Thursday, April 30, 2009

House Projects

During this patrol, I have been away on business travel far more than I anticipated. While the work and travel are always welcome, esp. with the airline miles I am racking up, I am a wee bit behind in all the honey-dos for which I set goals. To date, I have completed the following:

- Replaced the kitchen sink faucet
- Erected a second rack in my closet to expand my hanging options
- Bought materials for make a headboard for the master bed
- Replaced the hardwood-lookalikes in the dining room and kitchen to match the living room (this is the only one for which I hired a contractor)
- Bought a tree and two bushed to plant outside once the snow melts
- Bought the hanging flower box to decorate the porch and gladiola bulbs to plant. I still need to concoct a way to keep Tok out of the flower beds—chicken wire perhaps? Ideas accepted!
- Printed photos for the guest room but still have not found the frames I want. I swear, curtains, lampshades, and frames are the bane of my existence when it comes to home decorating.

Up next are a bunch of yard projects: fertilizing, planting those bushes and tree, removing all the gravel Brad shoveled into the front yard when he removed snow, and conjure grass where it lacks in our yard. My most exciting yard project is erecting the bat boxes I bought on ebay. We have little brown bats in Kodiak, and I hope to attract the hungry winged assassins to combat the pond’s inevitable mosquito population this summer.

Allthewhile I am trying to fit in a trip to Homer for the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. If the 611th Civil Engineer Squadron has their way, I am bound for Anchorage the week before hand, so I may be able to tackle some much overdue scrap booking.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pearl Harbor 2009

US Army: 218 KIA, 364 WIA.
US Navy: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
US MarineCorp: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.

TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.

USS Arizona (BB-39) - total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) - Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor.
USS California (BB-4 4) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada - (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) - Light damage.
USS Maryland (BB-46) - Light damage.
USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16) - (former battleship used as a target) - Sunk.
USS New Orleans (CA-32) - Light Damage..
USS San Francisco (CA-38) - Light Damage.
USS Detroit (CL-8) - Light Damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) - Heavily damaged but repaired.
USS Helena (CL-50) - Light Damage.
USS Honolulu (CL-48) - Light Damage..
-------------------------- -- ---------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------
USS Downes (DD-375) - Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Cassin - (DD -3 7 2) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373) - Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388) - Light Damage.
USS Ogala (CM-4) - Sunk but later raised and repaired.
Seaplane Tender
USS Curtiss (AV-4) - Severely damaged but later repaired.
Repair Ship
USS Vestal (AR-4) - Severely damaged but later repaired.
Harbor Tug
USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) - Sunk but later raised and repaired.
188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air Corps.)

Growing up in a military family, I absorbed more than my fair share of military history. From watching Tora, Tora, Tora, to climbing into old bombers at air shows, my father exposed my sister and me to our nation’s greatest generation: the victories, their losses, their glories, their mourning.

When in Hawai’i in 2007, I flew from Kona to Honolulu one day. I visited Pearl Harbor and paid my respects at those hallowed grounds. There is a timed entry to the Memorial, which starts with a 20+ minute video. As I took my theater seat among the tourists, a Naval officer greeted us and in no uncertain terms told us civilians to sit down, shut up, keep your kids quiet, turn off your cell phones, don’t speak at the Memorial, you are on hallowed grounds so don’t disrespect the graves upon which you are walking, and enjoy the film, narrated by Stockard Channing, God Bless America.

As I snorted underneath my breath, the now-bug-eyed civilians around me were laying golden eggs in their seats. The lights dimmed as his white uniform faded into the back of the theater, and the film capturing the horror of that Sunday morning began. Being the patriotic sort, tears poured from my eyes as the film ended. The theater doors open and lead visitors to the sunshine and the ferry that takes us to USS Arizona’s resting spot. Being by myself and not being shy, I chatted up the Navy driver as we made waves past the USS Nevada and onto USS Arizona. I learned a lot that day, reflected on how lucky I am, and thanked my father for the education he had given me so that I could appreciate where I stood that sunny afternoon.

Fast forward two years later. Brad and I grabbed our timed tickets and toured the nearby museums while waiting our turn. That day, the museum featured three survivors signing books; the line was forever long, so we just tipped our heads in their direction and received the same salutation in return.

I love watching Brad. His tall frame towering over the Asian tourists crowding the placards was an amusement; but moreover, his intent reading of the recounts along battleship row, the catastrophic losses of aircraft at Hickam AFB, and the heroic and valiant efforts of many service members and civilians taken by surprise on a lazy Sunday morning.

The National Park Service ranger gave our pre-movie chat—much to my dismay (I had been hoping for another sit down and shut up speech; NPS has a somewhat lighter version.). Our transit over to the Memorial was without incident and was timed well enough for me to tell Brad about the wall of names. In addition to the names of Navy shipmates and Marines lost aboard USS Arizona, there are two small stones in front of the wall. The stone on the left has names dating back to the 1930s and many in the recent years: 2006, 07, 08. These names belong to those surviving shipmates who decide to be entombed with their lost shipmates. To do so, they are cremated, and a special diver goes down one of the turrets in which they have erected a small mausoleum. As many of our greatest generation pass, more names fill the marble slab. Struck by the complexity and, truthfully, creepiness of this ceremony, Brad wondered aloud who could be assigned to this. I answered with an assumption that a special honor-guard like position, similar to our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is designated for such.

As we walked through the entry way, I pointed to the state flags on the right, for which each of the battleships were named: California, Utah, Arizona, etc. On the left, Brad pointed to the USCG flag hung among the other services’ flags. Quietly and holding hands, we moved through the crowds and headed straight for the wall on the far side of the white memorial. Visitors had left leis on the white marble, and some honored the dead by placing them in the oil slick in the water. Sooner than I expected, we heard a boat motor, and I caught a glimpse of white uniforms on an absolutely gorgeous Criss Craft whose name was, CINCPACFLT—Commander in Charge of Pacific Fleet. Later, we learned that his entourage and special guests were in town for the Submarine Ball, which was hosted at our hotel. As the naval officers joined us in the Memorial, true to their stereotype, Asian tourists started to take their pictures and civilians stood in awe of their mere presence. Un-phased, Brad and I chuckled (quietly), as the docked boat and passenger ferry played a water-based Chinese fire drill to moor up on the single dock servicing the Memorial. We queued up and boarded the last row of the ferry. I smiled and hugged my Coastie as we drove back to the complex, thankful for his service and his physical presence beside me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Hawaiian Getaway

Our venue was the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and thanks to my Hilton Honors status, we received a complimentary upgrade to the Ali'i tower. This afforded us a partial ocean view, a glimpse of the lagoon, the pool, and the oasis below. Our oasis contained flamingos, penguins, and was topped off by a wedding chapel with waterfalls.

We soaked in the sun, lounged on the tower's private ocean view balcony, worked out in the gym, and enjoyed each other's company-- just the two of us. Our escape from the worlds that have taken us by storm-- literally and figuratively-- provided us the time to chat, reflect, plan, and make more memories.

We dined at Ocean Room, Rum Fire, and almost all of the restaurants within the village. We loved the Ocean Room and its romantic touches. I would not recommend Rum Fire to anyone, except those looking for take out. The food was spectacular, but the venue tried too hard to be something its not whereas its service lacked on both counts.

Our favorite little haunt was a small bar/restaurant below the Chart House. The locals favored this marina-side joint. Our treks to and from our cozy nook took us around the lagoon and marina, where we pointed out the tongue in cheek names of the vessels within.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Good morning from Oahu

There is a two hour time difference from Alaska to Hawai'i (at this time of year). I woke up at 0500 HST, and I am out on our porch watching east coast tourists, asian tourists, and flamingos flock among the manicured grounds at Hilton Hawaiian Village (yay, flamingos :)).

In a day of upgrades, I flew first class from Anchorage to Hawai'i and then got upgraded to the exclusive Ali'i tower here. We have our own gym, for free, a private deck for sunbathing, and lots of amenities, including a robe so cute it might have to go home with me...

But above all, being greeted by Brad at the airport was heaven. He bought me a lei, and it now makes our room smell ever so tropical.

Off to coax my freckles out of winter hiding...aloha.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Off to Hawai'i to meet up with Brad for a few days. I'll post pictures when able. According to a fellow rotarian,

"To be a true Alaskan, you have to get your dose of either H or K vitamins: Honolulu or Kona."

I have been automatically upgraded to first class for this flight. I guess that is karma's payback for all those hours at the Anchorage USO.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Lucy the Bernese Mountain Dog

Lucy's owner owns the local outfitter, 58 Degrees North. Brad and I frequent the shop and were introduced to Lucy when she first joined her new family. Now at seven months old, she is almost Tok's size. This past weekend, I stopped in to introduce the two canines. After knocking over a rounder filled with hiking pants, we determined it was a match made in heaven. I picked up Lucy today and brought her to the house for a playdate. The two tore up the snow banks and had a rousing good time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

White snow, white rabbits, white easter.

Kodiak was forecasted for rain but got snow. Another 6 to 8 inches in my yard; heights of snowbanks vary around the island. We had white out conditions yesterday, which stopped in the late afternoon. Last night, I headed to bed around 0200, and I woke up at 0730 in order to taxi friends to the airport.

The sun started shining as we drove through a winterwonderland in 4WD. Being Easter morning, the plows had not yet cleared some of our roads, esp the gravel roads in our neighborhood. The visibility enabled the jet to land and take off, carrying a couple of loved ones bound for Hawai'i. The airport was a social engagement for me this morning: I saw families, neighbors, fellow boat wives, friends, and Rotarians. My network seemed to be vacating the premises. Their timing was perfect.

I sit here listening to our neighbor's grown children search for money-filled plastic Easter eggs admist the snow drifts. Once you realize that all you have to do is follow mom and dad's tracks, they lead you to the monetary reward. I was tempted to join in...

Hopefully, the weather will hold up for me to go snowshoeing tomorrow. Today, I am obligated to sell dinner theater tickets for Rotary. So, if there are any locals left on the island, clear off your car, shovel the drive, and come to the Safeway to buy a dinner theater ticket.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oil in Alaska

During my recent trip to Anchorage, I attended an Oil and Gas industry meeting. My company provides permitting, environmental assessment, and program management support to some of the large players in this arena. The guest speaker was informative, and I loved his pictures of the large drills moving along the ice roads that they create during the winter. You see, the companies mobilize their equipment via barge during the summer, and store it on gravel pads until winter. Using large snow-making machines, they build "mini glaciers" on the ice shelf, sinking dense ice and then erecting gravel pads on top. This provides them with a stable shelf on which they store equipment, set up temporary camps, and other support facilities during the winter drilling season. Whereas I have a new appreciation for the engineering marvel that this requires (think Palm Island outside of Dubai), I kept quiet amongst the industry leaders who are very pro-oil, pro-Alaskan jobs, and pro-exploration.

I learned about the copious amounts of paperwork, permitting, and safety plans required for the leases, farmed out leases, and mobilization costs (which is the price of doing business in Alaska).

With the nation's talk of cutting back, tightening up, becoming more green, I had to laugh that not a single person in attendence seemed like the type who was following this trend. And then I went home to my hotel, where I snapped the following picture at 1130 PM AST. Not a dern person at work, and every single light was on.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cherry Blossoms versus Blizzards

I love snow. I think it is beautiful, keeps the dog happy, and gives me an opportunity to snow shoe.

And then I log onto facebook and see all my DC friends and their Cherry Blossom Festival photos...and it rips out my heart.

For the past five years, my DC lifestyle had me all a twitter this time of year. Guests were flocking to the spare bedroom, warm weather clothes were being dusted off, and picnics and early morning/sunrise walks were planned for the two week event.

Whereas I love the 12 hours of sunshine right now, I miss the sounds, smells, and look of spring. I see Easter/Spring decor in our local stores, and I have to laugh. With all our snow, our local rabbits really are still all-white. Heh.

Happy Birthday, Tok!

A year ago today, this little furball entered our world. At three months old, he captured our hearts.

And he still does, every day.