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November 2nd - Giving Thanks
already - a month meant for giving thanks! I am going to think about
one thing I am thankful for every morning when I wake up this month.
So often we let the stresses of everyday life cloud our thoughts
and forget about those things we should truly be grateful for. Yesterday,
I gave thanks that I have Steve home with me - whole and healthy
- and we have the opportunity to move forward into this next chapter
of our life. This morning, I gave thanks for being blessed with
two parents who loved and encouraged me throughout my life. While
I only had them for a short while, I learned much from both of them.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.
We own a new home, but it doesn't look like we'll be moving
into it for a couple of weeks. That's actually OK with us, because
we're not sure how long it will take to have the phone, satellite
TV, and internet connected. The movers are scheduled to pack us
up and haul our stuff between the 13th and the 15th. In the meantime,
Steve and I will run back and forth to the new house to clean it
up and get it ready for our 'stuff'. It's not dirty, but there's
sawdust in the kitchen cabinets and little things like that to be
tidied up. I want to put shelf liner in the cabinets too, and install
shower curtains, etc.
weather is getting gradually more 'wintry'. The weatherman says
we'll dip below zero on Friday night; as cold as -10F. While this
isn't the 'real' winter weather yet, it will definitely mean layering,
long underwear, hats, gloves and scarves.
The ice moves further and further up the river and will soon reach
the bridge. I took the photo above from Rachael's car, using my
old G2 camera (I shot the raven below with it too). It's easier
to throw that camera in my purse, and rather than go out without
any camera at all, I've been toting it along - just in case. I like
the video feature it has too, and have been playing a bit more with
that. I'm definitely in need of a 'real' photo shoot though. The
shorter days of winter can bring periods of the doldrums upon me,
and the only thing that really helps is going off on my own in search
and I have been getting rid of so much stuff as we prepare to relocate.
Monday is trash day here, and the pile in front of our house was
bigger than it's been in a long time. The snow was falling lightly,
and as I was stacking some empty boxes, I glanced over at the house
next door. A huge raven was standing on top of the trash can, pulling
food scraps from the bag poking out, and then tossing them onto
the ground where he could enjoy at his leisure. The ravens are very
smart birds, and I could watch their antics for hours.
I found a couple of birdhouses that I brought with me from Florida.
I never hung them up at this house, but I'd like to hang them at
the new place. I also want to have bird feeders in the yard. And
lots of beautiful flowers. Here it is, the beginning of winter,
and my thoughts are on springtime, birds, and gardens!
Stryker Brigade has lost six soldiers since they were extended in
Iraq this past August, and we've had countless soldiers injured
over the course of this war. On October 11th, we lost Sgt. Nicholas
R. Sowinski when he was killed by an IED. Several other soldiers
in his vehicle were injured; one of those seriously. That seriously
injured soldier is the spouse to one of the women in my online Alaska
Military Spouse group.
Lizz has since flown out to Washington DC (Walter Reed) to be at
her husband Brian's side (last name withheld for privacy reasons).
Despite many heroic measures, Brian lost his right leg below the
knee. He's not out of the woods yet, as there are other medical
issues which are making the healing process move slowly. Lizz keeps
an online journal, and she posts occasional updates. Yesterday,
her husband got control of her laptop and posted a journal entry.
I wanted to share it here:
First of all, this is Brian and I wanted to make a post
about Lizz. She lets me browse her LJ so I can keep up in her
life (or, after this, she USED to let me). I've looked at what
she has told you all about how frustrated she has felt and about
my progress. But there are things she fails to mention horrifically
This woman is absolutely amazing. She has been so incredibly
busy since I've seen her. I've had to send her out with my brother
and sister to have fun, and then she would only go with my parents
watching me. (Her idea of fun, by the way, seem to be eating as
little as possiblt and coming back after maybe an hour out ) She
has been ever-vigilant in taking care of me. She does BY FAR more
than the nurses. She has helped to clean me and clean my wounds.
She wakes up in the middle of the night and wakes me up before
my nightmares get too bad. She adjusts my padding and blankets
at least 20 times a day, and every time it is before I even realize
I could be more comfortable.
She has been selfless in my care, almost self-destructive.
She refuses to let herself cry in front of me. She has been a
paragon of strength to me. She has been the closest of confidants
and bears all my personal frustrations along-side her own. She
spends probably an hour every day tidying and cleaning to make
this tiny little room feel like home. This woman bought cleaning
supplies to clean the hospital's baseboards!
Lizz is amazing to me. With a traumatic event in a person's
life, it tend to give something for everyone to focus on. So I
have no more right foot, yes, it sucks. But I swear every time
I go to look through the foot that isn't there I see Lizz's spectacular
green eyes looking back to ask if everything is okay on my end.
My Lizz loves me unconditionally and totally. I KNOW this. And
I love her right back.
So, if you've a moment, please, send your thoughts and prayers
to Lizz. She deserves some acknowedgement.
So often we forget those brave servicemen and women who have been
injured during this war. If you go online and read the statistics
at the Iraq Coalition Casualties
website, those injured are represented by a number. As of September
30, 2006, there have been FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND, SEVEN HUNDRED SEVENTY
NINE (44,779) US non mortal casualties (including non-hostile and
medical evacuations). Unless you personally know someone who has
been injured, or have read the occasional human interest story in
the news, this statistic is virtually unknown to most Americans.
As you keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, please remember
those families who are still fighting battles, even though they
are no longer on foreign soil.
November 7th - Get out and VOTE!|
As I wrote in my last entry, I
have decided that November would be an entire month of gratitude.
I suppose I should play 'catch up' and continue with my list.
||As the outside temperature
plummets, I am thankful that I live in a nice warm house. Many
people in the world don't have shelter. It is estimated that
there are more than 600,000 homeless men, women, and children
in the United States on any given night.
I am thankful to see full shelves of
food when I open the refrigerator and pantry. Many people
in the world don't know when their next meal will be. Millions
of children and millions of seniors nationwide rely on food
and grocery assistance from soup kitchens, food pantries and
emergency shelters annually.
I am thankful when I turn on the shower
or the sink, and clean water comes out. More than 1.1
billion people lack access to safe drinking water.
When I open my closet, or go into my
dresser, I am thankful that I have clothing and the ability
to purchase more. Many people in the world would not be
clothed if not for the generosity of others, and some only
have the clothes on their back.
When I am sick, I am thankful for medical
insurance and healthcare. So many people don't receive any
medical care at all. A National Health Survey conducted
by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found
more than 40 million people of all ages went without insurance
at some point in 2005.
Food, Shelter, Water, Clothing, and
Healthcare - the basic necessities of life. How thankful I
am to have all of them.
****Info in italics was found on
||Today I am thankful for morning coffee.
But it's not really all about the coffee. It's about the moments
which surround my coffee sipping.
Almost every single morning (with the exception of ten months
this past year), I enjoy morning coffee with my husband. It's
a routine that we both love, and one that starts the day off
Steve is the 'coffee man' and he sets up the pot each night;
ensuring that we wake to the delicious aroma of coffee wafting
through the house.
I get comfy on the loveseat and flip on the TV to CNN, so
that we can catch up on what we missed while we slept. "On
the eights", we flip to the Weather Channel to determine
just how many layers we'll need to put on that day.
Steve brings our mugs out into the living room, and then
retrieves the newspaper from the front porch. He always hands
me the local section, while he peruses the front section.
Then we swap.
If it's a weekday, our 'together time' lasts about 30 minutes
before he heads off to work. If it's the weekend, we stretch
the coffee hour out indefinitely. If it's Saturday (as it
is today), Steve will tune into The Outdoor Channel and enjoy
hunting or fishing shows for an hour or two, while I get on
my laptop and catch up with email.
Today I am thankful for routine. And coffee. My days just
aren't the same, if they don't start out with both.
Today I am thankful for lazy
Sundays. On lazy Sundays I...
- Stay in my pjs until noon - or all
day if I want.
- Wear my heavy socks with the rubber
grips on the bottom.
- Give myself a facial and go without
makeup the rest of the day.
- Call my kids.
- Eat soup and sandwiches instead
of a big dinner.
- Watch movies all day long.
- Or do absolutely nothing.
Today is a lazy Sunday. :)
|Today I am thankful that I actually
got a full night's sleep! I fell asleep at 10pm and I didn't
get up until Steve woke me with his kiss goodbye at 7:30am.
But what I'm really thankful
for is the full moon which illuminated the back yard when
I let Sedona out this morning. I love wintry mornings when
there's a full moon. I love when the clouds are wispy and
drift across the moon. I love when it's in a position between
trees - framed by inky silhouettes.
And so, today, my gratitude entry includes
a photo (Click to enlarge).
| Today, like many other Americans,
I am thankful for the right to vote.
will exercise that right to vote, as I have done in countless
elections over the last 29 years.
I'll echo some of my friends: "If
you don't go out and vote, don't complain about our government."
been dipping to below zero regularly now. I'm trying not to let
it slow me down, although getting dressed to go out in the weather
sure slows me down! If I'm going to be outdoors for more than just
a few minutes, I definitely put on my long underwear now.
Rachael and I still try to take the pups to the campground for
a run in the late morning/early afternoon. We do a long lap around
the campground. It's only a mile - much less than the 6 miles we
were accustomed to when the weather was warmer - but it's certainly
better than laying around and being a couch potato.
We walked yesterday morning. The temperature was -4F when we headed
out. For the first time this winter season, I pulled out my heavy
winter parka. I also wore two pair of socks, and both a fleece shirt
and fleece vest beneath my parka. I wrapped a scarf around my face
to keep it and my ears warm. My hair does a good job of keeping
my head warm, although Steve still scuffs me up for not wearing
a hat. Believe me, when it's much colder, I do wear a hat!
we walked, I could feel my eyelashes freezing up. I knew that my
breath was freezing in my hair too. I brought my little camera with
me in the event we ran across any wildlife, and just had to get
a photo of Rachael and her frosty lashes. Then she took one of me.
(Steve calls us "Arctic Ninjas")
We both know it's going to get a lot worse, before it gets better!
Soon, we'll be so bundled up you'll only see our eyes peeking out
between the layers of scarves and hats and hoods, etc.
Yesterday, the housing office sent out three representatives
to do a preliminary inspection of our house. Two of them went room
by room, looking at the condition of blinds and woodwork, walls,
closet doors, etc. The third one was writing down any work orders
that needed to be done before the house could be turned over to
the next tenants. Soon after they arrived, a representative from
the moving company came by to take inventory of our stuff and figure
out how many boxes and packing supplies they'd need to bring with
Steve took off with the housing people, and I walked around the
house with the moving company rep. We passed phase one of the inspection
(thank goodness!), with only a few minor deficiencies. We have to
replace lightbulbs and one doorstop. If we don't do it ourselves,
it will cost us more than $100 for the housing people to do it.
Inflated prices, for sure! The final inspection is on November 20th.
At that time they will blacklight the carpet. If there are any pet
stains, we'll be liable for carpet replacement. My animals have
never had accidents on the carpet, but there are a few small spots
where they got sick. I bought some "Nature's Miracle"
to clean those spots up so they won't show under blacklight. It
comes highly recommended! *keeping my fingers crossed*
The moving people will come out on the 13th and pack us up. On
the 14th, they'll finish packing us and load our stuff onto the
trailer. On the 15th, they'll deliver it to the new place. Monday
night, we'll probably have a bed or the sofa to sleep on. Tuesday
night will be a lot trickier, so I expect we'll be 'camping'. Rachael's
offered her guest room to us, which is so sweet, but I think the
furkids will be much less stressed if we stay here in the house
The plan is to get the new house set up by Thanksgiving. We plan
to have Rachael over for dinner since her husband is still in Iraq.
He's expected to be home the first week of December with the rest
of our Stryker Brigade. The entire community is ready for them to
return, and several homecoming celebrations are in the planning.
we lost another soldier on Saturday. SPC James Lee Bridges, 22,
of Buhl, ID was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment
here at Fort Wainwright, and was killed by enemy small-arms fire.
What makes James' death even more tragic, is that he was sent home
early (with Steve) and then sent back to Iraq when the extension
was announced. This makes seven soldiers lost since the deployment
was extended, and 26 since the brigade was deployed. May all their
souls rest peacefully.
and I went to the polls together before he had to go into work.
The sky was streaked with orange bands of sunlight in one direction,
and the moon was high in the sky in the other.
I saw the colors out my front window, but only grabbed my little
camera to get some photos, since I knew I'd be shooting from the
car window anyway due to time constraints. (They are grainy and
not the best, but I wanted to share the colors with you)
I love the later mornings. Last year at this time, I'd jump in
the truck and drive out to the golf course for sunrise photos. I
haven't felt that energetic in the morning yet. Most times I barely
get myself dressed until nearly 10am. (Yes, I'm a slug) This is
a natural reaction to winter in Alaska, and I'm not the only one
who moves a lot slower this time of year.
you can see, the Chena River is growing more narrow each day. This
photo was shot from the same bridge as the photo in the first entry
I posted this month. Hard to believe that in less than a week, the
ice has taken over so much of the river. Things are definitely moving
in winter 'fast forward' now.
I checked out Weather Underground earlier to see what the forecast
is going to be like this week, and we could see lows to -20 overnight.
Rachael and I are planning to walk the pups in the morning, but
I think it might be time to wear both my silk long undies and
my polypro long undies to keep my legs warm.
November 12th - Home is where the heart is...|
Steve and I have been quite busy
this past week, as we prepare for the movers to come tomorrow and
start packing our belongings up.
We'll be spending tomorrow night here at the "old" house.
After the packers leave us for the day, we're having dinner at Rachael's
house. It will be a welcome respite.
On Tuesday night, we'll spend our first night in the new house.
We'll be sleeping on an air mattress, and only have those things
we hand-carried to the house, but it will be a special night nonetheless.
I hope our furkids make the transition well. They have both been
nervous with all the activity and boxes that have turned up all
over the house.
I hope that we can get the phone and the internet hooked up quickly.
I called in a work order two weeks ago, but the customer service
rep 'dropped the ball' and we seem to be back to square one - which
is a phone line hanging on the outside of our house, but nothing
running to the pole. I will go crazy without internet contact; I
am truly addicted!
I hope that the next time I make a journal entry, I will have photos
to share of our new home.
Before I end this entry, I will update my daily Gratitude List:
Today, I am thankful
for the Internet, and the way that it has enabled people to
connect with others all over the world.
The Internet has allowed me the privilege
to *meet* and befriend many wonderful, smart, humorous, and
caring people, whose support and friendship carried me through
several low points in my life.
The Internet has also allowed me to
touch the lives of others, through my journaling. I have been
keeping my Alaska Journal since May, 2003 and now that Steve
and I plan to be lifelong Alaskans, I will do my best to continue
to keep it updated. Through this journal, I have shared my
experiences of living in The Last Frontier, with words and
When I get a personal email from a
reader, it always warms my heart. Most of the time these correspondences
express joy in reading my journal and seeing my photos because
the reader has always hoped to come to Alaska for a visit
or for a lifetime. I often read, "I am living vicariously
And then there are those emails that
come from military families, who find themselves with PCS
orders which will bring them to AK for a tour of duty. They
ask me questions about housing, and necessary clothing, and
winterizing cars, etc. I answer their questions and point
them toward my Alaska Military Spouse group on Yahoo for further
support and friendship.
And then there are the emails from
the parents of soldiers and their families. Like the one I
received this morning from the mother of a young soldier,
who just arrived in Fairbanks with his wife and daughter.
She asked me if I could find some time during this busy time
to give them a call.
I did more than call this lovely young
woman; I went to the hotel and met the three of them. She
(and her beautiful daughter) and I then drove all over Fairbanks,
so I could point out places of interest. We had a lovely afternoon.
It is the least I could do for a fellow military family.
I wish them all well as they begin
their Alaska adventure!
Today I am thankful for bright sunshine on a frigid arctic
morning. I love the way the sun bounces off of the snow, turning
it into fairy dust as it glitters in the morning light.
I am also thankful that, over
the years, my personality evolved from shy and slightly introverted
to outgoing and friendly. While I never really had a problem
making friends; when I was a young woman I didn't often go
out of my way to meet 'strangers'. Throughout my life, my
friend base was mostly a result of meeting friends of friends
and didn't take much effort, or a reaching out, on my part.
But when I married into the military, I realized that I had
to be more willing to extend myself - and accept rejection,
if that was the case. Fortunately there have only been a handful
of 'rejections', but they were best for all parties involved.
I look forward to meeting new people,
as I do any adventure. I am thankful that others find me friendly
and welcoming. I believe that we are all connected to one
another - much like the 'Six Degrees of Separation' phenomenom.
My life is enriched by those who pass through it. And for
that I am grateful.
Life is not measured
by years, it is measured by all of the moments that are full
passion and joy, all of the lives we touch, and all of the
good we do.
Today's gratitude entry is
short and sweet.
- I am thankful it is Friday.
- I am thankful that Steve is off
- I am thankful that we are having
the locks changed on the new house today, so we can start
moving stuff over there.
- I am thankful that it's 'warm' enough
out to do a lap around the campground with Rachael and all
(I don't know who wrote this)
What is a Vet.............
He is the POW who went away one person
and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.
He is the Parris Island drill instructor
who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives
by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into
Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire
who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary
human being - a person who offered some of his life's most
vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed
his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is the three anonymous heroes in
The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington
National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all
anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on
the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries
at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow -
who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day
long that his wife were still alive to hold him when them
He is the bar room loudmouth, dumber
than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior
is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four
hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She (or he) is the nurse who fought
against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for
two solid years in Da Nang.
He is a soldier and a savior and a
sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the
finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest
nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone
who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You.
That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean
more than any medals they could have been awarded or were
Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK
It's the soldier, not the reporter,
who gave us our freedom of the press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who
gave us our freedom of speech.
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who gave us our freedom to demonstrate.
It's the soldier, who salutes the flag,
who serves others with respect for the flag, And whose coffin
is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the
Thank you to
all who have served and are serving our country!
I am grateful for the beautiful yard we have at the new house.
I love all the trees which envelope our property and shield
us from the road and our neighbors. I love the way the snow
sits on the spruce boughs and frosts the birch branches. I
love the way the setting sun paints the tips of the branches
with orange and yellow.
I hope the moose and the fox like my
yard just as much as I do.
November 21st - Out with the Old, In with the New|
(As I type this, we still don't
have internet service - nor phone - so I don't know when it will
actually be posted.)
past nine days has been total chaos - as is to be expected when
you pack up your entire life and move to another home. Fortunately
our move was only about 6 miles; nothing like the 7800 mile move
that brought us here. (The photo at left is our old house as it's
being packed up. At right is after the movers hauled everything
I wish I could say it was a painless experience, but I don't think
any move is. It could have been a lot worse, I'm sure. I'm just
glad we're finally here in the new house and trying to pull things
together to make the house a home.
Every day, I open more boxes, find places to store things, hang
blinds and drapes, and move things from one place to another as
I try to get a feel for how I want the house to 'flow'. The floorplan
is challenging, but I think we've come to a solution as to furniture
spent our first night in the house last Tuesday. We slept on a feather
bed on the floor and realized that we're entirely too old for floor
camping. We were chilly too; keeping the thermostat at 67 now that
we're paying the electric bill. It's easy to get used to blasting
the heat in military quarters when you aren't responsible for the
electric bill. There will be quite a few everyday changes in the
way we live, now that our hard earned money is going towards utilities.
On Wednesday morning, we brewed a pot of coffee (thank goodness
we hand-carried our coffee pot) and Steve drove into Fairbanks to
the Sunrise Bagel corner stand to get us breakfast sandwiches.
The movers arrived shortly after 9am. Steve had a plan to conserve
energy (and heat). It was -30F, and the last thing we wanted was
to see our heat flying out open doors. The plan was to download
the truck to the garage in shifts, and then to close the garage
door, open the door to the house, and carry the furniture/boxes
inside. Our garage is heated (50F), so at least we weren't seeing
too many precious dollars in heating oil blow out into the wind.
It took five downloads into the garage.
hard to grasp how much 'stuff' you own until it's packed in many,
many boxes. In an attempt to make the unpacking and setup of furniture
easier, we decided to stack all boxes pertaining to the living or
dining room in the dining room, with only the furniture going in
the living room. The plan worked OK, and we were able to roll out
one of the Turkish rugs Steve sent home from Iraq, and assemble
the living room furniture around it in a temporary setup. Finally...
a place to sit! (We have slipcovers for the furniture in the photos.
It's still in great condition, but we prefer a more neutral palette.
Until we're ready to replace our living room set, the slipcovers
had to go back to work on Thursday, so I spent the entire day opening
boxes and figuring out where to put things. While I don't mind it
too much, it is a major chore. My back was screaming by the time
he got home from work. (Airborne was quite content to watch me work.)
I had a minor meltdown soon after the movers left the house.
I had just finished making up the bed, and hanging up our clothes
in the closet, and was taking a few minutes to rest. My eyes came
to rest on one of my mother's rings, where it lay on my nightstand.
It is the engagement ring my father bought her almost twenty years
after they were married. It's a beautiful diamond - marquise shaped
- with several small diamonds surrounding it. Mom always told me
that the ring would be mine after 'she was gone'. I brought it home
from Philadelphia with me in September, and I've worn it on the
ring finger of my right hand ever since.
I picked up the ring and looked at it... watching the sunlight
glisten on the many facets. And I felt such incredible sadness come
over me because Mom will never see this house, or come to visit
us here in Alaska. A few days earlier, as I was packing up the old
house, I came upon a card from Mom. It was written in early 2004.
In it she wrote: "Maybe I'll surprise you someday and come
to Alaska to visit. It's a long flight, but I miss you and would
love to come see you in your new home." She never got that
chance because of her health... I wish I could still pick up the
phone and call her.
On Thursday, the Dish Network guys arrived and mounted our
satellite dish to the roof. We have to get a second dish if we want
local channels. This was the plan, until they came out and informed
us that we couldn't mount the second dish until we dropped four
trees. (Our property has a lot of trees, and these four were directly
in the line of the signal for local channels, as well as reducing
the signal path of the main satellite dish.) Steve called his friend
(and fellow soldier) Dave, and they set up a time to cut down the
trees on Sunday. In return for his help in cutting down the trees,
we promised him all the wood from the trees we plan to remove. He
heats his home using a wood stove. We'll be removing more trees
from our property (mostly deadwood and spindly spruce trees) and
he's welcome to the wood. We're quite thankful for his help!
Thursday night, Steve had to oversee an FRG (Family Readiness Group)
meeting, and I made plans to attend the Soldier Show with Rachael.
We attended the show last year and were quite impressed with the
performance. I needed a break from unpacking, and was looking forward
to a little downtime. The evening started beautifully with a gorgeous
sunset as I made my way to Rachael's house. We had dinner at The
Chowder House, and then made our way to the Physical Fitness Center
for the show. What a wonderful time we had!
Playing 'catch-up' with my Gratitude Journal:
I am grateful that the
Army is moving us to our new house. Moving is stressful in
itself; having a professional moving company pack our stuff
up for us is a huge blessing.
Tonight is our first
night in our new house. Despite the hard floor and minimal
comfort of sleeping on a feather bed mattress cover, it is
wonderful to be sleeping under the roof of a house that belongs
to us! I look forward to making this house a HOME!
I am thankful for the strong backs
of our moving crew. In addition, I am thankful for their good
spirits - despite the cold - and their friendliness. We had
a great crew of movers, and for that I am thankful!
| I am thankful for the talent of so
many of our military members. Tonight's Solder Show was a wonderful
respite from my moving obligations. The performers were quite
entertaining with their dance, their songs, and their emotion.
It was an evening of laughter, of tears, and of melancholy.
I am thankful for all of our armed forces - and especially those
who serve our country and entertain us with their beautiful
voices, musical talent, and uplifting spirit.
I am thankful for the modern technology
of satellite images which beam from 'outer space' to my television,
and fill my house with entertainment. After days of silence,
hearing the background noise of TV is quite welcome!
||I am thankful for my husband's job and
the ability to purchase blinds and drapes and other niceties
for our new house. So many people try to make ends meet with
just the necessities, and I have the ability to 'shop'. For
that I am immensely thankful. I am thrilled to make this house
a home with my personal touches.
|| I am thankful for new friends. Today
I met Dave's wife when he came over to cut down trees. What
a sweet and friendly young woman! I look forward to getting
to know her better as time goes on. They will be staying in
the Fairbanks area for the next four years - if not more - and
I hope that she and I can become good friends.
||My thanks today is for 'alone time'.
As much as I love people and spending time with my darling husband,
I also crave alone time. Today was one of those days. I spent
nearly five hours shopping, window shopping, browsing, running
errands, and driving around town just enjoying the wintry landscape.
It was good to get out of the house, and away from the boxes.
It was wonderful to take a drive in my car - from place to place
- with my radio blasting, and singing along with CDs. Alone
time rejuvenates me. Today, it's what I needed.
Accomplishment. I am thankful for
accomplishing a lot today. Today, I hung vertical blinds,
mini blinds, three curtain rods, and cleared out the dining
room. Finally, the house is looking more like a home. I love
seeing it all come together.
I also met my neighbor today. He came
by to ask me if I heard from the phone company. He moved into
the house next door in September and still doesn't have phone
service. We were both supposed to be hooked up temporarily
today. (With DSL internet too) Fortunately, the phone company
did come out, but they said they won't get us hooked up with
service until tomorrow. *fingers crossed*
My neighbor is very nice, and I hope
to meet his wife sometime. I can see his yellow house through
the trees. It's nice to know they are there in the case of
an emergency. We feel secluded where we are, but know that
neighbors are just through the trees. I like that.
Steve and I planned to have Rachael over for Thanksgiving dinner
on Thursday. Our plans have changed; Rachael and her sister managed
to pool their airline miles so that Rachael could fly home to the
Seattle area and have dinner with her family. I am very happy for
her. When she comes home on Friday, it will only be a matter of
days before she will be welcoming home her soldier, James. I plan
to be there, taking photos of their reunion. I am so happy that
they will finally be reunited. Our Stryker men and gals will be
home by mid December.
The "Welcome Home" signs are going up all over Fort Wainwright,
and when I drive down the main road, my eyes always fill up with
tears when I see them. I have many friends who will be welcoming
home their husbands over the next two weeks. I feel such joy for
them! It's as if I am reliving my homecoming with Steve.
Because Rachael will not be coming to dinner, we have decided that
we won't be cooking a huge meal just for us. Instead, we are going
to eat at the Chow Hall. Steve will be serving chow from 2:30 -
3:30pm to the single soldiers and families, and I plan to meet him
when his 'shift' is over. The menu looks delicious with turkey,
ham, prime rib, and all the fixings. It will be much easier than
preparing a huge meal for just the two of us, and no dishes either.
Besides... what better way to spend Thanksgiving, than with our
fellow soldiers and/or their families.
I am so thankful that Steve returned home safely to me. I pray
that God allows us many more happy and healthy years together...
November 24th - Always Thankful|
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my
family, friends, and readers in the US. I hope you all had a lovely
Thanksgiving shared with good friends and family, good food, and
Our holiday didn't go as well as I hoped. I woke in the middle
of the night (around 2:45am) and just could not go back to sleep.
In addition to my insomnia, my stomach was quite upset. There's
nothing I dislike more than nausea. I lay in bed looking up and
out the window into the night sky, hoping the beautiful view would
lull me back to sleep. There were a million stars twinkling overhead
and I was hypnotized by their brilliance. The sky is so much more
beautiful here at the house, without ambient neighborhood light
to interrupt the darkness.
As I lay there, a band of green came from over the roof of the
house and continued to arch across the sky to the trees in our yard.
The lights! What a beautiful sight! Despite my nausea, I got out
of bed, pulled on my robe, and ran downstairs to get my camera set
up on the tripod. I pulled on my parka over my bathrobe, slipped
my feet into Steve's huge snowboots, and trudged through the garage
and into the side yard. The temperature was in the -20F range, and
my breath caught in my throat when I inhaled the first time. There's
nothing like frozen lungs to bring you wide awake!
It was so dark in the yard, and the lights weren't as bright as
they can usually get. I had a hard time getting my camera focused
on the trees which ring the house. After a few blurry shots, I managed
to get the focus right. I only stayed outside about ten minutes.
My uncovered legs were turning into popsicles by that time.
My trip into the arctic night air really woke me up. But it didn't
do anything for my upset stomach, unfortunately. I lay down on the
sofa, turned on the TV and watched a movie. When it was over, I
made my way upstairs and climbed back into bed with Steve. He woke
when I got in and I told him I was feeling sick and had been up
all night. It was already 7am, but still pitch black outside (the
sun doesn't rise until 10am at this time of year). The darling man
that he is, he rubbed my back and I feel right to sleep. I slept
I awoke rested, but still sick to my stomach. The thought of eating
anything - much less turkey, gravy and all the fixings, made my
stomach lurch. I told Steve to go to the chow hall and eat, before
it was his shift to serve food. He felt terrible for me, but I just
wanted to rest. Before he left, he made me a mug of chicken broth,
which I managed to get down. Happy Thanksgiving to us. *sigh*
I felt much better after a short nap, and when Steve finally arrived
home at 4pm, he came bearing two huge platters of food. He didn't
eat before serving; he wanted to eat Thanksgiving dinner with me
- even if that meant eating turkey the next day. Since I was feeling
much better, we dished out the delicious turkey, gravy, stuffing,
mashed potatoes, cornbread, corn, green bean casserole, and cranberry
sauce, popped our plates in the microwave, and dined together at
the coffee table (the dining room table isn't assembled yet). Dinner
couldn't have been more perfect. Our first Thanksgiving in the new
house, just the two of us, enjoying delicious food, and thankful
for all of the blessings in our life.
Later last evening, we warmed up the delicious apple and pecan
pie slices Steve also brought home, made some hot cider, and cuddled
up in bed to watch a movie together. I didn't think the day could
end any more perfectly, until we turned off the TV and looked out
the bedroom window, where the lights, once again, were dancing across
Bands of green over the trees
Tinges of purple light the sky
Millions of twinkling stars
Stars and a faint green light
I will always be thankful
for the magical light show that colors the skies over Alaska.
The Aurora Borealis may be a 'scientific phenomenon', but
I am always reminded of a higher power when I witness such
Today, I am thankful that my husband is home with me, safe
and sound, and enjoying our first Thanksgiving in our new
home. So many of my friends are without their husbands - and
so many families all over the country are celebrating Thanksgiving
with an empty chair at their table. Please remember all of
our troops who can not be home this year.
There will be no 'Black Friday' shopping
for me today. The day after Thanksgiving is a day of rest
and relaxation in this household. Today I am thankful for
fleece lounging clothes and wool socks with non-skid soles.
Ahhhh.. the simple things in life are often the best!
Rachael will be home tonight. We're picking her up at the airport.
I've missed her, but she's been having a great time visiting with
her family, eating yummy Thanksgiving food, and hitting all the
4am sales at the Seattle malls. I can't wait to see what kind of
deals she got!
Steve will be working this weekend. The first groups of our Stryker
Brigade soldiers should arrive home from Iraq sometime this weekend,
and he will be part of the welcoming committee. Once they do what
they have to do at the Air Force Base, they'll be bused here to
Fort Wainwright to be reunited with their families. I am so thrilled
that this deployment is finally coming to an end. It's going to
be a wonderful Christmas here on Fort Wainwright!
November 28th - Welcome Home 172nd Stryker Brigade!!!!|
The past four days have been a
whirlwind of activity and excitement as our soldiers make their
way back to US soil. Over the weekend, we had three planes come
in, yesterday we had a plane come in, and over the next several
days we should get the bulk of our soldiers home!
square inch of fence space on Fort Wainwright is full of Welcome
Home banners and signs. It's so heartwarming to see these signs
and know it's finally for real!!!
Several of my friends have already welcomed their soldier home,
but Rachael is still waiting for James' arrival. He should be home
by the end of the week - a full year since she saw him last for
R&R. She's been an emotional mess lately; fluctuating between
tears, happiness and excitement. I feel so bad for her as I know
the waiting is so stressful. I'll be so glad when she finally holds
her husband again. I'm sure I'll be a crying mess too.
helped her to hang up her banner for James on the fence that leads
into the neighborhood. She has another one just like it hanging
over her garage. I remember when we hung this sign up in August
in anticipation of homecoming. It's so nice to know that this time
James is going to see it with his own eyes!
| November 25th:
||Today I am grateful for
the safe return of the first wave of our Arctic Wolves!!! I
am happy for all of the families who are finally holding their
soldier safely in their arms, and all the children who are finally
being held by their mommy or daddy.
Steve got home from the Air Force Base on Sunday, we ate a quick
sandwich and then drove down to Chena Lakes Rec Area so I could
take some photographs. The sun was just starting to set and the
sky was a lovely orange behind the Alaska Range. We drove up on
Moose Creek Dike for a sweeping view of the flood plains and the
range on the horizon.
It was cold (-30 something), so I didn't stand outside the truck
for too long. We drove deeper into the park, exploring the roads
that lead to the lakes and the campgrounds. I hoped to see some
moose, but no luck.
| November 26th:
||Today I am grateful for
the many colors that God uses to paint our world. I am also
grateful for the discovery that my backyard is a major thoroughfare
for snowshoe hares (as evidenced by the many huge footprints).
Now if only I can capture one with my lens...
Yesterday, I met Rachael and Stryker at the DAWG WASH. This
time it was Sedona's turn to get a shampoo. We hoped that Sedona's
presence would put Stryker more at ease, and I think it worked.
He was much less stressed out about getting squirted down and lathered
up. Sedona, as usual, loved the attention. She's definitely a water
dog. I just love the concept of this establishment and I hope that
the customer base picks up enough to keep them in business. I tell
everyone I know about it, because I love giving Sedona a bath in
someone else's tub, using someone else's products, and not having
to clean up after myself.
I took my camera to get a few snapshots of the action. I took a
photo of Rachael and Stryker first. Poor boy looks like a deer in
the headlights, but he wasn't as scared as the first time, thank
goodness. She then took a couple of photos of Sedona and me. She
managed to catch Sedona mid-shake and the resulting face I made
as water sprayed all over me. It was great fun, and Sedona smells
so fresh and clean now!
| November 27th:
“A dog doesn't
care if you're rich or poor, big or small, young or old. He
doesn't care if you're not smart, not popular, not a good
joke-teller, not the best athlete, nor the best-looking person.
To your dog, you are the greatest, the smartest, the nicest
human being who was ever born. You are his friend and protector.”
~ Louis Sabin
Oh how I love my girl, Sedona!
Today, I spent the entire day sorting out more boxes, putting
things away, and trying to straighten up the clutter which seems
to get moved from one room to another. I start off in one room,
with the plan of getting it totally in order before starting on
another, and then I walk into another room and start doing something
in there. Needless to say, the entire house is in disarray. Fortunately,
Steve is a huge help. He set up the guest room for me (bed, dresser,
etc.), which at least makes it look more like a room and not a storage
I haven't had much motivation lately. And my mood has been a bit
down too. I always get like this over the holidays, but this year
it's even worse with both my parents gone. I talked to my sister-in-law
Diane today, and she's feeling the blues too. She always had my
mom over for Thanksgiving dinner, so this year it was really hard
for her to have an empty chair at the table.
The days are getting shorter and shorter as we head toward Winter
Solstice. We have less than five hours of daylight now. The positive
is that the sunsets (on clear days) are brilliant. The negative
is that when it's dark at 4pm, your sense of time gets thrown off
and you get tired earlier. I've had middle of the night insomnia
as well (typical for me in winter), which hasn't helped. I'll be
glad when we're through the holidays.
I hung my first photographs today. Two 16x20 moose prints went
in the guest bathroom. They look very nice with the new shower curtain.
can view the shower curtain I bought here) Steve joked that
one of the moose is looking straight at the toilet. Oh well; he'll
have to get used to an audience!
I haven't decided where I'm going to hang the other photos yet.
I have plenty of wall space - to include a very tall stairwell -
but it doesn't make it any easier to decide. I've thought about
making the guest room a 'Northern Lights' room. I've got four aurora
shots so far, and a couple more I want to have enlarged. I've thought
about recreating one of my aurora photographs in stained glass,
and hanging it in the window. I have a lot of ideas and can never
find the time to see them to fruition. I really need to work on
| November 28th:
I am grateful for my
husband, who - despite his own hectic schedule - still pitches
in 100% to help me get the house in order. I am also thankful
that he trusts my sense of 'decoration' and allows me to do
whatever I want with the house. While I wouldn't surround
him with feminine frills, if it made me happy to do that,
he wouldn't protest. (OK... so he might roll his eyes a bit)
He's such a huge help, and I love him for that.
30th - Finishing up my Gratitude Entries|
| A friend of mine had to
put her cat down today. His name was Phantom, and he was a beautiful
black kitty - 11 years old. He got sick, and they discovered
that he had a cancerous tumor in his head. There was no chance
for recovery, and so she had to make a very difficult decision
to put him out of his misery and release him from this world.
After hearing of this sad news, I knew
that today's gratitude entry had to be about my dear kitty,
Airborne. Airborne woke me at 4am, but I'm not angry about
that. Steve was gone for the evening, and she kept me company
all night long. When she draped her body over my hip, and
began to knead and purr against me, I couldn't keep from reaching
down and stroking her silky smooth fur. Anyone who loves a
cat, knows how hard it is to resist the head nudges and occasional
rough tongue kisses which encourage further stroking.
I've had Airborne for 9 years. I adopted
her as a kitten, from a litter of 8 beautiful black kitties.
Each kitten had a tuft of white somewhere on their body. Airborne's
little touch of white is on her belly. She willingly lays
back in my arms and allows me to stroke her tummy. I always
toy with that tuft of hair until static makes it stand up
like a mohawk. I suppose she senses my amusement at this;
I bet she would roll her eyes if she could. But still she
lets me play.
Animal lovers understand that there's
a big difference between a 'pet' and a member of the family.
Tonight, my precious Airborne will be held even closer. When
it's her time to cross the rainbow bridge, I know that Phantom
will be waiting for her there.
||Today I am thankful for the return home
of Rachael's husband James!!! Also, my friends Shawna, Missi,
and LuAnn welcomed their soldiers home. I took photos at the
emotional and joyous event, and will write about homecoming
in my December 1st entry.
WELCOME HOME, JAMES!!
2006 Susan L Stevenson