Tuesday, June 28, 2005

RIP Oscar

Oscar baby picture Posted by Hello

I hate this computer with every bone in my body. I bought it when I got back from Afghanistan, not knowing I would deploy shortly thereafter, and left it here. My 6-year-old desktop works better than this overpriced boat anchor, courtesy of Dell. And in the grand tradition of their abject failure at customer service, they wouldn't take it back even thirty days after I bought it without charging me a $600 "restocking fee." Never, never, NEVER buy anything from Dell. It locks up constantly, it has dropped this post four times already, it loses DSL connectivity after only a few minutes...I mean, just a ridiculous excuse for a "premium laptop." As soon as I find the system disks, I'll try to reformat and reinstall XP, see if this piece of shit will stay in service. If that doesn't work, I'm getting rid of it one way or another, go back to my old "outdated" machine, the one that actually WORKS.

Rant complete.

Oscar, my sleek little mini-panther, in my household since March 2003, seems to have met an early demise. Both he and Esther are indoor/outdoor cats, and were both here when I rolled into the driveway last Monday. They instantly recognized me and spent the better part of the night curled up next to my head. Then Oscar vanished. *Poof*

I went looking for him...he's never been away this long, not even while I was gone. And on the other side of the street between my house and the park where he likes to hang out, I think I found his remains. I wasn't about to investigate fully, but it did look like him. Poor little guy. He was an awesome cat--he had this great way of hopping into anyone's lap and just settling right down, paws hanging over knees.

Rest in peace, little buddy. You are already missed.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Here is the Dining Room. Off to the right you can see a bit of the destroyed wood floor. Yesterday I arranged all new wood floor for the dining room, den, and foyer. Expensive as hell, but it's all investments in the house and the value goes up each time I do something to it. Note the gorgeous lillies--sent to me as a welcome home gift. I send myself flowers regularly--why not? They look so much better coming from a florist and I enjoy the hell out of them. But these were sent by someone else.

I know, boring home improvement talk.

Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 23, 2005


House Posted by Hello

Well, I guess I only get one photo per post. Fine.

This is why I was in such a hurry to get back; home ownership is a wonderful thing, and now I finally get to enjoy it.

View from my front porch Posted by Hello

So, I'm sitting here on the porch in the chair barely visible on the right, and my cell rings.

"Hello, I have a dead deer to report?"

"Sergeant Harritt?"

"No. I have a dead deer to report."

"Yeah, funny. Who is this?"

"John Conroy. This is the number they gave me."

I have a talent for getting phone numbers recently abandoned by entities who received many, many calls on it. My landline was K-Mart and I finally had to change it. Now my new cell is the Dead Deer Hotline. I explained to the well-meaning citizen that this is my personal cell, they must have changed the number.

"Oh. Well, it's on Route 11 heading towards Syracuse."

"OK, well, sorry for your trouble. I'm in the Army, I don't handle dead deer."

A pause. I can hear the confusion swarming around inside his cranium, all way over the network.

"So you're not gonna take care of the deer?"


I haven't slept a full night since we returned and fully intend to call in the Big Guns...a sleeping pill, tonight. It's 5 am and I have to be on base at 9, so I'm about to drag my arse out of bed and go for a much-needed run.

It is 42 degrees outside, right now, on the twenty-third of JUNE. And after 125, I'm snuggled down under a thick down comforter in very fine, high thread-count brushed cotton sheets. My room is pretty nice, if I do say so myself--light sage green walls, cream trim, dark matchstick shades, paintings and black and white photographs on the wall. Although, right now it's a bit of a mess, boxes piled in a corner from the DSL kit that came in the mail.

Strawberry picking--I'm bringing a thin laundry bag, since I don't have a bucket. Strawberry season here is a wondrous thing. The U-Pick place is about ten minutes from my house, and the berries are luscious. Store-bought cannot compare--they are picked while still somewhat green and don't absorb the full sweetness of a fully ripe berry. I intend to pick about ten pounds, make strawberry jam with about half of it, freeze some, EAT some, make a strawberry-rhubarb pie, and just generally enjoy the hell out of it.

I spent all day yesterday focused on plants--mostly houseplants, but then I also planted late-blooming gladiolus bulbs in the front yard. I spent a great deal of money on plants--orchids, foliage plants, a jade tree, a ficus, and a load of purple African violets for the kitchen windowsill. I'd forgotton how much I love plants--or maybe this is the first time in years I've lived someplace with enough light to accomodate. My dining room has French doors that open out onto the deck, and gets a ton of direct sunlight. I painted the room a soft purple that complements all the new plants beautifully. The house is really coming together.

I don't have cable but have not missed it at all. I'm too busy fixing up the house. I start painting this weekend and tackling the bigger projects--pulling up more nasty carpet, finally imposing order in all three bedrooms. I must learn how to post photos to this site...I'm like a proud mama.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Jeff the Playa

So one of the things we had to do on the way home was sit around a room full of folding chairs for twelve hours on "lockdown," meaning, we'd already been through Customs and had to be sequestered until the flight time, just in case someone doesn't really want to go home and would prefer indefinite tenure in Iraq by attempting to smuggle a pair of fingernail clippers on board the aircraft. Spades tournaments, computers for movie watching, junk food, guys removing their boots and sleeping on the floor. Mind you, my platoon is the only non-infantry group; we number 23 and four of us are female. That's four females to a couple hundred guys. Talk about spending three days in a fishbowl.

I have a mini-DVD player, the kind with a flip-up screen, and found a 110V plug (miracle, they're almost always 220). I settled in and watched The Aviator. I enjoyed the hell out of it and made no secret of it.

As I prepared to pop in Three Kings, one of our infantry brethren asked if he could watch it with me. I'm a friendly officer and I figured this guy must be a Lieutenant--he had removed his DCU top (the camo thing with name and rank) and so wore the brown t-shirt. I, however, wore my DCU top and my rank was clearly visible--that's my armor, and usually keeps the knuckleheads at bay. He was extremely young--I mean, this guy's waving bye-bye to the turnip truck as it pulls away from the curb. His voice even cracked.

I didn't really want to share--not because I'm selfish, but because the screen on this thing is about five inches wide and not terribly conducive to mass showings unless you're on very familiar terms with fellow movie watchers. Then I definitely figured he was a Lieutenant when he introduced himself by first name--officers do that, call each other by our first names, not sure why but there it is. During the movie, he directly started to get cozy, arm around the back of my chair, leaning deep into my personal space, you know the M.O. I'm thinking, Great, I'm probably old enough to be this guy's mom. I also suspected it was largely for the cool points he stood to rack up with his buddies. Harmless, we're on our way home and nothing can piss me off at this point.

So the movie ended, and "Jeff" stood up, smiled at me, and said, "Well, Kristen, I've enjoyed our first date." OK, that's a bit much. I gave him the what, did you bump your head? look and said, "Yeah, right."

Moments later, the Air Force guy announced we were moving out to the flight line. Sleeping heaps began to stir, everyone began putting on boots and tops...curious, I look at Jeff, who was visibly putting off the DCU top/rank disclosure until I wasn't looking. So I pretended to get very interested in waking up one of my platoon's team leaders, who was prone on the concrete floor. I went out to use the filthy portajohn and walked back through the crowd, shouldered my assault pack, computer bag, and rifle, and looked at Jeff. And ole boy was a Private First Class!!!

I had to sit back down, I was laughing so hard. I shared the story with my Platoon Sergeant, who directly asked this kid, Have you lost your damn mind?? But laughing. That was undoubtedly for the benefit of his buddies. Harmless. And amusing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Molly (roommate I mentioned) and I sat around the room, reading and napping, thoroughly enjoying ourselves last Friday. There was a knock on the door--TK, the Executive Officer, with the message, "The Commander needs to see you right away."

Crap. Now what? On the way to the headquarters, TK and I sifted through any potential landmines--I came up with exactly butkus. Funny, getting summoned to the HQ always feels like the Principal's Office...what did I do? What did one of my soldiers do?

LTC D, the Brigade Operations Officer, passed me in the hallway, and I issued the customary greeting, "Afternoon, Sir." He stopped. "Don't be smiling yet, LT." And the look on his face told me something was dreadfully wrong. "Actually, why don't you come into my office here, get some mentoring." Shit!

"Let me talk to you about drinking and safety..." Which one of my soldiers was caught drinking...damn it, we were so close to going home without any trouble...

He then went into a lengthy discussion about a safety brief I needed to give. And that's when I started getting confused. We discussed the possibility of soldiers getting passes for the 3-day weekend starting next Friday. I'm still confused. Then his expression changed. "You have no fucking idea what I'm talking about, do you?" He grinned.

"You have 45 minutes to get your platoon packed and on the bus--you're going home tonight." WHOOOO-HOOO!!!

Seats had opened on a flight with an Infantry battalion, the flight we were scheduled for (which was the very last one) was overbooked...who cares why, we're getting the hell out of there!! I literally threw everything I had into my bags and barely made it on time, and the next three days were a blur...briefings, customs inspections, at one point we sat in a room for over twelve hours and that's where the next little story begins. But that will have to wait because this damn website ate the long post I just spent half an hour typing. Short version--I'm home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


That last post? Yeah, I was in the public Army internet cafe', and made the mistake of hitting the "View Blog" button after I'd posted. Normally, I go into the Internet Options and clear the history and cookie files, so my beloved blog doesn't become pure gossip fodder...it would be pretty obvious who I am. But these jive turkeys at MWR, they have blocked access to the Tools. So I couldn't clear the history.

There it was, right at the top of the Address pulldown menu, and nineteen websites after it. CRAP! I had six minutes left on my time. So I opened four windows and furiously typed in every single website I could think of...we're talking every store, every magazine or newspaper. I was digging deep.

And *whew*, I succeeded. I managed to enter enough websites to drop mine off the pulldown. So I'm back at the MWR internet cafe, and will NOT read the Blog.

My Reserve/National Guard soldiers will get to demobilize with us, while we're going through reintegration training and taking half-days. I'm already planning a big send-off barbeque at the crib for them. Wish I could get the damn floors done before then, but that's pretty ambitious. They're terrible, though, covered in paint splatter and whatever godawful treatment someone applied. I think I'll try to scrape off the paint spatters, so it will lose that "you need to sweep" look.

We leave in five LONG days. I just finished "Naked" by David Sedaris--it is one great read. This guy is like T. Coraghessan Boyle without the hostility--funny, smart, outrageous. Run right out and buy it.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


When I'm angry or upset about an event that likely looks trivial to an outsider, I don't sleep well. Given that I'm angry AND upset about my OER, I'm a walking zombie. And it has led me to spend some time trolling the internet for jobs once again--I just don't want to ever repeat this year again, and I'll switch careers to avoid it.

I found one prospect for which I am perfectly qualified and I would take without hesitation--Intelligence Officer in the Air Force Active Reserves. It's the same job I have now, only I would work as a civilian most of the time, and put on the uniform for drill/mobilization. I'd keep my commission, still promote to Captain, and concentrate on the intelligence rather than all this peripheral mess. I would certainly get deployed, but the Air Force only deploys for four months at a time. Talk about ideal. I'm plumping up my resume and will call the contact number the first week we're back Stateside.

One other development that makes me grin from ear to ear, several times a day--I have lost a total of 12 pounds. I haven't been this thin since Basic Training. And I already have a strategy for keeping it off when we get home--all the great projects I have planned for my house. It'll keep me from sitting in front of the TV--I have wood floors to install, ceiling fans and a chandelier to pick out and have installed, plants, a trellis by the back deck to block out the white-trash neighbor's yard...projects to last months. The honeymoon phase of being home will last for quite some time, I'm sure.

And I've made arrangements to go sailing on the Fourth of July, sit out in the Bay and watch the fireworks with champagne in hand. Lord knows I've earned it. And this Independence Day has special meaning--I have never felt so blessed to be an American. I plan to kiss the ground when I'm able to drop my baggage (both literal and figurative).