Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a First!

Usually when I am going on vacation, I wait until the absolute last moment to pack. Well, maybe not the last moment, I don't wait until it's time to go - that would probably make me flip out and make my head spin or something like that. For some reason though, I don't want to face the whole packing thing so I wait until around midnight to start. This of course means I am up way too late. Then, I can't sleep because I am afraid of sleeping through the alarm and missing my flight.

This time, I picked out all my clothes (and already weeded through them to cut it down, thanks to help from Tom) YESTERDAY! Yup, two days before we are set to leave. And you know what? Today I am a bit more calm and centered than I usually am the day before a trip. All I have to do is pick out what books I am taking, pack some snacks, get the little things together for the carry-on - stuff like that. And, I even have time to do some last-minute cleaning so my friend who is watching the cats doesn't realize how much I truly hate cleaning...

What's funny about this whole scenario is that I used to go TDY quite a bit. For some reason, packing for a TDY never really stressed me out as much as packing for a vacation. I guess mostly because clothes choices were pretty limited for TDYs - uniforms, combat boots, and maybe some hanging out clothes. Nothing special. Now if only I could figure out how to look at all packing in the same way. It would make travel-prep much less taxing.

Speaking of taxing - have you done your taxes yet? We're thinking about skipping it this year. After all, someday we may want to be Secretary of the Treasury and we don't want to ruin our chances...hmmm...
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Got My Bottle?

One of the reasons I love The Pioneer Woman blog is her photography. Especially the photos of animals. Not just animals, but farm animals. I guess one should say ranch, but to me they are amazing farm animals. Cattle, horses, wild mustangs, dogs...lots and lots of animals...

The last couple days, Pioneer Woman blogged about her two new bottle calves. Two amazingly cute things that need to be bottle fed, who knows how often, throughout the day. As soon as I saw the pictures of the black one (the other one is named Braemie), I was reminded of the "Got Milk?" ads. You know, the ones with celebrities and a milk moustache?

So, I just spent way too long (tried Adobe Photoshop first and then Power Point which was much easier) making my own little ad. I'm sure Pioneer Woman already thought of it, (who wouldn't after seeing the photo?) but here is my take. Please don't judge Pioneer Woman's photography skills based on this slide - go check them out on her blog, you will be impressed.

[Update: trebord to the rescue!! I cannot believe, after all those years as a Power Point Ranger, that I missed learning how to make a PP slide into a JPEG when it was so simple. So, the bottle calf in the "ad" looks more like it should (previously printed/scanned to make a JPEG) - you should still go to Pioneer Woman's blog and look at her photography (don't let the "woman" in the title deter you) she's got some awesome stuff.]
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Gift of Photography and Flight

One of my favorite magazines is Smithsonian. Kind of geeky of me, I know. But it is a really cool magazine and usually has articles about stuff I never would have known about otherwise.

For instance, in the January 2009 issue, there is an article about the photography of George Steinmetz. Mr. Steinmetz takes pictures while "flying" his motorized paraglider. With the paraglider, he is able to get much closer to his subject than people taking aerial photos out of a plane or a balloon.

First of all, the idea of flying around in a paraglider sounds incredible. Kind of like soaring in a glider - but better since you actually feel the wind in your face...

Second, he has travelled all over Africa taking photos of the landscape, people, animals - everything. I have always wanted to go to Africa. During my interview with Congressman Hopkins (and a board of other big wigs) for a nomination to USAFA, one of the last questions was what I would want to do if I found out I had only three months left to live. I said I would want to fly in a bi-plane, go to Africa and save the elephants (or at least one). Pretty cheesy, I know, which is probably why I remember it so clearly. Imagine how mortified I was when I left the Congressman's office. I was sure I had blown it!

I still have dreams about travelling around Africa in a Stearman, stopping wherever I want along the way. Oh, and saving the elephants.

Several years ago, I read a book called West With the Night by Beryl Markham. While reading it I had such daydreams of flying around Africa and spending my days spotting animals for safaris. How much cooler that would be than simply sitting in a jeep and driving around to see the animals. Though, of course, I would jump at the chance to sit in a jeep in Africa and see those animals up close. Animals you only see in pictures or in a zoo, behind bars.

Which brings me back to the photos of George Steinmetz. They are simply amazing. Photography is such an art. Seeing something no one else can see and capturing it in such a way that people feel as if they were there. Or simply, just to make them feel. That would be an amazing gift.

George Steinmetz has a new book out, African Air, which I want to check out. Based on the few pictures in the Smithsonian magazine, I can only imagine the book is filled with amazing photos. I would bet that it won't just be the photos I enjoy looking at, but also the idea of flying above the earth and seeing it as the birds do... Read More......

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blog Upgrades?

Been busy the last week or so getting ready for our European vacation (Germany, Italy and Albania)...and yes, I am very excited!

I am trying to get more firmly on this blogging bandwagon...You may have noticed a few changes to my blog (it seemed plain compared to other blogs out there...)

Today, I've been trying to figure out "buttons." I managed to add a button from one of my favorite blogs (Cool Mom Guide) with some help from Cool Mom herself. She even made me a button for my blog (and the code) - how cool is she!? But, I can't figure out what to do with the code for my own button...guess I should have paid more attention in Comp Sci (or tried to retain what we were taught) I just never thought I would need computer code in the future...especially not as a maintenance officer! ;)

[Update: Julie just sent me the code to add my new buttons! Too awesome! Let me know what you think.]

I also managed to add a third column (yes, I actually changed my blogs HTML code), but can't get anything to actually post in that third column. What to do now? Go back to the original? I have no idea what/where to fix this issue in the code itself since all I did was cut and paste from a Blogger help site...

Any suggestions? Comments? Read More......

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Cave 2

Follow up from yesterday's post about my cave...

First a funny thing, I am reading Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham and last night she (Agatha) called the vicar "antisocial" because he doesn't like people coming to visit. Seriously, what are the chances of me talking about using the word wrong and then reading a book, published 10 years ago, and seeing the author use that exact word incorrectly? I had to stop and snicker a bit...if other authors can make mistakes like that and still get published - maybe there is still hope for a future in writing for me?

After writing the post I got a very nice e-mail from one of the few people who read this post. Then, later, I chatted with a friend on Facebook...Amazing how a friend can find the right things to say and then all of a sudden the funk is gone - or at least abated a bit. Maybe that's why the funk lasted so long in the first place - by going into my cave I was keeping myself away from the one thing that usually makes me feel better - friends. Ah, a light goes on...

So, yesterday I also talked about my Kaffe Klatch. I went and had a very nice time. The five of us just sat and talked (in German) for about two hours. Doesn't sound very exciting, but I really enjoyed it. All five of us are Air Force (AD/Ret) spouses, born overseas (four of us in Germany). The hostess was a wonderful lady named Doris who had just recently returned from a trip to Morocco. (I had to bite my tongue not to ask about "Casablanca" and look like a dork.) Doris made two wonderful cakes - a cappuccino mouse and an apple torte. I had a half slice of each and was wonderfully happy. They even gave me some great ideas about hostess gifts to take with me on our trip to Germany and Albania. All in all, I had a very nice time.

So, besides commenting on yesterday's post, I titled this post "The Cave 2" for another reason. The picture I chose for the post reminded me of a book I read as a child. I have never been able to remember the title or the author, which is really too bad because it made a huge impression on me. The story is essentially about time-travel and how one little thing in the past can have serious repercussions in the future (present?). The story has these people travelling back to the past, but the key is they had to stay on this path and not touch anything. Something happens and a flower or blade of grass gets crunched and that one small thing changes everything. In the cave picture, if you look closely, you can see a path through the cave. As soon as I saw that path, I thought of the book and time-travel. Ever since reading that first book, I have loved the idea of time-travel and have read numerous books with that theme - including, recently, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which is supposedly the first time-travel book.

Anyone know what story I am talking about - title, author? How do you feel about time-travel? What's your favorite time-travel book? Read More......

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Cave

Quite often I get into a kind of funk where all I want to do is crawl into a cave for a bit and not see or talk with anyone. A serious kind of cave where I don't even want to read or send e-mail. It's not as if I have to see or talk to people when reading or writing an e-mail - but it still seems to be too much at that particular moment. I'm glad I have some very understanding friends, and sometimes sad that I might have lost some friends who were maybe not that understanding. Though I guess if they didn't take the time to understand me, maybe I didn't lose much anyway...

A friend of mine was the first to call it "crawling into my cave." That sounds much better than saying I am antisocial. Especially when you realize that "antisocial" is a personality disorder with the essential features of deceit and manipulation. So maybe antisocial is not really the word I am looking for...

How many other words are out there that we use all the time not realizing they don't mean what we think they mean? Yup, I've got to say it...Princess Bride music playing softly in the background, in a Spanish accent, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means"....and then, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die..."

Think about it though - when I say "antisocial" to me it means someone who doesn't want to be social. It doesn't necessarily make me think of psychopaths -which may or may not be the same thing. I guess the word I am really looking for is "asocial" which doesn't even really sound like a real word to me.

Is it any wonder that I didn't do well in college English? Though considering the comments I got on most of my papers, I chalk up my very poor grade to my attention to detail (or lack there of) since I paid more attention to what was in the paper rather than how it was presented.

Back to my main point - the cave. I have been in my cave for a few days now - maybe even a week. It happens quite a bit when my husband is TDY. I have things planned but then don't do all of them. Case in point, OSC Bingo today. I didn't really want to go anyway, but someone called and invited me. Since the husband is gone and I never sleep well when he is gone, I didn't get to sleep until after 0200 and woke up with a headache (no surprise) so I didn't go to Bingo. So, is it me being in my cave or just not wanting to go sit in a room for an undetermined length of time with people I don't know playing a game that reminds me of church socials when I was young?

I have a Kafee Klatch to go to this afternoon. I know one of the ladies and have met two of the others. We will have tea, coffee, whatever and speak German for an hour or so. Since I am going to Germany later this month and haven't spoken it in quite a while - it will probably be good practice. So, I guess I will crawl out of my cave for a bit today and see how it goes.

Do other people have their own version of a cave? They must, if a word has been created to fit the situation. I'm not talking about those people who are afraid to leave their homes. Just people who every once in a while, don't want to be social, who every once in a while, want to just sit and think about life with nothing else going on around them...where are those people? It might be nice to meet them.
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Sunday, March 8, 2009

America, the Beautiful

This is an amazing country. It's big, beautiful and has the ability to both stay the same and never be the same...I can see things 15 years later that remind me of the first time I saw it...or I can look somewhere I have looked a hundred times and see something I never saw before. I'm sure other countries are like that too, maybe.

Yesterday, we went to the Gateway Arch in St Louis. I knew it was big but didn't realize how big until I was standing beneath it. In the museum were pictures of all the different locations where Lewis and Clark travelled and/or stayed during their expedition to the Pacific. Beautiful!

I also learned for the first time of the Presidential Peace Medals. I had never even heard of them, and here were numerous examples. They reminded me a bit of the "Challenge Coin" tradition in the service. Very cool tradition...
There is so much that makes the United States great...we just need to think about those things every once in a while, instead of only seeing the things that we don't like or disagree with...
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Friday, March 6, 2009

How Have You Changed...?

The funny thing about Facebook is that people seem to be willing to admit to things they never would face to face. There are so many "quizzes" going around - 25 Random Things About You; How Have you Changed in the Last 20 Years?; Name your Firsts; Three Things; etc. There is some funny pull that makes me want to read these, even about people I hardly know - hardly knew even in HS or college. As if I am really going to know these people better after having read them.

There is an even stranger pull that makes me want to take part. To be part of the group. Yet, I don't share a lot of this information with my best friends or family - so why would I want to share it on an open "social network"? 

I did do the one about 25 random things about me. I thought about it for quite a while - what did I want these people to know about me? What was I willing to openly share that people might not already know? I shared juicy tidbits such as the fact that I like romance novels and sci-fi, that cleaning is not my forte, that I have always wanted to be a writer, that I miss being in uniform, etc. 

I've thought about doing the others. Yet, I don't want to look stupid - even in front of people I don't really know. For instance, the current one, "How have you changed in the last 20 years?" asks who your best friends were 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 and now. As I have found out recently, the people I may think are my best friends, may just see me as acquaintances. That would be pretty embarrassing if I were to say someone was my best friend and they didn't even remember hanging out with me...then I think, who cares? If that is who I remember hanging out with then who is anyone else to say different? The things I remember, or the way I remember them, aren't necessarily the same, nor do they have to be, as what someone else remembers.

One of the notes I read shows that the person has lived in Richmond their entire lives. On that one fact alone I thought about doing it, just to show that not everyone stays in Richmond - or in KY for that matter. That one can make new friends - maybe not the same kind as people you grew up with, but sometimes they can be even better because they know the person you are now - not just a grown up version of the person you were as a child.

I don't know if I will actually do it on Facebook, but it is sometimes nice to sit and think of those things...what was I doing 20 years ago? What was I doing 10 years ago? Who did I hang out with...? It's nice every once in a while to think back and remember (scrapbooking helps with that...). 

I have been doing that, looking back and remembering, quite a bit the last couple days as yesterday was Carrie's birthday. I miss her. 

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Home of the Free - Because of the Brave

As of this morning there have been 4,810 brave men and women killed during Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Over 3,000 were killed in action. Over 30,000 have been wounded.

The numbers are staggering, at least to me. To think that almost 5,000 families are out there today, missing someone - a dad, a father, a sister, a brother, a mom...Yet, compared to other wars - so many more are coming home that might not have before. The medical facilities both in the field and here at home have helped bring people home to their families, wounded but alive.

In Vietnam, almost 59,000 service members died and over 300,000 were wounded (for the years 1959-1975). The country still carries the scars from that "war" - one wonders what effect the current "long war" will have on the country.

In WWII, the United States lost over 418,000. 418,000! Who can even fathom that? Was there a single city or town that was left unscathed by the losses? Then I look at the numbers for countries like Poland and the Soviet Union - countries that lost 16% and almost 14% of their entire population. Germany itself lost over 10% of its population. Not only did those countries lose so many men, they often had to rebuild whole towns/cities from scratch...

We Americans are lucky in a way...when you compare the number of wars and battles fought on home soil - the United States can not come close to what Europe and the Middle Wast have gone through. Whether that is due to our location in the world or the foreign policies of our presidents, we are lucky. Though that luck hasn't kept us from being involved around the world and losing good men and women.

One of my favorite sayings, which I first saw a few years ago, is "America - Home of the Free, Because of the Brave." Thank God for those men and women who make an oath to protect us, our country and our freedoms. You are not forgotten. Read More......

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009 Goal Check Up

It’s been 2 months since I decided on my goals for the year. I figured this would be a good time to take a look at them and see how I am doing…

1. Start/write a blog: Since I am writing this, it’s pretty obvious that I have done this one. Though I haven’t written as consistently as I’d like.

2. Sing! Join a choir: I joined the Scott OSC choir – the Heathertones. It has been pretty good so far. Our first two concerts are this coming Thursday.

3. Do yoga regularly either at home or in a studio (at least 2x week): Nope, not meeting it…I did well the first few weeks of Jan but not Feb. Need to refocus.

4. Try three new activities: Nope, not yet…

5. Go on minimum of four “day trips” to see Midwest: We went into St Louis and had lunch at the Dubliner and then went to the Science Center – I’m not sure I want that to count as a day trip, but at least we got out of the house and saw something…need to keep looking for stuff that will be interesting to both of us.

6. Pamper myself regularly: Got a haircut last month but haven’t done anything else…

7. Read minimum of 18 books: I have been doing A LOT of reading (see list at side). I think my goal might have been a bit low – but hopefully, after the weather gets nicer I will be out more and doing more so I won’t be reading as much and it will average out.

8. Publish a Poem/Send poem(s) to be published: Does posting a poem in my blog count? Probably not…I need to look into this some more – find the right place for my poetry, decide on a poem and just do it!

9. Make health/exercise a priority: No yoga since January though I have been walking with a friend – only once or twice a week so far. We want to do more. We’ve even talked about running a 5K together in the summer…

10. Get “professional” photos taken: This one isn’t going to happen for a while…still want to do it this year though.


- Eat “good” more often than “bad” (Hmm, somewhat happening, but could be more consistent…)

- Attend church regularly (not regularly enough)

- MOVE a little every day (got this one except for when I have headaches…)

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Simple Soothing Sunday

Sometimes it's nice to not say anything at just sit and just look at the world around you and let thoughts run round and round...So, right now, I'll just look at this picture and others like it...reminding myself of how great God is... Read More......