Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Reflections

Brad and I decided to not travel this holiday season. During this is the time, our extended Coastie families become our immediate family around the dinner table. That's not to say that they replace our beloved blood relatives, but the smiles, laughs, and tongue-in-cheek jokes are reminiscent of our relatives' jabs from across the dinner table.

Here on the Rock, a small group of us put together a small progressive potluck dinner. For each course-- appetizers, main meal, desserts, and after dinner drinks-- we assigned a host and each of us brought a plate to each house, each course. With our varied backgrounds, we attempted to introduce each other to our family's traditions, some of which reflected our geographic homes: meat stuffing with Portuguese sausage, southern style green bean casserole, etc.

At each home, surrounded by food and friendly faces, our "family" gave thanks for the simple joys within our lives. Personally, as we trekked across the ice-laced gravel roads through our neighborhood and cul de sac, I breathed fresh air and in my own personal way, reflected upon how great my life is and gave thanks for my family's health, my amazing marriage, our new home, and for all those simple pleasures I take for granted. Further, I gave thanks for this new family of mine: the ones who helped me endure a difficult, long patrol and continuously made me smile as I explored our new Alaskan home.

Above all, I am thankful for this special time in my life. As Brad loves to boast: they pay us to live here. We are so lucky.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Those Cheeks!

Ain't she beautiful?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking a Second Look

“Let me get this straight: they pay us to live here?”

He cups his hands in a pointing gesture that we all know as adorable, quintessential Brad. He is marveling at the cloudless, clear, cool day and how the sun is reflecting off the snow capped mountains, specifically Barometer.

“Yes, dear, they sure do. I picked well, didn’t I?”

“Well, I think it was more of a joint decision…” he lowers his hands and charms me with a splendid smile.

When he left, the island was covered in clouds, fog, and rain. Only in the pictures posted on the blog, like you all, he lived vicariously and saw only what the picture could convey. The natural beauty is lost on a photograph. Truly, you have to be here to witness it firsthand.

With Tok, we took a small jaunt to Spruce Cape. With the crashing eight foot rolling waves in the background, we carefully picked our way over the iced path, eagles passing overhead, about 15 yards from our heads, and Tok’s nails clicking into the ice, fastening his grip as we declared the need to pull out our yak trax soon.

We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, each day. We have enjoyed returning into that comfortable, married couple routine. The dog still has no idea what to make of our new routine, but he is adjusting to two people giving him love and affection as opposed to one. Something tells me he will cope...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

He's Home

And eating halibut. We're signing off for a while...

Happy Veteran's Day


For eight years I have always had the same scenario: the night before, I cannot eat, I cannot think straight, I cannot sleep, and I have butterflies in my tummy.

It used to happen when I drove 16 hours nonstop from my dorm room to his at Chase Hall.

It used to happen when I packed up my Federal Natural Resource Law books and study guides to read between quarters at the academy football game.

It used to happen when I cleaned our little apartment in Portsmouth, NH, to greet him after a grueling four month southern patrol.

It used to happen when I flew SWA from Baltimore to New England on those sporadic weekend visits during his geo-bach.

It used to happen when I walked across the street and went home to him everynight for our two year stint in DC.

And it happened last night...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Prego Rego

Our dear friends, Chris and Regan are pregnant. We have been following her progress on her blog, and I got to see her in the flesh thanks to careful coordination among Kristi and her sister, Renee.

So, here are the embarassing and funny pics of my dear friends. Enjoy...we certainly did!

Fall in Lafayette Square

On a warm, 70 degree afternoon, I caught up with dear friend, Kenney, in Lafayette Square. The trees were in fall colors, the tourists came from all directions, and our laughter scared some of the abnormally large squirrels scurrying around.

Home Sweet Home in Appalachia

The air smells so sweet up there.

As I drove north from the foothills in Hickory to the higher peaks in Avery County, the leaves grew darker and became more sparse. Avery County rcvd snow recently, leaving the lower foothills with the remaining fall color.

I drive the backroads and take part of the Blue Ridge Parkway into Banner Elk, home of Lees-McRae College. From one of my favorite perches, I took the below pictures. My smile broadened and my olfactory senses kicked into gear as I drove with the windows down, curving around some narrow runs that wind along crocked streams.

My time at home in the midst of an alma mater going through a rather large Renaissance period was inspiring and heart warming. The hugs I receive from faculty and staff who have watched me and supported me as a leaped from college to law school to the professional world to Alaska were given back in full. Meeting new students was a highlight, and seeing old friends was a tradition. Already, I am making plans to return in May, for yet another meeting. This next time, I plan to stay for several days to hike, commune with nature, and breathe some more of that sweet, sweet air.

Halloween 2008

Kate and I readied the boys and James for trick or treating. Joe was the Ghost Rider, and Jamie was a Transformer. James went as the Grim Reaper, and a fairy friend joined their ranks as they filed out in search of candy. Kate and I sat on the porch with a bottle of wine between us, a huge bowl of candy, and some serious gossip to catch up on. BOO!

Wounded Warriors

His twang was at just the right pitch. His black stetson parked on his head at the correct angle, and his song selections perfect for his tenor. He sat in a wheel chair, with one leg bandaged and supported at a 90 degree angle; his other amputated just above the knee. Involuntarily, he tapped his amputated limb as he rolled through the lines on the screen in front of him. As he finished, his friends, fellow amputees and civilians alike, cheered loudly and he wheeled back to their perch in the bar.

It was Karaoke night at the bar James and Kate took me to, and I had never had so much fun and felt so patriotic. Kate and James' group of friends includes mostly James' fellow military intelligence unit stationed at Fort Belvoir. The smiling faces greeted each other, cheered for those competing, and sang along with some memorable chorus lines from well-known tunes. More than once, the bar was quiet with reflection as a sad country tune recounted the trials and tribulations of soldiers fighting for our freedom and their own lives. The room was filled with OIF vets, all of whom lost someone in their units, in addition to their own natural mobility.

As the night wore on, I heard someone say, "Oh, that's the Coastie." Not one to be shy, I wandered over and introduced myself as a Coastie wife and asked her name. She smiled, gave her name, and stated that she is stationed with the Honor Guard there in DC. She had just come from the ISC here in Kodiak. Thrilled to recount home with someone, we spoke of Tomi-san at Powerhouse, and she begged me to pay him her regards. What a small world. As she and I laughed about the upcoming winter in Kodiak, her friend pulled up a chair. "hey, why is it that you are getting hit on by the ladies and not me?" I turned my head and greeted the vet with a prosthetic leg, and the Coastie replied, "She's married anyway." "Damn," he replied. Nonetheless, we chatted briefly, and I thanked him for his service to our country. I held up my Yuengling in Cheers fashion and returned to my tables of revelers.