Sunday, May 31, 2009

Michigan Visit

Walking into their little home of bliss, my recently married sister and new brother in law were phenomenal hosts. From an adorable four legged nice who is undergoing manners training to the excited chatter about the India wedding plans, my time with them was too short. We enjoyed a day of touristy meanderings around Frankenmuth, a town founded by German missionaries. I spied a historic one roomed school house that had been the place of town hall meetings, trials, and an education format that challenged the separation of church and state.

After remarking at the gentrification of some blocks through Hyde Park, we pulled into the $8 car lot near Tigers stadium. Suketu had never been to a ballgame, so for his first, he bought us tickets in the 17th row behind the visitor’s dugout. Not too shabby. A colleague and friend of their’s took Brad’s seat (notice, I said took not filled). Hotdogs, beer, and yelling at the umpire commenced for the next seven innings until we all stood, wrap arms around shoulders, and taught Suketu, “Take me out to the ballgame.” The smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of, “eyyyyy, she’s wearing a saaawx shirt!” was worth the heckling. (You know I had to represent by wearing my “I do it with my Sox on” Tshirt. Hehe.


Flying over Anchorage, I caught a glimpse of the chain of volcanoes outside of Anchorage. From Mt. Augustine upward, the peaks were still white with snow, save one. Looking like the Pig Pen character from Peanuts was Mt. Redoubt. It’s gray-brown façade was a striking contrast to its nearby pristine white neighbors.

Iliamna Range
Mount Redoubt
Mt. Redoubt smoking

Friday, May 29, 2009

Working in Alaska

I love my job. Here is an office-wide message I received from a colleague:

"Does anyone know where to find the trigger lock key for one of our shotguns?"

Gosh, I love it here.

The galley

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Chief Cushing and his family. The whole lot have a quirky sense of humor that I, like Brad, am drawn to. But when I read the below post from CGC Munro, that humor has ascended to a whole new level. I swear Brad had a hand in writing this. Enjoy.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the newest member of our galley staff. The Vieluxe 56 Inch Grill has a luxurious stainless steel double-walled hood with end-cap construction to add rigidity. The expandable dual-position warming rack is perfect for warming veggies and side dishes. It measures 171 sq inches and is expandable to 361 sq inches. The grill has a rear-mounted infrared rotisserie burner which has 15000 BTU/hour and is great for slow-roasting meats. It also has a stainless steel rotisserie attachment with a heavy-duty electric motor and 4 spit forks. The stainless steel cooking surface made from 3/8 rods welded into individual 12 x 18 removable grates that make steakhouse style grill marks and are easy to clean. The Vieluxe 56 Inch Grill has 648 sq inches of cooking surface with 6 primary burners 12500 BTU/hour each for a total of 75000 BTU/hour. I know it will serve proudly aboard CGC MUNRO for many years and directly contribute to the morale of the crew.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

From aboard CGC Munro

From Captain Lloyd, Commanding Officer

Yesterday was one of those days . . . in a good way. Weather (for the Bering) was decent, there were lots of fishing vessels that were excellent candidates for a boarding, and, after a month of training in Hawaii, the crew capable, the bugs have been shaken out, and my confidence level in their abilities is way up there.

At the end of the day, we had launched and landed our helicopter repeatedly, we fueled it while it sat on deck with the rotors spinning, we conducted 3 boardings where the team trained as well as documented some more serious problems, and our cooks provided a great steak dinner with hot fresh-baked dinner rolls.

While our time out here is unexpected and our original schedule had us heading home, there is a lot of pride, or as one shipmate put it today, 'a noble purpose' to us being 911 for the Bering Sea. We can and do run hard and fast because the talent (and the chemistry) of one hundred and sixty people. What a great privilege to be part of that team. I'm going to miss it.

This is Capt. Lloyd's last patrol with the CGC Munro. Brad's new CO will be Capt. Bell, who takes command in July.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Garden Update

A few posts ago, I chatted about all the yard work that needed to be done to reclaim our yard from the Kodiak winter. After hand picking the gravel that was shoveled into the grass (during snow removal), seeding, fertilizing, and raking the yard, I started on the aesthetic improvements.

Over the past week, my basil seeds sprouted, my tulip bulbs began to poke through the six inches of soil, and my chives were in full bloom.

I planted two dogwood bushes along the back fence, and I planted and staked our new choke cherry tree. To decorate the tree's footprint, I planted geraniums. In our flower boxes, I planted gladiolas, pansies and peonies.

My darling, pregnant neighbor is patiently watering all these specimens as I jet east for a few weeks. My hope is that when I return in June, our yard will be colorful, and "spring" will have arrived in Kodiak--- just in time for summer fishing season!

Lastly, I erected two bat boxes to attract Kodiak's Little Brown Bat to take care of our mosquitoes. With a vacant yard (read: no dog sniffing around), I hope to find inhabitants in the roosts when I return.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Christina v. Mold: Round 1

I get to have all the fun around here. Last fall, with Brad away, I got to play with the manual push mower, battery operated weed whacker, and other yard accessories. Now, with the prettier weather we've had in Kodiak, I can say, quite honestly, that doing yard work is an absolute pleasure.

Throw a power washer in there, and this Heidi-wannabe is happier than a pig in slop (as mama would say).

After receiving detailed directions from its owner, I lugged the gas-powered power washer around the house and declared war on the mold that turned our lovely light grey house into shades of green. Panel by panel, I dislodged dirt, grime, mold, and a few spiders from the siding and awnings. Our red door is now red, and our deck is no longer fuzzy in some areas.

I attacked the cars, too, but I gotta say: Kodiak mud does not come off. Ever. Caked onto the sides of our beloved vehicles are permanent remnants to the potholes along Mission Road, the gravel along Gull Street, and pieces of the Safeway parking lot.

My birthday is coming up...does anyone know where I can register for a power washer?

Heh heh. Nice Hooter!

Despite the title, no the comment was not meant toward me. And no, I did not mispell.

As I carried out the extra large dog kennel that contained a Great Gray Owl, a local creepy fisherman held open the airport's door for us. "Whatcha got there? An owl?" His buddy (there's always two) quipped, "Heh heh. Nice Hooter!" That dude can now die happy; his life is complete now that he has uttered that "infalable" phrase.
Gandolf the Great Gray Owl visited the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center as the main attraction in the lineup celebrating International Migratory Bird Day. Despite the moniker, Gandolf is female. Weighing in at just four pounds, she is all fluff. Her feathers keep her well-insulated, and she panted in the warm conference room. Owls pant with their beaks ajar, drool emitting, and the neck feather's pulsing in and out (just like a dog's belly). See the drool?
Gandolf's caretaker, Kristen, is from Bethel and now lives in Anchorage. She works to rehabilitate birds and trains those that could not be released into the wild due to their injuries. As a caretaker, she has three contained areas in her backyard. One is for Gandolf, one is for a Bard Owl, and one is for an eagle. She works with all three and travels all over Alaska with them to educate villages, sports clubs, schools, and fishermen about who to call when you find an injured bird, what not to do to prevent injuries, and respecting wild creatures.

Gandolf, herself, has an injured wing tip that prevents her from flying, but that did not keep her from giving us a show. When placed onto her perch (inside the dog kennel), she hooted for us. Personally, I was front row center (of course, where else would I be?) and took some of the following pictures of one of the prettiest hooters I have ever seen.

hoo, hoo.

This is one of my favorites. She is checking out the kids in the front row.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

8 May: Military Spouse Appreciation Day

From my amazing husband, Brad

Well, I have to admit on our final day in Hono, when Aloha Tower (vessel traffic service for Honolulu Harbor) delayed our outbound transit (a milk delivery truck was involved too) I took the opportunity to call my wonderful wife. I was greeted with "Do you know what day it is?" I replied "ummm May 8th" she retorted "Military spouse appreciation day! (pause) psst...that's your cue."

Needless to say I was a little taken back by the idea, but it is a valid point. Our patrol was just extended, and let's look at some of the things that my wonderful spouse has done in my year back afloat...

By June 30th (one calendar year since reporting) she will have been in Kodiak w/o me for 219 days. She has set up our HHG's and entire trip cross country because I was TAD, taken delivery of all of our stuff, put up with being married to "Ops", turned our house into a home, mowed the lawn with a manual push mower, learned to play with the weed eater, shoveled snow, hiked, trained a puppy, helped the neighbors, made new friends, test driven a new truck, eaten fresh rabbit, caught halibut, fixed the yard, planted trees, planned a friend's baby shower, kept the family informed of everything since I am deficient, attended weddings (w/o me), seen the family, hosted big mama, and most importantly put up with my crap and loved me unconditionally. I don't know how to thank her for all of this other than letting everyone else know how wonderful my wife and best friend is.

So do me a favor, friends and family who read this, call Christina and thank her for making my time serving this country that much easier.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Portland: the Providence of the west

For marketing training, I joined some fellow pacific-northwest colleagues in Portland, OR. I had never been there before, so I was excited to check out this green-lifestyle city. Its quest for carbon neutralizing, its attraction to young entrepreneurs, and its organic scene has been covered by magazines, featured in home design shows, and touted alongside the likes of Bloomberg’s NYC green initiatives, Hickenlooper’s tenacious green infrastructure and green space dedications, and Schwarzenegger’s eco-charge my Hummer example setting.

Green. The word barely describes this urban nirvana. The clouds gave way to hillsides bright with new spring leaves: populars and birches were abloom along side dark evergreens, creating an undulating palate decorated by few powerlines and skirted by mass transit. The downtown corridor is home to local markets on the weekends, riverfront public areas, and a marina that features intramural dragon boat racing. The dedicated bike lanes along each roadway, bridge, and promenade, featured cyclists of every size, shape, color, and their rain-ready accessories.

My office was Andersons’ former location (before Enron went under). The eco-friendly wooden cubes (as opposed to plastic or metal) were topped with planter boxes of greenery. Each trashcan was co-located with not only recycling, but a compost option. Our conference rooms used ambient light, and our bathrooms’ lights are motion-sensitive.

Nearby restaurants featured locally farmed, fresh produce, locally grown wines, vegan and vegetarian options, and consumer-conscious meat products on every menu (e.g., wild salmon, grass-fed beef).

Each evening, my boss, Jon, and I walked around the riverfront. Being an east coaster himself, he nodded in agreement when I remarked, “This place reminds me of a more well-appointed Providence.” To me, Seattle acts as the west coast’s Boston (with LA being our NYC equivalent). Providence and Portland are the smaller city to the south with the same following and principles yet a wee bit more relaxed with prettier countryside. The downtown areas have both been revitalized, the draw bridges that span the waterways add ambiance to the landscape, and the people are really friendly. There is an affiliation with Seattle, and there is a respect of the military presence in the area (Fort Lewis and McChord AFB are an 1.5 hrs drive north). And even Portland’s airport is more user-friendly (I’d fly out of TF Green as opposed to Logan given the chance).

My marketing class went well, and I learned a lot about techniques and networked with other colleagues about upcoming federal pursuits. On my last eve in the eco-urban nirvana, I dined on pate, Beecher’s cheese selections, and sipped on Tre Nova. I interviewed a colleague who had willingly left Anchorage and transferred to Portland. Let’s just say, I liked the color of her answers…

Monday, May 4, 2009

Prom: Take 3

You have all met Bruna, our Brazilian exchange student. Like her Kodiak counter part, Angie, Bruna has made her space in my heart. When a senior asked her to the Kodiak High School prom, she asked to raid my closet and borrow a dress. The fashion show commenced, and she decided on my purple gown that I wore to my first USCGA formal in December 2000.

On the day of the prom, Bruna texted me and asked me to come take pictures of and with her at her date’s house. Camera bag in tow, I greeted Zach’s parents and waited with them. The happy couple arrived, and smiles were forced in the cold breeze on the front porch. Ever the Latin, Bruna hugged me, told me she loved me, and thanked me for the dress, the pictures, the love, the everything. I admit it was weird to see her in my dress, but we had fun taking the “prom pose” pictures. Don't you love the way she is looking at him? Did I mention she returns to Brazil in a month?

Corny as ever, we did the prom pose.