Friday, December 10, 2010

Lousy day

I was feeling great earlier this week - got my grades (except for one) and was celebrating that I didn't tank the psych exam that I was sure I blew. Then I got the news that a friend is having some serious medical problems, she's young and I just can't handle that she's going to have to go through this. then found out that a member of our family has just been diagnosed with something else serious - and after what that branch went through at the beginning of the year - it's so NOT FAIR.

Add to these serious problems, then, the asshattery, self serving SHIT that our elected officials in the Senate and Congress are exhibiting, and I'm so done with them all. I can see the meanness, the nasty "fuck you" attitude we are going to be subjected to over the next two years. I see the actual possibility that Palin and her crew may be seen as a real honest to the gods candidate, and I want to beat my head against the wall and truly consider my options to visit a different country for a few years.

Yup. lousy day.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day - we owe a debt. We aren't paying up.

X posted on Left Face

For those of us in the military community, today isn't just an excuse for a day off, or another sale at the local store. It's a day we remember our veterans. In my case, it's to remember and thank my dad, my uncles and aunts, my father in law, my husband, son and daughter in law. There are the veterans I know outside my family as well, Sharon, Kim, Vivian, Steve, Patrick, Nick, Ashley, Charles, Deak, Bill, Shawn, Lyn, Al, Todd, Larry, Paul, Genevieve, Taylor - all of you, thank you.

To those Veterans who are cold and homeless, our country owes a deep debt and we aren't paying up. To those Veterans who are suffering with PTS or TBI and aren't getting the help, our country owes a debt, we aren't paying up. For those Veterans we ignored for years, we tried to shove under the rug, our country owes a debt, we aren't paying up. We need, we must in all good conscience do more, do better.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What a crappy way to wake up

Bachmann, still in. Tell me, seriously WHY??? the woman is an IDIOT! a screeching, anti choice, anti regulation moron. Why? why are we going so far to the right, with fools who will wave their little flags at us and tell us how much they love the military, as long as it means giving LOTS of $$ to their supporters from the corporations and buying crap we don't need, but cutting family programs left and right.

Deregulation will be back on the agenda - we all saw how well that worked, didn't we? Enron ran hogwild, jacking up the power costs and causing havoc in California, while they racked up huge profits and then imploded. The big guys (other than a few scapegoats) did really well, the little guys are crushed. Wall Street - oh, yeah, that was SUCH a success, wasn't it? and did anyone else read that Bush's biggest downer was he didn't manage to PRIVATIZE SOCIAL SECURITY? That would have been just the cherry on the cake, wouldn't it? Social Security money in wall street... the big companies would have drooled, the ones who did such a wonderful job with bundling all those high risk mortgages - the ones that drove the housing marked into the toilet with their greed and gave people who had no qualifications for mortgages those insane balloon mortgages... YEAH Momma, we just gave the same ones the keys to the safe again!

Damn, how DUMB are some people? Well, look at the results this morning. THATS how dumb.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I attended AUSA on Monday - and while it was interesting (more on that on my "other" blog) I was left with a feeling that we've heard it all before. I heard, again, that family support programs aren't going to be cut. Then on Wednesday, I get a call from the Education Center on our post - I am scheduled to take 2 exams there - but they need to reschedule because all the contractors have been let go, and the permanent staff? they are cut to 15 hours a week, down from 40! They can't proctor exams, they can't do the CLEP exams, they can barely do anything for family members and not much for the soldiers either! They have cut all but one of the counselors, and soldiers wait for hours to see him. FORGET getting counseling about future jobs/schools if you are a family member.

Appalling! absolutely Appalling.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What on EARTH has been going on

From the amount of time I spend with a computer, you'd think this poor little blog would get some love, right? But (yeah, making excuses now) between work blogging and Facebooking, school - taking 3 classes and one that is almost over - and a bunch of other stuff... I've neglected my old friend

It's been an interesting few weeks in the military blogosphere. I'm not afraid to say I've protected myself from the nastiness of the elections - the teabaggers are so ridiculous and illogical and in some cases so viciously nasty - I don't need the aggro! I read the news, but refuse to respond to some of the BS from anyone I know. I'll jump in on a Huff Po or Legion post though!

We've been spending a lot of weekends at the Renn Faire - with our favourite group - The Rogues. The fundraiser for Operation Ward57 raised $6,000, which was great. I'm trying to come up with some more ideas for the next one. My friend Britt has designed a great card for me to hand out this weekend to some of the artisans there- who might be interested in Facebook or website stuff from me.

Cats - JJ and Emma are getting along better, although there are days when there is some pissy hissy crankiness. JJ is getting old, and it's hard to think that my buddy is changing, and slowing down. We're watching him carefully, he's losing weight even with the hyperthyroid meds.

Fall is approaching, some trees here are changing, and I'm wearing sweat shirts - time to take out the winter stuff and pack up the shorts. I'm glad, the heat here is punishing - we've had a lot of over 95 degree days, and those just slay me! I'm looking forward to crisp days and cool nights, with a fire in the gas fire and lots of soups and stews.

Take care. Talk to you soon (promise)


Friday, October 01, 2010

PTS & Domestic Violence

Xposted on LeftFace

Stacy Bannerman has been a guest blogger on LeftFace before. She wrote a piece on The Daily Beast about PTS and Domestic Violence that you really really need to read. She told the story of a friend of hers, who was the target of an incident of domestic abuse from her husband. Stacy has some very sobering statistics and projections -

About 63,000 soldiers will return from combat tours between July and December. According to military statistics, nearly half of active-duty National Guard members, 38 percent of Army soldiers, and 31 percent of Marines report mental health problems upon return from Middle East deployments. If just 20 percent of them have post-combat stress, then it can reasonably be projected that roughly half of those veterans will commit at least one act of severe domestic abuse or interpersonal violence in the coming year. That's approximately 6,300 veterans' wives and kids who are at risk.

As she also says - our community has been hearing much more about PTS and domestic violence from within our own ranks. The hurdles flung in the path of her friend who was trying to find counseling, some help in dealing with her situation with the understanding of military families and deployments, are daunting - as are those that her husband is encountering. He knows he has a problem with PTS, but finding help is difficult.

We've been hearing from the highest echelons that they understand, that they get it.. so why are we not seeing results? We need counselors who understand that very specific world, who have experience with the military family, with deployments and the results, understanding how the military works and how difficult it is to admit to a problem in our own little community. My own worry, with the insistence on reducing costs and savings, are we going to see funding for mental health counseling and treatment reduced?

No solutions, just questions. Lots of questions.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

A nice resource - discount list

I got a lovely email yesterday - from a group called Bradsdeals. They write a blog that has all sorts of useful links and posts. One post lists 175 (so far) groups, stores, chains that give military discounts. Good to use, and if you know any that aren't on the list - go ahead and leave a comment on there!

Now, before anyone decides to have one of those hissy fits that I keep hearing - the ones that say "why do you whiny women demand special treatment" etc... Stuff it. Don't bother leaving that kind of comment - I refuse to put up with that crap.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Civilian NOT understanding

Ok, this annoys the hell out of me! This is the question from "This Emotional Life" on Facebook.

For those of you who have a loved one in the military right now, what are you doing to prepare for their return home?

Now.. this is so damned typical of the ignorance that civilians show for military life - they mean well, they just don't GET IT! I told them (being the bitch that I am) that they needed to add something - ..... loved one Deployed in the military ..... DEPLOYED being the operative word. Why the hell do they think that everyone in the military is downrange? do they not look around? is the disconnect so complete that someone in the media can ask such a stupid question? GAAAH.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh, F(*^ a Duck

Picture in your mind - lying on an xray table, twisted into what resembles a pretzel and admonished to keep still. Picture in your mind, a person who has a deathly stupid fear of needles used to deliver medications, or vaccines (knitting types are ok) Picture in your mind this person lying in this tortuous position whilst a very pleasant doctor (who might be 30.. might be) sticks 3 needles into the neck, into three facet joints at level C3-4, 4-5, 5-6 and injects steroids into the inflamed nerves and muscles in spasm. Yes, my children, I spent a wonderful afternoon in an exam room yesterday turning into a quivering mass of jello and I will confess to whimpering like a whipped puppy.

Today, it all aches. I keep hoping it's going to help, but thinking about doing it again? Jello, whimpering bowl of, one each.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall is here!

Well, almost. The windows are open, the leaves on some of the trees are changing - I'm enjoying this! The stunning heat we've been pummeled with has been horrible, I've been basically stuck inside or other airconditioned areas, since too much heat equals migraine.

Started classes last week. What the HELL was I thinking? 4 online classes and trying to get the business growing... Seriously, y'all, the amount of reading and writing and conferences and trying to make sure I comment enough to get a decent grade for contributing.. shit, I may just spend all day every day in the basement office!

Went to the Defense Forum last week, report on that will be on another blog (If I get the time to write it!) but one thing here - I was talking to a journalist acquaintance - who would have thought that 9 years, NINE YEARS, after we started one of the two wars we are involved in, that we would still be having conferences about what the "new normal" is for the military and our families; that we'd be talking about what we need to do, instead of already having the policies and programs in place.

On the enjoyment front - Renn Faire is in full swing, meeting up with friends there almost every Saturday, listening to The Rogues - Chief taking literally HUNDREDS of pictures (loving digital!) he's rediscovered the joy of taking and manipulating pictures again (thanks Mike). I did find a superb jeweler/master goldsmith and gemologist who is willing to remove the fire opal I love from the ring I don't wear or like and reset it. The stone I bought at Coober Pedy many decades ago, will finally be in something I love to wear.

Cats are getting along well, Emma is improving every day, willing to have someone pick her up and sit on a lap for a few minutes. I wonder what she would have been like if she'd never been abandoned at the shelter.

Take care, everyone

Talk to you later.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Sailing... sailing... over the ocean blue

We just got back from a fantastic 5 days of vacation on a cruise, with a kilt band that we have followed for years. Now normally, cruising isn't the kind of vacation I go for - the last one I was on, I was a teenager and the next person in age who wasn't a member of the crew must have been in their 50s - can we say bored outa my mind? THIS one, there were kidlets who were teeny tiny babies, and every age inbetween. We found some wonderful people to spend time with, going on a trip like this meant that those of us who were there with the band, were very much of like minds, or at least had one thing in common, and that started a conversation... which evolved into another and another. The private concerts, and marching down to the pub in Bermuda from the ship - the pipes and drums leading us - well, y'all HAD to be there! the Big concert on the ship - the boys were absolutely on fire - they have a fiddler that just has to be heard, and gold medal winning pipers who are stunning, the drummers are stupendous as well.

now, back to work at the new business - got a couple of clients and hoping for a couple more. Also - starting classes for my psych degree, which is going to be interesting, and a few other irons in the fire.

Tomorrow - the Renn Faire - see some of our new friends, and stay as far away from the Beckian/ Palin Grizzlies who are going to be hanging around downtown DC. I swear, I can feel the IQ of DC plummeting as they gather - to listen to a self serving drug addled twerp and the quitter half governor - don't they have another KKK rally to go to? or did they leave their sheets at the cleaners? Hmmm wonder if Beck has enough Vicks Vaporub to induce the weeping he seems to think everyone believes is actually heartfelt... gag.

I am really pissed that he's wrapping his bullshit in the flag - that he's using the military as an excuse for this charade. He's such a jackass.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Help a Shelter

Guys - I'm asking for your help. I work with Fancy Cats Rescue Team in Virginia - we have a lot of cats that come in from high kill shelters, who are abandoned by their owners (including some who are military PCSing) and their vet bills can be really high! Just for the exam/shots/spay & neuter, it gets expensive. So, could you go HERE, search for Fancy Cats Rescue Team in Virginia and vote? when you get the confirmation email, it'll also give you the chance to ask for a reminder email - sign up and vote for us every day? Please? From Emma - my Fancy Cat and JJ. Thank you.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Navajo Code Talker Day

Did you know that it's Navajo Code Talker Day today? These men took their native language and as radio operators during WW2 drove the enemy absolutely nuts. Hundreds of men owe their lives to these quiet, unassuming, forgotten heroes. Take a minute, go to their website, tell them thanks.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Counselors - anyone been to one?

Xposted at LeftFace.

I'm interested in hearing from my readers - have you ever used one of the counselors provided by either TriCare, Military OneSource, ACS - any of them? I had a lousy experience, during the Guard deployment, and spent most of my time explaining what the military is like, what deployment is like, translating terms! It drove me nuts, didn't help much either.... I've heard other stories, but I really want to know what YOU guys have experienced.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Happy Birthday - Coast Guard

As the daughter of a proud Coastie from WW2 - on the best ship in the fleet - USCG Spencer - I have a very soft spot for the Coasties. From the wonderful men on the cutters who were on the Atlantic Convoys, the Aleutians, the Pacific Island Hopping to the superb men and women flying choppers into some of the worst weather in the world to rescue seamen - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Army Wives at Belvoir

X posted from Left Face

I was invited to attend the Army Wives special screening at Fort Belvoir – and this time, I’m press! As a blogger, I’ve never been able to attend anything as “press”. The room was packed with servicemembers and their spouses, cameras and phone cameras at the ready. The announcement came - and to thunderous applause, in came the stars of the evening –Kim Delaney, Brian McNamara (the Holdens from Army Wives,) then General and Mrs Casey, and Vice President and Dr. Biden.

Cameras - GO!

Kim Delaney (Claudia Joy Holden) worked the crowd, greeting everyone with a smile and a handshake, enjoying herself. Brian McNamara, (General Holden) looked very distinguished in his glasses, he and his young son were also having a great time. And yes, he is as good looking in person, with a huge smile and lots of enthusiasm.

The speeches started, with General Casey getting the ball rolling, telling us he was there to introduce his boss – Mrs. Casey! He thanked all of us for our service, that he was impressed by the strength we have shown throughout the past 9 years. General Casey confessed that he had turned into a “groupie” by watching his second episode of “Army Wives”. Mrs. Casey spoke about her connection with Dr. Biden, and the fact that they both have sons in the service. Then she cracked everyone in the room up (you could tell who really watches Army Wives) when she plaintively asked why the nasty one HAD to be a 4 star General’s wife! (From what I know of Sheila Casey, she is the complete antithesis of Lenore!)

The Vice President spoke to us about having just returned from Ft. Drum, greeting families on the return of their servicemembers from deployment Of course, he referred to his son, and his pride in his service in Iraq, how he felt as a Dad of a deployed soldier, and choked up when he told us about meeting a West Point Graduate at BAMC who, being a triple amputee, apologized to the Vice President for not standing and saluting. When he spoke about being the husband of Dr. Biden, he told us about the decision that she reached after the Iowa primary defeat, - wanting to work with military families, that she had been struck by the resilience she had seen when meeting with military groups – and he repeated his firm conviction that the rest of the country needs to get behind the 1%of the population who do the work in these 2 wars. He introduced Dr. Biden who talked about the military families she had met, and how it felt to film the 6 minutes on the show – it took over 16 hours! Her feelings about being a military mom – “I’ll be doing something and a thought just flies through my head – I hope Beau is ok.” and we all understood exactly how she felt. Then she self deprecatingly told us she hoped we’d all forget her 6 minutes in the morning! (No, ma’am, we didn’t!)

The show started and it was great to see that…. no, I’m not going to tell you anything. You’ll have to tune in on August 8th. I will tell you that Tanya Biank, the author of the book that the show is based on, has a cameo, and was at the event. After years of chatting online with her, or on the phone, I was so glad to finally meet her in person.

After the show, they all stayed, for over two hours. Kim Delaney, Brian McNamara, the Caseys, the Bidens, they made the effort to talk to every person there, posed for hundreds of pictures, smiled and hugged, talked and listened to us. Now if you think the biggest crowd with the loudest noise was around the TV stars – you’d be surprised. Vice President Biden was the man with the most groupies there. If you meet and talk to him, you’ll see that when he’s talking to you, you are the one person in the room he had to speak to, his level of focus is amazing! Dr. Biden – for me it was military mom to military mom, and that’s a connection that is indefinable, it just IS.

Yes, to the ladies in my audience, “General Holden” is as gorgeous as he is on screen. And after getting a picture with the “pretend” general, standing with General Casey – it’s a lot different – that command presence is very very real. It’s palpable, and he’s a gracious gentleman. His “boss” (Mrs. C) was as always, down to earth and ready to talk to any military spouse about anything. Kim Delaney is a lovely lady, and stood on those heels for hours - with a smile for everyone!

Yeah, I’m a fan. Of all of them. Thank you for a wonderful evening!


Saturday, July 31, 2010

in the window

Yes, I'm going to be one of THOSE cat people for a while. JJ and Emma (that seems to be sticking) were having a good day yesterday - and since the weather was so nice and coolish, we had the windows open.

1, 2, 3 awwwwwwww. JJ in the chair, Emma in the window - tired out from all the tumbling, chasing, pouncing earlier!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monique - now Emma

We were fostering a cat from the shelter group I volunteer with, and after a rocky start, things have progressed well. JJcat, the elder statesman who rules the house, has gradually taken to her, and is playing/chasing with her. There was no way in hell we were returning her to the cages, so decided to finalize her adoption.

Her name WAS Monique - hate the name... we are trying out other names for her. She answers to nothing at all - but what do we feel she looks like. She's a very plain cat, a Domestic Short Hair blue grey tabby - we thought a good simple name would work. I liked either Emily or Emma.. so we'll see.

She's still a little spooked by loud noises, tends to play bite when she gets riled up which is NOT allowed on people and learning that the spray bottle or a loud "ah ah" means stop that NOW. She has her room, with box, tower, scratching pad for nights to separate her from JJcat (we like sleeping, and the herd of elephant running up and down the stairs isn't conducive to snoozing) and for eating. JJ is a snacker, Emma is a vacuum cleaner, so for meal times with wet food, they have to be separated. She needs to lose some weight, after all she was in the cages for 6 months, without a lot of exercise and was pretty depressed - stress eater (like me!)

The newest member of the family!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Happy birthday trip

Since it's Chief's birthday today, and although he hates to celebrate it, we are going on a little trip. Yeah, on a day it's going to be hotter than the hinges of hell or as he puts it "Baghdad weather", we are setting out for a day in Richmond. Maybe.

It's been a helluva week, hasn't it? The whole MyCAA thing blowing up again, dividing us by rank and wish list for our futures. Some feelings were hurt that those trying to get a different degree said they didn't want a cosmetology or realtor certification, as if we were saying "it's not worthy". That, of course, isn't what we were saying, but that's the general gist of many conversations and denunciations. When I talked to someone on the Hill about it, he asked me which other Fortune 500 company offered this. I told him I didn't give a rip if AT&T or IBM offered it, this was a PROMISE made to us. A promise that was broken in February, and again and again. It would have been far better if they had simply said - those who are already in, will get the $$, the rest of you, sorry, try something else. This cobbled together version - no, not a good compromise at all.

So, heading out, water bottles are filled. wish us luck.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

GI Bill tranferability

Weeeelllll..... there seem to be discussions about ending that transferability which, the last time I looked, is one of those "options" DoD is telling us to use instead of MyCAA! Let's hope like hell the panel doesn't go for this.

One of the more notable options in the bill is transferability. It gives career servicemembers who’ve served on active duty or in the selected reserve on or after Aug. 1, 2009, the option to transfer their education benefits to family members, Clark said. Transferability was approved in the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2008, which became law in June 2008.

Panel members are debating that option for the 2010 bill. Some say transferability shouldn’t be available for every servicemember, because of budget constraints. Rather, the option should be reserved for specific military specialties that are difficult to fill, they said.

“We had concerns about the generous benefit being more of a draw for first-term members to leave [the military] in order to use this benefit,” Clark said. “[But] we were very pleased to see the transferability … to share this benefit that [servicemembers] have earned with their family members.

“We did not believe this benefit for family members was to be limited to any specific targeting,” he continued. “We believe that every soldier, sailor, airmen and Marine who chooses to stay should have the same opportunity to share their earned benefits with their family members.”

Something we'll have to keep an eye on.


MyCAA - DoD wants us to be cosmetologists

Do you love this... Dr. Stanley wants to empower us by cosmetology... No disrespect to anyone who has trained to make the rest of us look good... but is this what we all want to be???

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MyCAA - screwed up again

Portable careers - or is that a portable "job"? Social workers - need at the very least, a bachelors. Teachers, nurses, mental health providers, counselors - yup, you need at least a Bachelors. Now, if you need a counselor, would you rather have a milspouse who understands exactly what you are going through? would you rather have a teacher for your kids, who understands what deployments do to the family? So why the HELL isn't DoD working with us, investing in US!!! We are there, we want to work, we want to study, we want to help our military families - so why the HELL doesn't DoD take advantage of the workforce they have, instead of hiring those expensive contractors??? WHY????

Now, for those of you who haven't seen the newest incarnation of the MyCAA Program, the latest "promise" from DoD who holds some pretty awesome power over our lives, here's the link.
Here's portions of the announcement at MilitaryOneSource...

With a focus on the original intent of the program, the Defense Department’s financial assistance program will:
  • Be available to spouses of active duty service members in pay grades E1-E5, W1-W2, and O1-O2
  • Offer a maximum financial benefit of $4,000 with a fiscal year cap of $2,000. Waivers will be available for spouses pursuing licensure or certification up to the total maximum assistance of $4,000
  • Require military spouses to finish their program of study within three years from the start date of the first course
  • Be limited to associate degrees, certification, and licensures

These new guidelines reflect a return to the original purpose of the program — to assist spouses of service members in achieving portable careers. These changes also align the program with responsible fiscal planning by the Defense Department to help sustain the program

DoD maintains that:
Military spouses are the backbone for military families, displaying strength of character to be admired by this nation. The Department of Defense remains committed to investing in military families, and appreciates the sacrifice of those who also serve

Now, supposedly, we also will be able to use MilitaryOneSource for more career counseling.

Starting 8 a.m. (EDT) Monday October 25, 2010, Military OneSource career and education counselors will have a much more active role in supporting military spouses. In addition to understanding resources available via DoD’s financial aid support, they will provide support and assistance to identify and gain access to other federal, state, and local programs. All military spouses of active duty service members will be eligible for career counseling and support.

What will happen to the Guard and Reserve spouses? well.....

Additionally, the review revealed that National Guard and Reserve members must be on active duty for their spouses to receive the MyCAA benefit. Spouses may no longer use the MyCAA benefit when the service member is in an alert or demobilization period. The new eligibility rule takes effect immediately.

Lovely, isn't it? The Guard gets used and used and used... and this is what they get... if you are in the middle of the program and your Guard spouse is demobed... I guess you are SOL.

Great. Promises made, should be kept.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pretty awesome

or as my friend Tucker says "awesomesauce". Rachel Maddow's show, with her last 9 minutes about Afghanistand, was just awesomesauce. Watching this on that evening, with Chief sitting there as well (and he's not a liberal, also not a conservative...he's just him) was ""different". We don't usually watch political shows together... the disagreements can get heated. But even he was impressed by this.

I loved this segment. Found it online, and still love it. Around minute 4, is when Rachel really gets going. Yes, I wanted to stand up and cheer, but the rest of the house is asleep! (as always, Blogger and YouTube don't seem to want to cooperate, so I can't imbed this, hit the link, sit back and enjoy)


Friday, July 16, 2010

Strange Stuff

There was an earthquake in Gaithersburg, Md.. not far from us, but we slept right through it. only a small one, although from the local news you would think the end was at hand. Slightly skewed, reporters searching searching for any damage at all, and interviewing folks who either say what I did this morning - huh? what? or the "omg, it was terrible"..

but the really really really strange shit? I was Facebook invited to join in the Glenn Beck Bike thing, which culminates in some "save the constitution" convocation of the faithful Beckians at the Lincoln Memorial. ME? MEE?? I know, I know, it was the "invite all friends" button from someone, but seriously - it was such a "say whuuut" moment for me this morning. After spending last night watching Rachel Maddow with such a fantastic segment about Afghanistan, to have Beck intruding - oh gag. The man is a true true douchenozzle, a waste of space, time, air... I find him an even more objectionable, vile and disgusting influence than even Rash Lamebrain.... well, ok, maybe not!

Have a great day, everyone.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

life as an LLC

Now that I'm not working full time in an office, I'm finding life - different! I go in once a week and get work from the part time data entry job, and bring it home. Monday, the trip was fraught with delays, heat and cranky commuters, which just reinforced my decision to quit the rat race. I got my first client on Friday thanks to the connections of a good friend (thank you, Kristy!), and have been pretty busy getting into a routine, data entry and online research! I have a meeting next week for, hopefully, another client. After the initial few weeks of sending out resumes with mixed results (mostly phone calls for interviews for full time jobs) I am no longer in total despair, second guessing myself and worrying that I had screwed up big time! To all those friends who told me it would be ok, thank you.

It's interesting being at home, the foster cat and established cat have more time together since they are only allowed out together when someone is home! I do have to stop myself from cleaning, or shopping etc... I've given myself one morning a week to take care of things like grocery shopping and vet appointments. A friend who has worked from home for years, reminded me that I cannot be the "person at home" for the neighbours, but in this street, there are a lot of people at home, so that won't be a problem. I''d still like to find some work as a part time paralegal, ideally for an attorney who does VA appeals... but that's harder to find.

The biggest benefit, besides the lack of stress from the previous job, is the enjoyment! I enjoy what I do (the data entry not so much, perhaps) but definitely the internet related work, and I love love love not having a long commute (usually an hour or so, but longer in the summer). I think I am much more productive, and certainly less stressed out when I get home.

so, friends, a little from me, how about you?


Saturday, July 10, 2010


Today, our son graduated, with his Associates in IT, with Honors. A virtual graduation ceremony - so I can't hug him (he's in Colorado). He's right back to work on his Bachelors, no break - with a full time job and a pre-schooler. Can we say PROUD? oh, hell yeah.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

celebrating freedom - kittie style

Hoooray! an adoption today! freedom for Tabasco, a sweet little ginger cat, with a love of water - he'll play in the sink, even. Told his new mama not to leave the toilet seat up, he'll go fishing. whew. One down, a few hundred more to go.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Fourth of July - happy birthday, USA

a four day weekend - whoo hooo! and in case I'd forgotten that it's PCS season I went on post to see the Dr. and go to the commissary - yes, I KNOW, it's Payday, 4 day weekend... I KNOW!! every moving company in the area - on Belvoir! jeez. and the commissary? they are redoing it, they have moved absolutely everything and haven't restocked - yeah momma... NOT fun. All the retirees were in, had to wait for a freakin' cart! sigh.

Farmers Market Kingstowne - stocked up on buffalo, the great great great bratwurst and italian sausage at Cibola farms - some fruit, veg, bread.. OK - got everything except mangos for the fruit salad.

Now - the neighbour with all the noisy toys is out.. ran his mower, and his edger, and his weed whip, and his compressor for the hose... he hasn't hauled out the leaf blower yet - I'm waiting for it...

now, going to watch Crazy Heart - good first day of the four day weekend. ttyl.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Military Family

We call the military "the family business"... and it goes back (and forward) generations. In my husband's family, it goes back to his grandfather (Navy Chief) his dad (Navy Academy Graduate). In mine, my maternal grandfather - German Army WWI and Luftwaffe WWII. My father, USCG WWII, my uncles were Army, and Army Air Corps WWII, and an Aunt was Army WWII. The acronym rich world of the military, reading uniforms (although, I have to say, Navy still baffles me), is second nature to me. I was brought up with a tan card, going to the PX, as a State Dept brat I was surrounded by Marines ( yeah.. the dress blues were the epitome of the well dressed man to me for years. ) My husband is Army, I walked down the aisle and he was in blues, he's still in the Army, done active, National Guard and now here we are Active Duty again. Our son and daughter in law are Army veterans of Iraq.

There's another big part of my military family - those friends of mine online, the milspouses I instant message with, catch up with on their blogs, chitchat with on Facebook and tweet at. My husband calls them my "imaginary friends" - and they have saved me through two deployments, kept me sane through two reintegrations, listened to me while we PCSed, and are encouraging me while I try to set up a business and change my career path. I've met some that I agree with politically, some that have political beliefs that I cannot fathom, and worked with both groups to get laws passed to help all milspouses. We are family, we fight, some of us will never willingly speak to each other again, but let something happen, and we pull together, we support each other through thick and thin. The civilian/military family divide - some hope that this division would be healed through more social media and the ease of connection, but I wonder if it doesn't keep us more isolated. We can stay in touch with each other so easily, we may not willingly reach out to non military families.

Blogging and other "social media" were just made for military spouses. I have "friends" in Monterey, Stuttgart, Yokosuka, Killeen, Fayetteville and it's as easy as checking the Blackberry to catch up with one of them. Recently my daughter in law had a friend with a question about moving to Japan, I reached out to my online friends and we were ready to help. Daily, on Facebook or on blogs, we see questions about something military, we see pain and the need for help from fellow milspouses, or from veterans, we find out which group needs more care packages, or find an old friend from years ago at another duty station. After an education program aimed at military spouses was arbitrarily and capriciously yanked away with no warning or explanation, Facebook pages sprang up and although we don't have the program back yet, we succeeded in waking up the DoD bureaucracy with letters from congressional offices, and an apology from the (now former) director of the program. The power of social media - in practice! Since many units' Family programs are exhausted from multiple deployments, we have started our own online support, after all, with online members all over the world, there usually is someone on line, no matter what time of day or night.. great chats happen at 2 am when the European time zone friends are awake, and the insomniac is on the couch with the laptop!

My military family - a pretty motley bunch - but they are MINE, and I'm proud as hell to say that I'm a member of a military family.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

a lousy lousy day

It's official, yesterday was a truly crappy day. Waking with a migraine - starts the whole day out wrong, and it went downhill from there. I had applied for the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship for the Accredited Financial Counselor® Program - and until I got turned down yesterday, I didn't realize how much I was counting on it. It was going to be the cornerstone of my counseling degree attempt - and with the continued "review" of the MyCAA program - It's time to regroup and redo. Chief is ready and willing to give me part of his GI Bill, but right now I'm just not good with that. It's his GI Bill, not mine.

What am I going to do? Haven't got the foggiest notion right now. Wallow a little, then get on with it.



Thursday, June 24, 2010

McChrystal and Rolling Stone - what WAS he thinking?

The McChrystal/Rolling Stone article debacle.

From Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen: their statements . Admiral Mullen said it best

... I cannot excuse his lack of judgment with respect to the Rolling Stone article or a command climate he evidently permitted that was at best disrespectful of civilian authority.

We do not have that luxury, those of us in uniform. We do not have the right, nor should we ever assume the prerogative, to cast doubt upon the ability or mock the motives of our civilian leaders, elected or appointed. We are and must remain a neutral instrument of the state, accountable to and respectful of those leaders no matter which party holds sway or which person holds a given office.

I think it is vital for us to remember that if we lose their trust and confidence for any reason, it's time to go. The job we are called upon to do for the nation is too important, the lives we are sworn to protect too precious, to permit any doubt or uncertainty in that regard. General McChrystal did the right thing by offering to resign.


Since the country has been riveted to the coverage of the Rolling Stone article with General McChrystal, the military blogosphere and Facebook pages have been ablaze. I'm not going to spend much time with the silliness - the racial overtones in some posts was disturbing, disgusting, but not unexpected. The divide was the usual gap - those who support the current administration and those that think anything that comes out of the White House is suspect and scream "POTUS wants to wreck the military" or "he hates the military". I've seen ridiculous comments - that McChrystal should have removed POTUS was one that really stood out for me!

Those of us who have been in our sub world for a little longer realized that the disrespect and contempt shown for the civilian leadership of the country, the civilian "partners" that the general needed to work with, could only lead to the result we saw yesterday. The screeching of "freedom of speeeeeeeeeech" - may I just remind those folks of Article 88 of the UCMJ. As a friend said, Article 88, learn it, live it, make sure your subordinates do the same.

What I found so remarkable, personally, was the sheer lack of judgment, the utter foolishness of anyone allowing a reporter from Rolling Stone to hang out with them for weeks, listening to the (to us) usual testosterone slinging trash talk of men and women in uniform. Seriously, Rolling Stone??? If he's allowing anyone to sit around and see the frat brother antics, why not someone from one of the "friendlier" publications - Military Officer, or one of the military Times? They would have understood that this type of behaviour is often seen in that world and wouldn't have made much of it. But a publication that lives on scandal, that is notoriously unfriendly to the military - Really? One of the unspoken duties of the commanding general is to be an example to the rest of his command, and that example of a lack of respect, disdain and contempt openly expressed is not what a commanding general wants from his subordinates. Someone who said to me "oh it wasn't so bad" did have to admit that if she had openly shown this contempt for one of her superiors whilst in uniform, her career would have come to a halt in a matter of minutes. What you say in the privacy of your own home, with your friends, that's one thing, to say it in front of a member of the media - that's another.

The decision to put the other leg of the decision making chair, General Petraeus, in command, was the right one, in my opinion. He doesn't need to be brought up to speed, he's been steering the boat! Of course, that decision has caused some commenters to twist themselves into all sorts of knots, decrying the POTUS's decision to remove McChrystal but not able to criticize the replacement! Well - one did ask if this was a nefarious attempt to prevent General Petraeus running for President in 2012, which is so ridiculous it really did make me laugh.

Let's all wish the best to General Petraeus and his staff, their decisions are going to mean a great deal to those of us in the military community.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

FRG -[cue the scary music]

Xposted at LeftFace

Alright - Everyone with a horror story about FRGs, right hand up. Everyone with a story about the great stuff that happened in an FRG , left hand up. Wow, lots of “touchdown” hands there, folks!

All of us, and oh boy, am I including myself in this, have the horror story about the awful leader, or the catty spouses, or the lies spread to the guys downrange, the stupid meetings with the dumb games, the lack of anything to do for those with/without kids… there are as many of these stories as there are military spouses. No, I’m not asking y’all to share those with us right now… we’ll open a “get THIS one” page, ok?

BUT, there are as many of us who remember the good things from FRGs, great cookie baking/care package packing parties, with laughter and stories and a little vino maybe thrown in; or the chance meeting with someone who really needed to talk, or was there to listen; or the phone calls just checking on you during deployment [thanks, Mary]

So the latest incarnation of the uber rank conscious/rank pulling abusive FRG leader out of Fort Bragg has started this discussion, again. On Facebook, on various blogs – the questions are flying. What is the FRG for? Who should run it? Are FRSAs working out the way we were told they would? I’m not going to even try to answer these questions. I will say that, from what I’ve seen in both Guard and Active FRGs, it depends on the command. If Command cares, the FRG flourishes. If Command is just checking the box on the evaluation form, the FRG either becomes moribund or self destructs in a giant flurry of hurt feelings, tears, anger, recriminations and now – the news and Army Times.

Is this, maybe, the big scandal that will cause actual change to happen? Is airing our dirty laundry for all civilians to see as well, a wake up call for leadership? Is this what it takes to make the “powers that be” wake up and realize that FRGs, for all their great intentions, are being run by the volunteers who have gone through one deployment too many, funded by cupcakes sales to ourselves? Do we want either paid personnel, spouses of veterans who’ve “been there, done that”, or to keep relying on the volunteers who are sometimes eager and willing to take on the challenge? For some units, would it be better to have a leadership group, not just one person on whom it all ends up falling, and should we get away from the “commander’s spouse” exemplar.

I’ve got a lot of questions, but I will agree with Sue Hoppin; let’s not forget that for all their faults, there have been great FRGs, great FRG leaders (yes, Mary, that’s you) who care about the spouses and families that are part of the unit, and who work tirelessly for those families, within the bureaucracy that has overburdened them with rules, regs and requirements. If you are an FRG leader, a Key Volunteer, ombudsman, stand up, take a bow. We appreciate you! BUT – if you see that you are uncomfortably close to being the Col’s wife in the Ft. Bragg story or Lenore in ArmyWives, step back, step aside. Let the FRG be lead by the person who wants to help, no matter his or her spouse’s rank or leadership in the unit; not to enhance his or her own ego or “assist” the servicemember they are married to.

Right – there’s my take on this latest kerfuffle – what do you think? Any solutions, suggestions?


Saturday, June 12, 2010

so - what's up?

Hey - what's up with everyone? around here... it's all ok, for the most part. After quitting the job with the law firm, I started working at a non profit doing data entry. The people are great, I'm just still in shock when I see my pay cheque - a whole lot less.... and of course I wonder sometimes, what the HELL did you do? you were a Senior Paralegal at a good firm - you were making some decent bucks! then I remember the tension, the frustration, the exhaustion, the "I cannot stand one more day" feeling.. yeah, that's why, you wanted to try to have a life without all that, without the migraines. Now, to be fair, the migraines aren't totally gone, I cannot control the weather, which is a big trigger for me, and the occipital neuralgia is still lurking. BUT, I think I'm more relaxed.

Now, the new business - I'm sending out resumes to lawfirms all over the area. So far, no nibbles. I'm also setting up my new website - learning WordPress the hard way - trial and error. It's different, and sometimes so frustrating. I know what I want it to look like, but I haven't figured out how to yet! well.. I'll learn! I've signed up for various agencies - there's ELance and ODesk etc, and uploading, resumes and tweaking this, that, and t'other thing. I'm ambivalent about getting certified - are they just a money maker for the group/person who set up the certifications? - anyone out there want to give me their take on that? A friend who set up National Military Spouse Network has been a great source for me, she also told me that I should put Beta tester on my resume, I found a link that wasn't working properly and was able to help the designer figure out which link was broken. what do you think?

We also have a new critter at the house. We are fostering a cat from the shelter, she's been in the cages since January, and getting depressed. She's in quarantine, as we recommend, for at least a week, she's in the guest bathroom and starting to want to get out. Ms. M (her shelter name is Monique - which is so so not her) and JJcat have hissed at each other through the door, I am hoping they can co-exist in the house. Ms. M also needs to lose some weight, so as soon as we can let her out of the bathroom, she will need some intensive exercising - and less food. If the two cats can get along, she might stay - if not she will at least get a break from the cages, lose some weight and get back to being a happier cat.

Writing - I'm afraid I spent my time on Left Face last week, need to get with doing some writing that I might be able to get to get paid for. but we DID get linked to by Tom Ricks at Foreign Policy, which set off a new series we call "entitled?" my take is below, my co authors have been weighing in as well - go over and take a look.

One thing I have to say - when I go to work, I walk from the train station down to Pennsylvania Ave, through various gardens and across the Mall - what a walk! glorious, from the grandeur of the Capitol on one side and the Washington Monument on the other, to the Butterfly garden and the sculpture gardens. There's another benefit to working in DC - even though right now it's populated with thousands of tourists wandering about in the various stages of exhaustion and in the case of the littlest ones, crankiness! But when I walk to work in the morning, they are still sleeping in their hotels, and I only have to dodge the runners, and it's a lot more peaceful, I have time to enjoy the flowers and say hello to the gardeners.

Enjoy your weekend, Happy Birthday Army - I'll report after the Army Ball tonight. Trace Adkins - yeah... it'll be fun!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Entitled - or Quit yer Bitchin'

I posted this on Left Face - as a response to what I'm reading from civilians and members of the military alike

Oh, quit whining. What do you military families want anyway? You knew what you were getting into when you married him. Suck it up. MY wife can do this with no help, so why can’t you. You shouldn’t have married the guy if you didn’t think you could take it. Why are you expecting so much. You are being so exclusionary. Don’t be so aggressive about asking for/demanding something. There are those who “have greatest disdain” for the “special attention” being paid to anyone in the current military, especially the National Guard…

Just a few responses to posts on military family issues I’ve seen lately. Some were in response to the post concerning the family waiting for the flight home for their son’s funeral – the comments were on Tom Ricks’ blog which linked to LeftFace. Some were from Military Officer magazine we get from MOAA – a letter to the editor regarding counseling and understanding for children whose parent is deployed. What do many of these statements have in common? They are from members of the military – either retired or active duty. Not, interestingly, from their spouses!

During the MyCAA debacle, I read this from some civilians, “why were we expecting a free ride?” The country is in a depression, we should be grateful that our spouses have jobs. After all, we get free healthcare, we get free housing (now THAT one made me laugh out loud) and why is our spouse’s pay tax free when they are deployed (well, maybe being in a war zone, getting mortared, living in filthy conditions is worth a couple bucks to the country that sent them there?). The “Free Ride” was a program set up by DoD, a promise to help military spouses with training in “portable careers”. (that’s another posting, and we’ve discussed this here)

We knew what we were getting into? When I married my husband quite a few years ago, I didn’t expect back to back TDYs followed by a 22 month deployment, one year home and then another deployment! And how does anyone really know, until they have gone through a deployment – until they have gone through that level or worrying, that feeling of being on edge 24/7, that fear of a knock on the door…

What did I want to say to the servicemembers who said those things? Exclusionary? Oh please, sir, the last BBQ I went to, the Rangers stood over there bumping tabs, the ring knockers were all cloistered together over in another corner, the senior spouses clustered in the other. Ever heard the Fobbit trash talk, the “Seals are the ONLY warriors” etc.?? The military puts us into little slots – Officer, Enlisted, and there are still restrictions on fraternization, is that exclusionary too?

Yes, we DO think we are different, we are different! We are members of the One Percent who have any connection with the wars currently being fought. We try to stay close with our civilian friends and acquaintances, but they aren’t comfortable with us anymore. They don’t understand how we feel, and they don’t want to hang out with us because we scare them, they don’t want these wars shoved in their face by looking at us, making them uncomfortable. We get sick of having our concerns disregarded by our civilian sisters, having deployments of 6, 8, 12 months compared to weekend camping trips (when Bambi gets mortars, talk to me…) We are tired of hearing “if you need anything, call me” and when we do swallow our pride and ask for help, we hear nothing but excuses, or silence. How do you answer the questions they ask – “how do you DO it?” “has he killed anyone” “is he coming home for [pick a holiday]” “but he just got back, why does he have to go again”. It’s safer, it’s easier to talk to our friends who are also military, for whom we don’t have to translate the acronyms, who understand that we do not have much control over where/how we live or much of anything else.

The country waves flags at us, commanding officers tell us they are there for us, they tell us that we are the reason our spouses can serve, our spouses are told “we are there for your family, go deploy, we’ll take care of them.” But when we ask for the help we are told is there for us… we are told ; it’ll be a couple months until you can talk to someone about your depression; child care – no sorry, all full up; job training – sorry, had to yank that without notice, sorry for putting you in debt again. The FRG? - oh no, you can’t have a phone tree (opsec) you can’t have a vFRG (opsec), we meet during the day… you work, oh well, can’t have names, all the activities are during the week – for some of us, the FRG is a disaster, although I have heard of some that have been fantastic.

When MyCAA was being touted to enlisting service personnel or to those considering whether to re enlist, or not to resign their commission – see, here’s something for your spouse too – and then arbitrarily yanked away, we quite rightly objected. If you are going to promise something, keep your promise! That’s not being spoiled, that’s not demanding, or saying we are entitled… that’s expecting that a promise made will be honoured. Telling us not to give in to depression, to ask for help when we need it, and then telling us that after the few free appointments on the phone we can finagle from MilitaryOneSource or Give an Hour (a great group) that there aren’t any counselors available, or if you are OCONUS, the counselor has so many PTS patients, he can’t see any family members, that’s another promise broken. Don’t tell us to go get help, when TriCare won’t cover it and the few counseling groups that will take TriCare are not accepting patients.

Those bitching about the little things, the PX not carrying something, the ones who wear their husband’s rank embroidered on their bra straps – those have given us all a bad name. The spouses who hold the families together and keep it all going, should be allowed to expect the promises made to be kept. If they choose to feel safe, and happy, and secure with their military spouse friends – they shouldn’t be told they are “exclusionary”. It’s called a comfort zone. Let us have that, which you are downrange, ok?


Friday, June 04, 2010

Reprehensible Conduct.

X posted at Left Face

Today, on Facebook, I clicked on a link to this story. The story of a family, at the worst time of their life, witnessing the true callousness of the American traveling public. The story of the family of Lance Cpl. Justin Wilson, who had flown to the East Coast to welcome the body of their loved one at Dover. The story of the family who were trying to get home, to bury that 24 year old, a newly wed, who had been killed in Afghanistan. The story of the truly reprehensible conduct of a group of travelers, who sat in silence when asked to give up their seats so they could get home. The story of the ground crew that had to beg, with tears in their voices, for 3 more people to give up their seats so the 6 members of the family, standing in front of them all with their grief apparent, could get home.

I should, I suppose, be used to this by now. Eight years into two wars, with reports of "compassion fatigue", with comments to letters to the editor, or articles in magazines, that tell military families to just shut up, suck it up, quit whining, stop expecting everything for free, I should expect that the "others" won't do the right thing in that situation. After all, I just read a retired military officer in a respected military group publication, say just that!

But this. This horrified me, and I don't understand the people that could sit in silence and actually LOOK at the grieving family, who had to endure the stares and sliding sideways glances. HOW? HOW do Americans NOT stand up en masse and volunteer? The author, Colleen Getz, tried to excuse the other passengers, saying they were caught off guard. Off Guard? Do Americans need to be prepared to do the right thing? Are we so consumed with our own lives, so inured to the pain going on in front of us, that we just refuse to react to it?

I talked to my husband about it, and he gave me that look, and said "they don't WANT to know. They don't want to see it, they don't care anymore."

I guess the flag waving is over, the "support the troops" yellow ribbons on the backs of cars have faded into pale cream with unreadable faint letters, the flags on the houses have become tatty and shredded and been replaced with butterfly banners - at least for them. The them that could sit and stare at that family, stone faced, and refuse to give up their seats; the them that get angry when another funeral procession ties up traffic; the them that want to know why so much money is being spent on military health care, or get angry about subsidized child care. But we , the One Percenters, WE understand. We are tired too, but I know that each and every one of us would have given up our seats. Right? I sure hope I'm right.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell - cont'd

X posted from LeftFace

The DADT repeal dialogue continues, on both sides of the issue. A friend to many of us, Lily Burana, who wrote a wonderful book "I love a Man in Uniform" and who is a tireless advocate for military spouses, wrote an op ed in the LA Times. Lily brings it to "our" side of the military, to the spouses, the ones who host the lunches, who run the FRGs, who try to support each other during the deployments. A blogger she quotes in the piece, who quips that acceptance will be final when the domestic partners are welcomed by a bunch of "snobby officers' wives" may not be all wrong! Lily jokes about that timeworn attitude...

But we aren't entirely what this man suggests, blinkered domestic biddies clutching our pearls and our outmoded mannerisms, possessed of no greater largesse or intellectual sophistication than what we leech from our husbands: Inclusiveness? If you say so, dear.

We don't have to ask, and we will (one hopes) not tell, but in our little world, being gay isn't exactly a secret. We all know the "confirmed bachelor" the "haven't found the right guy/girl yet" who has a room mate, or close friend, that no one is allowed to acknowledge as being so much more than that. I, for one, cannot imagine not being allowed to acknowledge a person who is so integral to my life.

Lily also said something that rang - like a very clear bell - in my mind, while discussing the opposition from those affectionately called "The Pachyderms", the senior brass we revere for their past service, but whose opinions sometimes show their disconnect from the present day Army. (emphasis added)

Yet as much as I acknowledge their right to their position, I won't refrain from voicing my opposition. My conscience — as a wife, as a patriot, as a freedom-loving American — demands it.

I understand that the repeal is a top-down decision, but until the administration and the brass figure out how best to proceed, I will do what the good Lt. Gen. Mixon suggested and what the DOD requested: I will share my opinion — that the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" is less about what we military family members do or don't want than about what is right. And what is best, in the long run, for our nation's military.

As for me, LAW, I'll respect anyone's right to an opinion, even if I think its wrong, it's daft, it's not grounded in anything I recognize as fact; and yes, I'll be pretty dismissive of the "facts" as seen by those whom I personally feel are not really worried about facts, but have a deep seated, illogical (to me) prejudice for anyone who is not "the same". BUT I will NOT stop advocating for the repeal, I will NOT stop letting my voice be heard; because MY conscience demands it too.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Rolling Thunder 2010

The Saluting Marine - The Lincoln Memorial - the Bikes (credit - StevenFrancis Photography) -

I was standing a little to the right of this location, when I noticed a woman standing almost rigidly, wiping her cheeks periodically. When asked if she was alright, she said yes, and that it was "silly" because she lost someone so long ago in the Vietnam war, that she shouldn't still be crying. No, it was only yesterday that her chopper pilot was KIA, they had been dating for only a while, she now has a new life, but still...... She asked me about my connection to the military, when she saw the my son and my husband served patches on my vest. Then she said what we have all heard so often "I don't know how you do it" we kept talking and she thanked me for helping her understand a little better, about how military families keep going, and the service members who volunteer to serve. A hug, and a connection. And remembering why the Thunder is Rolling, remembering who we are memorializing, not just those who died, but those left behind.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rolling Thunder - sorta

Unfortunately, Chief's vertigo came back, so neither of us will be riding! We'll go down and take pictures, and spend some time with friends.

Cat is now on hyperthyroid meds. Gave him the first one yesterday, on an empty stomach - which resulted in having to harvest some grass from the front lawn, and cleaning up the results. today, he seems to be better. Yeah, been a helluva weekend so far!

later, y'all.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Yeah - I'm still here

Well, um.... I can't believe it's been so long since I was here. I feel like I've been writing everywhere else, LeftFace and Facebook and all the rest of it. But wow, I've neglected LAW something fierce, huh? To update - I've left the fulltime job that was making me quite nuts, and now I'm working part time at a data entry type job (just enough to cover some bills) and trying to get my Virtual Assistant business up and running.

The town house has come together, found furniture we wanted but at a very unexpected place. You know the kind of store, carries furniture Chief calls "AlFaw palace" replete with gold brocade, fake stuffed tigers and screaming pink? We walked into one of those, and were about to leave until we saw the "normal" looking dining room set (Craftsman style) and bedroom dressers and side tables - good solid stuff. and cheaper than most of the other stores. unfortunately, their delivery sucks. SUCKS. waited around, they forgot a piece, but now the dining room chairs are re-covered (black naugahyde was tooo ugly) and the silver has been cleaned and looks great in the breakfront.

my little garden (mostly in pots and flower boxes) is coming along, the field salad/mesclun mix and spinach are great additions to the farmers market lettuces and vegs. The Sunday Farmer's Market has opened, the buffalo guy's meats are great, the fresh farm eggs are wonderful, and the vegs have so much flavour! If y'all have a farmers market, go, buy there! much better quality, support a local farmer.

Looking forward to this weekend, riding in Rolling Thunder (we hope). Chief will be, I don't know if my neck will allow me to wear the helmet/therefore no ride for me if I can't.

I can't promise I'll write a lot in the next few weeks. and for those faithful few who drop by here, I'm sorry.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Survey Time!! Power in Numbers.

Last year, Blue Star Families did a survey - and when they got the results they took it to Speaker Pelosi and a group of other concerned Congresspersons. And it made a difference - the fact that we as military families feel that civilians don't get what we do, that we are disconnected from the rest of the country - made an impact! The fact that there were many of us who said it, added weight. The First Lady talked about it, I've heard it at hearings and from members of Congress. Let's make sure that the findings from THIS survey are noted - are valued. How? by taking it! The more people who take this survey, the more military families that make their voices heard and their feelings and problems known - the louder our voice becomes. NOW is the time for us to let those Powers that Be know, because we are a power to be reckoned with NOW!

Here's the site for the Blue Star Families Survey

Go take it, it's private, your name will not be forwarded or published. Remember, to Congress, to those vague Powers That Be, numbers count. so take it, then pass it on. post it on your site, your FB status, tweet it. Let's make sure WE are represented, that OUR voice is the voice that speaks for military families, not some pencil pusher who never saw an ID card or PCSed, who doesn't understand that military families are proud of their servicemember and aren't asking for handouts, but that we have concerns, and want to make sure that the programs that are designed to help us, are really doing so.

Here's that link again.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Moving forward

I gave notice yesterday, I start my new job in mid May. Excited? OH YEAH. I'm so so done with the firm, I'm so done with the "make binders" (3 sets) of pleadings, print out a few thousand pages here, there, everywhere... how about reviewing it in the data base first, and then tell me what you want printed. We must go through forests at the firm. FORESTS! and sorry, the area of law - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I think I've come to realize that I'm too old for this crap. I don't want to work until 10 pm, because the attorneys can't actually write a brief until the day before it's due, and therefore I can't do the cite checks etc of a 45 page brief until THAT day - or the secretary will screw up the formatting (again) at 8 pm... so the Table of Authorities and Table of Contents needs to be run again, and again, and again... ad nauseum. But the kicker for me is - I just don't CARE about it. I don't CARE about what I'm doing! I know what I want to do, and I'm going to do my damndest to actually do it.

What do I want to do? Well....Helping military families, in a concrete way, and helping military families by making sure we aren't forgotten again, regulated to the "oh, yeah, and after we spend billions on this program, this weapons system (and we as Congress don't care if you NEED it, we have a factory in our state that will make the doohickey thingamabob) AFTER we do all that... we'll consider doing a little something for the families - let's throw them a bone, they'll shut up and go away". No, we aren't going to anymore.

Getting off the soapbox. have a lot to do today. Migraine is almost gone, so I might get something done!

Talk to you later.


Friday, April 23, 2010

The Summit

Not Everest - the Congressional Military Family Caucus Summit! A meeting of military spouses from all over the country, from Oregon and Washington State to the DC area, the Carolinas, Texas, brought together to discuss topics that are important to all of us. Marine wives sat with AirForce and Army Spouses, discussing Deployment stress with Navy wives - finding that we had more in common than differences. Every table had a Senior wife sitting at it, anonymously. May I say that I really enjoyed discussing mental health with Deborah Mullen! I recognized her, but no one else at our table did, and I think the whole point of them staying incognito was perfectly illustrated when one of the other ladies at the table realized who she was as we were going to lunch, and was hoping she hadn't said anything "wrong". NO - these ladies needed to hear what we had to say, without anyone worrying about "will this hurt my spouse's career"!

My usual problems with the Capital Security folks continued - my little spray hand sanitizer was confiscated - along with another wife's Nilla wafers. jeez louise!

The discussions - there was one overriding common thread. INFORMATION! or the lack thereof, the lack of one place to get the information we need, whether it's where to find a doctor that takes TriCare, which program is there to help children trying to cope with deployment, where the training is available for a milspouse trying to get a new job - INFORMATION.

The ideas we cam e up with, and refined, are being given to the members of the Caucus. We need to keep talking to our representatives, we need to make sure that these issues stay on their desks, stay on their radar.

I met so many wonderful spouses, so many women (I didn't meet the guys)who were ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work, who had ideas and were willing to work together to make a difference. It was an honour and pleasure to spend the day with all of them.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Milblogs -

Xposted at LeftFace Blog.

We really did enjoy ourselves! does that sound "surprised"? yeah... we were... this is my third, my husband's second, and Snarky's first. Some of the speakers were amazing, the Best By Far - SSG Hatch (later Major Hatch) who was a camera man at the battle for Tarawa (which IS pronounced TAR - a - wah... the moderator needed to be corrected... which SSG Hatch did, with great kindness). When SSG Hatch spoke of one of the bloodiest days in the war - he called it, "a little rough".. he could really teach the present day testosterone cowboys, the gunga Dan's of this era, the ones Snarky calls "dickswingers"... one hell of a lesson. To be there and listen to the man who took this film, a film I have seen for years, actually narrating it, was such a fantastic moment.

The Charitable Landscape - Vivian from BSF and the rest of the panelists were great. Michael Yon - the quality of the sound was awful, and the OPSEC violations - well, lets just say Chief isn't terribly surprised that his imbed was canceled! Lunch - not TOO liquid, lots of fun, new friends but really, when you ask for no cheese - is it really that hard??? The panel that tried to keep us awake during the post luncheon hour - did a good job. The View from the Top. A full bird Marine, eclipsed by a 4 star Admiral (no Jamie McIntyre, it's NOT General) and the Principal Deputy Assistant SecDef for Public Affairs - all talking about social media from the top. One of the bloggers there - was wearing a T shirt from IVAW and got up to ask a question. Everyone on the dais tensed - and she asked a very good question about how to get the mid range officers to understand the benefits of Social Media... chins all hit the ground! As she said to me later, we aren't all screaming nutjobs. I think everyone was waiting, nay, hoping, that she would go ballistic. she never did, and I think many people were disappointed that she didn't so they could jump down her throat. Amazingly, I found out that a panelist from a major veterans group invited her, and while he thinks she is wrong in her views was saddened by the attitudes of some at the conference. I think she's a very brave woman, a brave veteran, to come to that conference and ask her questions.

The final panel on legislation - very dense! One of the panelists who had a passing resemblance to a favourite TV childrens host of a military marsupial nature, told us he thought Facebook and Twitter were, I quote "crap" - made quite an impression, lemme tell ya! We met up with him later - after a few adult beverages at PF Changs, and with the assistance of a few more libations, we spent a fun hour or so with him at dinner. He and Vivian spoke Public Policy jargon for a while... interspersed with snarky remarks about award winners, and ending with a lesson (by another friend) and a pictorial (drawing, folks) of the mechanics of "teabagging"... yeah, you had to be there.

All in all, a good time was had by all. So - next year - y'all coming? Hope so!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Almost Milblogs!

I am really looking forward to this conference - Chief is home and will be coming, and one of my best imaginary friends, Snarky Navy Wife, is going to be arriving tomorrow! This is going to be a blast, we plan to meet up with some other bloggers and attend the milblog conference. There are some good speakers scheduled, and there is sure to be some lively discussion!

I'll try to blog from there, or twitter... I'll see!


Sunday, April 04, 2010

been a while, huh?

Nana here! We had a wonderful time with our granddaughter, who is growing up so fast! She's almost terrifyingly smart, has the memory of an elephant and is a budding fashionista. I don't get to shop with her very often, but we had a great time at a children's store, and what really impressed me, was not ONE screaming fit, not one tantrum even when we said no to a toy purchase or anything else.

We went to the Denver Children's Museum again, and she had a great time, again. There's an area with a mirror and music, tap shoes, tutus and costumes - I see a drama major here ,y'all. Grandma Deb was very kind and let us stay at her house, so granddaughter stayed with us for two nights - we even made breakfast together one morning, she mixes pancake batter very neatly. The 'Quarium was fun, sharks are ok on THAT side of the glass and Nemo was a big favourite.

On our last day, we went to her school and had lunch with her, some of her little friends and her lovely teacher Miss Kayla. Great pre-school, and I'm so happy she is able to go there. The newest addition to the family, the Corgi Peanut - very happy puppy, about a year old, and the usual bundle of energy! but Cesar Milan is right - long walks do wear them out and get all that energy out in sniffing, walking, sniffing, marking, sniffing...


Left Face didn't make it to the Milbloggies finals... ah well. We'll do it next year!


Friday, April 02, 2010


Nope, I'm not asking you to vote for this blog. I'm asking you to go and nominate LEFT FACE. It's a group effort, that I'm proud to be a part of, with a bunch of great Liberal Military Spouses.

Go nominate!


Sunday, March 14, 2010


Went to a lovely party yesterday - Corned Beef, Cabbage, some fantastic soda bread, and a great Irish Lamb Stew, and everyone brought beer - good beer, Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp.... yum..

When we got there, our hostess pulled me aside, holding a copy of Military Spouse Magazine... Is this YOU??? now, her husband used to be in our chain of command - he's been transferred to another unit/area command, so I thought for a second. But - what the hell, right? They know us, they know the cat, they know the house... so it's kinda obvious, and I trust her discretion. She twinkled at me, her husband grinned... and no more was said.

Maybe it's time for LAW to to move out of the anonymity of the blog - but not today!


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Respect, can we get some

The MyCAA debacle is the tip of an iceberg that has been floating along for a long long time. The general lack of preparation and disorganization was made worse by a total disregard of the impact of an arbitrary decision made by a group of bureaucrats, and complete lack of respect for the military spouses.

Way back when I first became a military wife (wow, 32 years…) I remember the only semi joking remark from a 1st Sgt – “hey, Spc ____, if we wanted you to have a wife, we’da issued you one”.. Back then, we were supposed to spring out of a big green duffle bag, and be the sweet little helpmeet/wifey.. We were called “dependants” and treated as such, as an inconvenience that the military had to put up with. Then, a few years later, {poof} we were told we were “family members” we were supposedly going to be regarded as partners in military life. [I can hear the snickers now… and the chorus of “yeah …. Right”] We were included in ceremonies and we now hear constantly how much the senior ranks value us, the new “saying” is keep the family happy to keep the soldier happy. All very nice to hear in speeches, pronouncements and proclamations of family days and support before deployment. The reality – well, that’s something else again altogether!

We come to the latest slap in the face, delivered by the DoD - the department for Military Community and Family Policy to be precise. First – the MyCAA program was ended (oh, excuse me... "paused) – with no warning, or notice to any of the spouses that were already IN the program. How did we find out? On Facebook or from the Navy Times, dammit! So, it’s not enough to slap more than 98,000 military spouses already in the program and thousands more within the process by screwing up their schooling, to torpedo the plans that they made – nope, you all needed to make sure you made it a whole lot worse by not actually telling them what was happening. You thought we would just sit there and smile sweetly and say… oh thank you so much… oh bless your heart….

After we stood up and started organizing, started Facebook pages and calling our congress people, after Veterans’ Organizations and some of the family groups demanded answers, after phone calls, articles and TV spots, you finally gave a “statement.” Which says… nothing. You all waffled on about this is a “planned” review… that approved documents would be honored. We get this vacuous muttering:

“Military spouses represent a significant, young, diverse and motivated component of America’s labor force. We recognize that the military lifestyle calls for portable careers and that military spouses need access to education and training for careers that are portable and high-growth nationally. This short-term break will allow us to better assess the program to ensure we are achieving that goal.”

It takes weeks for some of the program recipients to actually get notified, and THIS is what they got

“Dear MyCAA Student: Please be advised that the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program has suspended operations indefinitely. As you’re aware this program has provided active duty military spouses with funding to start or continue their education/ training.... Some services are still accessible, but financial support is on hold. According to the announcement, military spouses who have generated an approved FA form won't be affected*The Department of Defense is doing a top-to-bottom review of the program. To be clear, we are not sure when the program will open again. It could be as early as the Summer 2010 semester, or perhaps, stretch to the Fall 2010 semester. We are certain that some changes to program approval are likely, and in the interim students should be pursuing alternate sources of financial aid (Military One Source [MOS], FAFSA,, Post 9-11 transfer of GI Bill benefits, etc).”

*The truth is, that many of our spouses are reporting that their payments are NOT being made to the schools, they are going to have to pay the fees out of pocket, or drop out.

The article in the AF times had this gem:

“Military spouses — who were depending on the program to help pay for classes for which they already had registered — could not be told about the shutdown ahead of time because “given the gravity of the situation, there was no time for a warning,” Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Maj. April Cunningham said.”

In one article – we are told, it’ll be a couple of months. In another, “we aren’t sure” when. We hear it’s because of the computer system, the software, the amount of money, then it’s because there are too many people trying to get it, then it’s a “planned” outage, then it’s an emergency you can’t tell people about…. GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT!

Have the common courtesy to tell us the truth!

Well, y’all… we are not going to put on our little white gloves, and our little pearls and go to the Wives Club meeting and forget the way you treated us. The FaceBook pages are getting more and more members, we clamoured loud enough that 60+ members of congress joined the Congressional Military Family Caucus and sent a letter of protest to the Secretary of Defense, more and more members of congress are holding hearings, getting groups together. If you had treated any other group the way you treated us, you’d be ducking for cover. Well, you might want to check that cover, we aren’t going away. You are going to learn that that level of disrespect will not be forgiven, will not be forgotten.


xposted at LeftFace

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I'm told that this little blog made it into an article in Military Spouse Magazine. Since I didn't get mine yet, and I can't get on post until tomorrow - I'm just floored, flummoxed, dumbfounded, and pretty amazed! Can't wait to see it.

If you linked here from the magazine, welcome! Please read, please comment, or just say Hiya!


Terrorist or Hero - Martyr or Murderer

A person with a grudge, gripe or deep seated belief of some kind, whether justified or delusional, decides to “take action”. The person takes a vehicle, supplements fuel or adds explosives to said vehicle. The vehicle is directed, at a high rate of speed, into a building which is used by the entity against which this person has a grudge, or left sitting next to the building and remotely detonated. Innocent people are killed, wounded and traumatized. In Baghdad, or Bagram, Kandahar or Peshawar, they are called terrorists. What do we call them in Austin, Oklahoma City?

HOW does one call them hero? I can’t, for the life of me, understand that. To call Joe Stack a hero, to justify his flying that plane into the IRS building (just because he hated taxes and refused to pay them and had problems with the IRS) is unfathomable. How is he different from the terrorist in Peshawar who set off a car bomb outside a hospital emergency room as a followup to bombing a bus full of pilgrims? For one man, his religion became fanaticism, his hatred of anyone who didn’t believe exactly as he did, became a reason to murder, a justification of an act that killed, wounded and maimed innocent men, women and children. For another man, his distrust of government, his deep seated belief that taxes are unjust and he shouldn’t have to pay them, his ongoing battles with the IRS (and what most of us see as tax evasion and skipping out on his responsibilities as a citizen) became a justification for flying a plane into a building, with the clear intent to kill people.

To me – that’s just Murder. To hear someone say his actions were “inappropriate” – stunningly inadequate. And when I read that he has been called a martyr – gruesome. As gruesome as calling a truck bomber in Kabul a martyr.. these violent acts are not martyrdom. They are the selfish act of someone who doesn’t have the intelligence or the humanity to figure out that what they are doing is murder, pure and simple, murder.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

No words - just a picture

Well... a couple words - this was up in the Bike Shop we took the motorcycle to... unexpected place!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day

And another day off... yes, I'm glad to be home, because the commuting is making me totally crazy. the VRE was running well on Friday (first day back at work) but the Metro - not so much. the office - um yeah, most of the secretaries didn't show up, but the rest of us struggled in.

We are buying out Ikea - book shelves, organizational stuff - Michaels for frames, Bed Bath for... well, bath and kitchen stuff... this continuing contribution to the economy is starting to be noticeable!! one more trip to Potomac Mills. Getting settled into a much larger space makes it so tempting to unpack ALL that stuff that has been in storage for so long. Now if I could just find the photo card reader to upload those pictures I took during the last storms!

have a good week, everyone.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Snowpocalypse - Snowmaggeddon - Sn**

We left Minnesota to get away from snow - we've laughed at the way DC closes down when it gets an inch of snow, and the hysteria from the media about impending storms. Well, y'all... they were right this time! Good Grief!

For the last week, it's been awful The train/VRE isn't running, Metro isn't running above ground, the roads are only partially cleared. The blame game is in full scream on mode - why aren't they able to run, able to do this/that/the other. I am thrilled to bits that we only had a very short power outage in the middle of the night once and those hard working folks at Dominion Power got us back up in a few hours.

Went to the grocery store between storms, did our usual shop, just a couple of days early, but as we were leaving, the hordes were descending and I'm sure it all became a mess and a place full of cranky people. The second storm is sleet/freezing rain/snow and then more of the same. We've been able to get out a bit, but the road in and out of the subdivision is a truly awful mess. Riding in ruts is ok until the center becomes so high it takes out the bottom of your car!

How the area will dig out of the second storm, I have no idea. We hear of snow plow trucks breaking down and the drivers are absolutely exhausted from trying to clear 2 feet of snow and put down chemicals before, during and after the first storm. Some folks haven't had power or heat in 4 days, that's a long time to be cold and dark.

We'll get through it, it won't be pretty, and Chief's back may need some massage and lots of Ranger Candy from all this shoveling, but we'll make it. Talk to you after this next storm.


and by the way - Facebook needs to get their act together, this "new" system sucks. badly.

Friday, February 05, 2010

LAW hits the Hill

Well, actually the Congressional Military Family Caucus Briefing on mental health issues.

First – don’t ever try to get into the Capital Visitor’s Center with food, water or knitting needles (even circulars) they make you throw them away. If you dislike TSA at the airport, you will detest the Capital Security police – they make the airport folks seem downright polite by comparison. Watching a cop scream at a tourist who obviously couldn’t read English (signage on door only in English) about opening the In door instead of the Out door, which set off an alarm… ridiculous. Welcome to the Nation’s Capital!

The change when I reached the room where the Caucus was held – amazing. Military supporters, and a lot of retired Brass- the kind with stars. I was frankly amazed when (not retired, and in full Blues) General Sutton came up and remembered meeting me at a function months before, she’s a great advocate for the mental health of military families. I have hope that some of the changes she is pushing for will happen and if it doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of enthusiasm on her part!

Kristy Kaufmann started the proceedings, as always telling it very much like it is! Running an FRG during deployment on cupcake sales – that really irked some very distinguished looking gentlemen I was sitting next to. They were pretty shocked when I told them that we couldn’t even sell those cupcakes to other units, just to our personnel. General, it really WAS that different when you were Active, wasn’t it! But Sir, we weren’t in two wars with a smaller military, dragging on for 8 years, back then. When Kristy showed us Peggy and Monique, and told us their stories, told us about Faye – those Army wives who just broke, who were so tired and so discouraged, that they ended it the only way they thought they could – that really hit the Congress people in the audience, and the rest of us. As the Rep from CA said, we won’t forget Peggy…

BG Sutton talked to us about the future plans for changes in how the mental health community is trying to assist both the serving military and families. I’m hoping that this is really going to happen, the availability of mental health counselors is limited! In OCONUS, we are hearing in one area that the counselor who is supposed to be handling special needs families, is also now tasked with PTSD cases and families as well!

The head of Tri-West - well he’s really got it. They are also partnering with the USO, to help those volunteers when they see someone needing an assist. When I chatted with him after the presentations, he first thanked me for my question – when I asked that they please please put counselors in place who at least spoke our language, who understood the military and how it works. All the degrees in the world don’t help when you are trying to talk to someone about how you are feeling and have to stop in the middle to translate terminology. Hearing from an AirForce spouse about the base civilian mental health worker who tells a pregnant young woman to go to the Company Command and demand that her husband come home from deployment for the birth of their child “because it’s her right and they have to do it”… oh, yeah, that really helped her, didn’t it???? I was told that there is training available, but that he was going to check that everyone is getting that! I told him that my experience with this was back in 2005-6, and he shared with me that they heard it a lot from those of us in the MN Guard who were using their services – we understood that they ramped those psychologists and counselors up in a matter of a couple of weeks when the extension happened, but he apologized so often, I almost felt bad for bringing it up!

The American Red Cross talked to us about the training they are giving their volunteers, the great Give an Hour partnership – there’s something we need to do some research on for our readers, and I promise I will. Any of you who have used this, let us know, ok?

Afterwards, a lot of talking, a lot of connecting, and questions from the TriWest reps about what do we need, ON THE GROUND. Kristy kept saying it, and I think and hope it got through, this is something that we need at the unit level. The top down approach – isn’t going to cut it!

If you haven’t joined the caucus on their Facebook page, do it. I know they are hoping for more conversations with and by US, the military families they want to assist. It’s a great way to connect, let’s help educate those who need to know what our real lives are like.

xposted on LeftFace