Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A bone to pick

This is not my picture...

...for so many reasons, but the first and most obvious is that it's currently promoting the (pictured) camera bag on this site whose target demographic is women photographers.

I am a woman photographer (genus Amateur, species Hobbyist) who spends or considers spending large sums of money on the equipment involved in such an endeavor. Therefore, I feel reasonably confident that I am included in the aforementioned target demographic.

Which is why I can't understand why any company/website would think that a photographer savvy enough to need a bag to carry extra equipment would ever use something so COMPLETELY IMPRACTICAL to the function of making pictures! Let me tell you from experience, trying to frame a shot with two handfuls of camera is difficult enough without a 10 lb sack of rocks hanging from your elbow, throwing off your center of balance by at least 30 degrees and just generally wreaking havoc with what should be carefully contrived angles.

I'm completely insulted that the advertisers would think that just because I'm a woman I'd fall prey to their blatant sexist marketing of this brass-bedecked, handcrafted leather... leatherrrrr... llllleathhhh.... gahhhh... look at the shiny....

Damn you, clever capitalists!!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do you mind? I'm eating.

Almost forgot that I took this today! I've been trying to get in the habit of packing the small camera every time I leave the house and was rewarded for my efforts this morning on my way to check our mail box.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gift from a wise man.

Weeks ago, a box came from down range with myriad little funny-pages wrapped gifts for Ro and me. I couldn't even imagine what they'd be, so I didn't try. Thus, I was surprised and elated to find this had my name on it!

I won't lie, yesterday was rough. It's not the first Christmas I've solo'd as a parent, but certainly the first where there felt like something was missing. It wasn't devastating, tho, and Ro kept the holiday cheer going with a sunny disposition, even tho the weather was dreary in the extreme. Skype helped us out a bit, too, allowing a brief video call that morning where we opened gifts as a family (how COOL is the 21st century, right?!) and another convo later in the evening with a better connection.

I found some liquid cheer about 10 ounces into a wine bottle, which was helpful not only in the evening, but later that night as I fell asleep with a smile on my face. Everything looks a little brighter this morning. Of course, that's probably the light reflecting off of the 6 inches of snow dumped on us yesterday, but whatever - I'll take it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gah! Make it STOP.

You know the snow is bad when you'd rather walk than dig out your car.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


These trees are in a park just across the street from our housing area. To be honest, I don't think about them much in the summer time, but they sure are impressive with all that snow on them!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

People fatigue.

You know what kind of weather I hate? Flurries. What the hell is the point of flurries, Mother Nature?? Big, fluffy, dry snowflakes are pretty. Tiny, nearly-invisible ice-daggers that kamikaze past your eyelashes into your eyeballs are NOT SO MUCH.

It was so cold this morning when I took the dog out that my jeans started to hurt on my legs. 17 degrees is not for wimps, and I, apparently, am a HUGE WIMP. But Heidi had already been cooped up two days without relief on account of the weather and she was about to dig a tunnel under the door in desperation. The cold doesn't seem to bother her. I think the fires of her crazy keep her warm.

I really would have liked for R to be home today. First, I would have looked forward to him trying to talk me out of going outside at all. Then I would have resented the fact that he didn't offer to take the dog out for me. The resentment would thaw, however, with the cup of hot coffee and warm body he offered me upon my return. Then Heidi would try to crawl in our laps and she'd be so adorable with the puppy eyes and he with the ear-fondling and doggie-speak and I'd forget that there was such a thing as "cold."

It seems like the busier my schedule gets - the more interaction with the Army community at large required of me - the lonelier I get. Or, if not lonelier, more sensitive. It's like every conversation I have, every phone call I have to make, every person I smile at in passing becomes this little tear in my psyche, all adding up to a gaping wound until I just want to hide under the covers for a week to heal. Not exactly the kind of upbeat, positive attitude I'm supposed to be exhibiting as (jazz hands:) FRG co-leader!

One of the ways I miss R the most is for his ability to appreciate my susceptibility to social fatigue. Which is truly one of the greatest things about him, because he doesn't suffer the same. Oh sure, he gets tired of people, needs a little bit of solitude to regroup, but by and large he's a social creature. The act of interacting with people past his limits doesn't hurt him like it does me. And yet, he's perfected the art of being still - emotionally, physically and intellectually - around me when I need it, but still being there.

That skill of his is what allows my optimism to shine through. Without it, I just feel bombarded until I hate the idea of people, let alone having to interact with them. It doesn't help that the intense cold and upcoming holidays put me in hibernation mode.

54 out of 365. It's too soon for me to be feeling this way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sniff this.

I'm REALLY, SUPER picky about scented candles. Ever notice how the more specific they try to get with their scent, the more they smell like Play-Doh? Christmas smells are sacred, y'all, I'm totally not willing to screw with that.

But this candle is the real deal! No, I don't know what ACTUAL mistletoe smells like, but this little glass full of wax smells like Christmas, and that's good enough for me!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spilling my guts.

I'm really kind of disappointed in myself for not following through on this project with better consistency. I thought that this photo-a-day goal would help me avoid those days when I just want to flip the whole world the bird and hole up in my cave like a modern day Grinch.

Not so, evidently.

I'm a thinker. I get lost in my own head sometimes and it can be really difficult to reorient on outward goals when I'm caught up in thoughts that rattle me. Last week, the gals over at Left Face pointed me in the direction of this post, written by a former marine speaking about the state of today's military and how it relates, in his opinion, to an argument for the return of the draft.

It wasn't his advocation of a draft that took me aback, however, but his observations about the social elitism for members of the military encouraged by Americans in general. One of the points that the author of the article tried to make was that members of the military should be considered no different from any other civil servant.

My problem with that is there is a risk level associated with military service that is missing from many other types of government jobs. I do believe that all types of civil service should be honored, and I do think there is an imbalance with regard to the honor military service receives as compared to, say, a postal carrier, but I think that imbalance comes from lazy citizenry - not a lack of worthiness. "Support Our Troops" has become this catch-all, subjective sound bite that really stands for, "Give them whatever they want as long as we don't have to think about it, pay for it, or put our butts on the line for it."

Although the article never really gets into the damage this mentality does when it rubs off on the military community, I see it as an insidious helplessness that infects soldiers and families. It's as though the lip service paid to adoration and hero-worship is supposed to sustain us through the very real difficulties of living with the effects of a military at war. The "I-am-Special" attitude that the author attributes to the military mentality is a superficial symptom of the diseased infrastructure and bumbling leadership we are forced to deal with.

Are there individuals who try to take advantage of this social pedestal? Of course there are - in every walk of life, every job, every social strata. But it is also true that military service requires a different level of adjustment - up to and including sacrifice - that should be supported by a different level of resource management. When that management fails to meet the basic needs of soldiers and their families, how else should we speak up for ourselves other than to say, "Hey! Remember us? We perform a specialized service and we need specialized support!" And when we are consistently put off or ignored altogether, the "I-am-Special" mentality becomes the hollow, desperate chant of people who are essentially forbidden to help themselves.

Would a draft help all this? I don't think so. I don't think picking men at random and plunking them into one of four variations of camouflage uniforms would seriously change the attitudes of the public and the policy makers toward military service members at large.

That being said, I do think that mandatory public service for each and every citizen - male and female, in every conceivable aspect of civil service - would go a very long way toward balancing the disparity between what Americans say they support and what they do support.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Heidi and I left early for our walk this morning.

It was quiet, foggy, cold.

It's days like this when I think it'll break my heart a little to leave.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I lick you. I mean like you. Okay, both.

This morning I received a request for help from one of gals in our FRG. I don't want to say she sounded desperate, but the subject line in her email was in all caps with exclamation points. It concerned an adorable li'l puppy - okay, not so "li'l" but definitely adorable - that she was taking care of on short notice because his owners had a family emergency. It was a totally thoughtful and generous thing to do, considering the family in question had only 24 hours to high-tail it to the States.

When faced with predicaments like that, one doesn't take time to consider that the dog isn't yet housebroken, or that he's only about 6 months old, or that he might not get along with one's cat yet be absolutely addicted to the leavings in said cat's litterbox. Or the fact that the bundle of cat-crunchy-munchin' energy is deaf. Or that one isn't necessarily a dog person.

Are you beginning to see the need for the caps lock key and a few exclamation points?

To save my friend's sanity (rapidly depleting after two sleepless nights), I jumped right in there and offered to take the pup off her hands for a few hours, days or weeks, depending on her recovery time. As it happens, the owners had a back up plan that would be implemented later in the evening, but when I brought him home, I thought it was for at least an overnight stay.

First, we introduced Heidi and Skylar in neutral territory, where they got on famously and played like dogs are supposed to. This reassured me, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have reservations about how they'd get along in the house. It's Heidi's territory after all, and she isn't known for her level of restraint when it comes to demanding attention from any and all warm bodies in residence.

What followed is a five hour blur of madly thrashing tails, flying dog drool, joyously wriggling dog bodies and a few bruised human kneecaps. After 19 months with Heidi, I thought no carbon based life form could match her energy level. Today, ladies and gentlemen, I was proven SO WRONG.

Although I was prepared to hold to my offer of unlimited emergency dog sitting, I can't say I'm overly disappointed that another family has stepped in. For starters, Skylar's owners will feel much more comfortable knowing personally the hands their dog is in. But no less important than that is the fact that Skylar also exceeds Heidi's capacity to fill the room with noxious gases that a Bond villain wouldn't touch. Seriously. I'm going to have to repaint.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy (slightly belated) Birthday to me!


Would it be wrong to just pop the tops on these babies and pour 'em into my mouth at the same time?

Thanks, Chris!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A ghost of Christmas past.

When R and I got married, we started a tradition of buying a Christmas tree ornament from each place we visited as a family. I don't know if when he suggested it, R knew how perfectly it meld our separate traditions into something uniquely suited to the three of us, but that's what happened. Our tree is like this perfect representation of our lives - what we came with, and what we added together.

We don't really have room for a tree here and I didn't think I minded it last year when we just skipped that part. But this year (I think for obvious reasons), I was really longing to unwrap those memory-laden ornaments and hold them in my hand.