Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Uniform search

Mike and I have been meaning for a couple of weeks now to go out in search of an old Army uniform jacket for him to wear as one of his costumes in Bye Bye, Birdie. Something always seems to get in the way though, and we have been consistently putting it off. It suddenly hit us yesterday that costume parade is Saturday (where the director approves all the costumes) and the show opens next week! We needed to get a uniform and FAST!

The theater had a uniform, but it was too small for him. He had a picture of it on his phone though, and we showed that to the fellow at the Army surplus store just off post. No, he said, he didn't have anything like that, but he could tell us who could help us out: Collector's Corner, in the shopping center near the movie theater in Radcliff.

We stopped there, and sure enough, it was the place to go. The proprietor helped us find a uniform from the appropriate era. I tentatively asked how he felt about renting, as I was dreading spending $300 on clothing that he would wear a grand total of maybe an hour. Sure, that wasn't a problem, he said--did I think $40 was too much? I thought $40 was a darn good deal, especially considering that it included the cleaning when we return it in a few weeks. He was so friendly and eager to share his knowledge of uniform history. He even gave us a Vietnam era jacket to use as a source for buttons that are missing off the WWII jacket!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bourbon legend

I spent today in Frankfort, touring the Buffalo Trace bourbon distillery with 5 friends. This wasn't just any old distillery tour, however; my friend Sandy won a special behind-the-scenes tour and luncheon at an auction last fall and took us along for the ride.

Throughout the tour, I kept making mental notes of different items of interest to make sure I mentioned here on the blog, but somewhere along the way, my mental notes got splashed with bourbon and the ink ran. I'm probably getting this only half right at best, but I'll see what I can recall.

Our tour guide, Fred, did a wonderful job:

We learned, for example, that Buffalo Trace was one of only 4 distilleries to be allowed to continue production during Prohibition for [wink]medicinal[/wink] purposes. Another interesting bourbon fact: where a barrel rests in the warehouse has an awful lot to do with the final product, with shorter-term bourbons hanging out in the (hotter) upper levels and the finer stuff "aging gracefully" down low:

We got to watch bottles of Blanton's being filled and capped. Blanton's is a single-barrel bourbon (aged in one barrel rather than created from a blend from multiple barrels), and each bottle is topped with the most adorable little racehorse stopper. There are 8 different stoppers, each representing a different moment in the Kentucky Derby, from the horse entering the starting gate at the beginning to the jockey raising a hand in victory at the end. Think of these as Happy Meal toys or Pokemon cards for the more mature collector, the kind of collector who has $50 to drop on less than a liter of booze:

I found this tiny warehouses to be positively charming. It has room for only a single barrel (also note the "barrel crossing" sign):

This shiny surface provided an awesome opportunity for an artsy-fartsy group portrait:

And a more normal one:

I wish I had thought to get a group shot in front of this really cool truck, but by that point all I could think about was lunch:

After the tour, Fred led us up to the historical home that overlooks the distillery grounds where we were treated to a bourbon tasting led by an expert who tastes bourbon all day every day for a living (I'm sure my Fred is wondering how he might break into that line of work):

They had the tasting glasses set up on a sort of graph, with the y-axis representing age and the x-axis representing ingredients:

I'm still not a huge fan of bourbon, but it was interesting to get to experience first-hand the difference that age and ingredients make. After the tasting, we were treated to a delicious lunch of BBQ sandwiches, green beans, and the most amazing potato salad that any of us had ever eaten. Two of the women who work in the offices there joined us for lunch, and over a dessert of luscious cheesecake, they shared ghost stories from the area.

It was such fun to go off the reservation, so to speak, and spend time learning something totally new with good friends! Here are all my photos from the day:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekend update

Let's see . . . the last you heard from me, my car was in the shop and I was trying to get Annabelle an appointment at the ophthalmology clinic to see about the recurrent infection in both of her eyes. Thursday morning I got a call from Sears informing me that all the van needed was a new battery and NOT a new starter as well, so that was good news. Then Thursday afternoon I managed to get an appointment with the eye doc (after ophthalmology told me to take the referral to Tricare and Tricare told me to take it to the peds clinic and the peds clinic sent me back upstairs to ophthalmology), and we found out that not only does she NOT have an eye infection, it is highly unlikely that she EVER had an infection in the first place. What she does have is a tendency to wear her contacts for too long and a prescription for lenses that are probably too tight on her eyes in the grand scheme of things. So yay for the car and yay again for no eye infection!

I have been working on getting my office ready for the move. Unfortunately, I think I could work in there every day for a year and still have more organizing to do. I took a break from it this afternoon to help Mike clean out his room, and THAT was satisfying! By the end of the day, we had touched literally every item in his room and made a decision about whether it should stay or go. We filled the back of my van with boxes for Goodwill and put out several bags of paper in the recycling bin. It felt good to see such progress in such a short period of time. Next mission: linen closet!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's always something

I spent part of today working on getting Annabelle a referral to the ophthalmologist here on post, which was much more frustrating than it should have been. I'll continue working the system tomorrow and hope to have an appointment within a couple of days.

This afternoon I was having a lovely time down in E'town while the kids were at rehearsal. I got a junior-sized peach milkshake at Steak 'n Shake and sat in the car in the shade, reading my magazine and knitting once the shake was all gone. I called my friend Laura E. and made plans to pick up Panera and take it to her house for supper after rehearsal.

I stopped for gas on my way to Panera, and when I went to turn the car back on, all I got was this annoying clicking noise. A nice man at the next pump pulled his truck around and tried several times to jump start it, but it didn't work. I called USAA's roadside assistance number and put in a request for a tow truck, and then I called Laura to pick up the kids from rehearsal and then come rescue me.

All's well that ends well. The car is at Sears, and they suspect it is the starter and battery. Laura and her son Mark came to get us, and we wound up enjoying our Panera at the restaurant instead of getting it to go. We shall see what new adventures are in store for us tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Drug seeking

I am blogging from bed tonight, because I am exhausted. Today I: walked the dog 2 miles and did an hour of spinning in the morning plus an hour of Zumba in the afternoon. In between I tried to get eyedrops for Annabelle. You wouldn't think that would be so hard, would you?

It all started off innocently enough at the eye doc's at Wal-Mart this afternoon. Annabelle was there to get a re-check on an earlier eye infection and to get her contact lens prescription. Unfortunately, the eye infection was back, so the doc prescribed an even stronger medicine than he did last time. We dropped the prescription at the Wal-Mart pharmacy at 1:00, picked up a few items, and were back at the pharmacy by 1:15. At 1:35, the technician called me up to the counter to inform me that as it turns out, Wal-Mart was out of that particular drug. She was very apologetic and said that she could order it for delivery tomorrow. I said no thanks, that I would just take it to the pharmacy on post.

We had to hurry home because Annabelle had scheduled a phone call with her online health teacher for 2:00. As soon as that was over, I grabbed her ID and the prescription and went to the pharmacy. It looked like it was going to be at least a 2-hour wait there before I could pick it up, which wouldn't work for us, as the kids had to be in E'town for rehearsal at 4:00. So I left post and drove down to Walgreens.

The technician at Walgreens said it would be about a 15-minute wait. I told her that I was playing race-the-clock and needed to run home for my kids to get them to E'town at 4:00. I would come back through the drive-thru on our way to rehearsal. I dashed home, tossed on my Zumba clothes, grabbed the kids, and headed back out.

When we got back to Walgreens it wasn't quite ready so we waited, drove around the building once (to let other customers get to the window), and waited some more. Just as I was getting ready to run the kids on down to rehearsal and then come back for the prescription, the tech announced that it was ready. She asked me to confirm my address and then passed the paper bag out to me.

As I drove off, I tossed the bag back to Annabelle so that she could get her first dose. "Remember," I said, "the doc says you have to shake this medicine really good first." From the backseat I heard rattle-rattle-rattle. What the HECK?

She passed me a bottle of pills that were not--obviously--her eyedrops. Instead they were another patient's ibuprofen. By this point, we were almost late for rehearsal, so I called Walgreens and left a message to tell them that I would be returning this other prescription and hurried on down to the PAC. I dropped the kids off and drove BACK to Walgreens.

Once again, the tech was so nice and apologetic that it was impossible to be mad. They wound up giving me the prescription for free instead of the $3 I would have paid (or the $167.99 somebody without insurance would have paid), and I made it back to E'town with time to spare before my Zumba class.

The funny thing is, after all that hassle I have decided not to give her the eyedrops yet and to get her seen by an ophthalmologist tomorrow just to double check that we are on the right track.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

I know I shared this photo a while back, but I think it deserves a re-run today. Happy Father's Day, Dad--I love you!

Happy Father's Day to Fred as well, an All-American Dad:

And to Fred's dad, too:

Three great guys!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

(Temporarily) empty nest

Annabelle is at a sleepover, Mike is at the movies with friends, Fred is of course in Afghanistan . . . so it's just the dog and me tonight. I should be organizing my office in preparation for the move, but Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook is a much more enjoyable way to pass the time.

I did do a lot of purging in the kitchen the other day. I went through the 2 main spots where paper accumulates and forced myself to deal with each and every piece (as opposed to putting it in a pile to be dealt with someday. I found old calendar printouts that went back 3 years! The counter stayed nice for a couple of days, but as soon as I get rid of one piece of paper, 2 more show up to take its place. My office is like my kitchen counter on steroids, so it's very hard for me to get a sense of direction in here.

I had a Leavenworth friend go by the house that they have us penciled in for the other day and take some pictures. Any time I need inspiration to keep on working toward the move, I should just look at these. Here's the front (it's a duplex, but what a duplex!):

The back:

And the beautiful park across the street:

The inside is just as charming: nice size kitchen with a butler's pantry just off of it; 2 staircases--a front one that connects the main 2 floors and a back one that goes all the way from the basement to the attic; and FOUR fireplaces--one in the living room, one in the dining room, and 2 in bedrooms on the second floor. I doubt very much that they are in working order, but I just like the looks of a fireplace; I don't much care for having actual fire in my house. There are 4 bedrooms on the second floor and another 2 plus 2 huge open loft areas in the attic. Annabelle is planning on turning the attic into her own personal apartment.

OK, looking at those pictures has convinced me I need to keep on getting ready for the move. Just as soon as I break 150K on Bejeweled Blitz!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


That's how many years Fred and I are celebrating today! I didn't do anything cool for this one, so let's jump back 5 years and watch the slideshow I made (my first ever) for our 14th when he was deployed to Iraq:

Fred, I've never dated anybody this long before! ;-) Love ya, sweetie!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Today on our way to spinning class, Mike and I came upon a sad sight: 2 squirrels had been hit by a car. It got even sadder when I realized that one of the squirrels was still alive. Things were not looking good for him, but I couldn't leave him there on the road to get hit again or just slowly baked to death in the sun. So I got out of the car and moved him into the shady grass on the side of the road to let nature take its course. An hour later when we drove back by, it looked like he had indeed made his final exit.

But then when Annabelle and I drove by TWO more hours later, he was moving around, although not too well. I ran home and we got a box and took him to Monica at Woodland Wildlife Rehabilitation. Monica is amazing! I have taken her so many baby birds over the years that I have lost count, plus she helped me drag Harvey back from death's door last summer. Anyway, she declared Mr. Squirrel to be a February baby and said that the other squirrel (the bigger one) was most likely his mom. She gave him a shot of steroids to help with the brain swelling due to his head injury and started administering fluids. She says if he can make it through the next few days, he will probably be fine although likely blind in one eye.

While we were at Monica's today, Annabelle and I saw 2 week-old kittens sharing an incubator with a baby possum and a bunny, a small falcon, and a large seagull coexisting peacefully. This is her busy time of year, and cage space is in short supply!

Go to Monica's website and check out her photo galleries! Her work is inspiring. She has given her entire house over to helping injured and orphaned wildlife.

Monday, June 14, 2010

That which does not kill me?

I tried something new tonight: Zumba, which is a "fusion of Latin and International music that creates a dynamic, exciting, and effective fitness system." I've been wanting to try it for ages, and there is a class down in E'town several nights a week, but I've always managed to come up with one excuse or another for staying away. Now with the kids in nightly rehearsal in E'town, I have run out of excuses.

At first I felt pretty pathetic at it. Thank goodness there are no mirrors in the room, as I'm sure it looked even worse than I thought. Occasionally though I would have moments of clarity where I would catch on and accidentally do the right steps for a few moments. My mom had warned me that it is hard on the knees, and she was definitely right. I am wondering if dance sneakers might help alleviate some of the torque on my knees. It is hard to slide around in a circle when you are wearing shoes designed to provide traction, you know?

All in all it was lots of fun, and I do plan on going back. Maybe I'll even buy the 10-class punch card!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How I spent my Internet vacation

Greetings, all! My Internet access in Charlottesville was sporadic at best (hello, Residence Inn, no wi-fi in the rooms? really???) so I decided to just go with it and let myself get further and further behind.

We had a great time at the JAG school, but I didn't take the first picture. It was wonderful though to link up with old friends and make new friends and, of course, spend some time alone with Fred. We got home late Friday night and had yesterday to catch up on laundry and last-minute details before Fred left to return to Afghanistan for one more month this morning.

I'm going through my recent photos, and I see one from FSU that I neglected to post. Fred found a fellow Pike to chat up while we were waiting for Mike to finish orientation:

I got a lot of knitting done on this trip, since when Fred is around I gladly give up the role of driver for that of navigator. I've had a pair of wool socks in progress for ages, and I was determined to finish them up. I used a new technique to knit them both at the same time using 2 circular needles. It was interesting, and it did avoid the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome (in which one would rather open a vein than knit the second sock after finishing the first), but I found it tedious and confusing. Still, somewhere in Florida I found myself 2 toe seams away from a finished pair of socks, which was kind of exciting:

No way was I going to weave the toes closed in the car though, so I didn't get around to finishing them until later on in the hotel in Charlottesville:

I knew that I would have lots of time for knitting while in class at the JAG school. It may look like I'm not paying attention, but the knitting makes it easier for me to pay attention to the speaker, assuming I don't choose too challenging a project. For this one, I chose a sweater I had started in the winter and somehow put down and had trouble picking up again:

When I left for the JAG school, I had the body and one sleeve completed up to the yoke. I figured if I could get the second sleeve that far in the week I would be doing well. As it turned out though I got on a roll and wound up getting well into the yoke before running out of yarn:

I have plenty of yarn at home to finish it up, but this left me in the potentially frustrating position of having 500 miles of "navigating" ahead of me on the way home and nothing to knit. So Friday morning while Fred was finishing up at the JAG school, I went downtown in search of a project. I've been in the mood to try some color work, but I didn't want to start anything too intimidating, so I chose these cute little kid socks from KnitWhits:

I had to re-do the ribbing a couple of times before I was happy with it, but I still managed to get a fair amount done in the car on the way home. I need to work on keeping my tension looser, but I am having fun with them:

One final knitting story! So there I was, sitting in the back row and knitting in a class being taught by a young JAG major on her way to a deployment in Afghanistan. All of a sudden she noticed me and pointed and exclaimed: "Oh my God, you're knitting!" All heads swiveled 180 degrees as everybody turned to stare and I tried to melt into the floor. I went up to her after the class to apologize if my knitting had seemed rude, and she said no, that she just thought it was the coolest thing and that her attempts to knit had been less than successful. I decided that anybody who was so enthusiastic about knitting needed a pair of freshly made woolen socks, so the next day I presented her with my two-at-a-time socks. She was so sweet and happy and said that she will be taking them with her to Afghanistan. I encouraged her to give knitting another go but this time with bamboo needles instead of aluminum.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Consider us oriented!

We left Fort Walton Beach Tuesday morning and stopped in Destin to have lunch with my Aunt Suzie at McGuire's:

Then we spent the afternoon driving over to Tallahassee, where we dropped Mike off at a dorm at FSU to begin freshman orientation that evening. Our own orientation began the next morning at 8:00 sharp (and 7:00 the following day!). We wound up bailing after supper on Wednesday because as awesome as I'm sure the evening's entertainment would have been, crawling into my jammies and then into bed sounded even MORE awesome. By 2:00 Thursday afternoon, our brains were spinning with odd bits of knowledge about Florida State. Mike had a wonderful time, got registered for his classes, and is looking forward to the fall. Annabelle spent most of the 2 days saying, "I wish I could go to college NOW!"

I don't know how much blogging will be going on this next week. After just one day at home to do laundry and collect our wits, we are taking off again tomorrow morning, this time for Charlottesville. I'm taking my camera and computer, but I'm sure time will be in short supply. I'm glad the schedule worked out to tack this TDY to the JAG school on to the end of Fred's R&R, thus giving us an extra week together. He heads back to Kabul next Sunday though, and I'm sure there will be more time for blogging after that. Have a great week!

Looking back

For the past couple of months, I have been working on a photo album for Mike to commemorate his high school career. I tried to include family highlights such as trips and special celebrations as well. I was really pleased with how it turned out, and he seems to like it, too. Take a look!

Click here to view this photo book larger