Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday {Re}flection

My apologies for skipping last week, but we put in our notice to move out and so the landlords have been bringing strangers through this house we rent.  They raised the rent a few hundred dollars for the next would-be tenants and have set lofty expectations of it in the ad so it hasn't been taken yet.  (When I saw the ad, especially the photo taken from afar so that flowering bushes appear to frame the house, I was like, is that the house where we live??)  I dislike having strangers walk through my house.  I wish the landlords would place a fair market and realistic price for this 1960's home so the madness can stop.  Alas....
Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl

The beginning of May included the neighborhood ladies' annual brunch, hosted potluck-style at a neighbor's house in her lovely backyard.  Being gluten free and health-conscious, I brought Jell-o in little goblets, and was able to partake in the grits, fruit, and shrimp with cocktail sauce.  The ladies turned up on this warm day in bright springy clothing and it was nice.  I wore an almost flourescent maxi dress with a retro headband across my forehead.  My fine hair goes slack in the humidity, but what to do?
Brunch dress.  Love the dress, it's almost flourescent with pockets and a tribal braided belt.  Not sure about the headband, but my boyfriend likes it.  Sorry, I am not photogenic.  I look so annoyed, lol.

There seems to be a social divide between the ladies who have lived here many years and the ones who have only been here a few years like us.  I met a fun, nice, young professional mom who works for Cartoon Network who said I reminded her of an adventurous friend of hers.  I enjoyed talking to her.  Upon seeing the others and being asked repeatedly where we are being stationed next and telling them about house-hunting in San Diego got really annoying, but oh, well.  Everyone reacted positively about San Diego, but I must say some people showed facial expressions (my law enforcement background at work here) that revealed a sort of envy in a bad way, as if I had inadvertently "one-upped" them or highlighted the mundanity in their own lives.  Thankfully there were a few secure and balanced ladies who seemed genuinely happy for me.  I had wanted Hawaii or Europe, so San Diego was not my first choice, so I was not trying to one-up or brag.
My Marine took me down the road to the annual Lemonade Days in Dunwoody, Georgia.  They had a nice veteran's monument with a glass atrium of flags representing each military branch.  As soon as we walked into the tentapalooza area, someone shouted my Marine's name, and it was a retired USMC General whom we have come to know during our time here through his and my Marine's community involvement.  I felt the need to do a self-check to make sure I was dressed in a non-embarrassing way (no cleaveage, etc.) and was relieved that I was.  I scarfed down a caramel apple (gluten free, very fresh) and we listened to a really good band of gray-haired rockers play acid rock classics.

In anticipation of my upcoming Europe trip, I stayed up one night researching my family tree and ancestry to 7 generations in Norway and found my great-grandma (who died when I was 10 or 11)'s great-grandma's farm near Lillehammer.  It was cool to see some names on the census showing they had come on a boat over here around 1890.  There were a couple guys named Hans and lots of farmers, which I already knew.  Growing up, I heard my grandparents speak some Norwegian, but I never learned it.  I've been taking Norwegian lessons and I was surprised that I was actually able to read some Norwegian text online, for example in the book of farms listing.  My other half is Swiss, but I've already been to Switzerland.  Very clean and beautiful with Alpine mountains, lakes and timbered houses.

In Norway, we are planning to try out airbnb for the first time, see the jaw-dropping fjords, the Viking historical stuff, Edvard Munch's The Scream, the royal palace and a big festival with revelers in traditional attire, practice speaking Norwegian, and possibly visit a glacier and do some hiking or kayaking.  The temp will be 40-60 degrees, hopefully a welcome relief after the 85 degree humidity we've been having in Georgia.  We chose Norway due to my heritage (my Marine has already been to the countries of his ancestry) and because we wanted to explore a country that is new to both of us.
Me and my bike (picture taken in Virginia)

We hiked at Sweetwater Creek (see blog post here) and we have also gone to ride our bikes on the Silver Comet Trail.  I ride my black and pink beach cruiser with 3 speeds, ringing my bell when I pass children.  Seth has a fancy, expensive, high-maintenance triathalon style road bike that has the weird valves.  Last year we found a great air pump that converts to fit both types of tire valves.  Love it!

In preparation for our pcs (move to California), we've been taking out stuff from the attic and donating things to Goodwill.  I have some "nicer" clothing that I wanted to try to take to a Consignment Shop and PSYCHO SISTERS consignment went through the summer items and chose 6 things and wrote me a check for $42.  Not bad.  Now, maybe I'll try to sell some handbags online....
It's been hot and sunny, so I've been laying out at the pool.  I avoid tanning my face, but since we moved to Georgia my doctor told me I was Vitamin D deficient so I actually need sun.  I'm tan already and I've met some fun people.  My boyfriend (a ginger, aka fair, redheaded man who does not tan) joined me on Sunday and it was nice.  We have heavy duty SPF for him, and there was an umbrella.  He actually gets sunburned through the windshield in his car.
I also took advantage of a complimentary massage at the gym.  She kneaded me to relaxation!
Mother's Day Gift Scarf

Mother's Day Gifts- I mailed them.  We bought them awhile back at an art festival.  We often get the same thing for both of our moms, since they both like jewelry and handmade items.  One year we got them interesting bracelets made from fancy buttons, and this year we got them each a "scarf" that is made out of ribbony fabric.  We avoid buying them dust-collecting knick knacks and they don't really like spas or lotions.  Both of their birthdays are coming up, and I may make them paintings (I dabble in black ink sumi-e) or paint a ceramic serving dish my mom requested.

I have been a little slow this week, as I ate something (possibly gluteny?) that bothered my stomach earlier in the week.  My boyfriend has been out of state at a conference, so I'm looking forward to his return.  I have kept up my 5x/week workouts, including a 5 mile run on the indoor track and a 5 mile hike with the hiking group at Lake Alatoona this week, where afterward we ate lunch at Swheat where I ate gluten free chicken tenders (a bit dry, but a tasty honey-mustard sauce) and sweet potato fries.

May has several birthdays and other important events in my life such as:
+Military Spouse Appreciation Day May 9 (see my blog post here)
+Celiac Disease Awareness Month
+Teacher Appreciation Day (as a former teacher, I enjoy saluting other teachers)
+Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day- the second largest celebration in the world is in +Wisconsin where I have family, I also used to teach my students about our language, food, music, history, and traditions)
+Mother's Day
 +Memorial Day (where we plan to attend a local Veteran's celebration where the guest speaker happens to be a retired General who actually bought my Marine his sword as a prize for being the best at something when he was commissioned into officerdom).  Small world.

This weekend, my Marine gets back and hopefully he won't have to work too much.

Military Spouses Inspire Me

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not that enthralled with celebrities.  I don't buy gossip magazines and whenever CNN is airing "news" about celeb weddings or twitter wars, I abruptly change the channel.  Maybe it's the sociology major in me coming out, but I find inspiration in all kinds of people wherever I happen to be swimming around.  Listening to their tone of voice and word selection, watching their body language, observing how they prioritize their time...these are the clues that allow their values to surface, allowing me to read between the lines and see their authentic nature.  When you listen to the clues instead of the chatter, you can feel their struggle, admire their strength, revel in their successes.

Thanks for your help
As I've said, I didn't fully understand what it would be like to have the responsibility as the Commander's "other half".  But, before I came, the teacher/researcher/learner in me asked an experienced Colonel's wife about how to be helpful to the other spouses when I got here.  The important thing she said to me was to be open about how I'm dealing with being new to this duty just like they are or have been.  My opening line was often, "My sig other is the Commander, so what does that make me?  ...Unemployed."  And I asked the spouses here for help finding a job and received it from an awesome spouse in the criminal justice field and then I helped another spouse in the same arena.

Thanks for being a role model
The same Colonel's wife and her husband were role models to me in the way they were so genuine.  They were not condescending or narcissistic as one might fear they could be.  They actually were upfront about how it was a critical time in the Colonel's career, as he had been passed over for promotion to General and didn't have much time left to see if it would ever become a reality.  You could see how his better half was toughing it out and having the attitude of "let the cards fall where they may, we'll still be ok".  He ended up not becoming a general, and retiring.  We enjoy their holiday cards, explaining about his new career and their son joining the Marines.

Another Colonel's wife, also inspired me by being a warm, caring, strategic, smart, motivated leader of her family.  Her husband was set to retire after 20 years in the military, and he was struggling with it.  In a bad way.  But she had planned well and was finishing her doctorate degree just in time to take over as bread winner.  She was extremely busy and tired-looking (doctoral thesis, while raising kids and supporting emotionally struggling husband...I can't even imagine), but when she hosted the military families for a barbeque, she was the ultimate host and genuinely was interested in what we were all going through.  She was the epitome of taking the bull by the horns, making lemonade out of lemons (her husband...not a source of envy shall I say...), and working hard to make her career aspirations come true.  Eschewing resentment or ruefulness, she appreciated the 20 year military lifestyle that allowed her to be a stay-at-home-mom, world traveler, and student, and patiently waited her turn for a dream career, all with a sense of balance and class.

Thanks for being there
Simple things can mean a lot, and I truly appreciate the sassy military wife who, no matter where she moves, she offers a standing invitation to all the military ladies to coffee at her house on a certain morning of the week.  She doesn't care about rank, age, or which military branch, she is friendly, but real to everyone.  She complains, but in a factual, funny way.  She isn't fake or pretentious or a one-upper.  She says things like, "bitches get sh*t done".  And when I vented to her about another milso (the one-upper, mom-petitive type) who had repeatedly and relentlessly offended me regarding my choice to be a DINK as I just sat there, following the if-you-can't-say-anything-nice rule..., my friend listened and then reminded me about a special place for haters.  (It's rare for me to be speechless, and rare for me to have such a thin skin, but being on the receiving end of non-stop lashing out and judgement was really a shock that I didn't see coming.)  Update:  the offensive woman had been drinking, and actually apologized a week later, to my awe and amazement.  I happily forgave her, but she then kept being publicly rude to me, so now I just keep my distance. 
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.  **my surname translates to "butterfly"

Thanks for supporting your Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, Coasty, or Natty Guardsman
My Marine has been gone this week, and I emotionally ate with gluten free cupcakes.  I have been with him through month-long European workups and a surgery, but not a full deployment.  I give all the props to the spouses and significant others out there who have been through long separations, injuries, and tragedies.  My sister-in-law didn't like Air Force life, so she persuaded my brother to abandon his dream of becoming an officer and get out of the military.  So, to those of you who stay, who embrace change and instability, who are proud of your service member's dedication and achievement, who stay true to yourselves and work toward the fulfillment of your own goals, Rock on!  You inspire me.

*This post is part of Epic Friday Linky Party

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Fake Picnickers at Sweetwater Creek

Me:  on the foot bridge

One thing I miss about living in California, Illinois, and Virginia is riding bicycles.  When we lived in Alexandria, VA,  for ten months,I chose to only ride the Metro or my black and pink beach cruiser bicycle.  No car for me! It was awesome!  It's too hilly in our Atlanta neighborhood for bike riding, so we have to hook the bikes onto the car carrier and drive them to Silver Comet Trail (a LONG trail that used to be a train track- it goes all the way to Alabama!) to ride.  I must say, as a kid I lived on my bike.  Since we couldn't ride in the street until we were 12 years old, we were fortunate to have sidewalks to serve as our bike path.  It's sad that we don't have sidewalks here in our Georgia neighborhood.
Old mill that was burned in the civil war.  

To avoid the bike-car transport hassle, we chose to hike instead.  We went to Sweetwater Creek Park in the southern part of the city again.  It was lovely, breezy, sunny weather, so many visitors were there, including a wedding.  Aside from wedding goers, there were many people wearing fancy clothes.  Women and girls were tramping along the dirt trails in their pretty pastel dresses and there were lots of families in identically matched clothes.  This is also common in Georgia, and it is something I dangle over my Marine's head in case he ever loses a bet or "owes" me in some way.  Matching outfits with me.  In public.  I haven't observed this phenomenon in other parts of the country.
Ubiquitous Georgia Dad and kids in matching striped shirts.

We also noticed a mom, dad, and toddler boy all gussied up near where we had stopped to kick off our shoes and enjoy the cool water.  We joke that the weekend "uniform" for Georgia men is khaki shorts, deck shoes,  and a polo or button-down shirt, and the dad was on point with it.  The family had a photographer lady with them.  It was sad to see the family go to a spot, set up a blanket as if they were having a picnic, bribe the toddler with candy to sit down, and then chat with the photog about where to move on to the next photo spot (a bench this time).  The toddler kept trying to come by my Marine and I, since he saw my Marine skipping rocks across the creek (it's a very full creek, with rushing water at parts) and enjoying the water.  We hope the kid got to play at some point after finishing his photo shoot obligations.  And we hope the family really does have picnics.  Like, where they eat outside and enjoy one another's company...without professional photographers.

Here are some of our pics.  Aside from a quick, "honey, turn around", I try to capture them as they happen naturally, without disruption of real life.  That's just our style.  To each his own.

Toes in the cool creek water.

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