Saturday, March 31, 2007

And we have lift off!

After 2+ hours and 2 different service people at Apple, I am up and running on my new Mac Book. I am already seeing the benefits of the Mail with having access to different email accounts. Now I can start returning some emails as my alter egos without having to log in and out of several gmail accounts.

On Hold

I'm on hold with the Mac folks trying to figure out why the new computer won't connect to the internet. This is insanely frustrating. So much promise, my hopes so high. Did I set myself up for disappointment? Arrrg!

Friday, March 30, 2007

User Support Needed Already

Maybe I am a complete computer idiot but here I am typing on my old Dell laptop cuz I can't get my brand new MacBook to connect to the wireless internet set-up in Camp Toenges. I am too tired to deal with it tonight.

But Photo Booth does look like it will a hootin' good time! Thanks for pointing that out Army Mom.

Good News From Iraq: 30 Mar 2007

Here is an interesting tidbit I found today at MNF-I.

In 2006, medical care improved in Iraq with the renovation of 15 hospitals. Each completed facility sees approximately 500 patients per day for a total of 11,000 patients nationwide.
This is listed as a "Freedom Fact" on the right-hand column.

T: -90 minutes

In 90 minutes I will leave work and drive straight to the mall, park sweet reliable machine, and with slightly sweaty palms and a racing heart walk into the Apple store and purchase a little slice of technological heaven: a new laptop.

Will I hear the sound of angels as I enter the store?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Good News From Iraq: 29 Mar 2007

Ahhhh. Soccer bringing the world together.

(I got lazy today with the good news.)

Counting Down

I don't have a date certain for when JD will be home. But it should be about 6 months or less . . . assuming no extension. I saw over at Badgers Forward that Badger 6 is counting down the days by paychecks and cans of shaving cream. That got me thinking. What could I do that would help me mark the passage of time? I teased JD about using the local MLB schedule. Although I am not a big baseball fan, it would be something to help mark off the days. Besides, this town is crazy, and I mean CRAZY, about its team . . . well, in that laid-back midwestern kind of way. After all this is NOT Boston. But baseball has not officially started, yet.

Another thing I am doing to count down the time is to start taking stuff down in my cubicle at work. I am going off of the 95% chance that we will be moving when JD gets back. My plan is to do this slowly so that it is not particularly obvious to my boss. Besides, I have so much crap, um, nice stuff here that it will be well into September before anyone notices. I have pictures of the niece and nephews, my doggies, JD, my doggie that is playing in doggie heaven (there is a topic for a post!), friends' pets, some of my photographs, and 34 postcards and cards from JD, including 3 MRE postcards. And about 200 different magnets (words, animal tracks, famous architecture, the vet, the pilates studio, the kennel, flowers, quotations) . No one will really notice that the magnets are starting to disappear so that's where I am starting. Each day, I take down one magnet and put in a zip-lock sandwich bag in my desk drawer. Today I took down the word "every". And I am one day closer to living with my husband again.


I've always liked fog. Something quiet about it that appeals to me. Something hidden. This morning it is foggy here in Middleville. As I passed through downtown, the tops of the buidlings were hidden in the clouded air. It is not foggy here often. I remember days back in my old life with an office I could look out my window on the 14th floor and the buidlings less than 6 blocks would not be visible the fog was so thick.

Now as I sit in my little cubicle with a different view, in the distance I can see the outline of the still-bare trees shrouded in soft gray haze. A hidden, magical little piece of the earth.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 28 Mar 2007

From MNF-I, an article about an independent Iraqi TV station hitting the airwaves.

Funny stuff

I heard this funny story yesterday on NPR about a car's GPS system, a talking system of course. I just about ran off the road laughing.

What happened to yesterday?

Busy, busy, busy. That was me yesterday. Didn't have much time to write. But I sure did a whole lotta thinking and will be sharing that here soon enough. It was a very good day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Training: Teaching Others to Eat Soup with a Knife

This morning I heard on NPR a report about counter-insurgency training at Ft. Riley, Kansas. I have heard JD talk about and read blog posts about LTC John Nagl and his book on counter-insurgency Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife. In this report, some of the cultural differences between Iraqis and Americans are made apparent. It will take the American public to recognize those cultural differences before there can be any meaningful public support for what we are doing there (see the Army magazine article I referenced a few days ago regarding the same).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Videos from the Front

Over at the Daily Nightly, Kerry Sanders has a blog entry about videos being shot and shared by soldiers. It seems to be an interesting acknowledgment that some of the best stories come from, gasp, the soldiers themselves.

Good News From Iraq: 26 Mar 2007

By way of Mudville Gazette, here is an MNF-I article about female Iraqi soldiers.

Odd Moments to Remember

Once in great long while, I will do something that surprises me, like starting and purging here on this blog. Out on the walk today, I had a moment where I did something, a small thing, that I will remember forever. Right off hand, it is the second time I can recall this happening. I don't know what to call it.

The first time was at least 15 years. I was a 19-year-old college freshman. I worked in a sandwich shop on campus. A cute guy was at the counter. He seemed pleasant, but I wasn't flirting with him. I was just making him a sandwich. I wrapped it up. Raised it over the counter to hand it to him and I looked him in the face. He was looking at my hand, not the sandwich, and his lips parted ever so slightly and curled into a light smile. Wonder and awe. Surprise like he was realizing something him about himself as I handed him a sandwich with a certain twist in my wrist. Whatever I did may have been somewhat sensual, not sexual. But quintessentially feminine. He looked up at me with that same expression and a slight innocent smile across my lips. He turned and left. Off to enjoy his sandwich and the rest of his life.

A similar experience happened today. We were stopped at the one traffic light between Camp Toenges and the park waiting for the light to change. A small, light blue compact car pulled up on my left to turn right. The passenger, a middle-aged man wearing sunglasses, appeared to look at me and the doggies. I straightened my back, and as I slowly rolled my left shoulder back and down, I turned my head to the passenger. Slowly he began to smile with the same look that seemed to reflect more about himself than me, almost an appreciation of the moment. Before the car made the turn, a let the slightest smile creep across my face.

Now, in neither of these moments was I trying to be "sexy" or the object of attention. This afternoon I was just trying to stand up straight. Fifteen years ago I probably had a stiff wrist. It was just interesting to watch someone appreciate a moment where they realized something about themselves, whatever that something may have been.

Foreshadowing of Summer

Cloudy day at the park. The temperature was in the upper 70s. As the doggies and I left Camp Toenges, there was a pleasant breeze whisking away the humidity. We walked around the park in enjoying the day We turned a corner, the breeze stopped, and the humidity settled over me like a wet blanket, reminding me that the precious spring weather will not last all year. Ten steps. I began to curse summer in Middleville for coming so early this year. Another ten steps and breeze started up again. Spring triumphant. For now.

I hate it when . . .

. . . I run out of battery power in the middle of a job and have to finish by hand. I do love my power tools.

Why is it . . .

. . . that as men get older they seem to have a shrinkage problem in the derrière region of their bodies (not their pants)?

Anyone have an answer, silly or serious?

Sunday, March 25, 2007


When JD left Middleville in January 2006, I knew that our time apart was going to be difficult no matter how I looked at it. So I wanted to make the time of as pleasant as possible. I could fill my time, but I needed to change my mind. Since we don't have kids, there was a "single" feel to the house without JD here. Early on, maybe even before JD left, I decided to view this time apart as a gift, a time to discover myself, who I was after having been married for (at that time) almost 7 years.

Now, 15 months later, and with only a few months to go in this pseudo single life, I wonder (worry in fact) how it will be to have JD living at home again. Will I still be able to do things that are good for me? Have I grown enough to stick with it? Will I be able to say "no" to things I shouldn't do?

OK. Time to stop worrying about the future. Back to the present moment.

Just when I think I've got this figured out . . .

Feeling good about my life, I headed off this morning for coffee and chatting with a dear friend that I don't get to see often enough. She lives in a suburb of Middleville about 15 miles from Camp Toenges. We had a great time catching up and talked for several hours. We said our good-byes and she drove off to get her boys. I got in my sweet reliable machine, inserted the key, turned it, and . . . nothing. I tried again. Nothing. Oh wait. There was a faint clicking noise and the dashboard lights came on. I called AAA and waited.

In the meantime, all those questions popped into my head. How much will this cost? Can I get a rental car today? Will my BFF be able to pick me up?

The biggest question was the first. My BFF is great and she picked me up without any problem. No, I couldn't get a rental car today. Only out at the airport and that is not worth the trip when there are 2 Enterprise locations in my neighborhood and each about 2 blocks from the dealership. And the dealership isn't open today, which for whatever reason surprised my SoCal mother. (In Middleville, you can't even buy a car on Sunday and most upscale restaurants are closed.)

The timing of this is ironic. At breakfast I was telling my friend about a couple of guy friends of JD had offered their assistance "in case" I needed something. I truly appreciate their offers. I do. But they have their families and don't live particularly close. And of course, I don't have their numbers programmed into my cell so in this "in case" situation it did me no good. I guess this is a good reminder to have those "in case" numbers close at hand.

By the time I got home, JD had made it back to his home cot and was IMing me. I started to tell him about the car when the car when he lost connectivity. Arrrg! I sat there, laptop heating my legs, and felt sorry for myself, again, the second time that day. The pervasive thought of the day was that this is why I got married, so I wouldn't have to deal with this kind of stuff. (Well, maybe not THE reason for getting married, but it is sure a nice benefit, especially with the right guy.) JD got his connection restored after a few minutes and I told him about my day. And I felt better. My little pity party was very short lived.

Anyway, I will find out about my sweet reliable machine in the morning. How much is an alternator?

Good News From Iraq: 25 Mar 2007

Jack Army did an interview with Rogue at TJ's Anti-Contrarian Blog. He has some positive things to say especially about what's been going on in his little section of northern Iraq, Saladin Province.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Good News From Iraq: 24 Mar 2007

Over at Pajamas Media, I came across a couple of podcasts that are of interest. The first is an interview with Michael Yon (including a positive comment about Brian Williams's recent reporting from Iraq). The second is an interview with Bill Roggio (who also discusses Afghanistan).

Both men maintain their own sites, which I have blogrolled. Michael Yon posts at his self-titled online magazine. Bill Roggio posts at The Fourth Rail. Both also have spent a great deal of time in Iraq and are independent. Spend some time with them.

Spring is Here

The calendar may reflect that Spring officially started several days ago, but it arrived today in Middleville. The weather is very nice with temps in the low 80s. As I stepped out the backdoor this evening, I smelt the first sign of warmer weather: lighter fluid. Someone was startin' up the ol' BBQ. And like Pavlov's dog, I started salivating.

More evidence of Spring: I opened the storm windows and turned on the ceiling fans. Ah, fresh air inside. Amazing.

A Rose by Any Other Name . . .

When I started this blog, I wanted to use something other than DH to refer to my dear husband. I toyed around with calling my husband "Big" after the SATC character. Then I thought better of that idea (I mean really, Big wasn't exactly the best boyfriend). "JD" could refer to a number of things, which is a nice feature. After a couple of days I figured out what it really stood for. The conversation went something like this:

BW: Hey, wanna know what JD stands for?

JD: Jack Daniels? Juris Doctorate?

BW: John, dear. "John" is Big's real name and we only learn that after it is all done and he commits to Carrie.

JD: Ah. Well as long as it isn't "dear John" . . .

(Did I mention that I like SATC?)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Worry, Laugh, Cry, Repeat

JD is "traveling" within Iraq, i.e., he is not at his home cot. This means that I don't get to hear from his a much as I usually do, and I don't necessarily know when he will be available for IMing. I accept that. But it makes me more anxious.

A few weeks ago the phone rang and I did not recognize the number on caller ID. In the 5 seconds between the moment of seeing the number and the time I answered the call, I lived a lifetime. I was instantly convinced that this was a "bad" call telling me something had happened to JD. But then I became remarkably calm. I stared at the phone thinking that regardless of whoever it was calling to tell me whatever, I needed to answer it and accept reality. Sometimes just when I think that all this coping mumbo-jumbo I spout is just that, I have a moment like this phone call where it all seems so real, that I have actually integrated this stuff into my life. I surprised myself.

I guess the counseling is working.

Waiting to Laugh

So I just finished watching the Miss USA pageant. (Congrats to Miss Tennessee.) And this ad came on for a new NBC show: The Real Wedding Crashers. JD and I saw the movie Wedding Crashers and thought it was hilarious. We've got it on DVD. There is a reception hall about 2 blocks from our house. Every weekend the parking lot is packed and the people watching is great. Little girls in silly dresses and big girls in sillier dresses. Guys with ties loosened standing with beer in one hand and cigarette in the other talking to bridesmaids in shiny dresses.

We always thought it would be so sneaky to crash a wedding there. Then the movie came out and then we figured our chance was blown. We'd be spotted a mile away, well, maybe from across the room.

Anyway, there is this show starting in April. The producers of Punk'd. The teaser showed cars on fire, cakes collapsing, dressing dragging out car doors. The bride and groom are in on the joke. I might have to check it out.

Friday Night Blight

What is this bizarre huge bump in my nose crease? Is it an underground pimple (i'm too old for this)? Or a tumor that will eat away half my face (i'm too young for this)?


Camp Toenges Remains Secure From Insurgent Squirrels

I love my dogs. They are great companions and I (perhaps foolishly) feel more secure with them here. But the only things that they are protecting me from are the squirrels that freely roam and terrorize our neighborhood. A person could walk up to the screen door and they get excited because they have a visitor. A squirrel across the street is cause for sounding the woofing alarms!

So JD, don't worry about us at here at Camp Toenges. We are safe from the reign of terror caused by the insurgent squirrel cells of Middleville.

Good News: 23 Mar 2007

Iraqis returning to Baghdad after fleeing months ago. Progress: I'll take it in baby steps.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'm Moving???

Well it is possible that JD and I and the doggies and the kitty will be moving before, during, or shortly after his arrival back from Iraq this fall. GBear over at Spouse Buzz posted a link to a website that helps you take an inventory of your house. I am not the most organized person so this could be really helpful. But it requries downloading software and I am not prepared to do that until I get my new computer out of fear that the current one go up in smoke.

Mainstream Media

It seems that I read all the time about how the MSM gets it wrong or just doesn't get it at all. Sometimes I completely agree and sometimes I am the one not getting it. When JD was home on leave we caught some of the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams reporting from Iraq. During Mr. Williams's week in Iraq, he seemed to get it. I began reading his Daily Nightly blog where his writing seems to be more personal (or at least more personable). I was concerned that this man with a great deal of influence over how Americans view the situation in Iraq would somehow forget what he heard and saw while in Iraq. Well, it appears that he hasn't forgotten just yet. Here is a entry from yesterday (and the link to the article referenced):

Below this paragraph is a link to an article by a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army Reserve and a veteran of the Iraq war. It's from ARMY magazine, published by the Association of the United States Army, and it may be the best-written article on Iraq and the Iraqi people I've read since the war began. I ask that you save the link, put it aside, find the time to read it, and share it with anyone you know who has an opinion about this war. Many of the people whose opinions I respect in this area (including several people I discussed it with while in Iraq two weeks ago), feel that this article should be required reading throughout both the government and military. Many more wish the seven central points in the article were better understood by American decision-makers years ago. I'd love to hear from those of you who take the time to read it.
The Modern Seven Pillars of Iraq

And sometimes the MSM gets it.

Progress in Ramadi: On the Radio

I am an avid NPR listener. I usually listen to PRI's The World on my way home work. While I did not hear this yesterday (went home early), I did see that they had this report on the progress being made in Ramadi from yesterday's program. Take a listen.

Good News From Iraq: 22 Mar 2007

By way of Mudville Gazette, here's an MNF-I article on a successful operation in Ramadi conducted by the Iraqi National Police. Good job INP!

Dinner Update

In case anyone was interested . . . McDonald's hamburger is 6 points, small fries 5 points. Here's a link to an interesting Weight Watchers article on fast food eating. Good reminders for all of us who need to lose a few (or more) pounds.

A Call to Moms Everywhere

Are you a mother? Then head over to Army Mom x3 and give some support to a mother who needs to hear some words of strength from other mothers. Her second son is about to deploy to Iraq where her first son already is.

I have to say that I feel like I have nothing to offer her, except to recognize the difference between her situation and my situation. Her pain and suffering go beyond what I can imagine. Dogs are not kids.

So moms please help out another mom. And even if you aren't a mom, head over there and offer your support too. She can really use it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Less Than Perfect

That's me. I fell asleep shortly after the last post and woke up in time to go to yoga. Poor doggies didn't get walked. Both have come over while I am typing here and they want me to tell you that they are attention deprived, but fine nonetheless.

Oh. And I grab a small hamburger and fries at McD's on the way home. How many Weight Watchers points was that? Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

Good News From Iraq: 21 Mar 2007

By way of Iraq the Model, more good news from Al Anbar province can be found over at Pajamas Media. The bads getting caught, and the goods guys are sending in more of their own. Isn't that what we need?

Sex and the City

I love, love, love SATC. I own all the season and have watched every episode several times. I like to start and the beginning and watch season after season until I get to the end and then I repeat. I do actually watch other things on TV. This is just my bad TV fill-in. I occasionally tune in to watch when it is on syndicated TV. It is hilarious to watch how they edit it.

So I am at home early today and of course, I think that there is nothing on but bad TV during the day. And thus, SATC is on. I actually find the show's writing to be inspiring. Inspiring for me to write. If you look carefully, you might find me borrowing lines from the show. I did in this post!

Yes, I am obsessed!

Weight Loss

Jill Army asked how I lost 40 pounds in response to my post on bra shopping. Weight Watchers. I never really got into dieting. I had always been very athletic growing up. I swam competitively for 13+ years, then varsity crew in college. Then I stopped moving and kept eating however. Years went by, I got older, the metabolism slowed down. I had stopped paying attention to what was going on with my body. Bad move on my part.

But I have been doing my thing to correct that. I move more, eat less as best I can without making myself crazy. My routine is to walk the doggies for 45+ minutes 4-5 days a week, yoga (1.5 hours) on Wednesday, and Pilates (1 hour) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I just added the Thursday Pilates class. It is an intermediate class and much more challenging.

I am not perfect. I do not follow Weight Watchers completely. I "cheat", but of course, all that is doing is cheating myself. I don't always make the best choices in my life. Certainly it is easier to go out to dinner with friends than make a healthy dinner. When I don't feel well, I really don't like to move more. Like today, I came home early from Boring Co. due to upset tummyness. Do I really want to walk the dogs and go to yoga? At this moment, not really. I still have a couple of hours to convince myself that I will actually feel better if I do it. Just like yesterday, when I went for a walk even though it was cold and raining. I felt better afterward.

So, there's my secret to weight loss. Move more, eat less. And just remember that both work cumulatively.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"How do you do it?"

Tonight at Pilates, my dear instructor asked how JD was doing and asked me how I was handling all this deployment. That reminded me about something. A week or so ago, I ran across this post over at Spouse Buzz, which is a link to a post about the worst thing you can say to a spouse of a deployed soldier. The second item on the list is "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it."

I get asked all the time, "How do you do it?" Frankly, I don't mind the question at all. I believe that we are not given more than what we can handle. And you know, it always seems that there is someone worse off than me. A close co-worker was diagnosed with breast cancer. How would I handle that? One of the spouses in my husband's unit had a baby a few months ago. How would I handle that? I don't know. That sounds so much more stressful than what I've got going on here at Camp Toenges.

One day at a time. That's it. (Oh and all that other transformation stuff that I write about here, but it is harder to explain that in 30 seconds or less and people generally don't really want to hear me talk that much about coping.)

Why am I here?

I am here to clear my head, as Army Wife Toddler Mom suggested in a comment below. I'm going to give it to you straight although I will change facts and names to protect the innocent (like the poor doggies). I won't be prefacing everything I write here with "in my opinion" or "here's what works for me"; those things should be assumed. If I don't really know what I am talking about, you will know, trust me. If some idea belongs to someone else, I will to my best to try to credit that person.

Your emails and comments might give me ideas for future posts, so beware! You might unload good ideas here.

Gotta run (drive) to pilates!

Walking in the Rain

I just got back from walking the doggies in the rain. I have not done that for years. It is about 50 degrees, which normally would keep me at home. But I was feeling agitated so I stuck to my routine and went out anyway. Not many people out there, go figure. Now, I was walking out in the open and the rain was coming down dripping through the trees, not jumping in puddles (the adult in me held back the kid in me). But somehow, one foot is much wetter than the other. Why is that?

Life Sans Whatif

Of course, I have times where I ponder the bad whatifs in life. I'm human. But I have come to recognize that one of my "issues" is an obsessive mind. I can fixate on thoughts, which can be completely debilitating. Thus, all the anxieties that drove me crazy and drove me to find a solution. So I don't have whatifs in my house for the same reason that I do not have alcohol or ice cream in my house either. Too much danger.

But if whatifs work for you, more power to ya.

Whatifland: I don't live there any more

I was just over at Spouse Buzz reading and commenting about arguing with your deployed spouse and regretting it if something were to happen. And as I was on my little sanctimonious stool, I was thinking that I needed to expand a bit on one thing I said: "Whatifland is not my principle residence any more."

I used to be comsumed by my residence in Whatifland. I took pills because I lived there. I had a high-power, high-paying job with a view of a park and a waterway from the 14th floor of a nice downtown buidling in Middleville. But the profession I was in was literally sucking the life out of me. I became depressed without understanding what that was about. I was so anxious about every little aspect of the job that I couldn't function properly (mentally or physically). After suffering for years with this, even with a psychiatrist's prescriptions for 2 SSRIs, I began to doubt myself. Once I doubted my ability, so did my bosses and clients. And it became a self-fulfulling profecy.

One day, I walked in and quit. No plan in mind. I just couldn't take it any more and something dramatic needed to happen. My employer and I worked out an arrangement where I stayed on for 3 months to settle my affairs, transfer my files, and have time to look for something else. (I have to say it, that was the best thing that firm ever did for me. They even paid for career counseling for me.)

I took a temporary job for 5 weeks then started at my current place of employment with Boring Co. In the interim, JD was trying to start his own business and work for the Army Reserves. Money was tight and I went off my meds cold turkey (uh, not recommended). I tried things on my own and was surprised to find life instantly better without the BIG career job. I dropped 10 pounds without really thinking about it. But it was also about this time that JD was beginning to figure out that he was going to eventually head off to Iraq. Life was still stressful.

What if JD dies?

What if JD comes back with PTSD?

What if JD has his legs blown off?

What if the Army Reserve pay system isn't just being late in posting the money and they actually forget about us one day?

It was through someone I met here at Boring Co. that I was able to start moving forward. Through a series of references I met a psychologist, a wonderful woman (I'll call her Lyn) who showed me that I could actually move out of Whatifland.

The psychiatrists I had been to before talked little about my problems and mostly wanted to medicate me. If you have ever been on that kind of medication (SSRIs), you know that it kinda makes you numb. It levels out your moods is a better description, but inside I felt numb. (For example, I was the one who always cried at movies and then on the meds that stopped.) I wanted to feel again, I wanted to be myself again. But I didn't want to live in Whatifland and be consumed by anxiety.

Reflecting back, what Lyn suggested seemed so simple, but I was open to do anything to not feel like I was feeling. She asked my religious background (I answered something like "Christian, but open to all philosophies") and suggested a book by a Buddhist monk. A Buddhist monk? "Open mind, open mind," I had to repeat to myself. I went to the library and checked out Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. Skeptical, I began to read. "Hmmm. This seems awfully cheery." But then I got to a section on conscious breathing and living in the moment, this present moment. Something clicked. I was starting to think less and be more. (Yes, that still sounds odd to me too.) Slowly. And steadily. Consciously and deliberately. I found I was leaving Whatifland. And I was living here and now. That ache caused by years of anxiety that used to be pervasive throughout my body was leaving.

Of course, since I do not live like a Zen master, I must actually think and plan for the future. But I do not dwell there. There is only so much we can control about the future. What I cannot control, I have to let go of. If not, it will consume me and I will be numb again.

I do not consider myself a Buddhist. But I recognize some practical aspects of Buddhism that are a good fit for me. We are all on our own paths. (I didn't actually say that, did I?) Take what works, leave behind what doesn't.

That reminds me, I still need to clean out the basement. Lyn will love that.

Today's Good News From Iraq

Yesterday, we all probably heard different numbers thrown out about what the Iraqis think of America's presence in their country, how the war is going, etc. It appears to me that there were 2 polls taken, one with a sample of 5,000 and another of 2,200. The numbers are slightly different. While the numbers may be easy to understand in and of themselves, it is the motivation behind them that makes it them deeply complex and incapable of being summarized in a news clip. How they are spun by the media is sad.

Regardless of which poll you prefer, the message is positive. The Iraqis want to have control of their country. And that's what my husband is there to do.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Park Pet Peeves

As I was out walking the doggies today, I was thinking about all those things that people do that really annoy me. Now I generally try not to be dwell on the negative, but some people just don't get it.

1. Stay to the right. I walk on a paved path that is used mostly by walkers and the occasional bicycle. There is no need to run on the left side of the path. Stay with the foot traffic. This is not the street. I will stand my ground. And so will the dogs.

2. Pay attention to your dogs. People always seem surprised when their dogs growls at my dogs or pulls to try to approach my dogs. I work off the assumption that your pooch is Cujo until proven otherwise.

3. Don't assume that my dogs like you. You don't know if my dogs like other dogs or kids. Don't let them approach me without asking first.

4. Pick up after yourself, your kids, and your dogs. I greatly dislike trash. And the park is no exception. I understand that it sometimes flies our of the trash cans, but if the trash cans are that full, take it with you. I also understand that sometimes dogs that normally don't "go" on their walks do and you are not prepared. It's happened to me. But that's why I now walk with a little bag just in case.

5. Keep your dogs on the leash. There are leash laws for a reason. Of course, your dog is well behaved and under your control at all times, even without a leash. But this one isn't about you. It is about those other people whose dogs aren't so well behaved and did not graduate summa cum laude from doggie college. Keep the leash on.

6. Smile and say hello to your fellow walkers. It is nice out. We are out to enjoy the day. A little eye contact and a smile and hello will actually make you feel better.

7. Slow down on the bikes. There is a road through my park and if you want to ride your bike fast, ride it on the road.

8. Slow down in the cars. The park is not meant to be a motor speedway; don't treat it like it is. The park is full of dogs and kids and adults who don't know how to look before they cross the street.

That's it. I feel much better now. :-)

Families Returning to Basra

Over at Mudville Gazette, I found this interesting piece about families returning to Basra.

When I find good news, I like to pass it along.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Perimeter is Secured

When Moo sees something on the other side of the fence, she likes to dig. Luckily, she is just way too big to get out of any of the holes she's dug, but it is a pain in the ass to fill. Our backyard is pocked with filled in Moo-dug holes. Last week she dug under fence sufficiently to get at the neighbors bulbs, which hopefully won't actually be missed by the little old lady who spends all her time gardening. Hmmm. Somehow, I think she'll know exactly what happened.

Today, Moo was at it again. And I had to repair the same hole twice. I obviously did not do a proper job the first time. So the perimeter of our little piece of the earth (Camp Toenges) is secured . . . for now.

I need to remind Moo again that before she digs, she needs to call 1-800-DIG-RITE. "It's the law." Do you think she's going to get us in trouble?

Blogs from the Front

I've been reading several blogs from our guys over in Iraq. A couple of are from Al Anbar Province in Iraq where my husband is. Acute Politics and Badgers Forward have received some great attention from the milblogging community. TD at Acute Politics is a specialist and offers a rare voice; I haven't run across any other great blogs from someone of his years (he's 22). Badger 6 is TD's company commander and has written some great pieces about his company's activities and recently the company's tragic loss. Some very moving stuff.

Jack Army is another great blog from Iraq.

The Fourth Rail is a great source for the latest news on Iraq. His Iraq Report (updated daily) is a must read. And be sure to check out his Baghdad Security Operation Order of Battle updates and the maps that accompany. That gives a great perspective on where the Iraqi Army and National Police are in comparison to our troops. Very helpful. It is a real shame that the mainstream media don't devote the time to convey this.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bra Shopping

Don't you just hate bra shopping? Last night I tackled it in earnest for the first time in several years. Now I remember why it has been so long. What a pain in the ass! However, I was armed with knowledge this time and I was determined to get bras that fit perfectly. I moved all around in the changing room. I bent over, I twisted, I stretched. After trying on 6 different size in 6 different styles, I settled 5 new bras in a size that was new to me. I guess the 40-pound weight loss should have been good for a smaller band size if nothing else.

My 4-year-old puppies

Moo is a darling 90+ pound dog. She is very willful and most of the time I love that about her. Like I said before, she used to weigh 112 pounds, but with some serious dieting, she is now running around like a puppy. Bear is always excited and running around.

When I came home today after running errands for hours, Moo and Bear were all excited as usual. As I was putting the groceries away, the doggies were running about the house. Out to the living room, back to the bedroom and up on the bed (screech), then out to the living room, and back to the bed (screech). Repeat x5. After I was done, I went to see how far the doggies had moved the bed (which is on a hardwood floor). Normally, there is about 4 feet of room between the far side of the bed and the far wall. Now there was about 6 inches. They moved it over 3 feet by running and jumping on it. Those is my pups!

"They eat like ACTUAL meals."

Yes, dear readers, that is the line I overheard while sitting in a coffeehouse waiting to catch up with a friend who recently had a baby. The words were spoken by a waif of a college student who just returned from Spring Break of skiing in Colorado with family. Apparently, this deviant family of hers likes to sit down and eat meals. Now she needed to call her friends who were also back in town to try to set up workout dates.

Of course, I was sitting there with my nonfat vanilla latte and coffee cake eating an actual meal too, like some sort of deviant. Good thing I had come straight from Pilates or I might have actually felt bad for eating something resembling a meal. And I might eat another meal today.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Morning Moon

I woke up before 5:00 this morning. BBC World Service was still on, a story about milblogs drifted in one ear and out the other. Shower, make-up, feed cat, dress, feed dogs, make breakfast, gather things, leave by 6:00 AM for a 30+ minute commute to work at Boring Co. The great black sky was marked with blindingly bright white and red lights of the cars. I squinted at the oncoming vehicles, my forehead already pinching, my headache forming. As the miles passed, the darkness faded. The highway turned to the east. Over the horizon, the cerulean morning sky pressed through making its slow march toward the waning silver crescent. The moon's showing sliver hung large. The highway turned to the north and the moon and changing sky escaped my view, but the beauty of the moment did not leave me even though the road took me another direction.

Ever had one of those days . . .

. . . when everything seems to go just fine, but something is off. Something you just can't put your finger on. For the last two hours, I have felt like I am waiting for some unknown . . . thing of . . . whateverness. It is annoying. Frustratingly unsolvable.

OK. I'm just going to let it go and be done with it, whatever it is.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


So I decided to google "butterfly wife" today. Um, maybe I should have done that sooner. I came across some references to some Bronte sister's novel/story/whatever about a wife who was a social butterfly and apparently didn't care much about other stuff. I don't think of myself as a social butterfly. And I certainly care about a lot more than social stuff.

I try to follow my instincts. My instincts helped me pick the moniker "Butterfly Wife". As I started to really think about it, I liked. I liked the sense of transformation that a butterfly goes through and in so many ways I have made such a transformation over the last year. And that's what I want to talk about here. Maybe it is a good thing that I did not google that until today, after I feel committed to this blog.

I just wanted to clear that up . . . in case anyone was wondering.

Chimney's Done!

Wow. Today has been a great day. When I came home, the tuckpointers were finished with my chimney. They set up the scaffolding on Tuesday, took down the chimney brick by brick yesterday, and then rebuilt it today and the scaffolding was gone. You would never know that they were here unless you knew what the chimney looked like before. I love it when everything goes right.

Next up, get the same guy to replace some of the shingles that were blown off in a storm last summer and then fix the internal plaster damaged by the water leaking in through the chimney.

Conquering the Pilates Mat

Woohoo! I did it! I made it through my first intermediate Pilates mat class.

Six months ago, about the time JD was getting ready to get on a plane for Iraq, I decided to start doing Pilates. I'd been wanting to take up Pilates for several years and I had ran out of excuses. The Pilates stars had aligned and I started taking beginning mat classes one day a week, then two days. I added in a beginning reformer (that's the silly looking sliding thing with handles) class. In December I began thinking that I should try an intermediate mat class. For a variety of reasons (holidays, illnesses) I never got around to it . . . until today.

And I survived. Let's see if I can move tomorrow . . .

Remember Me

I ran across this great tribute posted at Soldiers' Angels Germany today. Worth the clicks.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Dear Doggies

There are 2 things that have helped keep me sane: my dogs. They are 4 years old. Moo is a black labrador/rottweiler mix and Bear is a german shepard/husky mix. They are large dogs at 90+ and 70+ pounds respectively. The doggies have been the best companions a lost butterfly wife could have. In fact Moo is such a good girl that she is helping with this post right now. Good thing I am sitting in a chair and a half otherwise there might not be any room for me.

I used to get on JD for spoiling the doggies too much. He was always giving them treats, which was a major contributor to Moo's weight problem. When JD left Middleville, Moo weighed about 105 pounds. Then I took over and started walking her and cut back on the treats. Nine months later she was up to 112 pounds! Oops! So we started her on a diet. I cut way back on her food and started giving her vegetables. But of course, I couldn't give her just any vegetables. After trying a variety of different frozen delights, she now dines on frozen asparagus, broccoli, and edamame from Trader Joe's. She lost 5 pounds in the first month of the new diet. Now she is about 94 pounds. And with the weight loss came increase in energy and now she runs around like a puppy, which I will tell you about in another post.

Bear has a much higher metabolism. It must be a boy thing. He eats much more than Moo and never has a weight problem. Bear was recently ill with a mysterious doggie virus. He was vomiting and had diarrhea. Moo got it too but not nearly as bad as Bear. Bear got an IV and fluids and shots and shots and shots of antinausea med. $500 later . . . he still seemed to have some residual stomach irritation so I started him on a special diet of rice and cooked ground meat. Today, I made a special trip to Whole Foods just to get ground lamb for Bear. Good thing he liked it.

It is time for the doggies to go to bed. Yep, that would be the same bed I sleep in.

Um, that wasn't me who was all over JD for spoiling the doggies, was it?

Could I be a professional typist?

Also found through Spouse Buzz...potential future employment ideas.

Anyone else putting all their blog-acquired typing skills to use as a medical transcriptionist? Hmmm. I definitely know the language (from my previous careers) and I can type pretty darn fast (from current job). We'll just have to wait and see.

Redeployment Coping

Spouse Buzz had a great piece today about redeployment coping. It will be one of those posts that needs to be read several times as JD's homecoming approaches and after he returns.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Prelude to a Deployment: Part 2

My best friend was gone. Our finances were messy and I didn't have a handle on them. I hadn't been taking care of myself or my dogs for years. What a predicament. The only thing to do was call mom.

Now for an overly educated woman in her mid 30s who has not lived within a thousand miles of her mother in 15+ years, it was not an easy call to make and ask for help. My mother basically dropped everything and came to spend a week with me. She helped me set up a budget that I could work with and some other things to help me get our finances in order (or at least in an order that I could understand). That was a major hurdle. That was probably the biggest hurdle I had to face in the last 18 months.

So it was all downhill from there! Right.

JD was in Westville off and on over the next 6 months. He was able to come home 3-4 times before being mobilized. It was really nice when he had to attend a school about 150 miles from here. He was able to come home on the weekends 3 weeks in a row. Those were very special times and I tried to make them as pleasant as possible for him. It was hard for him to have to leave over and over, but we had a bigger picture in mind and were willing to put up with these inconveniences.

Fast forward several months. JD was able to come home in July 2006 for 10 days. That was his last trip home before deployment. We were able to meet up one more time in a town half-way between here and the mobilization station for 3 days. 3 very short days. Time was moving too quickly and I didn't want to let him go. There were so many unknowns. Would he be able to call me as we planned? What kind of hours would be be keeping? How great was the actual danger that he would be facing? Would I ever see him again, whole, intact?

But there was one big known factor that I did not want to deal with. He, and we, would be forever changed by this experience. I did not want to let go of the man I knew and the relationship we had. But eventually I had to. For the practical reasons (we both had 5-hour drives ahead of us) and the possible better future.

One week later, JD boarded a plane for Iraq.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Prelude to a Deployment: Part 1

When my husband (JD) and I met way back when, he was in the National Guard in a left coast state. He had a variety of jobs with the NG, but he wanted to go back to school so he went IRR. Throughout school and then for several years after, JD had no contact with the military. Then as is want to happen to officers in times of war, they (of the Office of Them) called him back. Bam! He is the Army Reserve. At first it was just drill weekends and the 2 weeks in the summer. Then JD's full-time job situation changed and he went to work the Army Reserve essentially full-time. By this time it is 2005 and JD had not been called to be deployed. His number was going to be coming up sooner or later. We (and yes, we decided this as a family) discussed he various options. (1) He could simply wait for the Army to send him to Iraq or Afghanistan in whatever capacity they saw fit; or (2) he could seek out an assignment that would suit him and have slightly more control over how and when he went. We decided on the latter.

In the summer of 2005, JD found a unit that would be a good match for him. About 1500 miles from Middleville. So do we move to Westville or do I stay and he go? JD would be in Westville for at least 6-9 months before the unit actually deployed to Iraq. He would be traveling to various schools during that time. For a variety of reasons (including financial), we decided that I would remain in Middleville.

Alas, the day came that JD was to leave and I was to try to figure out how to handle the household. (This must be the point where the butterfly process began.) Panic set in. I was all of 1-week post-op from surgery. I hadn't returned to work or my post-op appointment with the surgeon and my husband was gone and I did not know when I would see him again.

(to be continued . . . )

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What is a Butterfly Wife?

What is a butterfly wife? And what is she doing in the blogosphere?

That's what I am here to find out. First, a butterfly wife is whatever you (or more properly I) want it to be. It is me.

I am a wife of a soldier (currently deployed to Iraq) and a "mother" to 2 large dogs and 1 small cat. Before my husband deployed, I was completely spoiled; my husband did all the family maintenance (the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the finances, the parenting). I'm not sure what I did other than entertain my husband, and perhaps tell him what to do. So after he left I had to start doing all of that, immediately. So perhaps a butterfly wife is one that makes dramatic changes in her life in a short period of time. Or maybe, I just like the way it sounds. I'm not sure it matters.

Second, what is a butterfly wife doing in the blogosphere? Not sure about that either. I like to write and I especially like to edit. I really like to help people who are interested in writing better. I am able to bring home a paycheck with a writing job, but I want to put my voice out there, see who's reading and what they have to say. Isn't that what blogging is for?

I tell you more about me later.