Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Insanity

In true Sthrngal tradition, Christmas was off and running with all of the antics that have become part and parcel to our holidays.

Christmas Eve started with a mad dash to the Big Red Circle for last minute cards and gifts, as well as the assorted "dammit, I just HAD to run out of this TODAY, didn't I?" crapola. Well over an hour, $150 dollars, and one relatively satisfied Munchkin later (she manages to talk me into buying the strangest things) I was escaping that nuthouse so that I could enter an even more insane building.... the local gourmet grocery store, 2 hours before closing for the holiday.

Yes, I do believe a competent psychiatrist could have easily had me involuntarily committed just for CONSIDERING this act.

Another $120 dollars later, I had purchased all the edibles necessary for a lovely Christmas Eve feast.

Once home, we prepared it in haste (because in true fashion, once again, I was running late, and was expecting a guest)

We pulled it off, in the nick of time, everyone clean and polished and of course, WAY too much food for just this small group. Why do we do this to ourselves? We will be eating this crap for weeks... except we don't have weeks, we have A week, before the Grand Adventure begins.

Let me just flush that cash - because in the end, it was too much effort, too much money.
But it was REALLY good wine!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I remember this feeling

"Love is friendship caught fire; it is a quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past. It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough." ~Laura Hendricks

I remember it.
It will be that way again.
When the time is right.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Sometimes life throws a bunch of curveballs at you at an accelerated rate.
This year I've lost my job, moved to a new state, camped out with my Mother for several months, and now, faced the end of a relationship - one where Mason admits that I didn't do anything wrong, he's just not feeling it. How's that for rejection at the most basic level.

This combination of things makes it difficult to be thankful. I'm not self-supporting at the moment, I have to return to sharing living space with my mother, the car needs about $1000 worth of work, and I will, for the 4th year running, be spending the holidays without a partner. (and I really thought this relationship was going to work, goes to show what the hell I know.)

But I'm suspending the pity party for a later date.

This year I am thankful for:

My beautiful daughter, and the relationship we have developed as she reaches adulthood.
My mother, that she's healthy and that she's willing to put up with me in a time of need (the first time in my adult life I have ever had to ask her to do something like this, so maybe I've been more successful than some of my generational contemporaries) and that on most days, we get along like friends, instead of relatives.
My health - it's more or less back to where it needs to be. (at least those pesky Navy docs have said I'm "good to go")
My friends, they are just a few, and they are far away - but they have tolerated my complete flakiness over the last year, and still apparently love me anyway.
My best buddy - His royal pussness is still with me, after 10 years, three moves, and the loss of all of his feline companions.

And I am thankful for this relationship, I'm not sure what lesson I will take from this one, it hasn't become clear... but I am thankful to have had someone come into my life, another person I love, and who will always have a space in my heart. I know that I will find the person who wants me, for who I am. The person who fires on all cylinders for me.

But I am thankful to have had him in my life, even if it turned out to be for a shorter time than I expected.

So, today, I am thankful. Because it could be worse.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Jones View

I found this post while procrastinating a project...

It just resonated. And reminds me that I should dust myself off and go have some fun at Six Flags in the Spring, because life is short!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From a Woman Older and Wiser than Myself, apparently

Everyone needs someone to love and be loved by in this world. There are times when we focus on one particular individual as the only one who can fulfill that love. I know the feeling too.

The reality is that love is a fluid emotion that travels between people. People we once loved become people we can't wait to get away from and vice versa. It ebbs and flows. If you could look at love as something that is eternal and around us in many different forms, it may help you to pull your focus away from a person who, for whatever reason, isn't able to be there for you in the way that you want.

I remember many times in my life when I thought I would die if I didn't have the love of that one person. Yet, here I am, still breathing in those oxygen molecules.

I had to endure a lot of emotional pain between loves. The ones that got away. The ones that didn't want me like I wanted them. That is why we are survivors. Hope will get you through this time. The certainty that you will survive this and go on to find your meaning. We are all worthy of love. We just need to find the love that is worthy of us.

For my Girls

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We Can Do Better than THIS

The Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia War Memorial Commission are embarrassing me. Embarrassing enough that I actually got off my comfortable arse and did something about it. (see my previous post if you can't figure out why I'm less slug-like on issues these days)

Now, I'm asking for your help.

read the article

If you have the time, or even if you don't... whichever side of the politics you are on with the war, this is about our service members, not about politics...

On the heels of the Marine Corps Birthday, and Veteran's Day... I can't believe we could be so short sighted and wrapped up in bureaucracy. Ok, maybe I can.

~loud irish sigh~

Please speak out about this.

Our service members deserve better from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

To save you having to look up all the names on the War Memorial Commission... (it took me a few hours to find them), you can get them straight from the email below. Some of the members were not re-elected this year, but the ones I could locate got the email.

Governor Kaine was sent in separately, via the website form.

The Governor's Website

You'll want to add your delegates and state senator to the list, and your local paper, if you have the inclination.

House of Delegates
State Senators

Please join me in an effort to fix this. Only WE can stop the insanity (or stupidity, as the case may be)

Virginia War Memorial Foundation Members

The Honorable William K. Barlow
The Honorable J. Brandon Bell, II
Mr. Dale D. Chapman, Adjutant
The Honorable John S. Edwards
The Honorable Frank D. Hargrove, Sr.
Mr. John Harper, Jr.
RDML John Hekman, USN (Ret.)
BG Bert Wellington Holmes, Jr., M.D.
The Honorable William R. Janis
The Honorable L. Scott Lingamfelter
RADM John L. Marocchi, USN (Ret.)
BG John W. “Jack” Nicholson, USA (Ret.)
Mr. Roger L. Overstreet
The Honorable Melanie L. Rapp
The Honorable D. Nick Rerras
COL E. Phillip Russell
Mr. S. Judson Stanley
BG Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 12:25 PM
Subject: Lance Corporal Darrell Schumann, USMC, deceased

I am writing to you today because a great disservice has been done to an honorable member of our Armed Services.

This Marine died in Iraq, serving our country in this war. He was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in was downed during a sandstorm. This was the Marine Corps largest single loss of life in theater thus far.

According to the "guidelines" for the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, based on statements from Delegate Frank Hargrove, to the Virginian-Pilot and reported on today, this Marine's name will not be added, because he was not killed in action or as a hostile casualty.

I have to ask this question. Why are we limiting the honor we bestow on the men and women who die in service to their country? What logical reason is there to exclude any service member killed on active duty?

It is very simple to exclude any member who died under circumstances deemed unbecoming by their branch of service (or where the military life insurance wouldn't pay out, therefore making them ineligible for the honor)

But this young man died in theater, he is buried at Arlington. He should be honored on that wall. I am ashamed that Delegate Hargrove would suggest to Lcpl. Schumann's father that he get his son's death reclassified in order to have his name put on the wall. This is a bad guideline which can be easily changed, no family member should have to navigate a DOD landmine like Mr. Hargrove suggests in order to get this rightfully deserved honor from Virginia. We should be falling all over ourselves to honor this young man's sacrifice.

My service during the first Gulf War was no less important to the mission than the supply clerk in the reserve battalion in New York. This Marine survived Fallujah, and his service was no less than the Marines killed in Fallujah.

If the memorial wall is designed to honor those Virginian's who gave their lives in service of their country during the course of the war, who are we, as Virginians, to decide that a location, or a mission is any more or less important? My fellow Marines killed in helicopter crashes at Camp Pendleton, or Camp Lejeune, or Fallujah didn't give their lives any less honorably.

I call on the House of Delegates, the State Senate, the War Memorial Commission and the governor to make the changes necessary in our guidelines so as not to exclude Marines, Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers from being honored by the state of Virginia when they have given their lives for our freedom in a time of war. As a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Gulf War, as a woman who has served this nation honorably, as a Daughter of the American Revolution, I believe that this needs to be fixed, today.

Our proud tradition of military service and sacrifice in Virginia deserves more.

(edited for anonymity on this blog)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Post Election Hangover

Mason and I sat last night, flipping through the talking heads, watching the election like the rest of the planet. (and for the first time ever, I think that the euphemism wasn't a euphemism, it was actually true)

We were partaking of some good wine, after an amazing dinner, prepared by Mason (omg, the man can cook - in a "why aren't you a chef?" sort of way) and as the returns came in, I started thinking.

This act, in and of itself, while drinking wine, always lands me in an awkward philosophical place that I probably shouldn't be in.

But I watched with amazement as we elected our 44th President. An educated, articulate man, unlike any man we've elected before. A man that was not WASP. The closest we ever came before was JFK, and the only reason many didn't like him was (GASP) he was Catholic.

This man was elected by a clear majority of this country, a clear majority that is going to expect a LOT from him. (ie. fix everything, now....) I think Obama was smart to begin this journey with the caveat that it is going to take work, much work, and not just from him, to take our country to the next level. We have a vested interest in what the eventual outcome will be. We need to step up, as a nation, and fix the problems we are facing. This is a republic, by the people - which means, if you really think about it, that we have noone to blame for the bullshit we are dealing with, except ourselves. This is the message I have taken from President-Elect Obama... I have to get off my comfortable arse and get involved.

So, what are you going to do for your country?

On another note....

In the same breath that announced President-Elect Barack Obama (the skinny kid with the funny name), 3 states decided that their constitutions should ban marriage between same-sex couples. We elected a black President in what many pundits are saying was a "race blind" election (based on the fact that pick a demographic, any demographic, and they voted for him, with the obvious exception of the white evangelical anything) and yet, in the SAME DAMNED ELECTION we were okay with taking rights away from US citizens.

I don't care what your opinion of the homosexual community is - why do you care what they do? How does it affect your life? We, as a nation, have said the same crap about women, blacks, Irish, Jews, latinos.... why are they less than? I can guarantee that at least 10% of the men that signed the Constitution were gay.

I defended a constitution in which it says "all men (cough) are created equal" - what friggin part of equal did someone miss?

US citizens are US citizens - we are all equal. There is no "except".

Friday, October 31, 2008

FaceSpace and the art of Sharing too Much

"So, here’s my question to the world: should a parent be a Facebook friend to their child in college? Should they want to? Or, as HJB tells me, ‘just trust that they will figure out the things that they need to learn, just like you did in college. AND stop looking at her Facebook!” I KNOW this. I say these things to myself actually but the fact that other people have access to my child’s site and I don’t and that I have reason to believe that they are sharing themselves with the world in ways that isn’t a good idea still bother me. If you see what your college age child has on Facebook, do you talk to them about it?"

~from another blogsite

I do believe this will be the generation with the most documentation on their actions, ever. They take cameras everywhere, and they post those pictures for ALL the world to see. The kids are free and open with their communication about, to and with each other.

In a year, when Bug wants that prestigeous internship with Chef "I'm better than you", He's going to be looking at MySpace and Facebook, and whereever else he googles her from, to see if she's responsible enough to work in HIS kitchens.

I am friends with my Bug (my college age child) on any site she's on. - and I have made a few comments, but not many. Mostly its in the name of protecting her REPUTATION, and I do try not to comment on her activities. I was in the Armed Forces overseas at a young age, so I know what trouble is, but we were cognizant enough not to document the insanity.

I do believe I have a responsiblity to point out that she's damaging her future, but I can't MAKE her change her bevavior, and if that is her choice, they are also her consequences. (one of the hardest life lessons I have to teach my Bug)

It would upset me if she blocked me. But I'd see that as a sign that maybe my approach to communication wasn't working, and I needed to find another route. But it's an excellent question... in an age where our children are broadcasting their lives for everyone in the world to see (including scary stalkers, perspective dates, employers and random assholes on the internet) Why is it that we, as parents, are left out? It's okay for Bug, myself or anyone else, to publish any random thought on the net, but it's not okay for us to sit down and discuss the things that are out there for public consumption?

My mama always told me that the best way to keep a secret was to tell NOONE. And if I didn't want my private life made public, I needed to keep it private... I post a blog, but I make certain that anything I post won't embarrass me, or anyone I love if they were to happen to stumble upon it. That's one of the reasons very few people I know IRL know this blog exists, but I'm still excrutiatingly careful about what I post.

Where is the answer to this one?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We have No Control

From the local newspaper close to the Mason-Dixon:

Local teens killed in crash

Two local teenagers were killed in a single-vehicle accident on Meetze Road Wednesday night, according to state police.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler said the wreck occurred just east of Turkey Run Road at approximately 9:40 p.m.

Brian Michael Jacobsen, 17, of Nokesville was driving a 2005 Ford Taurus eastbound on Meetze Road when he entered a sharp right hand curve. The vehicle went off the left side of the road and Jacobsen over-corrected, Tyler said. The Taurus then went off the road to the right where it struck an embankment, struck a tree and overturned, the sergeant added.

Jacobsen and a passenger, Eric Richard Unger, 18, of Warrenton, both died at the scene from injuries sustained in the wreck, Tyler said.

Both teens were reportedly wearing their seatbelts. However, Tyler said the speed limit in the area is 50 mph, and the “maximum safe speed” entering the curve is 45 mph.

“We feel excessive speed is the main causative factor [in the accident],” Tyler said.


I knew this young man - Eric's sister hung out at my house more weekends than I can count for a few years. She and my Bug were "bff's" (for as long as that lasts with teenage girls) In fact, when I sent the Bug off to spread her wings, Eric's mother and sister were there at the Big Confusing Airport to watch me cry.

This was a good kid. His parents did everything they could to instill in him how to make GOOD decisions, and I think he worked pretty hard keeping up his end of the bargain. Eric will be missed by many people in the county. My heart goes out to his family, and that of the other young man killed Wednesday night. I can't even begin to imagine getting that knock on the door. We have no control over our kids after a certain age. We can't keep them safe, we can't protect them. We just have to let them go. And in this case, the Unger family did all they could and sometimes SHIT just happens. That's the part of life that sucks. This young man had a good life ahead of him, and it ended all too soon.

When Bug called to tell me about this, all I could do was tell her I loved her.

There, but for the grace of the gods, go I.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Hobbies - and other misadventures

So on the weekend following my FINAL trip to do more repairs on Casa Mason-Dixon, there was a storm a-brewing off the coast of my new home state. In a total act of rebellion, WNB and I, along with two of his friends (or rather, his BFF and BFF's girl) all packed up and headed to the mountains for some... (GASP!!) camping.

Not only did we camp, my first foray into the wilderness since I was forced into the woods while at Parris Island, we hiked. About 7 miles all told, I think. And I was amazingly unphased by this sudden onslaught of exercise.

This was my first trip to an area I have come to develop a love/hate relationship with. Pisgah National Forest - Grandfather Mountain area. The hike is easy to moderate, and has some beautiful waterfalls on it. One of them is at an angle sufficiently steep to set off my latent acrophobia, but both Mason and I did an excellent job of overcoming some of that initial panic.

You just CAN'T see over that edge... which was sufficient impetus to freak me out!
I know, I know... perfectly good helicopter, NO PROBLEM.

We did about a million water crossings - ok, it was only 10, but still. I have discovered I have the balance of a toddler. I fell in the water at least twice. Too funny. Water in the shoe, on my pants, my shirt... you name it. Oh, and I did a LOVELY butt slide down the hill. So I was wet AND looked like I'd dropped a load. All in front of people who are very close to Mason, and I had met less than 24 hours beforehand.

No bumps, no bruises, only a pair of feet in desperate need of a pedicure. (I am NOT high maintenance, I swear) It was wonderful new adventure, for certain.

We spent Sunday afternoon at a winery with snacks and some pretty good (and inexpensive) wines. Waldensian Winery is not an estate vineyard, they import from the New York region, but they do produce very drinkable wines, if you don't mind your vino on the slightly sweet side.

We came home to a hot bath (thank the gods for Mason's garden tub), some great memories, and the lovely soreness that accompanies great exercise.

Catching my tiger by the tail

For the past (almost) two months I have been residing in the Queen City. My WNB (wonderful new boyfriend) whom shall be referred to as Mason, convinced me that trekking up and down the interstate with gas prices rising astronomically was a bad way to date. And... well, we were losing a LOT of sleep... so I've transplanted myself from the Triad to the City of 1000 Churches. I'm still searching for gainful employment, but it seems I've settled on the city of my basketball nemesis for the continuation of that search. Convoluted, I know.

In the past few months my stress level on the employment conundrum has risen to levels I haven't felt since I was dealing with the divorce. The good news is that I have had some interviews for positions that I could really sink my teeth into, and a few I could do in my sleep. And THAT means there is light at the end of the tunnel. I interviewed with the Big Furniture company that sold nothing but chairs 100 years ago, the people who design faucets to build homes around, and Tony Stewart's (#20) bearing supplier (yes, really... there is such a company) - I've had more phone interviews than I can count, but invariably have been either uninterested in the position or they considered me overqualified. How exactly, do you dumb down a resume to GET a job, knowing if you do so you will a) be untruthful about your abilities and b) invariably bored with the position? Ah... things that make you go hmmm.... in the exciting world of unemployment. It'll come - it's just not the right time. And I'll keep telling myself that, until it DOES come.

I'm still living without all of my "stuff" - which makes one just that much more stressful. Silly things like my favorite winter coats (yes, that's plural) and my CD collection... and well... the things that I love in general, (which is why we keep that crap to begin with, right?)

And I still need a life, a social life, that is... before I make Mason absolutely insane.

So, on with the catch up - there are adventurous tales to be told.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Manners and other extinct behaviors

Having been in the dating world for a while now, I think I can make some observations on the state of manners in the modern dating sphere.

I'm not certain whatever happened to manners, or generally civilized behavior, but it most certainly has become the domain of the "nice guy" - the man with no backbone, with only a few exceptions.

We aren't talking about a car or building door here. That's child's play. I'm talking about ordering food, rising when your lady comes to or leaves the table, and globally treating your woman like she is the lady you expect her to be.

Did it EVER occur to the gentlemen that if you TREAT her like a lady, you will GET a lady?

And well, its sexy as hell, and that type of treatment will also serve to turn us into the bedroom version you SO adore.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Horse Lover's Worst Nightmare

This has been sitting in my queue for months, sorry folks!

I watched this live... one of the saddest moments of my life. This filly was a horse owner's dream, something akin to Secretariat. And then, in an irish pub too close to the Mason Dixon, I heard some eejit say, "I bet that owner had her put down because he could collect the insurance money. Why couldn't they save her like they do with a dog who breaks a leg?"

I'm sorry, he did NOT just say that!!???

For anyone who doesn't know, despite medical advances, the chances of a horse surviving a double ankle break are astronomically low. Like someplace between oh, let's see.... SLIM and NONE. While there has been much ballyhoo about the vet in California who is doing prosthetics for horses, this is not a viable option just yet for most of these injuries.

Eight Belles was an amazing, courageous, beautiful horse. And she's a Kentucky Derby winner.
The fastest three minutes in sports, and SHE won.

While there is something to be said for letting these beautiful creatures get a bit older before we race them (looking to other nations that participate in the sport as an example) To say this horse was not born to run is a dis-service to the breed.

Rest in Peace, Eight Belles. You were the pride of the Derby, and I do believe you'd have taken the Triple Crown this year. We have missed out on an incredible life from you.

Friday, April 18, 2008

For anyone who knows me...

This is me:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

I didn't realize it until I re-read it, but this is who I am, what I believe in, and why I am a United States Marine.

damn, sometimes things DO come full circle.

I read this in 1985.
Thank you RAH.