Category Archives: military

Step Away

So. I did it.

2 Days ago I finally pressed the “delete account” button for Facebook.

Day 3 of Life Without Facebook and I have to say, I still have the habit of sitting down in front of my laptop in the morning and think of clicking the link to check my FB, but it’s waning very quickly. This morning I didn’t even open up my “daily” folder.

I opened email, checked Ello, and then had a chat with some friends on slack (new school IRC, basically – same good old friends and channel though) and continued with my day.

Sunday means dog park play date, and I also made breakfast for my husband who is on 24/7 duty for a week. Fun stuff.

We headed off, breakfast warm and cup of fresh coffee in hand for him too. Dogs said hi, we hung around for a little bit and then met our buddies at the dog park for an hour and a half of running around in the mud and rain. It was great. Dogs were great.

So I am _slowly_ getting used to Life Without Facebook, and I am starting to slip into a _new_ life routine. It’s pretty cool actually. I have moments though, I will admit, where I think about it… but it passes and I move on.

I was on Facebook for 10 years… seems both shorter and longer. I was a beta tester, so I got to iron out the bugs and see it change. Not all changes were for the better. The recent influx of complete idiots (this new generation is just unbelievably stupid… seriously) has also soured it for me. And the privacy issues and copyright issues and the whole limiting access to your network unless you pay them… just nicked my “mafioso” nerve and I’ve just had enough I think.

I had a lot of excuses/reasons for staying on, but I was brutally honest with myself and realised that the people on Facebook would do fine without me – my rescue organisations would be taken care of by my good friend Nicole (Even more so, as she’s a volunteer at many of them too) and my Berner groups are so large now they would barely notice the absence. Besides, my husband is still on it and he’s still in the groups, so he will let me know if I miss anything.

I haven’t posted photos in a long time, and I removed all my information a long time ago.  So it was no big jump. Just a few moments of heart fuzz and then it was all over.

I still have about 11 days left to “change my mind” until they actually delete all the information etc… but quite honestly – I don’t miss it.

I’m getting back in touch with the “old school” – even writing letters by hand (just to my mom for now, but I’m happy to write to anyone who wants me to) and living my life for ME.

Hoping my inspiration will blossom again – for my photography, my sewing, my running, my yoga.

It does feel like a weight off my shoulders. I don’t know why, as I was not really very involved anymore (only checked it once a day for 5 minutes) but it does feel like I’ve let go of something that I didn’t need. Which is a nice feeling. If a little scary for me (if you ever have time to listen, I can try and explain my “unable to sever” dreams/daydreams/thoughts) generally.

Life goes on, and so do we.

 

Stay frosty.

 

 

Interesting people

You never know when you will bump into someone cool and interesting.

Dogs and I were on our usual long morning walk on post and a chance decision (from Azzie) to go down a set of stairs instead of along the road led us to meet an intriguing chap – clearly “that other unit” – he was absolutely delighted to meet the dogs and took Azzie’s crazy head butts and crotch slams in his stride. He said they had a MWD and he was the same – lots of rough love. We chatted about tick control and how he thought it must be very hard for us because my dogs had such thick black coats, we chatted about his dogs back home (two boxers) and how they would go nuts when he eventually (and he said that with a slight sigh) got to go back home for a bit. He patted and hugged (much to Azzie’s delight) the dogs (even Gina allowed him to give her a little squeeze, then she came and sat behind my legs as if to say “that’s all you get, you’re not my daddy”) and he said they were awesome and I thanked him. We continued on our way and he went back to his office.

He had an interesting accent that I struggled to place – American mostly, but almost French sounding, so perhaps from New Orleans, or a former European citizen? I counted at least 3 healed bullet holes on his body – and that was all I could see outside his tshirt and shorts. Such a gentle soul, to be in such a violent career.

I wish him well.

Let it go

I had a moment of deep disappointment yesterday: it’s been over 4 months since I did the photo shoot for the military working dogs and their handlers and I’ve not heard a word from them. I mailed the “liaison” a number of times (on both email addresses he gave me) and sent him the link to the photos, and asked for suggestions for their calendar and photo book. In that time I also created a DVD with all their images on them, and told them I was happy to get anything printed that they wanted to put up in the office. I also spoke to the base PR person, and he said he would get back to me when he got back from leave. Nothing. I sent him more mails, he said yes he would get RIGHT back to me, he said he loved the photos! STILL nothing.

Weeks went by – no response. I mailed again – simply asking for favourites from the handlers now, and went ahead and used my best judgement on the calendar selections and created it. I sent them the link to it. Still nothing.

I also saw one of the handlers when he was out with his dog (who was one of the dogs I took photos of!) and asked why I’d not heard anything – he said that the liaison was PCS’ing (leaving the post, leaving the country, changing stations) and hadn’t shown them anything :( I said I’d given someone at the kennels the DVD and he said nope, he’d not seen it. So all the work was for naught. He promised to speak to the liaison, but I still haven’t heard anything.

I got mad. I got sad. I felt miserable. I felt used. I felt invisible.

 

And then… I just let it go.

Let. It. Go.

The only person/thing I can control in this universe is ME. So that’s what I decided. Their loss, their issue, their problem, their choice. My choice is to carry on and look ahead to the NEXT opportunity.

Simple.

Let it go.

 

another hodgepodge

I’ve been doing all these “things” to try to (almost) force myself to blog more… I added myself to a website “circle” all about sewing, I added an author link on G+ and I linked my blog to some other web groups as well…

I’m also still trying to keep the “blogging tribe” experiment going… I did warn them that I am a sporadic blogger, but I really want to be a more consistent one. Not necessarily daily/scheduled but at least more than once a month!

Thing is, I don’t really have that much to blog about – my daily life is routine: get up, take dogs down, come back, make breakfast for dogs, me, husband, get dressed to go, walk dogs, come back, clean house, feed dogs, do laundry, walk dogs again, do more household Domestic Goddess stuff, feed dogs again, chill for a bit, walk dogs, make dinner, chill, take dogs down before bed, then off to bed… and the next day I do it all again.

Right now, husband is away for a few weeks, so I have even less to do, but I am trying to keep up the schedule, for the dogs and to stop myself from vegging out.

So I have set myself a few goals for these 3 weeks of “alone time” and I will do my best to both blog about it and also complete said goals. Or just blog about not completing them. Failure is always an option. I’m a starter, not a finisher.

This hodgepodge post is to “catch you up” to where I am right now: sitting at my awesome (and quite neat at this time) desk, with dogs lolling around in their spots, licking ice cream from their sweet white furry lips. All the fans are going, as it’s heating up already. Going to be pretty warm today (29C) despite the fact that it’s already August and it should be cooling down rapidly. *shrug* Germany has not exactly been “normal” as far as the weather goes, this year. We had snow and negative temperatures, in May, so I’m not really counting on this “summer” to end too soon. The whole week is going to be a scorcher. So husband left one of our air conditioners (the big one) up in the apartment for me, and of course there’s the kiddie pool downstairs and the bath upstairs, to keep the pooches cool. I really need to invest in those cooling mats. I think the dogs would like them. Or a cooling vest. They did well this morning on our walk, though – we stuck to the shade, took lots of little breathers under trees, and I gave them lots of water. Azzie is on the bed – it’s her new favourite place. I worry when it gets quiet though – she really is like a toddler… you’d rather there was noise… or you know they are up to something!  I’m going to go check on her in a second, when I am done with this post.

The Dog Food Adventure is going well. I’m going to bake some eggshells today, and grind them up – a major source of calcium and other nutrients – I’ve gathered quite a large amount. The girls LOVE their “meats” in their meals now. Gina loves the ground beef (93% lean) and Azzie loves her chicken. Azzie eats anything I put in her bowl, but I have to be sneaky with Gina. She has, however, been eating her veggies (carrots and green beans and a small amount of potato) in the stews I’ve made for them. I’ve also ordered something called “Longevity” by Springtime Inc. It’s a powder that you put on their food, once a day, which apparently is so good for them that there are now 19 year old herding dogs running around like 4 year old pooches, amongst other success stories. The Bernese Mountain Dog group that I am on swears by it – especially for big dogs like ours, so I am looking forward to that arriving. It helps to heal previous damage as well – so I am hoping it will help Gina’s back left leg to heal properly. I want to start running with both of them.

Bahrbach Pfad - 3

As for my running – I ran a proper race! Only 5km, but it was my first actual race (for myself, not for my school) in over 20 years. I was pretty proud of myself. I ran 95% of the way – only walked (briskly!) up the very long, steep hills, and only for a minute each time. I finished in a time of 33 or 34 minutes (not too sure, as I was so excited about actually doing it that I forgot to start my stopwatch until I was at the end of the first street!) which was a pace of around 6:25 or 6:35… either way, I was pleased as punch for actually DOING IT!  My husband was proud of me too – but he laughed at my time :) That’s ok. My goal was to just FINISH it and finish strong. I sprinted to beat another runner, at the end. Unfortunately my husband didn’t see my epic finish, as he was standing off to the side with the dogs, because they were worried about me “running off” without them. Silly girls. Next time, I will take them with me! So we all need to get fit again. Apparently you can win a prize too, if you are the first to cross the line with your dog!

Rule #1 Cardio - 1 (1)

My sewing has had a pause again – I did complete 95% of a black micro suede wiggle skirt, but I made a miscalculation on the amount of fabric I needed, so it was shorter than planned, and I have to still do the kick split at the back. I will post photos when that’s done. One of my goals in this “alone time” session is to make something new. So I’m looking at my patterns, and my fabric and trying to decide what. I might make a nice comfortable top, or maybe some yoga pants.

I haven’t done yoga in weeks and weeks. Makes me sad. It’s almost impossible to get down on the floor to do anything, without the dogs getting all excited and literally climbing all over me. Gina crawls under my Downward Dog, and Azzie thinks my Bridge pose is so she can sit on my chest. So it’s been complicated. I really do want to get back into it – and that’s another goal for these 3 weeks.

They are doing construction outside our buildings right now and since yesterday we’ve had to move our cars to parking places across the road and quite far down. Annoying, but hopefully it won’t be for long. Thankfully the buildings where I am parked are not full, so there are free spaces still. I left a note on my car windshield so that anyone whose bay I am in can come find me if they need me to move one of the cars. I’m polite like that. Can’t say the same for the rest of the people around here. There is a serious lack of respect for others, sometimes. And, as you know, don’t even get me started on the dogs stuck inside all day. *deep breath* *counts to ten*

So that’s a catch up, for now.

Box Jungles and Other Moving Parts

A week or so ago my husband was made an offer by the army that he could, in theory, refuse… but he chose to think on it.

That evening, we discussed at length the pros and cons of moving – on the army’s dime – and what we could get out of it, in the end.

We said, let’s look at our options for apartments and locations and then we can decide.

We didn’t _have_ to move, but the reason we were asked if we wanted to was because of the units and individuals who would be moving in to the buildings we lived in at the time. It would get loud – lots of single officers and of course the “other people” as well. I won’t go into who they are – it’s not really necessary.

So we were given quite a few choices – one of them on Wetzel housing. When we first moved to Baumholder, we were given one choice in Wetzel as well, but it was a TINY place with no storage and the “balcony” was just a square enclosed on the roof. We said no thanks, and chose our 3rd floor apartment (7 flights of stairs – if one flight is one side… not sure how people count “flights”) with its ENORMOUS rooms and loads of built in storage. So this time around we were a little skeptical of Wetzel, but when we saw the place we were pleasantly surprised! It was airy, filled with light, had a proper balcony and as an added bonus was only on the second floor! That was only 3 flights of stairs for Gina to tackle.

We still went to look at at least 4 other apartments, all on Smith and located all around the post. While we liked the space they all offered, each one just had too many cons to move too high up on our list of options. They were also very “busy” buildings – almost all filled to the brim with people and lots of children. They were also almost ALL on the 3rd floor! So why give up our lovely big apartment for one that was the same and was loud and busy and one smelled of urine and mold and the other was not renovated so it was still the “old” style and not very attractive. The kitchens were smaller too. And outside the front, because it was such a heavily trafficked road, loads of doggy poop on the front yards. NOT nice. I pick up after my dogs, especially if they go on someone else’s grass – if I can do that for two huge beasts, then they can do it for theirs!

We decided on the Wetzel one – this was on the Thursday. They came to fetch our stuff on the Tuesday after that. The movers were awful. Nice guys (according to my husband) but terrible packers! They broke so much of our stuff – including some antique cups and glasses and porcelain :(

 

These are the “before” shots…

DSCN0503 DSCN0501 That's Gina's new spot No idea why, but this cupboard makes me happy. Lounge area, with balcony door This is all exhausting for Azzie 2 DSCN0518 study main bedroom - a little smaller.. DSCN0524 DSCN0528

 

These are the “during” shots…

 

the boxes arrive... still can't find the cutlery DSCN0531 DSCN0532 DSCN0533 DSCN0534 DSCN0535 DSCN0536 DSCN0538 DSCN0540 DSCN0543 DSCN0541

DSCN0544

And these are “almost done” and “it looks like we live here now” shots… We just have a few more things to sort out (TV, Playstation, Xbox, computer, etc)

 

DSCN0548 Basil has a unique marking I am a lapdog with laser eyes The kitchen is now a kitchen :) DSCN0561 DSCN0560 The magnets are on - now it is home

Procrastination, my old friend.

It’s amazing how many things you can find to do, to avoid doing something that needs to be done.

I even do laundry, clean the kitchen, and plan out dinner or bake something.

What am I avoiding?

Crepe de Chine.

It’s a magnificent fabric – soft to the touch, smooth and silky. And that’s the problem. It’s slippery and slinky and it HATES needles.

Luckily I ordered extra, just in case – as I have had to re-cut the sleeves. Their shape was completely off when I had finished.

I’ve never had to sew a silk fabric before. This is all a learning curve of massive proportions. I’ve done loads of research on tips and tricks when dealing with silk and other slippery fabrics – another way to put off actually DOING the sewing of it!

I now feel more ready… but of course, we are MOVING tomorrow. Of course. The wonderful military life.

Will take me another couple of days to set myself up again. At least I have a couple of weeks to do this. I want to do it RIGHT, first time around.

 

I’m such a damn perfectionist that I am driving myself nuts here.

 

Strangers in a Strange Land.

I am an Army wife. I live on an Army post with my Army husband.

He is American. I am not. We live in Europe. We are both foreigners here, except when we are on our little “piece of the USA” which is the little post up in the mountains where we live. Then I am the foreigner. It’s a strange concept to me sometimes, but not a terrible thing. I like being different, and I don’t really need social interaction much, as I live with my best friend anyway! :)

If we were living in the USA, I think this would be more of an issue than it is here. Here, there are many “foreign” wives – wives who are not American, I mean. I have met many German spouses living here – so they are only foreigners when they are on post, like me – and I have met many Russian, Spanish, French, Italian and other European spouses. We (the “foreign” wives) seem to be drawn to each other in many ways. The language issue – not so much in my case, as I do speak English as a first language – seems to be the biggest barrier for making friends with the American wives. Another major thing is the cultural issue. Americans are very different to the rest of the world – it’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a fact of life – and this stands out very clearly in a place like this. They stick with each other and tend to gravitate toward each other in the same way us “Ausländers” do. Perfectly natural, anthropologically. Trying to explain these cultural differences is very difficult when you can’t see it in person. It’s little things and big things.

The unfortunate attitude toward family pets is the one that gets to me. It’s not everyone, for sure, but it’s an upsetting amount of the military/American population living here. They don’t seem to understand that dogs need space. Dogs need to interact with other dogs. Dogs need to WALK. Dogs need mental AND physical exercise. Big dogs need physical exercise, small dogs need mental challenges and lots of exercise. A large majority of the people living on this post (and I’m told, generally everywhere) don’t seem to get this idea. They seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to keep a big dog (there are many Golden Retrievers, Labradors, GSD’s that I have seen/heard) in an apartment and only take them out twice a day to pee and poop. And that’s it.

And then they wonder why their Chihuahua is nasty and nippy and attacking visitors, or their Labrador chews on their furniture and shreds their socks, or their poodle is pooping on their bed, even after going outside. It boggles my mind that, despite so much evidence for exercise and social interaction as a correction for this, they just don’t see this correlation. It actually pisses me off. I offered my services, when I first arrived, to walk dogs for people who were just not getting the time (babies, half day jobs, etc) to do it themselves – but I had no responses. It was quite surprising to me! I wasn’t even charging much!

As I said – it’s not all of them! I know quite a few who walk their dogs regularly and take them to the dog park to play almost every day or on the weekends. But they are, sadly, not as many as you’d hope. But, in comparison, I know FAR more “foreign” pet owners (especially the Germans – they love their dogs) who are truly dedicated to the well-being of their pets. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met ONE foreign spouse here with a dog, who I have not seen out walking with them daily.

Of course the rest could just be inside and I’ve never seen them because they never get out! *shrug* I am open to convincing arguments…

The number of pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, you name it!) that are abandoned on army posts when the family leaves, is disgusting. It’s not surprising that the local rescue centres and adoption agencies generally won’t ALLOW Americans to adopt animals from them. They refuse. If you are in any way affiliated with the US military, they won’t let you even look. They’ve had enough of cleaning up after them. This is sad for the wonderful people who DO care for their animals and DO want to make a difference.

The reason I am ranting away is because recently we have been trying to catch a stray dog running around on post. Initially I thought it was a friend’s dog, but thankfully, he is safe and sound still. So this big, stray dog (and he’s most likely a mountain dog, like mine) has been “loose” for about 2 weeks or more now. Sightings have him looking thin, bedraggled, matted and dirty… and very scared. 2 Weeks and there have been no posters put up (and you CAN get permission for a lost dog poster) nor any postings on the local animal support websites or Facebook pages (and there are quite a few) and the MPs have only now gotten involved because someone actually piped up and said she’d seen him digging in the garbage and was worried for the poor boy and she posted this on our local animal support site. So now that more eyes are involved, the search and rescue operation is now in full effect. But, TWO WEEKS? How can any caring soul have just done NOTHING when their dog went missing? They could have told neighbours to be on the look out, or told the MPs, or asked for an email to be sent to their unit to keep an eye out.

If it was intentionally left out, so they didn’t have to deal with the cost of flying him/her home to the US, what does that say about them? How does a HUMAN BEING make a conscious decision to just abandon a trusting, loyal dog? Or their cats (so many are just left in the buildings, or in the stairwells, or just kicked out into the cold completely) and even rabbits? German animal shelters are no-kill shelters. Surely they could have tried taking the dog to one? The Germans won’t refuse any animals if they have space. If they are full, they suggest somewhere else. They _love_ their animals and they are RESPONSIBLE for them through their whole lives. There’s a sad lacking of that in the military community. Everything seems to be disposable. And that’s very sad, to me.

Once again, it’s not all of them – but it’s a scarily large number and it breaks my heart. It gives the good military people (and that’s 90%, seriously) such a bad reputation and it makes things difficult for them to do any good.

Ok. Rant over.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

My thanks to all my friends (foreign and “domestic”) who love and care for their animals – AND other people’s animals – and are trying to do the right thing, always.

I hope we can catch this poor bedraggled pooch before it’s too late.

Guest Post – Ways Veterans Can Stay Healthy

I was not aware of it, but apparently I actually do have an “audience” out there on the internet. I became aware of this a few days ago when a lovely lady called Emily mailed me and asked if she could do a guest spot on my blog as she had some tips for staying healthy, for military veterans – PTSD and TBI help included.

Of course, I am more than willing to share – and if she gets a good response (from my enormous audience *cough*) I am sure there would be more guest posts in the future from her.

This is her little “blurb” that she sent me when I (finally – yes, it took me a while) responded to her email:

My name is Emily Walsh and I am the Community Outreach Blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. I happened to come across your blog and wanted to let you know that I really enjoy reading it. I currently write for the MCA on many different topics that relate to veteran and military health, including some of the lesser-known health risks, and would love to write a post for your blog.

While the health risks of being in the military can be frightening, there are effective ways to deal with all of the problems that may arise from time in the service. I truly believe this information is of great value to those active or retired, and especially their loved ones. I am confident my article would be a good addition and important message for your audience.

This is her small article:

Ways Veterans Can Stay Healthy

Veterans served their countries for many years and deserve to be honored for their
efforts. Unfortunately, some of them can encounter a number of health problems
after they get done with their service including mesothelioma, traumatic brain
injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and gunshot wounds. It is very important for
veterans to do everything they can to stay healthy. If you are a veteran, here are
some of the ways you can maintain good health.

Eat Healthy
As a veteran, it is important to eat a healthy diet to keep your immune system
healthy. Make sure to fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole
grains. Try to limit your intake of greasy and processed foods because they offer
very little nutritional value. If you decide to eat something fattening or unhealthy, try
to at least limit your portion size.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly
It is extremely important to visit your doctor regularly. A doctor will give you a full
examination and find out if you have any underlying health issues. If your doctor is
able to detect a health problem early, it will be much easier for him to treat it. Try to
visit your doctor at least every six months and be sure to tell him if you are
experiencing any health problems.

Exercise on a Regular Basis
Exercising regularly will not just keep your weight down; it will also boost your
immune system and make you stronger. Try to exercise at least four to five days a
week for 30 minutes. Do activities you enjoy like running, biking, swimming or
dancing. Consider working out with a friend or family member so that you avoid
getting bored. If you do not like working out outside, consider getting a gym
membership. Health clubs have great exercise equipment that can help keep you in
shape.

Although you can’t ever be sure if you will have health problems, following these tips
can help you stay healthier. If you exercise, eat healthy and visit your doctor
regularly, you will be much more likely to stay healthy and avoid getting diseases
that affect veterans.