Saturday, February 13, 2010

“Oh look at the pretty snow, the pretty mountains; I wonder how cold it is, squirrel….TREE!

What a great weekend. Our friends Rich (aka Alice) and his wife Sarah (aka Speed Racer) invited me and The Misses (aka Speed Racer II) to spend a long super bowl weekend in West Yellowstone. The weekend started out with some could be horrific accidents, but turned out to be a whole lot of fun.
We arrived in West Yellowstone around 5 on Friday afternoon. We had loaded up the trailer with food, snow mobiles, and a lot of warm clothes. However, one missing item was beer (oh yah, and meat). We decided to unload the sleds and ride them to the small ass grocery store. I hadn’t been on a sled since I was very young on Aunt Diane’s farm. I was a little nervous but more excited to get out and go. The Misses had never been on one. It was a little dark but the ride there went off without a hitch. On the way back we made it to the hotel when someone went flying past us on a sled. I didn’t think much of it, but Alice was a little pissed. He knew it was his innocent little wife. We all met up at the trailer except for Sarah. After a minute Alice drove away a little more pissed. He thought she had gotten a ticket or broke down while dinking around. The Misses and I heard his sled stop and turn off right by the entrance to the Hotel. Once we saw him running our hearts dropped and we took off. As I arrived Sarah (Speed Racer) was doubled over on her sled, her helmet was twenty feet away. The Misses ran up and started assessing. She couldn’t move her leg, and had a bloody nose. She had no idea what happened. The Misses deduced that a trip to the hospital was not necessary and Alice drove her to the front entrance of the Hotel. The Misses took her up to the room and started doctoring her up.
Alice came back to Speed Racers sled and we tried and tried to get the damn thing started. Years before the Kill switch had broken off, but still worked because it couldn’t be pushed down to engage it. Unfortunately for us there was snow packed into the little hole and had engaged the switch. Three hours later in the cold dark of night Alice figured out how to get the wires out and we got the thing running. In that time we decided Speed Racer must have in fact, rolled the sled. The windshield was cracked and the snow that was in the switch couldn’t have gotten there any other way. As we went to load the sleds Alice went to get the keys and wallet out of his coat and wouldn’t you know his wallet was missing. Already a little pissed we started roaming around looking for a camouflaged wallet in a whole crap load of snow. We eventually found it in a little crevasse of the sled we were working on. When it was all over we were just very thankful Speed Racer was okay. She was very soar and a little loopy, but other than her pride and a huge bruise on her butt cheek she was okay.

After a few beers and a shitty night sleep we got up and went for a ride. Speed Racer wasn’t feeling up to it, so Alice was left with us newbies. It was an absolutely beautiful day. We were riding on a huge trail that had been grated so it was nice and smooth. We were cruising along Alice led, The Misses followed, and I brought up the rear. No further than a half mile into this lovely ride, the trail made a slight left turn (I need to emphasize this is a beginners trail, it is made for a nice easy ride. The trail was probably 15 feet wide and well worn). I watched Alice make a nice easy turn and was watching The Misses. I believe she was thinking something like this, “Oh look at the pretty snow, the pretty mountains, I wonder how cold it is, squirrel….TREE!” At that slight turn, The Misses (Speed Racer II) ran through shoulder deep snow and straight into a tree. I pulled up next to her as she hopped out of the waist deep snow. “I’m okay” she shouted. My heart slowed a little, but then I saw the sled. It was bashed up. I trudged through the snow and the two of us tried to pull it backwards. I wanted to get it back on the trail before Alice came back. It took him ten minutes to get back and I had moved the sled 2 feet. He was glad she was okay and the two of us worked on getting it out of the snow. I’m still soar. I am glad he was there and knew what the hell he was doing. It still took us four tries to get it back on the trail. Alice was able to bungee cord the hood down so our day wasn’t lost. I asked Speed Racer II what happened and she said, “I looked up and there was a tree.” When I asked about the breaks she said something about not getting traction to turn so how would her breaks work? I think they didn’t even cross her mind. Again all I cared about was that she was okay. It was a pretty funny sight to see her flying off backwards in the snow.
With the bungee cord working we continued on, a little more slowly this time. About a half hour later I noticed the temperature gauge on my sled rising. I watched it for a minute before I decide to let Alice know. I didn’t know if the gauge rising was a problem or not but didn’t want to risk it. I flew past The Misses and caught up to Alice. We stopped and checked it out and there was a hole in one of the cooling lines. Our snowmobiling trip was finished. We attached my sled to Alice’s sled with more bungee cord and we made the long trip back with me riding along doing nothing but checking out the scenery. It was a nice trip back but I was glad when it was over. Not much fun in the back of another sled eating all the snow getting thrown on you.
Alice and I made the excuse that we were going to go see if we could find a part to fix the sled I was riding so we could go out the next day. We did go to one shop and ask if they had the part. We knew they probably wouldn’t, it was an old sled and a specific part. Mostly we wanted a cider. Last summer when The Misses and I were there we went to a brewery that had hard cider on tap. Once Alice new of this fact we were trying to find any excuse to get there for a sip or two. After three we decided to go back to the hotel. With the sled not working we booked a trip the next day to go through Yellowstone. Then it was time for dinner and wouldn’t you know we suggested the brewery. So back we went. The waitress had a hard time keeping a straight face. She had known what we were doing earlier. After two or three more ciders we might have let it slip what we had been up to earlier. The Misses knows me well, she knew the whole time, Speed Racer wasn’t too pleased. That night we ended up in the hot tub. It’s amazing how you get a little alcohol in someone and they get the idea it would be fun to go out in the snow for a while. I’m just glad it’s all a little hazy, unfortunately it is possible that Speed Racer got us back by video taping it.
The red sled picked us up at 9:00 the next morning. There was only one other couple in the 12 person snowmobile. It was a great experience. It was a little noisy in the back of the contraption. It reminded me of all the times I spent in the back of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle while I was in the Infantry. On our way in the park we didn’t see many animals. The views were great. Everything had frost on it. Each branch glistened in the sunlight. Yellowstone in the winter is nothing like it is in the summer. It’s much much better. There aren’t as many people (not even close), the animals are more active, and you have to enter the park with a guide. Lee was great, he wasn’t as good as Nino (our guide in the Vatican) but he had a lot of good info and let us dictate the pace. When the day started we thought of asking if we could cut the trip a little short because of the super bowl, once the day started we didn’t even worry about it.
A couple of side notes. First, if you have never been to Yellowstone in the winter, GO! Lee, our guide was saying that the rules which govern vehicles in the park during the winter may change after next year and they may not allow vehicles for several different factors in the near future. Second, pay attention to the trail/road while driving a snowmobile. Speed Racer and Speed Racer II are lucky something worse didn’t happen. Finally, stop in at the brewery and order a Hard Cider. There isn’t much better.
To Rich and Sarah, thanks for a great weekend and a great friendship. We are already looking forward to our next trip together.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Movin on up

So tomorrow it starts. For the first time in my life I am showing up to work in a shirt and tie. It feels good. I finally feel like a little more than a grunt (slang for an infantryman). Truthfully I finally started working in my new position about three weeks ago. It has been a long time coming. I don’t even remember when I actually was offered the job, I think it was back in October. So what’s the new job? I’m the Lead Purchasing Agent for the Hospital. I get to work with two other purchasing agents and the three of us get to order all the medical supplies the hospital uses on a daily basis. Everything from cotton balls to stents used in the Cardiology Lab. There is a lot of pressure. Nurses like to show up at 3 O’clock on a Wednesday afternoon needing some medical supply for an operation Thursday morning. I think I’m really going to like it. Roger and Tracie are great people to work with. I don’t think they know what they are in for. Last week the two of them were inspected to make sure they are abiding by all the rules. They did really well. However, at the end Tracie asked how come they were only given a “Success” rating. The inspector knew that all the filing hadn’t been done (she use to work in the same position years earlier). She explained that very rarely she would give out an “Excellent”. I knew right then what I wanted. I’m not giving a time frame right now on when the three of us will get an “Excellent” rating. But it will happen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Simple Addition Problem?

Start With 40%- for Ulcerative Colitis status Post Colectomy
Add 30%- for a Right Total Hip Arthroplasty
Plus 0%- for a Left Hip with Avascular Necrosis
Add 30%- for a Cognitive Disorder (Memory Loss)
Plus 10%- having lived through Bacterial Meningitis
Add on Special compensation for loss of a Creative Organ
Equals at least 110% Right?
No, according to the Veterans Administration it’s worth 70%. Calm down Travis. I think they are actually pretty close. Yes it's pretty shitty (Literally), but really I work full time and I'm able to carry on with life. Sure there are things I will never be able to do (Climb Everest, sleep in a sleeping bag, sleep through the night without getting up twice to go to the bathroom, make a baby the good old fashioned way…), but all in all life is good. 70% plus special compensation equals $1,429.00 a month. That’s $171,480 tax free every ten years. Does that fully compensate someone for a misdiagnosis? Me? I think it is fine. And maybe I’ll make it to 140% when I get a new Left Hip. That might get me to 80%. Aw who am I kidding, it will probably make me lose a few percentages. Maybe I'll end up with 60%?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Some toys may not be suitable for young children.

Christmas was here before we knew it and by far the best present we got was a 5 AM phone call. The Misses had her choice of holidays of this year. It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas not both (one of the drawbacks of being a nurse). This year Thanksgiving was at the In-Laws house so she chose to take that day off. It was a good choice, we had a great time. However, as Christmas fast approached we both were a little bummed we would spend another Christmas apart. She played with the idea of picking up an extra shift a day or two before Christmas. This would make Christmas day overtime for her (this may put her at the top of the list of getting called off). In the end it looked like her work wasn’t going to give her the extra shift so we would just have to deal with her working that day.

Christmas Eve we spent at Mom and Pops house. The Misses spent the day learning how to make Grandma’s rolls. It was one of those things I insisted she learned…just in case. That night we had a glass of wine, rack of lamb, sweet potatoes, and of course White Christmas. No Christmas Eve would be complete without Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-LongAssLeggs-Ellen, and of course Pops and Me belting out “Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow”. After we open our present from Mom (pajamas and slippers as always) we went home. We both moped around for a bit wishing she didn’t have to go to work in the morning.

The Misses woke up a few times and checked her phone, hoping she missed a phone call. No Luck. We got up around 5 AM so we could shower and get ready. As we were walking out the door her phone rang. I thought it was Bailey calling asking where I was. Usually my nieces and nephews have to wait for everyone to show up at my parents before they can dive into their stacks of presents. But no, it was The Misses work. They were saying they have been trying to call since 4 AM, but The Misses phone had zero missed call. She was called off. The Misses jumped around the kitchen like a kid that just got that coveted gift that was on the top of her list. She changed into her pajamas and we drove over to my parents.

The day flew by. My favorite moment was watching my pops read his book me and The Misses made for him. We took all his pictures and medals from Vietnam, scanned them and put them into an album. I wrote a short little bit in the beginning of the album that brought tears to his eyes. For The Misses I took her Aunt/ Grandmas old cedar chest and refinished it. I stripped it down (I know it makes it less valuable but it was in bad shape) and thenspent hours apon hours refinishing it. One of the legs was completely broke in half. I asked my Uncle Dave to make her a new one. He took one of them and produced four new legs. They were a perfect match. It was amazing what he could do with a piece of wood and a table saw. I’m not one to brag (too much) but it looks gooood. I love Christmas’s that your favorite gifts aren’t the ones you get but the ones you give.

Jeter had a big day. His bone was twice as big as him. He couldn’t even pick it up. After a few days I pulled out the saw and cut it in two.

Last night as we officially put Christmas away. As we were gathering all the stuff and put them away Jeter got his second present. A white elephant gift. He had been eyeing this stuff snowman I had won at the Taylor Christmas party. He had stared at it for minutes before I would always say “don’t even think about it buddy.” He would turn and walk away, but always take a look back. As we gathered all the various items cluttering (I mean adorning) our shelves, I put the snowman on the floor and walked away. It took Jeter all of a minute to have a hole in it. Ten minutes later we had stuffing everywhere. Last night instead of the normal ball he brings to bed, it was the carcass. I woke up with stuffing everywhere and he woke up with a smile.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wallpaper, Popcorn Ceilings, and Stuff

Listen up you old and slightly younger farts. As the years grow on those tired bodies of yours, take a few notes on how to help your kids and grandkids out.

The older you get the less you need and the less your kids are going to want. Anything we want or need we most likely have stolen from you or purchased ourselves. As you’re sitting there with nothing to do in the later years start reducing! Eventually you’re going to end up in one of two places. One, an old folks home and it is only big enough to hold a small apartment full of items. The other will only hold an old green suit. Don’t leave your stuff for your kids to figure out what to do with. We will end up with just more stuff we are going to have to try to get rid of in the end. It all boils down to a yard sale. Give what you think your family wants, and donate the rest.

Wallpaper- I know, I know wallpaper is coming back in style. The Misses loves HGTV and I see people are making the horrible mistake of putting that crap back on the walls. Just do us a favor. Long before your hands are too stiff to tie your shoes so you make the switch to Velcro, start peeling that crap off the walls. Pay some poor starving college student or even better find a soon to be 18 year old scout and offer him your walls to donate for his Eagle Scout project.

Popcorn Ceilings- I only mention this for you old old farts. The ones that have no TV now that TV’s went digital. Take the time to remove that crap off the ceilings yourself. You’re going to die soon and the asbestos won’t hurt you as much as it will your son-in-law, and youngest grandkid.

Finally, don’t go kicking and screaming to an old folks home (Grandpa didn’t go kicking and screaming, he just couldn’t remember signing the papers saying he wanted to start living there). Our only regret is not sending Grandpa their sooner. His mind has gone, and most days he can’t remember 5 minutes ago. But one thing that is for certain, depending on the day there are 8 to 15 women to every man. I hope it isn’t the only reason he has started to enjoy his time there, but I’m sure it helps.

As you can guess my family (Pops, Brother-in-law Dave, and I) have been working on my grandpa’s house. Here is a picture of Pops taking his turn scraping the Popcorn off the ceilings that cover every inch of grandpa’s house. Not a great picture, but at least he does have a mask on. He’s pretty sure that when he removed the crap from the first ceiling at his house, a mask didn’t cross his mind.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Catching Up

God it’s good to have The Misses home. We’ve been busy, is the excuse I would use why you haven’t seen much of us. What have we been up to? Here are some pictures to help explain:
Catching up with friendsIt's been good hanging out with Rich and Sarah. You really learn who your close friends are when you go through tough times.
Wine Pairing with Family and Friends

The day started with a hike up above Alta. It was a beautiful day. Jeda and her friend Nancy joined us on the hike. The Mister was still in Norway so he couldn't be with us.

After the hike we got cleaned up and met up with Mom and Dad. It was a great evening full of good stories, 9 different wines and incredible food to go with it.

Vacationing in Yellowstone with Jeter

The trip started with a night spent at Grandma and Grandpa's in Idaho. It is always a great time. Jeter wasn't able to go throughout Yellowstone with us. So we spent a day hiking in the mountains just outside the park. We were having a good time until we saw a big pile of fresh bear poop. We decided that was a good time to turn around.

Yellowstone was great. We saw everything except the wolves. I would highly recommend going in the park around 7:00pm. There were so many animals, so little people, and one incredible sunset. This view was on our way back to west yellowstone from Old Faithful around 9:00pm.

Spending time with Family

With the summer usually brings Jada's family and lots of time spent together. It is always fun watching the kids in the pool. The girls are getting too big. Now days we spend too much time drinking water from being dunked by them. There are also lots of BBQ's and a lot of laughs.

Jeter gets very spoiled. Kids love making him sit and shake, and he loves doing it for treats

Reconnecting It is true that after a deployment husbands and wives need to reconnect. There have been several tears, and lots of laughs. One of the things that has changed is Jeter. For some reason he doesn't like us to be together without being included. If we ever snuggle up on the couch or in bed, he has to be right in the middle of us.

I'm extremely proud of The Misses. There are things that I wish would have been different, but in the end she did what most wouldn't and I couldn't. There is nothing we can do to change our past, but what we have gone through has brought us closer together and we have learned so much about ourselves in the process.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Letter From Iraq- 15 Mar, 2009

Hey Everyone,
It’s been a long time I know. I am so sorry about that. My work has really kept me busy and then with not having a computer… I am here now though. As The Mister previously posted I am currently on R&R (rest & relaxation) in the country of Qatar, phonetically pronounced, {cut-er} very near the city of Doha. It has been very enjoyable and some much needed time off. I have been able to get out and do some fun things to include a city tour, shop, boat trip with jet skies, swim in the Persian Gulf, ride a camel, eat some camel, 4 wheeling in sand dunes and spend some time at the beach. It’s been pretty great. The Mister posted some pics before of my city tour, but let me talk a little about the area. The Middle East (not including Iraq) is a very beautiful area. Food is good, people seem nice enough, very diverse. Iraq might be beautiful too, I just haven’t seen those places. I would have never thought of traveling to the major cities of Dubai or Doha but after having been here, I would come back and recommend it to you. It has been really nice. Here are some more pics of what else I have been up to since I’ve been here.

And now eating the camel… I know they were not the same camel because I actually rode the camel on a different day. It was pretty good actually. It was a sandwich that reminded me a gyro or a donor kabob if you know what those are. If you like them, then you would like a Kartof camel sandwich. (I think that is what it was called)
I jet skied for the first time. That was pretty dam fun! I can see why people buy those things. I was scared at first cause I thought I might fall off or try to stay on by holding on so tight and end up pulling out my shoulder… again. Well I didn’t do that and really enjoyed it. I could still see it happening if I got too carried away
Here is a pick of 4-wheeling in sand dunes. Again, also pretty fun racing in the sand anywhere between 30-70 mph.
While at the beach I was able to try on some traditional dress. Yep, pretty darn hot under there and I don’t know how those women do it. This is a girl I met here and have been spending most of my time with. Her name is Suhoney. That is the nice thing, well one of my favorite things about the military. You can go somewhere not knowing anyone and always end up making friends.
Here are some of me relaxing, on the boat… at the beach… and writing love notes to my sweetie in the sand. I had a lot of fun doing that.

Sitting on the beach as the sun went down was really nice. It reminded me of what The Mister and I have done in Spain and Mexico. I am really missing him right now. It’s much easier to cope when I am busy at work all the time, but being here just reminds me of all the great times we’ve had and will have. As much fun as this has been I can’t help but think it would have been that much sweeter if he were here too. I never thought being apart would be as hard as it is. I mean, I knew it would be difficult but… we have a great marriage and it has been rough. I don’t know how a rocky marriage could make it through this. Sweetie, just know how much I love you and I still know and believe we will get through this. We were meant to be together and we will be here again soon. Just in case you all haven’t guessed it already. The Mister and I have been discussing my future in the military. When I get home I will have one year left on my contract. At that point I will have 12 years in service and would only need 8 more to retire. I used to see myself as a “lifer” as many call it. This deployment has shown me this is not the life I want. I have decided to close this chapter in my life. Do I love what I do? Yes most definitely. I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss it. I will wonder how far I could have gone in my career and how many more places in the world I would have gone. I will never regret my decision to join and serve my country. Mostly because it helped me to discover my two greatest loves in life; my love for taking care of people both as a nurse and a Soldier but more importantly, I met the love of my life. My Sweetie. It is now with him I will be a “lifer.” To Iraq and Back My Love.
Love The Misses