Monday, June 30, 2008

About last night

As I said yesterday, we went up to Indiana to see "Beauty and the Beast" at the Derby Dinner Playhouse. It was really a great show and very exciting to think that Annabelle's group will be performing the same show in just under 2 weeks.

After the performance, some of the cast members came out in costume for pictures:

The highlight of Annabelle's night was discovering that Tyler Bliss, one of her Broadway Bootcamp teachers, was playing Lumiere (the candlestick):

We got to see Tyler last summer in "Hello, Dolly" and Annabelle got a picture after the show:

Maybe this is a new annual event?

By the way, if you haven't clicked on the link in my sidebar to visit the website for Youth Theatre of Hardin County, you should GO THERE RIGHT NOW! They are constantly updating the site with new pictures from rehearsal, last night's field trip, etc.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Racing the clock

We had a great night tonight seeing "Beauty and the Beast" at the Derby Dinner Theater, but I'm too tired to do a real post. Check back tomorrow for pictures.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Off my feet

I'm taking a temporary breather here. Today has been busy!

Annabelle's friend Katherine is coming to visit with her family, and we're getting ready. Fred and I ran to the commissary first thing this morning, and then I had a welcome this afternoon for the new DCG's wife. After that, I came home and vacuumed the first floor and the stairs and then set about getting some food ready. I made a yummy breakfast casserole to have for brunch tomorrow (I'll make a fruit salad and a tomato/basil/mozzarella salad in the morning) and a Käsesahnetorte to eat whenever. The cake recipe is actually Katherine's mom's, and this is only the second time I've made it on my own, so I hope it turns out well!

I just heard Fred come home from the office. We have to get ready to go to command's summer social. When we get home, our guests should be here! (Annabelle is staying here to play Welcome Wagon.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Turtle rescue

The most exciting thing that happened today was that while we were driving home after Annabelle's bassoon lesson, we found a turtle hanging out in the middle of the road. I stopped the car and jumped out and grabbed him, and we drove him to the nearest park. We had to hike a little bit to get down to the pond. I set him at the water's edge, and he just sat there doing nothing. I bent down to pick him up and try a different spot, but he decided he had had enough of being carried around by me, so he scuttled off into the water and swam away.

I wish I had had my camera with me so that I could have documented the rescue and relocation, but you'll have to settle for an image I grabbed off the Internet. Just pretend this is my turtle (and that I set him up with a studio photo shoot before putting him in the pond):

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Movable feast?

During the summer season, you can't go far on a military installation without seeing a moving van. Right now our neighborhood is full of them. Our next-door neighbors are in the process of moving out. Being avid hunters, some of the stuff they're packing up is a little . . . um, unusual:

I am eternally grateful not to be moving this summer. This is the first time Mike and Annabelle have spent 3 years in one place and it looks like we'll stretch their time here to at least 4, maybe even 5, years. I realized today though that as happy as I am to be staying, I'm getting twitchy. I'm used to being able to reinvent myself, my home, my life every couple of years.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Literary link

I'm all about the good books today! I wanted to share an interview that my dad did regarding self-publishing and his book Medusa's Daughter.

In case you don't remember, Medusa's Daughter is a suspense novel set in a Hawaiian paradise. It features a single mom who is also a pilot for a Hawaiian airline, her young daughter who just happens to have a few special talents of her own, and a sleazy politician who is all too true to life. The central crisis in the book stems from a murder that took place aboard the USS Arizona the night before the infamous air raid.

Dad talks about his book and his experiences with self-publishing here. Check it out!

Dive into a great book!

I've been reading a fair bit lately, and I just added a few new books to my LibraryThing library. I wanted to call special attention to one book in particular: High Dive by Tammar Stein.

The author (Tammy, to me) is a good friend from our days together in San Antonio, and I have been waiting for this book to come out ever since I finished reading her first book. I had the privilege of reading High Dive during various stages of the writing process, and finally holding the hardbound copy in my hands is just so exciting!

I remember thinking back when I read Tammy's first book, Light Years, that she has a special gift for writing about places in a way that bring them alive for the reader. That was certainly true of Charlottesville, VA, in Light Years and remains equally true for Paris and Florence in High Dive. If she can paint such a true picture of these cities that I know personally, then I can trust that her treatment of Israel (in Light Years) and the island of Sardinia (in High Dive) is equally realistic, and I can lose myself in the enjoyment of feeling like I am visiting these foreign places myself.

In High Dive, Arden Vogel is on her way to Sardinia to prepare the family's vacation home for sale. Arden is coping with the death of her father a couple of years earlier and the current deployment of her Army nurse mother to Iraq. Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, she makes an impetuous decision to join 3 new friends from Texas and take a detour through Paris and Florence. Along the way, Arden remembers her family's time together in Germany (the last duty station where they were all together), worries about her mother's safety, and longs for what might have been with her friend Peter.

The deployment angle rang especially true to me. This book is not against the war in Iraq; it's not in favor of it either. It simply deals with the war for what it is to thousands of military families: a fact of life. Take this passage, for example, which takes place in Florence after a falling out with one of Arden's new friends:
I missed my mother. I was beyond tired, not just from not sleeping last night, but bone tired, soul tired. Tired of worrying about my mom all the damn time. Tired of missing my dad. Tired of what felt like an endless climb up a steep mountain. Would I ever get to the top and be able to rest?
That passage really gets to me, because I know that feeling too well; Tammy captures it perfectly throughout the book.

On the back flap of the cover, Tammy says:
I was an army spouse for 6 years and my husband and I still have many friends in the service. But few of our civilian friends have any connection to the war in Iraq or the sacrifices our troops and their families make. I wanted to write a book that would create, at least in fiction, someone who is deeply affected by the war for readers to get to know. Arden and her mom might not be real, but there are many military families a lot like them, who are lonely and under almost unbearable strain.
This book is a valentine for military families. I recommend it to my civilian friends for a look at life inside the tent and to my military friends for a deeply moving treatment of something that is indeed just a fact of life for us.

And, Tammy, I can't wait for your next book! You rock!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fabulous prizes

So, as I was trying to say before Blogger so rudely interrupted me, yesterday was Fred's award ceremony (as well as the awards ceremony for about a half-dozen other people who are also leaving the command this summer). We had an office call with the CG first, which was nice, and then everybody filed into the plush conference room for the ceremony. Here's the official group shot:

Fred received the Legion of Merit (hooray, Fred!):

I received 3 awards--one for outstanding civilian service, one for my volunteer activities, and a spouse appreciation certificate:

I wish I had had the official photog snap a family pic of us, but he was gone by the time the receiving line broke up. I had somebody take one with my camera, which didn't come out as well as I had hoped, but oh well:

After the ceremony, the kids and I raced up to Louisville for their long-awaited date with the Apple store. We split the cost of new laptops with them. I was able to get the education discount because of my status as an FSU student, so not only did we save $100 per computer and some money off the care plan as well, but we also got an 8-gig iPod Touch with each machine. (Those are for me and Fred; the kids have had iPods for 2 years now, but we are iPod-less.) Oh, and they also each got a printer/scanner for free, but that wasn't part of the education discount; that's just a promotion the store is running. Anyway, they are thrilled with their new machines:

They are both feeling the Mac love in a very big way. Annabelle's friend Maya also has a Mac, so ever since Annabelle got her computer set up last night, they have been IMing with their webcams. If this gets me my phone back, it will be well worth the cost! I keep thinking of what my cousin Julie and I would have given back in the day to have this kind of communication. Sometimes I think I should stand by Annabelle when she's on the phone long-distance and keep up a running total out loud of "how much this is costing!" Just so she can see what life was like in the Dark Ages.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Trying again

OK, I am making yet another attempt at getting something up here tonight. First I had a post typed up but then Blogger went down. So then I tried emailing in a token post, but so far I'm not seeing it. I'm trying one more time to post this the traditional way. Come back tomorrow for a real post. Or go read Annabelle's blog--she was posting at the same time I was and didn't have any troubles at all.

Well, crud-monkeys!

I had a post all written up, and now I can't get Blogger to publish it. I've tried logging in again, but I keep getting a message that the service is "currently unavailable." I am going to see if I'm able to post this by email and if so, I'm going to call this my post for today and go to bed. Here's hoping! Check back tomorrow for a real post.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Just stopping by

We had a nice day today. I worked a little and cleaned my office a little. Then Fred and I went to Bardstown with some friends for a delicious dinner. We just picked Mike up from work (he's lifeguarding at the pool and waterpark on post) and now we're getting ready to watch one of our NetFlix flicks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yummy Saturday night

Remember how last Monday was our anniversary but we couldn't go out and celebrate? Well, we made up for it tonight! Somehow (still not sure how we got one of the golden tickets) Fred and I got invited to the pre-opening celebration for a new restaurant here on post. It's actually a new old restaurant, as it used to be here but then it closed. It's back now though, and it seems very promising!

Tonight was amazing. They just kept bringing out the food. Would you like to try our bruschetta? Yes, of course. Would you like to try our pesto pizza? Naturally. Our house salad? Bring it on. Our chicken, our tuna, our steak (2 kinds!), our canolis, our tiramisu, our chocolate cake? Yes, yes, yes (and yes again), yes, yes, and yes. And may I pour you some more wine? Heck yes!

All in all, it was a great night, and I'm very excited to be getting a good dining option close to home.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy summer!

Summer is finally here, and yet I can't help feeling like for us it's almost over. We have 6--count them, 6--weeks of summer vacation left. That just about breaks my heart.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Teenagers . . .

Fred and I were at a friend's promotion party the other night when Fred's Blackberry rang. It was Mike, and he wanted to talk to me. "Hi, Mom!" he said. "Is it OK with you if Mark and I dye our armpit hair purple?"

Wow, talk about a question I didn't expect to be facing on Father's Day. But I gave my blessing along with a solid promise that should any of my towels become purple THERE WOULD BE CONSEQUENCES DAMMIT!

When I told Fred the news, he walked over to Mark's dad and said, "You are never going to believe what our wives' sons are about to do."

Sure enough, we arrived home a little while later to find Extreme Makeover: Armpit Edition going on in the kids' bathroom:

And a crowd of interested onlookers cheering them on:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thwarted by the dog

During Ginger's first year when we would walk her, she would pee once, maybe twice, and always in a traditional squat. Then during the past year, she started lifting one hind leg towards the front in something that resembled a ninja crouch. But recently she has started hiking her leg and peeing on trees. We tell her, "That's not very ladylike," but she doesn't seem to care.

Last night as we walked her down a neighboring street she hiked her leg at almost every tree we passed. So tonight I got the idea of taking the camera and recording her doing her new potty trick.

I don't know why, but all the way down the street, she refused to humor me. Oh, she'd stop and take care of business, but she wouldn't go into full tilt mode. Until my camera battery died on the way home. Then she carefully watered 5 or 6 trees in a row.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Forward my mail

I'm back at Panera again. This is turning into an every afternoon habit thanks to the free wi-fi. I dropped Annabelle off at her play practice and then spent the first half of my down time sitting in my car under a tree at Steak-n-Shake enjoying a strawberry shake and doing a little paperwork. Once my shake and paperwork were gone though, I still had over an hour to kill, so here I am at Panera.

There's really not much to report from here. My Flickr obsession is continuing. It's funny--when I started this "little" project a week ago, I thought of Flickr as a backup in case a natural disaster should consume my computer and external hard drive. Now I'm starting to think of them as my safety net in case anything should ever happen to Flickr. It can happen, you know. I had an account on Sony's Image Station for a couple of years, and they wound up shutting down. That's OK though. I never really forgave them for not shipping to an APO address. When I wanted to make a poster of the kids for Fred's wall in his trailer in Iraq, I wound up ordering from Walmart instead of Image Station thanks to their stupid mailing restrictions. So far Flickr isn't showing any tendencies towards irritating me, so I'll pray for their continued good health.

Anyway, it's my Flickr obsession that drew me to Panera this afternoon. Sure, I could go wander the mall for my last hour of quiet. But why do that when I can sit here sipping sweet tea and tagging photos?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Eighteen years and counting

Happy anniversary to me and Fred!

We have no big plans for tonight. I'll be in E'town with Annabelle for her play rehearsal until 7. Fred has a CG meeting that theoretically starts at 6:30, so after I drop Annabelle off at the house, I'm meeting my coffee group for margaritas--which, if you think about it, is so much better than meeting your margarita group for coffee! We got invited to a restaurant grand opening on Saturday night though, so we're going to go to that and call it our anniversary celebration.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

But I'm not ready for the weekend to end!

We had garden parties both nights this weekend, which was a lot of fun. This would be an excellent time for a 3-day weekend, but alas, Monday must come. Nothing major to report from here.

Happy Father's Day to Dad and Fred and all the other cool fathers I know!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blogging from bed

Oh, how I love my new laptop computer! I hung out with it at Panera this afternoon while Mike and a friend were shopping at the mall, and now I'm hanging out with it in bed. I'm beat, and it's so nice to just kick back and put my feet up but still be able to get online.

This is the first time in ages that I'm upstairs so early. With Annabelle's play practices lasting until 7 most nights, we're generally just getting around to eating or maybe walking the dog by this time. Maybe tonight Fred and I can actually watch "La Vie en Rose," which I've had out from NetFlix for weeks now.

My current obsession is Flickr. I have had a free account for ages, and mostly I just use it to post photos that I want to share with my message-board friends. The other day though, I upgraded to a pro account, and I have been uploading all the pictures that I've taken thus far in 2008.

I am having so much fun with this! Tags and sets and collections . . . oh, my! I know I'm a library geek, but I just can't stop thinking about it. It's a work in progress, but if you go here, you can see my photostream.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fashion advice

If you look good in brown or orange, you should go buy a dress right now. There are a LOT of brown and orange dresses out there. I should know--I spent most of today at the mall in Louisville trying to find a dress that was NOT brown or orange. I did fine a black and white dress at Steinmart that, at $25, I couldn't afford NOT to buy, but it's not what I had in mind for the restaurant opening we're attending next weekend.

I was feeling some shopping pressure as well because I had about $25 in reward points from a Macy's holiday promotion and it was going to expire on June 15. I wound up spending it in the lingerie department because there was NOTHING else in the store that appealed to me and who can't use new underwear? Unfortunately, in all the on and off in the dressing room of the dress department, I managed to lose one of my favorite earrings that I had just bought a couple weeks ago. So I wound up down in the jewelry department re-buying them for $13. Sigh . . .

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sharp-dressed men

So did I ever mention that the night before we were leaving here to go to Alabama the rock band ZZ Top played a concert here on post? Yeah, I didn't think so . . .

Well, anyway, ZZ Top was here, so of course Mike had to go. He does love himself a concert. Fred was going to go, but his back had been bothering him and in the end he decided that sitting in a lawn chair was not the best way to spend the night before a 500-mile drive.

He and I were half-asleep when Mike finally got home that night, sporting an autographed VIP pass and telling of getting to meet the band thanks to the commanding general of the Armor Center. Mike said that somebody took a picture with a mighty impressive camera, so we hoped to see it in the next week's post newspaper. Alas, no such photo was to be found.

This morning I emailed the photographer for the paper and asked if perhaps he had taken such a photo. He said no, he had not, but he forwarded my email to some other photographers, and within just a couple of hours I had this in my inbox:

Mike is going to keel over when he sees it! I've got an 8 by 10 on order at Walmart. I wish I could quietly set it aside for his birthday, but I'm just too excited. He gets home from yearbook camp in Nashville tonight, and I can't wait to show it to him!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Callaway Gardens

I spent this afternoon f-f-f-freezing again at Panera while Annabelle was at rehearsal. I did manage, however, to make it through the bulk of my Callaway Gardens pics. We also saw the FSU circus that afternoon and I took some video, but that'll take me a little longer to sort through.

Anyway, here are Annabelle and Heath in the butterfly exhibit:

We saw lots of pretty butterflies:

And lots of pretty flowers, of course:

And we even managed to find a baby bird:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I'm sitting here at Panera, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi and waiting for Annabelle to get done with play rehearsal. I was temporarily warm as I ate my bowl of black bean soup (yum!), but alas, the soup is long gone and I am freezing now. They've got the air conditioning going full blast. Yes, it's hot outside, but enough already! I feel like ordering 2 more bowls of soup: one for each foot.

I just added Photoshop Elements to my new computer and cleaned up a mishmash of photos from the past week. I'll have to do my pictures from Callaway Gardens in a separate post, as I got a number of pretty butterfly and flower shots, so this will be pretty random.

Here's a little shack that we saw on our Friday afternoon boat ride on Lake Martin:

Here's Ginger admiring the lake and trying to work up the nerve to jump in:

She finally did jump in as Fred and Annabelle started swimming away from the dock. After she had gotten out and I had her on the leash to keep her out and let her dry off, Annabelle started splashing a lot and Ginger got very upset. First she tried to go in and save her but when she couldn't she barked furiously and summoned the coast guard in the form of 4 other dogs and a duck. She and one of the dogs got acquainted:

I told you my baby birds were hot:

I hadn't been out to the rehabber's house in daylight in ages as most bird-related emergencies seem to occur at night, preferably the night before we go out of town 'cause that's when we've got nothing better to do than save the feathered world. I was amazed to see some of her exterior habitats, like these owls:

Stay tuned for some Callaway Garden pictures, maybe tomorrow if you're very, very good.

Monday, June 09, 2008

My neighborhood sounds like a rainstick

You know those rainsticks that you see at museum gift shops occasionally? You hold it up and turn it over and shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, a bunch of beads travel rather noisily from one end to the other? Well, that's what Fort Knox sounds like thanks to the cicadas. I'm told that they are merely bad right now but that last week they were HORRIBLE! I had one in my car today and it sounded like a geiger counter at Three Mile Island, so I can see how collectively they really make some noise.

In other news, Mike's middle ear infection has cleared up, but he has developed a nice outer ear infection (swimmer's ear) to take its place. So the middle part of my day was dominated with taking him to the doctor and then sitting for almost an hour and a half waiting to pick up his eardrops at the pharmacy. Then I had to take Annabelle down to E'town for her play rehearsal from 4 to 7, so I haven't gotten much done around the house today.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Out of the baby bird business

When we got home yesterday, we found Fort Knox sweltering in a mini-heat wave and our bird nest situated right in the afternoon sun. The poor little birds had their heads hanging over the edge of the nest and their mouths hanging open. My neighbor (the same one who had built the annex for the last batch) had been coming over regularly and misting them with water for the past few days, and I rigged up a shade for them, but it just wasn't enough.

One bird went overboard into the basket beneath the nest this morning, so Fred and I snagged him and one of his siblings and took them to the rehabber. She said that they were definitely showing signs of dehydration and that the other 2 were probably in pretty serious danger of becoming heat casualties. So Annabelle and I took the remaining 2 in for rehabilitation as well. I felt like such a heel as Mama and Daddy Bird watched me haul their babies away! But at least this way they have a very good chance of making it to adulthood.

I miss watching them out my window, but I sure don't miss worrying about them, especially in this heat. I think we are going to put the nest in the garage until the fall so that nobody will feel inclined to lay still more eggs. Next spring if the robins come back, I would love to finally get my webcam hooked up, but for now my avian birthing center is closed.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

We're home!

Not much to report after a long day in the car. I'll try to get my photos together tomorrow. Right now I'm just sitting in bed with my laptop catching up on my email and message board.

Friday, June 06, 2008

This one time? At swim camp?

We drove to Auburn today to pick Mike up from swim camp. It was a pretty strenuous week for him, but it sounds like he got a lot out of it. He's a swimming namedropper now, that's for sure. Coach Quick did this and Coach Quick said that. Rowdy Gaines talked to them, and Mike got to swim against him in a fun race. Cesar Cielo demonstrated proper freestyle technique. Here's a picture of Mike with Coach Quick:

And here's the whole gang. Mike is in the top right corner:

After we picked Mike up, we all went out to lunch at Cheeburger Cheeburger. Mike ordered the 20-ounce burger:

He worked quickly and efficiently:

And finished it in the time it took me to eat most of my 5.5-ounce "beginner's burger":

And got his picture on their wall of fame:

Some Alabama roadsign humor from the drive home:

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mushroom hunting

Mary took Annabelle and me to the local library today and introduced us to the wonder that is the Friends of the Library book sale in the basement. We prowled around for ages, looking through countless shelves where the books were actually double shelved. You have to move aside a lot Danielle Steele and Left Behind volumes, but treasure awaits those who have the patience to dig!

At the end of the afternoon we had amassed a stack of books almost dog high but spent a measly 5 bucks:

Ginger approves of these books!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sitting on the dock of a lake

There's no Wi-Fi here at Fred's parents' house, so I've been rather cut off from my usual Internet habit. Annabelle and I take turns borrowing my father-in-law's computer and connection, but it's just not the same. I occasionally get a signal from a neighbor's network, but it's never strong enough or lasts long enough for me to make true use of it. Tonight, however, I came down to the swing by the side of the lake, hoping that maybe I could pick up a little wireless action from the people on the other side of the water. So far it seems to be working!

Tonight we took supper out on the boat and had a picnic in a little cove somewhere on Lake Martin. It was very pleasant--a little warm at first, but Annabelle and I took care of that by jumping in the water at the first stop we made.

I know I had promised pictures and maybe video from our trip to Georgia yesterday. I don't have my Photoshop Elements loaded on the new computer yet though, so I have no real image editing capability. Plus there's that whole no-Wi-Fi thing. In order to post my bird photo the other day, I had to download it to my laptop, copy it to a flash drive, and post it from there using my father-in-law's computer. Too much work for vacation! So you'll just have to wait patiently for the weekend.

Meanwhile I'm going to enjoy this pleasant weather and my illicit Internet connection. Hey, I know! I'm going to email Fred (who always has the 'Berry by his side) and ask him to bring out some wine!

Edited to add:

It worked! And I figured how to use my integrated webcam:

God, I love technology.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Georgia on my mind

As I had expected, we had a great daytrip over to Georgia today. Unfortunately it's too late to go into details or post photos. That'll have to wait for tomorrow!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Not much to report

We had a nice, quiet day. Fred worked with his dad in the yard, and I worked on my indexing project. Tomorrow we're taking off to Georgia to spend the day with some friends, so maybe there'll be more to say tomorrow.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Greetings from Alabama!

This is Mike's week at swim camp at Auburn, so Fred, Annabelle, and I (and Ginger) are hanging out in Dadeville with Fred's parent. We wanted to get away at 6 this morning, but we got delayed; we had to go to the ER to get Mike on some antibiotics for his--talk about lousy timing--ear infection. He's on a Z-Pack now though and should be bouncing back quickly.

I think we had more baby birds hatch today. I took this photo just before we left:

If you zoom in, you can see a little hole in one of them and maybe a crack or ripple in the other. I'm going to miss my baby birds this week!