humus samples and generally just walk around and look at what all the vendors are selling. You can get great fresh fruits and vegetables at the market, and we've done that once or twice too. While Mike's been gone, I don't spend as much time up there as we used to, but I still try and go. I try and pick up a little "treat" for myself (a little piece of homemade cheesecake is usually top on my list). I also like to get fresh flowers to liven up the house. Lately, this one stand has had the best selection and so I've gone there for the past few times. However, because of my birthday last week, I had flowers from Mike and my parents and my students so I didn't go to the market. Tonight I went back and the little old vendor was so sweet, he welcomed me back, thanked me for coming and gave me a big hug! It was cute! It's not like I'm his only customer, but it felt like it...and it was nice to be remembered, you know? Anyway, I bought a beautiful bouquet of fall colors, the oranges, yellows, dark reds...they are really pretty!

Tonight I also bought a 1/2 gallon of apple cider. I LOVE apple cider. It might be my favorite thing to drink (other than wine, of course). This cider isn't bad, but it makes me miss home (Grand Rapids), where you can find the BEST apple cider of all time at Robinettes Apple Orchard. Bold statement, I know, but I think it's true. I've tasted cider from several different places and states and have yet to find one that compares to Robinettes - honestly! So, as I am sitting here tonight sipping cider and waiting for the new episode of LOST to air, I find that I am looking forward to my trip home to GR in December during which I will spend some quality time at Robinettes drinking as much cider as I can!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My own version of While You Were Out

When Mike gets home for his leave, I'm hoping he's going to feel like he's been on that TLC show, While You Were extended version! Today I had yet another great day of house work. Yesterday, on my Aunt Pat and Aunt Theresa's advice I went to one of the OB antique shops and asked them where I could find the bistro table I was looking to put on our newly carpeted (clear throat) back porch. I have been looking for weeks now and couldn't seem to find anything that was relatively inexpensive or the right size or even nice looking. Anyway, this store had a wood table that was very cute, but I wasn't really looking for wood since it was for outdoors. So, she sent me to this place called Classic Consignments that, for those of you who live in San Diego, is off the Washington Street exit on the 5 (if you are heading south, it's the exit after Old Town). This place is amazing...they pretty much have everything! And yes, they had the exact thing I was looking for. I found a little wrought iron table and two chairs, all the perfect size. The set was painted white and pretty old but I got it home, sanded it, primed it and painted it black and it looks PERFECT on the porch. I also found some garden lights and hung those up around the porch. In talking with my mom tonight, I think one of the final things I'd like to do out there is get some small planters to put along the wall, just to add a bit of color. I will need to get glass to put on top of the table and some seat cushions as well, but now that I've actually gotten the table, I'm happy!

Also on my list today: towels and a new shelf for the "guest" bathroom! I had one little shelf for in there, but actually did not like it at all, and this new one is much nicer and was actually the same exact price as the other one! That is pretty much all I did today. Sadly, I did not get enough school work done, but I did get I guess I can't expect to get it all in on one weekend! I submitted a proposal for a conference in Boston for the spring of next year, which would be cool. I've never been to Boston, but my cousin Mike is there right now for graduate school so hopefully he'll be there and can show me around...or at least tell me some cool places to visit!

Well, that's about all I've got for now. I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a good week coming up!

I love you Mike!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

4 more hours

We are 8 hours into this LAN party and I'm ready for it to end so I can get some sleep. The kids have been great and we've had a good night (and morning) so far, but I am just not cut out for staying up for a whole day! I really thought my all-nighters were over at this stage in my life! I have four more hours to go until we start the clean-up and I'm feeling very zombie-like. I'm actually only posting this in an effort to stay awake! I'll try and post more when I've gotten some sleep and am more coherent...

I love you Mike!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's been too long..

Sorry, I know it's been a long time (too long) since I posted last. I was talking to my sister on the phone tonight and she reminded me I hadn't posted in several days...sorry about that. The good thing is I've been keeping busy, the bad thing is...I've been really busy!

I got some beautiful birthday flowers from Mike today and a nice package from my parents too. My mom asked me what I was doing for my birthday and I told her that I was spending a very relaxing evening at home watching some good television. Might not sound too exciting, but it's really nice to just relax for a night!

I just finished watching the season premier of was really good, but I hate that I now have to wait until next week to see what happens next. I don't think I'm patient enough for this show even though I love it so much! I'm looking forward to watching Grey's Anatomy tonight too. These are two of my favorite shows (I also love 24 and The Unit and, of course, all the Law and Order shows!).

Mike is doing well even though he hasn't been able to post anything in some time. He's keeping busy and is finally over his cold. He said that it's starting to really cool down at night, but even though it's getting cooler during the day, the temperature recently went back up a bit. He's doing much of the same things at work (sorry, I don't know details) and is reading a lot when he gets "home" at night. I know that he's really looking forward to coming home on leave in just over a month - just in time for Thanksgiving! My parents are coming out to visit during that week too, so it'll be great to have everyone around for this holiday. We'll be eating LOTS of Turkey and hopefully have lots of leftover Turkey sandwiches as well.

Well, that's about it for today. Sorry I don't have more to post. I'll try and take a picture of the flowers Mike sent and post that too...just for fun! I have another all-night LAN party to chaperone tomorrow night so I may not get to post much this weekend (I'll be sleeping most of Saturday). That being said, I hope everyone has a great weekend!

I love you Mike!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

San Diego Fleet Week

I didn't realize it until I was driving downtown this morning, but SD Fleet Week is going on. This also means that, once again, the Navy Ball is coming up and once again, we will not be going. Last year I think Mike was in transition, the year before I think we were in San Francisco and I can't recall other times, but some year I will drag him, kicking and screaming, to this event...I can't resist! Anyway, lots of great ships in town right now and tons of people to remind me how much we owe our service men and women and how much we have to honor them for. All this reminded me, of course, of Mike and how proud I am of him and the work he's doing.

I love you Mike!

(next year, no excuses...Navy Ball!) ;)

Time Change

Just an update: Until we set our clocks back here in the US, Mike is one less hour ahead of us all...not that late night phone calls are an issue or anything, but I just thought it'd be nice to know. The blog time has been updated to reflect this.

Happy weekend!

I love you Mike!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

One Indiana rivalry decided

ND 35 Purdue 21

Who am I kidding?!?

I can't just watch a game and not want someone to win...I'm way too competitive for that! And, having just watched both teams take the field I have to say I'm yelling "Go Boilermakers!" in my living room.

I know the way-more-loyal ND fans (Mike and his parents and probably my brother Tom) are rooting for the Irish...but I gotta go with my alma mater here!

Go Boilermakers!

Go Team!!

BIG game day for me today...Notre Dame v. Purdue! I am going to watch the game for the pure enjoyment of football today because having a lifelong love of ND and being an alum of Purdue makes it too difficult for me to choose!

Go Team! :)

I love you Mike...and yes, I'm still taping games for you! ;)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Loving SoCal

Looking at the sky tonight is why I love living in San Diego. These pictures in no way do justice to the reality of it, but I wanted to's beautiful and took my breath it does every night! I wish Mike could be here to see it with me...but soon...and we'll be able to appreciate the sky together at night (and in the morning and in the afternoon for that matter) for the rest of our lives!!

Enjoy the evening everyone and have a wonderful Friday!

Nothing new

I don't really have anything new or exciting to post tonight. I skipped out of school early today to come home because I have a killer migraine due to my ever-present muscle knot that shows up in my shoulders. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons this semester are the only time I have free periods during the day because my students are out on internship and after a meeting this afternoon at 2:30, I left to come home to my heating pad. Sadly, it hasn't helped. A friend reminded me on the phone tonight that I am just "getting old" - and even though she's older than I am already, she was quick to remind me that this time next week I'll be one year "closer to my grave" as she so eloquently put it! How nice!! :) Seriously, there are days when I forget altogether that I'm not 18...especially when I am still listening to much of the same music and watching the same television shows as my students! That being said, not much is new. My big plans this upcoming weekend are planning for school, working on the looming dissertation, writing a conference paper (yikes), cleaning my house and doing all the laundry! I was in kinda a bummer mood yesterday because I was just missing Mike more than usual, but it helps knowing he'll be coming home for a "visit" in a little over a month! It'll be hard to say good-bye again, but I can't wait to see him either...and it'll be amazing to spend Thanksgiving with both of our sets of parents together! I am hoping that this short break will help us get through the next long months apart.

I hope everyone is happy and healthy!

I love you Mike!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My weekend

Have you ever had one of those weekends in which you are constantly doing something and then at the end of it you feel like you haven't accomplished anything? After Friday night, I spent most of the weekend working around our house. I admit I had to call my Dad several times and I made several trips to the hardware store - actually, three hardware stores! I finally laid the carpet on our back porch. I'm pretty excited about that because it now looks great! My next project out there is to fix the lighting and to work on a little corner bistro area. Yes, Dad, I said my next project...just like you, I've always got another one in the works! :) I also worked on fixing that stupid IKEA panel system that I am using for a closet door in our bedroom. It looks looks really nice, but it was the biggest pain in the butt I've ever had to deal with!! I also fixed up the second bathroom (that one I still haven't actually used since we moved in) a bit. I still have some work to do in there, but that'll have to wait. I cleaned, did laundry and organized the garage...and I was feeling pretty good about it all until I realized last night that I had not thought about school since I walked out Friday afternoon! I spent last night working on organizing my week and I think I'm settled in and tomorrow is already Wednesday - it's crazy!!

Anyway, I hope everyone else had an enjoyable and relaxing (or productive) weekend.

I love you Mike!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Message from Mike!

Not much going on lately. Today is Sunday and it’s slow here at the office, as usual. I’m trying to get over a cold so the extra sleep this morning helped. Yes, I have a cold in 105 degree heat. I think going from air conditioning to blazing heat and back finally caught up to me. Ah well. So it looks like everything is all set for me to leave here November 14 for my R&R leave. I’ll get to San Diego sometime on the 16th or 17th, depending on how things go. I can’t wait!

Oh, Happy Belated Rosh Hashanah and Happy Ramadan! They both started this week-end. I think that’s funny. So far everything has been calm, and I don’t expect it to change. We may hear celebratory fire, but that’s about it.

On my office wall I have a Notre Dame pennant and a Purdue pennant. I took a bunch of shit last week for the ND loss, but I haven’t heard much from all the Minnesota fans on their loss to Purdue! I met a guy here in our battalion who played for MSU in 2000, and the only game he started was against Purdue. He ended up getting hurt, lost his scholarship, played Division II in Minnesota, got hurt again, lost that scholarship and ended up joining the Guard to finish up school. Unfortunately he’s been deployed so much he hasn’t had much time to take classes! Many of the guys in the battalion deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo in 2002/2003 so they’ve been gone quite a bit, or I should say more than normal for the Guard and Reserves.

Anyway, I’m off to dinner - probably another cheeseburger and macaroni salad. Colleen thinks I’m weird for eating macaroni salad every day, especially since I didn’t eat it that much at home, but the four or five varieties of it here are pretty damn good. And consistent! I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger for today...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Operation Homecoming

Last night I went to Encinitas for the book reading event for Operation Homecoming, a new anthology of war writings from sailors, soldiers, marines and airman and their families from during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. It was a pretty powerful night. The San Diego MCRD band played a few songs, my favorite of which was the Armed Forces Salute. There were several active and retired service men and women in the audience and watching them stand at attention as their song was played was pretty intense for me. Being surrounded by members of my community who had served and/or have family members and loved ones currently serving gave me a real sense of belonging. I love being in a room where I know that I am connected with everyone else through my sense of pride in Mike for what he and others are doing, and have done, both currently and in the recent and distant past. I love being in a room where patriotism is the feeling du jour...where's it's normal, natural and even welcomed! It was not a political night. It was not a night where anyone (hardly) spoke of the war as the news syndicates speak of it. Instead, it was a night that emphasized the individual impact of war - how service members and their families deal with the realities of war on a daily basis. The book is filled with emails, letters, poems and stories about life, love and loss and it's both heartbreaking and uplifting at once. I was thinking about a couple things last night as I sat in that auditorium listening to the stories from these newly-made and most well-deserving authors. I was thinking about my Grandfathers who both served and how little I ever heard them say about anything traumatic. I heard many more stories from my Dad's dad (mostly because my Mom's Dad died before I was old enough to really begin asking serious questions) about how he and his buddy Sergent Wiecheck (sp?) from Ohio got in trouble one evening because they were speeding along back roads during WWII to get back to base in time to see the Red Cross movie. He told me of the V-mail he received and how much he enjoyed getting those letters - and sending them. He had lots of stories, but he only shared with me the ones that would bring a smile to my face...not the realities of what he had been through, even the heartache at being away from his family. I thought a lot about both of them last night and how much different things are now that email and Instant Messaging and phone calls have replaced the long-awaited letters arriving by post. It would be good if I could remember how lucky I am to be living and going through this experience now. I was also thinking about Mike and what stories he might have that he isn't, can't or won't share with me about this experience for him. It's hard to get inside someone's head - or dig out from your own head - those instances or memories that might be traumatic or troubling or emotionally intense in some way as they are happening. As I sat there listening to other stories, I wondered what stories Mike might be living at that very was a sobering thought. This isn't fiction, I reminded myself. In some ways it is so much better than fiction - it's real, it's life.

You can see the schedule of readings across the country if you click here...if it comes anywhere near you, you should check it out.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is it Friday yet?

I love that time is going by quickly because that means that each day brings me closer to seeing Mike again, but seriously, I NEED this weekend to catch my breath! I was talking to Mike tonight and it really does seem like it won't be that long until we see each other again, considering how quickly time is going by and how much we have on our plates in the next two months...but being that crazy busy also means that I am crazy busy!

I wanted to write tonight to thank everyone who responded to my last post...kind words are always nice to hear! To everyone who read the post but didn't comment, I hope you at least had a few moments to reflect on all the good in your worlds!

Before I sign off, I want to wish my brother, Tom, a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope he had a great day and enjoys his first nights in his NEW apartment!

Take care everyone!

I love you Mike!!

Monday, September 18, 2006


There are so many things going on in our world today that are negative and terrible and that often take a front-seat in the news and in our minds that I thought it might be nice to take a few minutes to think of how much we still have to learn and be amazed about (and happy and thankful for) in our world! I'll start:

I learned today that a new species of shark was found in the waters off Indonesia. This shark evidently walks on its fins across the ocean floor. If that is not cool, I'm not sure what is! If you want to read a short article about this and other discoveries, click here. Last year I went on a sailing trip from Long Beach to Catalina Island (I'm going again twice in the next couple of months) and on this trip I was mesmerized by the huge kelp beds that I swam and snorkeled through. I hate seaweed, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this at all. However, moving in and out of these huge, flowing walls and being surprised by all kinds of fish at each turn, I couldn't believe I hadn't done this earlier in my life! Happily, I came face to face with several beautiful fish, mostly the Garibaldi, an awesome golden, orange fish that heavily populates this area. I also met a few gorgeous jellyfish that were so beautiful I couldn't stop watching or following them. They move so gracefully in the water! I have always loved the water, but this experience just gave me a whole new appreciation for it and I am always looking forward to my next opportunity!

Another thing I'd like to share is how proud I am to be part of one of the greatest families ever! First, I'd like to share just how darn proud I am of my "little" brother, Tom (Tommy, to me). He has worked so hard to achieve his dreams and last week he finally was able to proudly stand beside my Dad in the same uniform that my Dad and Grandpa wore for the Grand Rapids Police Department. I know this has been a long, tough road for him and I am so proud of him for keeping his eye on the ball and a positive attitude throughout. Way to go Tom! Beside my brother are my parents, two of the most amazing people I've ever met. I am so proud to be their daughter! They work so hard at everything they do and they ALWAYS have time for their family - which no matter what, has always come first. I know a lot of people who cringe when they realize they are turning into their parents, and even though I joke about my quirky sense of humor (thanks Mom) and my growing love of Builder's Square and "measuring 20 times to be sure to cut once" (thanks Dad), I am more than proud to find myself growing up in the image of my parents! My sister Nicky is equally amazing to me. She is an awesome Mom who is also the best sister I could have ever asked for. We didn't always feel this way and we didn't always get along, but as we were growing up we ALWAYS looked to my mom and her sisters and hoped that we too would, one day, have that same wonderful, close relationship. I am happy to say that, even though we live far apart, I feel we do have that relationship now and I couldn't be happier. My nephew, Curran, amazes me daily. He is so happy, honest and helpful and such a great kid to be around that I feel inspired each time I see him or a picture of him and realize he is growing up to me such a magnificent young man. His mother has A LOT to do with this, but so does his Dad, my brother-in-law, Nate. Nate has been such a great role model for Curran and, with his love of life and his easy-going nature, seems to constantly put a smile on both Nicky and Curran's faces, and for that, I am forever grateful! I remember one Christmas when Curran got one of those mini-Jeeps that are so popular for kids. The first thing he did was to take a "tool", climb underneath it, and "fix it"! We have a picture floating around somewhere of Curran's little legs sticking out from under this Jeep and it is so precious! Next to Nate is my Grandma Warwick, my Dad's mom. I can't say enough about what she's done to inspire me over the years. A few years ago we vacationed in Cancun (yes, and we sipped margaritas by the pool together!) and on the plane she told me she once wanted to be an airline attendant. I loved that I learned something new about her that vacation and my respect for her and all she devoted to help keep our family (her kids, grandkids and my Grandpa) a happy and healthy family never ceases to amaze me. I only wish that, someday, I will be half the golfer that she is! :) Also in the picture is Keri, who is as much a part of our family as anyone else. She and Tommy have been - close - for a long time and I know that we all hope that they continue to grow together and lead happy and healthy lives. The only flaw I can find with Keri (but still love about her) is that she kicks all of our butts in the Christmas Craft!!! Anyway, that's my family and I have been thinking a lot about them lately. I love you guys!

I'd like to also say that I am always, always thankful that I have Mike in my life. Even though being apart is difficult (it sucks actually, no matter how you spin it), we try and make each other laugh and smile as often as possible. Sometimes we do this by telling each other (or emailing) silly jokes (A Grasshopper walks up to the bar and the bartender exclaims, "Hey, we have a drink named after you!" To which the grasshopper replies, "No Way!! You have a drink named George?!?"), or sometimes it is remembering old vacations and looking ahead to new ones, or sometimes it is just by calling each other a silly nickname. Regardless, we are constantly trying to make this deployment easier on the other person. I am lucky to have someone so considerate and loving as my boyfriend - seriously, you gotta love that mug, don't you?? Mike's family is also amazing and has pretty much adopted me while he's been gone. It's great because they live only a short way away from here so we get to see each other often and we talk often as well! Actually, I see all but his sister Erin who is following her dreams and working as a guide for tours all across Asia - how amazing is that?? Erin keeps in touch via email, but my blog is banned by the Chinese government - how funny is that?

Ok your turn now...think of all the things that you are proud of, thankful for and amazed by and enjoy the rest of your week!

I love you Mike!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Today is my day to sleep in (from Mike)

Today is my day to sleep in. It’s Sunday and I don’t use my alarm clock so I usually wake up around 8 and get to work by 9-9:30. This morning the weather was awesome – sunny and around 80 degrees. It felt like 60, and it felt like a perfect fall day to watch football, or at least catch the scores on Sportscenter since we’re half a day ahead. Come to find out Notre Dame lost bad to U of M so my day is pretty much ruined. Whatever, I’ll get over it. Eventually. The Padres won so that’s somewhat comforting. Anyway, enough of sports I can’t watch at a reasonable hour. Like I said, today is Sunday and is pretty quiet around here. It’s a good day to catch up on work and not get bothered by too many people. I think the high is only going to be 109. Second day in a row, and the only two since I’ve been here, it’s been below 110. It’s getting brisk!

So Colleen and I were talking last night about the trench they are building around Baghdad. I think it would be funny if they made a moat around it and stationed archers on the towers while on the lookout for insurgents with catapults. It brings back scenes from Monty Python...and just goes to show you how ridiculous the situation is over here. Ah well, in less than two months I’ll be home on leave!


I'm sorry that I haven't posted in a week! I got pretty busy at work and then got a little cold and so was a bit out of it. On top of this, Mike was "traveling" this week and while I was a bit nervous about that, I didn't (and still don't) have many details and so not much to say. He's back at his FOB now (thankfully) and has even had time to send me a blog post which I'll be posting in a minute.

I'm still fighting a little cold, but this afternoon I am going to the 14th Annual Sea Shanty festival at the San Diego Maritime Museum. I have lots of work to do this afternoon and am going in to school in just a few minutes so that I can work for a few hours before I get to see "Pint and Dale" perform! :)

I love you Mike!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

I woke up extra early this morning and tried to post something to commemorate this day. I wrote a few things, erased them, wrote some more and kept erasing. I, like many others, remember exactly where I was that morning as I watched the second plane hit the tower and later as I watched both towers collapse. I was lucky enough not to know anyone lost that day, either in New York, the Pentagon or on any of the planes. However, I still have a hard time seeing those images and thinking about all those people who lost their lives and those survivors who lost loved ones, friends and family.

Today I had to teach 9/11 as a history lesson. I found this challenging and emotionally trying. I can not yet look at the events that unfolded that day as history - they are still too close, too painful, too fresh. Challenging too was that the students I was teaching were a mere 10 and 11 years old on that morning. Those that do have memories have vague ones, others have no memory at all. I was both sad and happy about this. I was glad that these students did not have the same emotional memories that I have from that day. But I was sad because they also were finding it difficult to even sympathize, let alone empathize, with those whose lives were changed forever 5 years ago. They made amazingly mature comments about how sad it was to see people commodify this date, taking advantage of other peoples' pain by selling photos, flags and continuously replaying the harsh images. They noted, poetically, that the great thing about the days, weeks and months after the tragedy was that everyone felt like family and pulled together but that now that closeness seems to have been forgotten. They chastised all of us (me included) who have ever thought that this tragedy has made us appreciate our lives more because, according to these amazing young people, we should all ALWAYS appreciate our lives and it should never take a tragedy for us to recognize how lucky we all are.

With or without detailed memories, each student had a perspective that opened all of our eyes just a bit wider. I admit that I have often thought back on this day and found myself thinking how grateful I am to have a happy, healthy family, a wonderful group of supportive friends and an amazing, brave and dedicated boyfriend. I still thought this today and will continue to think these things every day from here on out. As my students so appropriately pointed out, living each day like this is truly the only way to honor the memory of 9/11. Included in this for me is a continued thank you and show of support for all the men and women serving our country so proudly and all the families that stand by and support those soldiers, sailors and marines.

Thank you Mike and I love you!

p.s. - if you are interested, The Chronicles of Narmya has reposted what I think is a pretty touching memorial on his blog. It's a big file, so you have to let it load, but I think it's worth it. Click here

Sunday, September 10, 2006

lazy Sunday

I don't think I've fully recovered from the all-night LAN party yet so I haven't been very productive today. It's been a very nice day and I took advantage of that by sitting outside and reading Treasure Island, which I just finished a few minutes ago. If you've never read this classic, I'd recommend it. The next book I'm going to start is Two Years Before the Mast. Mike picked up a copy of this at the book "store" on his base and we are going to read it at the same time...just as a fun something we can do together, even while we aren't together. I think he's started it already, and I'll start it tonight.

Anyway, that's about all I have for now. Hope everyone is enjoying this lazy Sunday!

I love you Mike!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A fine SoCal day

Last night I experienced my first LAN (local area network) party. I hosted it as part of a fundraiser for a trip on the Tole Mour we are taking in November with our students. This was the wildest thing I have ever seen - not in terms of "crazy" but just strange and unique. At about 2:30 in the morning (it was from 7p-7a) all the lights were off in the building and all you could see as you walked around was this blue glow coming from all the computers. I didn't actually participate in any games, but watched a few...the graphics on these games are so much better than Super Mario Brothers, which is pretty much the last video game I played. Actually, there was a period in graduate school where I got hooked on the game Silent Hill, mostly because it was scarier than any movie I had seen in a long time (and I LOVE scary movies!) and because it was fun to try and solve the puzzle of the game.

Anyway, the party went off without too much of any trouble and though I tried to get a little sleep, I didn't really succeed in doing so. I was basically a zombie much of the night and morning. I did drink several Mountain Dews, the only thing that would keep me awake as I don't drink coffee or those crazy energy drinks like Bawls.

What helped perk me up is that I got to talk to Mike this morning, which just made my day! He said he's been keeping busy and not much else by way of excitement has happened, so no worries there! I am sure that the early part of our conversation was hilarious to him because I was so out of it. I came around after awhile and started making more sense, so we ended up having an awesome conversation. Each time we talk I still get just a little sad because I just wish so much that we could be having our conversations sitting next to each other on the couch, but I am also so grateful for every phone call that it usually helps get over that sadness. Actually, today I was reading the message board on the BTB website (linked off to the side and here) and one post helped - once again - put this experience in perspective for me. This one woman was writing to her husband about how excited they were to see him...evidently he's taking his leave soon and will be home with his family for 15 days. She told him that their one daughter has her 2 bottom teeth now, that she will be turning 8 months old (Happy birthday little Brooke!) and that she looks more like her daddy every day. She also said that he'll be amazed when he sees their two-year-old daughter who is like "2 going on 20" - an image I think we can all picture in our minds! I don't know these people, but I feel a connection to them: this deployment. However, I am reminded when I read things like this, or hear about other families like them, that there are people making sacrifices that are likely much more difficult than ours. I am not saying that I do not feel Mike's absence every day or that I do not miss him more than ever. I do. I think about him and his safety and how excited I am for him to come home each and every day. But, knowing that there are fathers out there who have missed so much of their kids' lives puts things in perspective for me and helps me get through every "rough spot" that I have. I know how difficult this has been for me and I can only imagine how tough it would be on families with children. A thank you is not truly enough repayment for their sacrifices, but I want to thank them all the same!

After my conversation with Mike, and these ensuing thoughts that I've just let you all in on, I walked up to the post office to mail my weekly letter. The reason I didn't post it on Friday, as usual, was because of that LAN party. I went in to school around 6 a.m. on Friday morning and didn't get a chance to return home prior to the LAN the letter had to wait. As I was walking home, the marine layer burned off, just in time for the Notre Dame game. And here's my idea of the ideal SoCal day: I rolled the television as near my back porch as I could, set up my chair in the sun and sat outside most of the afternoon watching ND beat Penn State, 41-17. It wasn't entirely a bad game, despite that score. I was, however, hoping for a closer and more exciting game - or even second half. Regardless, it was a great afternoon! Of course, it would have been a perfect afternoon if Mike had been here watching with me. But, I cheered enough for the both of us!!

Well everyone, that's about all I have for now. I hope that everyone is having a great weekend.

I love you Mike!

Mailing packages

Hi everyone!

I will have more to post later today when ND beats Penn State, but for now and before I forget I wanted to provide a little hint about mailing packages to our sailors, soldiers and marines in Iraq (or, elsewhere, for that matter I think) to anyone reading this blog. So, I might be a little slow on the uptake and you all might already know this, but the post office has "flat rate" boxes in two different sizes (one boxy the other longer and skinnier) that will cost, no matter where you ship or what you put in them, only $8.88. Generally packages aren't all that much to begin with, or at least they aren't from my experience. The last package I sent Mike was the in the medium size "ready-to-post" box and it cost me around $12.00, which I thought was pretty good considering all that I could pack into it. However, my sister and my mom both informed me about this flat rate box and I checked on it when I went in this morning to mail my weekly card (which usually goes out on Friday...more on that in a later post). For those of us who want to send packages often, this flat rate box might be a better, cheaper way to do it. You can't fit as much stuff in each box, but then again, it might be more fun to send several boxes!

Hopefully this is worthwhile news for those of you who didn't already know this!

Go Irish!!

I love you Mike!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mike's take on the "excitement"

I experienced my first rocket attack a couple of days ago. It was the third or fourth since being here, but this one I actually heard and felt. A large group of us was sitting in a meeting area discussing some convoy procedures when the first rocket landed across the road from us. It felt like an earthquake, but carried a sonic boom with it. Then we heard debris hitting our roof. A second and third one followed, not as close, but close enough to hear it. And then a few more further away. What sucked is waiting for the “next” one to hit, the one to come through the roof into our meeting. I had a tanker on one side of me and an artillery guy on the other side, and they kept on saying, as we were all ducking, “Here comes another” and “sounds like another one incoming” all the while I couldn’t hear shit. The weird thing is that here is this room full of experienced soldiers and the only thing we could do to defend ourselves was to duck. Kinda funny actually. What was really funny was the chaplain who was there with us was the only one to have his helmet and body armor with him, and he immediately put it all on. The artillery guy next to me made a funny remark about the chaplain’s lack of faith, but I think it might have been divine intervention – he was the only one with the forethought to bring his armor! Ah well, it’s all funny now that it’s over and no one got hurt. Hopefully that’s the last one for awhile though.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Prelim Flowers Part Deux

Mike sent me MORE flowers to help me celebrate passing prelims. It was certainly unnecessary but also a very welcome surprise! He's so sweet! It's nice to know that no matter how far apart we are we are always still thinking of each other. In his card he called me his "brilliant professor" and I just wanted to say that he too is my "brilliant sailor" so we are an even pair (though I'd add brave to his card and I can't take credit for that, so he'll always be one up in my book)!!

I love you Mike!


I did it to myself again so I really shouldn't complain, but I'm going to. This morning I've been watching Meet the Press and Rick Santorum and Bob Casey are the guests. Poor Tim Russert. Seriously, I don't know how he doesn't just reach over the table and smack both of these guys in the head! To leave my own political bend out of this, I won't tell you which one I think fared better on the show...but I really think one guy did outshine the other! I have a problem with politicians in general because it seems they NEVER directly answer a question. If the question calls for a Yes or a No response, why can't they be like ALL OTHER PEOPLE and give a straight answer. Also, if they are asked questions like: What are a few of the programs you'd cut to help balance the budget? or Would you vote to start removing troops from Iraq by the end of the year? they never actually answer the question. They skirt the issue, or they bash the "other" guy or they direct the question to a totally different topic, but they NEVER actually answer the question. It's infuriating! Another reason why I've nearly lost respect for all politicians is because they really are MEAN. Why is this necessary? These two guys are sitting right next to each other on the show and they are flat out being mean and rude to one another. Why should we vote for them? What kind of role models are they if they acting like this? Why should I entrust these people to make any major decisions that will affect MY life when they are acting like spoiled, bratty little kids? I half expected them to revert to the "Your Ugly" argument - I'm not kidding! I'm actually still watching the show now and they are literally fighting right is this productive?!? As much as I have gotten angry watching them skirt the issues and be mean to one another, it mostly just makes me sad. All I can say today is that I'm glad I'm not voting in Pennsylvania during these midterm elections!

Hail Purdue

- Chorus -
Hail, Hail to Old Purdue,
All Hail to our Old Gold and Black,
Hail, Hail to Old Purdue,
Our friendship may she never lack,
Ever grateful, ever true,
Thus we raise our song anew,
Of the days we've spent with you,
All Hail, our own Purdue.

- First Stanza -
To your call once more we rally,
Alma Mater, hear our praise!
Where the Wabash spreads its valley,
Filled with joy our voices raise,
From the sky in swelling echoes,
Come the cheers that tell the tale,
Of vic'tries and your heroes,
Hail Purdue! We sing. All Hail!

- Second Stanza -
When in after years we're turning,
Alma Mater, back to you,
May our hearts with love be yearning,
For the scenes of old Purdue.
Back among your pathways winding,
Let us seek what lies before,
Fondest hopes and aim e'er finding,
While we sing of days of yore.

Notre Dame Victory March

Rally sons of Notre Dame:
Sing her glory and sound her fame,
Raise her Gold and Blue
And cheer with voices true:
Rah, rah, for Notre Dame
We will fight in ev-ry game,
Strong of heart and true to her name
We will ne'er forget her
And will cheer her ever
Loyal to Notre Dame

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame,
Wake up the echoes cheering her name,
Send a volley cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky.
What though the odds be great or small
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons are marching
Onward to victory.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fall and Football!

This is my favorite time of football season! I love Fall weather (even in San Diego) and I love the excitement of college game days! I really wish Mike were here so that we could enjoy this season together, we always have such a good time watching the games together! But it really doesn't matter where we are, or what we are doing, we always have an awesome time together! When my parents come out in November (yay!) we'll take a trip to Julien and have some awesome apple pie and apple cider - then it'll really feel like Fall! I'll probably even bring a bunch of cider back home with me so that I can light spiced candles, sip cider and watch the games from my living room. If it's not clear, Fall is my absolute favorite time of year!!

I did talk to Mike this morning on the phone and he is doing well. They had a little "excitement" it seems at his base yesterday but luckily everyone is safe and no injuries!! He did say it was little nerve racking just waiting. Afterwards he said he and the other guys he was with were talking about what it might have been like in the trenches during WWII. I think they were all pretty glad to be behind concrete! Anyway, his mind quickly turned to football - and he reminded me to tape the Nortre Dame game for him today. I'm not going to be sending them to him because he doesn't have a way to watch them, but he'll certainly enjoy watching game after game when he gets home...kinda like his very own ESPN Classics series! :)

Well everyone, I'm sorry I haven't been more regular at posting. Things got a little crazy these last couple of weeks. Hopefully now that school has started, things will get back to a more regular schedule!

Hope all is well with everyone. Enjoy the games!!

I love you Mike!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I passed!

I found out today I passed my prelims!! Next step...finish that dissertation! :)

I love you Mike!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mike on wine

The wine dinner sounds awesome! Normally I can’t check the blog from work (I have to do it from the MWR computers) but Colleen emailed me her posting which contained the menu and wine list. Needless to say I’m jealous and have been craving good food and wine for quite sometime. Cheeseburgers, nameless casseroles and mystery meats aren’t cutting it, and Gatorade and bug juice don’t have much of a kick. Ah well.

So I figured I’d share my thoughts from the wine dinner I didn’t attend. Colleen and I have had a sparkling wine from the Prosecco region before, and I think we may still have some at home, unless we drank it all before I left. Not sure. Actually I think some went into a pitcher of sangria. Anyway, it was very good. I have not had the Nino Fanco though. The first course, the carpacio and sauvignon blanc, sound like an interesting mix. I’m not sure what came over me the last month in San Diego but I actually bought a Rose or two and found a few whites at tastings to be more palatable than usual. Not enough to totally win me over though. The second course sounds even better and I’d like to try that Pinot from Oregon. We haven’t had a bad one from the Willamette region yet. The salad looks unique, as usual for Bacchus, but Colleen said the Rosso was musky and dark so I wonder how that matched up. The main dish sounds amazing, and I bet the Syrah was excellent with it too. I don’t remember seeing Sinor-La Vallee up in Paso, but next time up there we’ll be sure to stop. The dessert sounds a bit fruity for me, but I’m sure I’d handle it with the port.

Now I still encourage Colleen to attend future wine dinners until I get home, even though she said she won’t. I think she should, and buy more wine in the process!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

More from Mike

Pluto getting dumped bull%$@&! How will people adapt now to only 8 planets?! I liked having nine planets. Nine is a more comfortable number than eight. Will the Disney character go away? What happens to the old science books with outdated information about the solar system? I wonder what G.W. thinks about it right now? I have no idea why that idea just popped into my head. I wonder what G.W. is thinking about Iraq? I wonder if someday this will become a permanent forward operating base, much like our bases in Japan, Germany and Italy. We call the naval forces in Japan the Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF). Maybe Iraq will turn out to be the same for the Army and Air Force. What better way to keep an eye on Iran? Or maybe things will turn out just swimmingly over here and Basra will become the Cotes d’Azur of the Arabian Gulf. The cradle of civilization will become the tourist destination for northerners from the US and Europe. Bibleland will open in Baghdad and fine wine will be made from apricots! OK, maybe not...for awhile at least.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

bye bye Pluto

It's official - Pluto is no longer a planet. It is hereafter to be considered a dwarf planet. I have to admit, I have always been fond of the planet Pluto and I am not sure how I feel about its downgrade. I am curious, however, to see how quickly textbooks change and how much money these changes will cost...not that books aren't already expensive enough! I found myself faced with this problem today actually. I had planned on starting out the year reading Longitude (the book I talked about in an earlier post) but a class set is going to cost me over $650.00! That's WAY over my course budget for the year!! I'm applying for a grant that will hopefully cover a portion of it, but I will not get that for weeks at best, and so I'm now considering other options to begin the year. I have a few ideas and I'm not entirely upset that this one book will have to wait, but I find it really ironic/amusing/annoying that getting books to use in the classroom is remarkably expensive and difficult! On top of this, if I spend my very limited budget money on class sets of books that, once bought, are no longer my property...and then I have spent money that I could use for trips or other classroom supplies! I can't remember exactly what I spent on books and materials last year, but it was close to (and by close, I'm thinking it was over) the cost of this one set of books!! I can't believe it and I know it's even worse for other teachers - crazy!!

So, last night I went to a wine dinner with another teacher and her husband (Amy and Patrick). Actually, Mike and I met them last year at a wine dinner at this same place and then Amy came in an applied for a job at my school - and the rest, as they say, is history! Anyway, I know Mike was really bummed that he couldn't attend this dinner and I've promised not to go to another one until he returns, but the menu was great and I thought I'd share, for lack of anything better to write about! And no, Mike, I did not leave with any bottles of wine, but they have TONS of new stuff and you're going to go crazy when you come home and see it all! :)

We began with finger foods and a NV Nino Fanco Prosecco di Valdobbiaddene from Italy (like a champagne)...then dinner began.

Carpacio Toscano a thinly sliced filet mignon with arugula and shaved parmigiano reggiano paired with a 2005 Honig Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley

Penne Cornelia a penne pasta with mushrooms, peas and fresh basil in a rose cream sauce paired with a 2004 Cardwell Hill Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Oregon

Insalata di pere mixed baby greens salad with thinly sliced pears, imported cheese and our light house dressing paired with a 1999 Mazza Rosso Toscano from Italy

Rotolo Lombardo a beef roll stuffed with proscuitto, fontina cheese and a tomato caper sauce paired with a 2003 Sinor-La Vallee Syrah from Paso Robles

and then dessert...
Zuppa inglese a pastry cream with fresh fruit paired with Graham's 10 Year Tawny Porto from Portugal.

My thoughts:
As I said, this dinner was great! I was not impressed at all with the Mazza Rosso. It tasted a bit too musky and flat, but other than that each of the wines were excellent and paired with great choices in food. Although I really hate peas, the penne cornelia was very tasty and the cream sauce matched the Pinot perfectly! The rotolo lombardo was, by far, the highlight of the meal and, even though I was pretty full by the time that course came out, I ate nearly the entire thing! My goal is to try and replicate this dish and I might have to butter up Francesco (the owner of Bacchus, where the dinners are held) a bit to get his trade secret! I also loved the dessert, mostly because it had great fresh kiwi and strawberries in a very smooth and light custard cream that complimented the port well. Ah, but this dinner was not nearly as good as it could have been if Mike had been sitting by my side and comparing his tasting notes and thoughts with mine! After a few of these dinners and other tastings, Mike and I decided to host our own wine bonanaza (his word, not mine!). We had the best time planning it all out and creating our food (we kept it pretty light at some really great cheeses and meats and also some fruit and chocolate) and wine lists. Our pours were also a tad too big and pretty much everyone got drunk, which was very fun but not really the point! ;) We were going to do another dinner the day after we moved into this new apartment and just before Mike deployed, (yes, it was a crazy idea) but the timing just wasn't right. So, we're both looking forward to his coming home and kicking the planning back into gear! This time, smaller pours!!

Well everyone, hopefully you've had a great work week and have nice plans for the upcoming weekend. I'll be planning for classes that begin on Monday!

Take care everyone!

I love you Mike!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Thank God for Cloud Cover (from Mike)

Thank God for cloud cover. It was only 100 degrees today, and now that I’m on foot that makes a huge difference! I had to turn my wheels in, and my new one is in the shop getting worked on. No big deal, the walking has been good for me. It’s 32 minutes from my front door to my office. And since I do the walk early in the a.m. and later in the evening I don’t feel the full brunt of the 120 degree midday heat. Plus I usually stop for chow on the way home, so I get a break halfway. Speaking of chow, last night I ate noodles and braised beef, just like on the ship. Weird. I’ve been eating a lot of cheeseburgers and sandwhiches because the quality of food on the “main line” isn’t the best. They do make a good macaroni salad. And they have ice cream every night. 8 flavors to choose from! Friday is steak and lobster night, which is decent, but your wallet with enough A-1 will taste decent, ya know?

Other than the break in weather not much else is new. Colleen sent two books and I’ve started the first called The Warlord’s Son. So far it’s been pretty good and it’s been easy to read. Nothing complex for me right now – my brain won’t handle it. I think I’ve read four books since leaving in June: Paris (a biography of the city), In Cold Blood, The Crocodile and In the Belly of the Green Bird. Thanks to Colleen for helping me to remember the names of the last two! I recommend all of them, but Green Bird is a pretty unique book in the sense that it’s by an American reporter with a Jewish last name who was imbedded with the Iraqi insurgents. Good stuff! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hump Day

(fyi, I wrote this Tuesday but have added a couple things and am posting it Wednesday...)

Being back to work I realize just how quickly the weeks go by - tomorrow is mid-week already! Classes officially begin on Monday, but this week has been full of all the planning and getting ready. If it's not as tiring as when classes are in, it runs a close second! Overall, things are going well though and I am looking forward to a couple really cool opportunities for this semester - especially a couple of trips that, once I know more, I'll be sure to post about. I'm also a bit anxious because I should be hearing the results of my exams sometime next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I've passed and can move on to the next phase - writing crunch time! I'll keep you posted on that as well!

I just got off the phone with Mike and it was so good to hear his voice! It always is, but I just can't get enough, you know? Our emails have been sporadic at best because he's been pretty busy at work and, again, doesn't have email access at his desk or at "home" yet. We've also had some connectivity trouble where some of our emails haven't been going through. This is tough because we rely on email so much to keep in touch. Hopefully the bugs are worked out and that stops happening. Mike said he's been walking a lot since they gave away his humvee to some other people who, it sounds like, needed it a bit more. He's hopeful he'll get another mode of transportation soon, but until then, he's hoofing it! In our conversation tonight I was reminded, once again, that I can't take anything the news back here says at face value. We don't usually spend a lot of time rehashing news or current events, but every once in awhile, I'll tell him what I've been hearing on the news circuit here, just to get his perspective - even though he really can't actually share much because most of what he knows or sees falls under that blanket of security he's not allowed to discuss! But, tonight I was telling him that the last couple of days they have been making a big deal about Bush's recent comments that we'll be staying in Iraq through his Presidency, that things are terrible in Baghdad and all over and that we are calling up "thousands" of reserve troops "involuntarily". Mike reminded me, however, that pretty much all reserves are 'involuntary' in the respect that they are not on active duty. But, I don't think this is what the news is talking about. In an email, Mike said this:

I can't access the blog from work but I was talking to Steve (my officemate!) about it and he seemed to think they were IRRs, or Inactive Ready Reserves. IRRs are guys who have just gotten out of the service but remain inactive for a period of usually 4 years in case something happens. Everybody that is active duty has to do it. So when I get out I'll have 4 years of waiting around…[in a later email] If you're in the military, active or reserve or IRR or guard, you shouldn't complain when your number gets called. That's my two cents anyway. :)

As to the other parts of current news speculations, I don't know if you've been reading the other blogs on our Navy Bloggers list, but they also help give a little different perspective on things. For example, this evening I heard someone (can't recall who) on the news say that their turning over any security forces or authority to the Iraqi police or Iraqi military forces is impossible and a long way from happening. However, if you read this article and others that have been recently posted on the Desert Periscope blog you'll realize that we really are only hearing the grim details about what's going on in Iraq. I think this is the very unfortunate nature of the American news media "if it bleeds it leads" mentality. It's very hard to gain perspective when you are only hearing one side of a story.

Well everyone, I'm trying to get back in the habit of going to bed early...which is very tough to do! I hope everyone is doing well and has a great day!

I love you Mike!

Sunday, August 20, 2006


My apologies for not writing in the last couple days. Time just got away from me. I was hoping to have a picture to put up from Mike, of the sandstorm that hit his base a couple days ago, but he hasn't gotten to send one yet. He did not have his camera with him, but others at work did and he said that they got some good photos. Evidently they watched it roll in and it was a pretty cool sight. Luckily he was able to get a ride home from another guy he works with!

Last night I was invited to see an awesome band, Las Rubias del Norte. One of the percussionists is married to the daughter of one of the Green's family friends (Wendy) and so we joined them for dinner and then attended the show later that night in North Park. The music was invigorating and the two vocalists were amazing. They played a lot of Peruvian songs and a couple Cuban songs, along with several others that were excellent. I have to send out another thank you to Neil and Wendy for allowing me to tag along and for giving me a copy of their CD, Rumba Internationale. I'm actually looking forward to getting their new CD and then sending it to Mike so he can listen in as well! I found myself humming a few of the songs during the day today. One of my favorites from last night was a song called "Baby" which was beautiful, and really made me think of Mike. So, also a thanks to the band for a great concert and great memories!!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and has a smooth start to this coming week!

I love you Mike!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

comments on a day

Today was officially "back to school" for me, even though we only had meetings in the morning and classes don't actually begin until the 28th. It feels like summer just began and Fall actually isn't "Fall" anymore, but late summer. I am one of those weird people who get excited about the beginning of each school year - the new students running around, the excitement about classes and best of all, the school supplies!! No kidding, I love school supplies and I make many runs to Staples and Office Depot to stock up on a lot of stuff I could probably live without.

After our meeting today I decided to run a few errands. I finally ordered our platform bed (which we've been just procrastinating on) at West Elm and also went into Borders and walked out with several books. One book I picked up on a whim was Fiasco by Thomas Ricks. I realize that this book is probably filled with biased, unsubstantiated opinions that will annoy and anger me, but I couldn't resist. Who knows, maybe it'll end up being all right. If I actually make it through the book, I'll let everyone know. I did just finish reading Longitude by Dava Sobel, a great little book (175 pgs) about the history behind the quest to find longitude at sea. Sometimes it seems to jump around a bit, but overall, it is a good read that I'd recommend.

When I was leaving OB to head out on these errands, I noticed the first weird thing of the day. My wonderful Jetta was on E and so I pulled into the Shell station to fill up and paid $3.25, relatively inexpensive for SD in recent times. But, as I pulled out I remembered that the local OB Gas station up the street (the way I was headed) had gas for $3.09 and I was a little disappointed I had forgotten this before shelling out more money! So, when I got up to the corner of the OB Gas station I noticed that I had been right about the cost of gas, but also noticed it wasn't a local OB gas station anymore, but was now an Exxon station! In OB? For those who don't know, Ocean Beach is pretty much the "local" of local spots...a place that Mike describes (with love) as "where the ghetto meets the sea". Now, OB is great, and it's not "ghetto" in a bad sense, it's just that it's about as laid back as you can find. In fact, when they had a Starbucks come to Newport Ave (our main street), people protested! Everything is local - the local grocery store, local bars, local food, local flower shops...local! I don't know why this actually strikes me as strange or important, but it's just a little less like OB with another BIG name around I guess!

The second weird (but good) thing I noticed today was while I was at our weekly OB market tonight. I went to pick up some fresh flowers and noticed that on all the street light posts in OB there are now cigarette butt containers sponsored by Surfrider Foundation. I think this is a GREAT idea, but I wonder how much use they will get. These containers aren't as ugly as one would think, but I just hope that they actually work to help clean up our streets!

Other weirdness of the day: JonBenet Ramsey's supposed-killer arrested in Thailand, a guy who is a 2nd grade teacher...where do these sick weirdos come from?!?

A flight coming from London diverted to Boston instead of DC because a woman had a panic attack. On TV they showed all the luggage being checked, bag by bag, on the runway. What are they reporting? That she had hand creme on her...a "no-no" according to recent security upgrades.

On my drive from GR to Chicago I heard an NPR story about how Pluto might lose its planet status...and today they've reported that it will likely NOT lose that status and we might have 3 MORE planets added to the list...if this is true, what will my new mnemonic be?

And, in local news...the U.S. Coastguard arrested one of the Arelanno-Felix drug cartel family members while he was returning from Deep Sea Fishing off Baja. This is could be big for TJ security and a big bust for the war against the drug cartels but I wonder...was he really only fishing out there?

OK, that's all I have for tonight. I hope you've all enjoyed reading Mike's recent posts. He said he's got another one he'll be sending soon, so I'll post that when I get it too. Oh, and after reading another Navy blog (Dried Squid), I'd like to post a link to a game I've wasted many hours playing (in grad school, especially during exam time!). It's Penguin baseball, and I have no idea what the record is...I'm terrible at it! I'm sure animal rights activists would HATE this game, but I assure you, no penguins or yetis were harmed in the making or playing of this game!

That's all for now folks. Hope all is well with all of you!

I love you Mike!

I have a new friend

I have a new friend – his name is Cedric. He’s a gnome. Colleen sent him. He’s a very interesting character. He offered to go out in town to buy beer but I told him that it’s against regulations here so he went out by himself and got drunk. Iraqis aren’t as conservative or strict as one might think. They like their apricot wine just as much as the next fellow. I think that’s what Cedric got into. He’s sleeping now, but I did manage to wake him for a bit and get a few pictures of him in my office. He was a little upset that I woke him, but I offered to take him to the chow hall later and get him potatoes and a salad. I guess gnomes like veggies. He was pleased. I am too. It’s nice to have a gnome in Iraq to talk to.

Thanks Colleen! ;)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mike's trip outside the wire

August 13, 2006

So my trip outside the “wire” was rather uneventful, but an eye-opener nonetheless. They told us during our IED training to look for trash and tires and piles of dirt and rocks and things that look out of place, because those are the hiding spots for IEDs. Well, there’s trash and tires and piles of dirt and rocks all over the place! It’s kind of unnerving, but I guess you just go with it and here I am now safe and sound. I give all the credit in the world to the kids who do this day in and day out, in 120 degree heat with 80 pounds of shit on protecting supply convoys for 12 hours at a time in the middle of the night looking for buried IEDs while insurgents, local thugs and others of the sort take shots at them with small arms and rockets. It’s a little ridiculous if you ask me. Anyway, like I said, my trip was uneventful because we went south during the day where not much is going on. The radio relay points are set up sort of like a hunting lodge. They’re very Spartan, with running water in the makeshift kitchen, but not in the outhouses. Laundry is done in a machine but hung up to dry outside. All are equipped with huge grills, and we put them to use. We had chicken wings for lunch and steak, peppers and potatoes for dinner. Better than the Dining Facility back here! After dinner the Iraqi interpreter who works out there brought us flat bread, rice and a sauce that was similar in color and taste to curry but not as thick. We poured the sauce in the rice and then scooped it with the flat bread. Excellent! Afterwards I had to put my 80 pounds of shit back on to return to Tallil and I’m really surprised I fit! So that’s really about it for my trip outside Tallil. Oh, except for the cars going the wrong way on the other side of the highway. Cars are not allowed to pass military convoys, otherwise they meet the wrong end of a .50 caliber round, so what they do is cross into oncoming traffic and speed by in the far left lane (which would be the far right if they were coming at you!) and then cross back ahead of you. It was pretty comical the first time I saw it happen! But like I said I’m back safe and sound so Colleen and mom and dad can stop worrying for a bit. Ah, what’s really funny is that while I was in harm’s way (not really) outside the wire, the base got mortared! Ha!

I love you Colleen!

end of Mike's note, but here's some pictures from him. I realize that they are certainly self-explanatory, but I've added captions anyway:

Mike's bed

Mike's closet

Mike's office