Patricia's Blog

ATC

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The scale finally moved!!  After three weeks of going to the gym everyday but two…..I finally saw a definite change.  It is an eye opener to the fact that I HAVE to do this now because I am sure as I get older, that scale will be harder and harder to move in the correct direction.  Even though I had not seen a great deal of change on a scale, it is amazing how I could see such an increase in my fitness.  Also, how many little annoyances are starting to disappear as my body embraces my new regimen.  

It is hard to believe too that I am about to see that clock to the right roll to 39 days in 3 hours.  The time is actually flying on this rotation!  

Oh I took a tour of the Host Nation air traffic control (ATC) tower and it was sure interesting.  As we exited the elevator you could smell the wafts of smoke fill all the passageways as we headed toward the tower cab.  As we climbed the final staircase, it was so hard to keep your footing as the stairs were made of marble.  Dang….OSHA would have a field day with that…..It really looked grand but was highly impractical.  The tower Chief told us all about their systems.  They use the strips just like they do in the states but there are defnitely some funny things.  We found out why it takes so long sometimes to get our flightplans in the system.  It is because the agency they call to check on the flightplan does not issue it.  They are a middle man.  That agency then calls the people that actually file the flightplan and then they call the tower back.  It is amazing how our American brains immediately beg the question of just eliminating the middle man.  Ohhh nooo…that is how it is done.  Probably a jobs program of sorts but that type of redundancy is so common in most of the world and the local populous does not ask why…it is just an accepted way of doing business.  The young tower companion to the Chief spent the entire tour looking at his iPhone…..ahhh…now that seems to be a world wide commonality…..why talk to people that are here, when I can text people who are not here!  Before I left, I tried to take in all the random stuff that makes its way into spaces like this.  There was a green Christmas ornament hanging from a nail in the wall, a brass teapot with dust an inch thick, pieces of a computer and a microwave that really needed a scrub.  You wonder how all those things came to be in those places…who brought them there and how long they would remain before someone tired of them and changed their disposition.

I am glad I did the tour.  Next weekend Mia and I signed up for the tour of the Grand Mosque downtown; now that should really be an adventure.  Until next time.

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm…...

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The desert has always been an odd mix of everything.  You truly never know what to expect.  One of the things that caught me by surprise was on my trip to the pool the other day.  Amidst the lounge chairs, sitting proud and still, was a bench with Ronald McDonald sitting on it…..really?  A complete non-sequitor.  I could not believe with all the rotations that have come in and out of this base that he has not disappeared on the final flight off station of a C-17 or C-130.  But then I saw that someone (who must know the airlifters penchant to steal items to decorate their squadrons at home) wisely has chained him to the concrete pad on which he sat.  I did not have a camera to get my own moment with Ronald but I googled a photo of him to show you here.  Now why is Ronald McDonald visiting us here in the desert?  Much of the character of these bases evolves over time.  Things that are created and left by someone who has taken a life break to come over and do their part of the mission for a span of time.  As I was googling for the photos of Ronald McDonald to show you, I came upon these picture of the McDonalds that used to be at this base; and Ronald sat right out front.  Wow….I am sad I missed that era. I could really go for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese about now.  I have a feeling though, that once it was known that the McDonalds was closing, that someone took Ronald and put him somewhere he would be safe from the demolition.  The pool has 8 foot high walls around it and it was a good hiding place….being that he is still here, even today.  By the way, the subway is still here.

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Our rooms are like that too.  When you are assigned a room, you inherit the improvements of the previous tenant.  Your TV, refrigerator, furniture and mood lights are all a product of each person who lived there and what they contributed to your little space.  I have a particularly good trash can.  Like I have said before, it is the little things.

As we approach the halfway mark of this rotation, I am assessing this one compared to the other ones I have completed.  This one, so far, is the best for several reasons.  Just like the collections of “stuff” that make up the personality of this base, the personalities of the personnel make up the essence of the rotation.  I have never been on a rotation that was so full of kindness and peace.  This compilation of squadron mates really has a grasp on the brevity of each situation we face, good and bad and a sense of cooporation to get the mission done.  A group of our folks are forward deployed.  On arrival, they faced a very difficult siituation with no place to stay and had to erect a tent in which to sleep and conduct operations.  Each day we see that they are conducting and completing the mission despite the hand they have been dealt.  There have been a few times in the past few years that my love of the miltiary machine and faith in its people has faltered but this deployment has really renewed it.  I am so proud to be serving with these folks and if you are reading this and your love one is deployed with us…be proud.  The 115th AS is serving with honor and distinction here and forward each and everyday.

A Day to Remember

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A day like this humbles me.  As I sit in my air conditioned office, talking on telephones that work, eating at a resonably decent DFAC and watching movies in the base theater, I realize that war is different now.  Different than when there were no computers and airplanes were generally unreliable.  Now, I have been in my share of situations when I truly thought that it may be my day to meet mortality, but the vets to the right had some ominus statistics to deal with daily.  The Bomber Command in WWII had a 50% survival rate.  When you know those are your odds, that truly is courage to continue with that mission day in and out and those truly are the heroes.  I have no doubt that during my six tours, I have made a difference and kept the wheels of the machine over here in motion but we would not have the freedom we have today if not for those who sacrificed, those who gave all.  Many of the streets around this base are named for fallen soldiers from the first Gulf War.  It is amazing how learning this fact has made those street signs look totally different to me now.  They are more than markers, they are all that is left here of someone who died for the freedom of these people, this country and should not be forgotten.

Today is appropriately dreary for such a somber day full of gravity.  It has gotten significantly hotter in the past week and the only way to decribe the weather here is if you stand outside, it is like have a big huge hairdryer pointed at your whole body.  It actually rained a little bit last night and Mia and I just stood there and felt the cool drops on our body.  It felt kind of magical.  But today is back to ops normal…windy and hot.  I am thankful though…the humitidy is pretty low.  You know what they say…it is hot, but it is a dry heat:-).

Thank you all for your kind messages on Facebook.  My Best Friend Julie really knew how special that would be for me and she is always so kind and thoughtful to all of us who are so blessed to be loved by her!!

Love also to my family at home, my parents, my sisters and those who have continued to love and support me my whole life.  

Hug someone you love today because I wish I could and Happy Memorial Day.

What War?

CAJRXCJT


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Just want to write a few lines before we go NORDO (No Radio).  It is my way of saying that I will be out of communication until Sunday morning.  What is crazy here is that we have an exercise tomorrow and they turn off all the WI FI on the base which is basically our lifeline to the outside world.  Why we have to practice going to war?…...I am unsure….hello??  We are here..at the war…doing the mission.  UUGGHHH……the Marines do not do this!  But I guess they don’t stay in 5 star hotels in Europe either……each service has it’s pluses and minuses and with the Air Force; inspections and exercises stop for no war.

You know what else gets me going is the fact that we went to see a couple movies already…do you know that they charge for the movie??  Like I have a choice to be here….it’s not like I can say, “Hey this theater is too expensive, I am going to the one across the street.”  We are a captive audience.  Seems quite undemocratic to me.  They also charge for soda and popcorn!!  Things I can get free at the DFAC (dining facility) 100 yards away.  Maybe they just want me to feel more at home by robbing me blind for my movie experience!

The picture above and to the right is of our sidewalks here on the base.  Remember my blog about the Land of Rocks??  The one thing I despised about all my previous deployments was the constant walking on rocks.  I think just plain dirt would be 10X better but every base I have been at, they insist on covering the ground with thousands of  little annoying rocks.  At least here they have paved sidewalks.  I will walk the long way every time to avoid walking on rocks!!

The picture above and to the left is our squadron patch.  The  737 EAS was established in mid-1943 as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment group.  Engaged in very long range strategic bombardment of enemy military, industrial and transportation targets. Operations included attacks against such objectives as marshalling yards, aircraft factories, railroad bridges, and airdromes in ItalyAustria, and Rumania. They helped to prepare the way for and supported the invasion of Southern France during Jul and August 1944.  How cool that our unit has that kind of history!!

Well, don’t worry everyone!!  We are here, we are fine, we are playing the war we are not fighting and flying the war that we are…..follow that?  If you do, maybe you can give the Air Force a call and let them know :-).

Freedom

Ahh…My first day in the air.  I actually cannot think of the last time I flew.  What a treat for me to go on this mission!!  It had everything a combat mission should:  an early morning wake up, an intel brief that scares the bejesus out of you, a beautiful day in the air and some sort of cargo load that has a problem that makes your brain hurt.  And then surviving it all.  I was really enjoying my job on the ground but I tell you, the human spirit adapts to what it knows.  I know my job here is to work in an office for the next 50 days but ahhh…when the airplane lifted off the ground, the rush of freedom went right through me.  It is life assuring, everytime I get in an airplane, to know I am fortunate enough to get to do something I LOVE for my livelihood. It didn’t matter what faced me today, I was in the air and flying!!!

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Went to a few different countries….even got to see the Dead Sea.  I feel like such a tourist on these flights but it is a stark realization that these are wonders my eyes may never see again.  

It also is a stark reality of the modern world when you see missile batteries on a border pointed directly at another country.  It makes me stop and appreciate our hard fought freedom and how we take for granted that our way of life is not threatened to extinction daily like it is to some here.  Yes, terrorists can disrupt us and create havoc in our ecomony and our individual lives, but I do not think that we live with the realization that WWIII is on our border just waiting for someone to blink.

Speaking of reality, yesterday I got to tour the MQ-1 squadron here on base.  WOW!  Those are unmannned vehicles that patrol our skies here.  They showed us video that would make you think twice about being a “bad guy” in this neck of the woods.  From miles away these vehicles and see things as clear as can be and the pilots manning them are equally impressive.  It was facinating to get a glimpse into a world that you never know and never see but goes on everyday with or without your knowledge or thought.

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From the human interest side of things, one of my favorite stops on the tour was the coy pond.  I guess one lonely fish has survived the harsh enviroment and lives in this little oasis next to the MQ-1 squadron.  It is amazing how living things here mean so much.

Yesterday, we were stopped at the base entrance to have a dog inspect us for explosives.  You would think we would have felt inconvenienced but I was happy to have him check out my vehicle since I drive it everyday.  Then once the German Sheppard had done his job, I asked the handler if I could love him.  His name was Kane.  It was the first time I had loved anything since I left over 22 days ago.  It is amazing how you get used to the lack of physical touch and affection but it filled my heart to love on and be loved by that puppy.  Like I said last blog.  It is the small things that matter here.

Mandatory fun

You know…they try here.  I give them a lot of credit for even giving it a go.  This weekend was a big festival here.  Fun and games, a pig roast, a band that was quite good…it all came to us.  But there are two things wrong with this scenario…..One, we are all still separated from our loved ones and two, we are still executing the real world mission.  Fun is not something that can be planned or progged out.  It occurs when the right people blend with the right scenario and the blend of those two creates fun.  If you ever think back to some of the most fun nights of your life, they were probably somewhat spontaneous and not completely planned.

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A couple days ago in the chow hall…Mia and I were just getting breakfast as usual and we looked in the cereal bin…..down at the very bottom underneath all the special K and Smart Start was the gold…the elusive cereal that you can never get…..Cheerios.  You never know what is going to be valuable here but right now, Cheerios are it…when they appear, in a day, they are gone….and don’t even get me started with the honey nut variety.  I have never even glimpsed those.  But I do hear they exist.  We gather up all the cheerios we can dig out of the cereal bin and head down to the tables.  Since we have been based here, every single ice machine has been broken.  Now my family knows my affinity for ice, so this has been a hard adjustment for me….we look up and the ice machine is fixed!!  Mia exclaims, “It is just like Christmas this morning!!”  She was right.  It is those little things that really make a difference out here.  Big festivals don’t do nearly as much for you as finding a box of Honey Nut Cheerios would.  As I walked home last night, I saw the sunset pictured above.  As mentioned previously, the desert has it’s own beauty.  That is my fun right now.  The thing that lets me know that God is out there, watching over me and my family at home.  This morning was housekeeping.  I swept and mopped and did my laundry.  I think when you have your little world in order, it makes the big one seem a little less disorganized even though I can’t control any part of the big one right now.

Congratulations Megan (my niece)!!  I am sorry I missed your law school graduation but you worked so hard and deserve everything good thing coming your way.

1 Cup of Tea...

Well, it has been pretty quiet around here so I am going to start having to make stuff up to keep this blog interesting but I know some of you are dying to know how the Host Nation breakfast went.

A lot of the buildings on this base remind me of the closed George AFB near Victorville, CA.  The difference is that when you walk into the buildings here, they are beautiful; ornate chandeliers, fancy couches with embroidered pillows and window treatments that would please Miss O’Hara are a staple.  I am not sure if they just don’t want to invest in the exterior because of the extreme climate, if they just don’t care or just don’t notice, either way…this base looks deserted from the outside but is vibrant and alive from within. 

So yesterday morning, we walked into the hall and went through a receiving line at the end of which you stood and became part of the receiving line.  A man walked aournd serving dates (which were quite good) and another man served tea.  It seemed odd that he only had a few cups for the tea and there were easily 50 people in the room.  It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on.  He stood there and waited until the person finished the tea, took the cup, wiped it out with his thumb and then on to the next guest for tea.  Hmmmm…..in this scenario you want to be the first person served tea I think…needless to say, I passed. Then we all headed in the next room for breakfast.  There was yogurt and honey, various meats, an egg and spinach fritatta and french fries.  Always french fries….apparently in this part of the world, they cannot get enough of the western staple that they even serve it for breakfast.  I go to dig into my yogurt and honey (the one thing that looked really good to me) and I realize that I do not have a spoon…only a fork and a knife.  Hmmm….I look around, no spoons.  I had no idea that it would be so frustrating to eat yogurt with a fork but it was…..now that would be an effective diet tactic for sure.

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After I had eaten as much yogurt as I could, patiently capturing it on the tines of my fork, this man came by with these little cups of tea that you see pictured to the right.  With this tea there seemed to be enough for everyone to have their own.  It must have held only a quarter cup of this bitter tea that tasted like some sort of root.  So I added the lumps of sugar that were placed on the little saucer and guess what else they gave me???  A SPOON!!   Can I have my yogurt back please???  Well, this teacup was interesting as the handle was at the bottom, requiring a bit of a balancing act to drink without spilling but I sipped my tea and looked around the ornate breakfast room and realized that I was smack dab in the middle of a golden moment.  Ahhhhh…..what a treat that was!!!

Soup and Nuts?

Well,  it has been a pretty uneventful rotation so far and I have been to the gym at least once a day since I have been here; sometimes I have gone in for a double.  I have no idea how this is possible but I have gained weight…..very frustrating….all I can figure is that I am not drinking enough water so my body is holding onto it like gold.  So once I lose a few lbs, you will see the scale reappear.  

So the other day we are at the “Silver Bullet” dining facility and I decide to do soup and salad.  As I head over to the soup…this is what I see…..

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So carefully laid out next to the chicken noodle soup are the saltine crackers and the mixed nuts??  It is quite humorous….everytime they put out the soup, they put out the nuts.  Now, I have never had nuts in my soup but apparently someone has told them that we like it.

I am very excited for tomorrow morning.  I am going to a breakfast hosted by the Host Nation.  This culture is not known for being the most female friendly so I am curious what the climate is going to be. We are breaking bread with the Wing Commander of this base.  Our wing is just a guest here.   I plan to keep my head down, eyes open and mouth shut.  That should keep me out of trouble :-)

Until tomorrow.

There are “those” days….

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Ok……there are those days and yesterday was one of them.  You know what the best part about that is????  That there is the day after and there will be a day after that.  ALWAYS…without fail.  Andrew always tells me that the good times pass as fast as the bad….time is ambivalent to your desires, pleasure and/or pain.  I guess that can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Today at lunch, we were mulling over some of the opportunities that lie ahead in the next 57 days.  I am going to have breakfast with the Host Nation troops and their commander, I am planning a Mosque tour sponsored by the chapel…these things are once in a lifetime opportunities.  

Quite honestly, I cannot see myself ever being in this part of the world again.  It is not a top tourist destination for a reason.  But there is beauty to enjoy while you are here.  I am only getting a few hours of sleep a night but I don’t think I need more.  I am not tired.  There is no stress here…no pressure…..it is a “life break” that very few of us are afforded and one where you get to do your small part to change the world for the better.

As I was walking back from the gym it was interesting.  I noticed for the first time that all the streets have lamp posts.  The streets are all cordoned off  from vehicles..which is great from a pedestrian perspective but eerie from a hustle and bustle perspective.  Right now it is so quiet….I just took the picture on the left and there is not a soul to be seen.  You can hear the cheers of a roller hockey game in the distance and the muffled sounds of a conversation around the corner but mostly it is quiet and calm like everyone just up and left and forgot to turn out the lights.

These are the moments that I need to savor, the experiences I need to soak in because  truly, I will never be this way again.

A Silent Mothers Day

She left one sunny day
Never even said good-bye
She went to sail beyond the deep blue sea
Somewhere over there tonight
She’s fighting for our rights
Won’t you tell me when my Mommy’s coming home?

It’s lonesome here tonight
No one to hold me tight
No one to tuck me in my little bed
Since Mommy’s gone away
How lonesome are the days
Won’t you tell me when my Mommy’s coming home?

Dear Jesus, this I pray
Keep her safe by night and day
Please tell her that I love and miss her so
I long to see her face
Play our games and run a race
Won’t you tell me when my mommy’s coming home?

Oh, Mister soldier man
By the uniform you wear
And by those decorations on your chest
You’ve been somewhere over there
The battles you did share
Won’t you tell me when my Mommy’s coming home?

Over there tonight
A row of crosses white
That marks the spot where soldiers fell
No more some homeward bound
From the dread battleground
Won’t you tell me where my Mommy lies tonight?

--George A. Carrico & Meldora K. Rapp

Time for bed.  Happy Mother’s Day Mom.  I love you so!  Carlyn and Aislin, I love you with all my heart and I will be lying in my bed, going to sleep, thinking of your angelic faces.  Mother’s Day is over…it is best that it is.

GOD BLESS GREEN BEANS

Well,  I slept another 5 hours after that last blog and felt like a superstar when I woke up this morning.  It is amazing how much the body needs that sleep.  Work started early and ended fast.  It is amazing how the frame of mind changes when you have purpose and direction.

I really tried to make a mental note of the trip on the housing part of the base last night because it is amazing how perspective changes as familiarity sets in.  I wanted to soak in the surroundings as I saw them before I knew them.  I started today to explore.

One of the first places I discovered was the Green Beans Coffee Shop….remember me blogging about the lid crisis of 2011?….Click Here if you want a refresher :-)   

Everywhere you go in theater, you can find a Green Beans Coffee shop.  As I waited in line, ready to get my Spice Chai Frappe…the Sergeant in front of me ordered an Oreo Cookie Smoothie.  Now, I know this was my first day, but no where on that menu was a Oreo Cookie anything.  So I asked…….ahhhh…….the dreaded secret menu…..don’t know what I am talking about?  Ever had a Dirty Chai at Starbucks or a Grilled Cheese at In and Out Burger?….you want to google that now don’t you?  Well I guess you are not cool until you have a secret menu and Green Beans is no exception.  

The Oreo Cookie Smoothie…and if the man did not pull out a bag of Oreos to make it!!  God Bless Green Beans.   I chimed in quickly…."make me a large one too!"  You know what else was great?  The Sergeant said…”Hey, you have to sign up for a Cup of Joe for a Joe."  This guy almost exploded with happiness when he told me that he already had 15 free coffees.  I politely told him that next time I will buy him a coffee but it made me think.  I want to let you know that this program makes a lot of people happy.  If you want to donate to someone who is missing their family and to whom a secret Oreo smoothie could just about make the entire day, click on the Green Beans logo above and all of the information will be on your screen.  No pressure at all as you are reading this in your colorful, beautiful America, on Mothers Day, watching The Players on your HD TV…No pressure at all…….XXOO

Thanks for tuning in…day 2 tomorrow.



Welcome to Purgatory….

Ahhhh….no pictures today of the base…sorry…. I need to get a handle first on what is okay and not ok here.  I just woke up from a short 5 hour sleep after almost 33 hours awake.  I think I may have slept a couple hours on the airplane but that whole last leg seems like the blur to me now.

On deployments, for every good thing or improvement comes something not so good.  As the deployments get longer, overall situations improve.  I have gone from my first deployment, having to share a tent with 8 ladies, to now having my own spacious room in a building; always having to walk outside to a bathroom and shower (never knowing if I am going to have hot water) to my own full bath in my room with hot, hot shower water.  On that first deployment we had all of us huddled around 1 computer that had a LAN cable stretched to it limits so that we have computer access….now I have free wifi in my room.  But this base is just present.  It has no character, no color, no personality.

As I walked around today it was a June gloom type day.  No sunshine but 100 degrees and humid.  Not horrible humid but just enough to make you tired of being outside.  Our housing sits on a plateau and as I looked around the base, it was brown.  Brown sky, brown ground, brown buildings….brown brown brown.  There is also no place to gather.  Even in Bagram, we had our picnic benches and a relax room in ops but here…there is no gathering place that I can see so I am assuming, no gathering.  So all in all…..this place is definitely not hell……maybe more like a purgatory.

Tomorrow is my first day at work and our folks who are leaving have bent over backwards to make sure that our transition has been smooth.  My job now is going to be to make sure that on the operations side, everyone is taken care of.  Tomorrow I will do my first weigh in at the gym and get started with my own personal goals…

Until tomorrow.

I can’t see you…..

UUGGGHHHH……here I am back in the coffee shop where I blogged yesterday.  I was sad that I was not going to be able to fill up my frequent buyer card….but after this coffee I have only 1 more square.  I just thought the fact that I got one would ensure that we would not stay long enough for me to fill it up……cheers!

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I saw this yesterday on Facebook and it made me laugh and think of something funny.  Every service has their idea of camouflage.  In the Air Force, we have switched uniforms so many times because they are trying to make sure that we are hidden whereever we are fighting the war.  The Navy makes me laugh though.  Their cammo is blue.  Ok, now I know these guys are on ships and stuff, but the only time they need these uniforms (are going to see or encounter the enemy) is on land.  I would be pretty sure if the enemy has made it all the way onto your ship, hiding in the water is not Plan A; and truly that is where this uniform would be most effective!!  And I am pretty sure if you are in the Navy and in the water…..you are looking to be rescued not hide!!!  Make the ship cammo and have all the saliors in cerise…that way if they go over….bam!  I GOT HIM!!!   So I am mystified.  So blue on land….any land….desert land or green land.  Is there even really blue naturally occuring in nature except the sky and the ocean?  A blueberry field?  I guess the Navy should do battle there.  I think for this reason alone folks may be more inclined to join the Army since the places everyone does battle in this world (land) is mostly green.  At least they have the uniform thing down. 

I think today, just to be sassy, I may run into one of the Navy guys around here and say to them, “excuse me, I didn’t see you in your blue cammies…..dang it…that is a great uniform!!”  Maybe not.

You know….whenever I am in batlle….I think I may bring one of these uniform with me…..you could stuff it to look a person and then you would surely know if the enemy is around because in looking over the landscape, this “guy" is going to stick out and get shot before any of the rest of us…..As Carlyn would say…..”Misdirection”…..We’ll see.

Well, off to the manni-pedi appointment I cancelled yesterday.  At least when I show up in combat, my fingers and toes will be ready.

Providence…..

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Well, it finally looks like our "holiday" is coming to a close.  And we are all prepared for the karma that comes with a deal like this.  Our squadron-mates that we are replacing would be flying their last leg home today..seeing their families and ending their duty.  Instead, their journey home has yet to begin.  Once we get there, they are going to show us the ropes and hopefully be out of there ASAP.  When we get replaced in a couple months, it will be interesting to see if the folks replacing us show up on time..if they don’t, there is really nothing to complain about.

Our mx folks should have our plane fixed and literally an hour later, we should be boarded and ready to go.  Now, I do believe that this time it is the real deal but for some reason, something has always held us back on this journey.  Sometimes I think these things are meant to happen.  Something beyond our control hijacks our agenda and leaves us powerless to make things go the way we desire.

I was once headed out on an errand and I needed to stop at my sisters house.  As I got out of the car, my brand new keyring broke and as I walked, I heard a key drop.  I looked at my keyring and realized that all the keys had fallen off but I only heard one drop on the asphalt.  I went back to the car and every key had fallen off in my purse except the key I needed.  That key must have been the one that I heard fall in the street.  I started to look.  I traced my path.  I was fortunate that I had some time before I had to be anywhere so that I could spend this time searching.  I finally resorted to a grid search…going back and forth, even moving my truck just in case it fell underneath…no key.  

After a 30 minute delay, I had to cut my losses and accept that the key was lost.   I arrived to my appointment on time and the day was completely uneventful.

As I drove up to my sisters that evening, I saw a flash on the pavement.  I parked in the same spot as earlier that day and went to see what that was.  It was nightime now but clearly lying there, as if the sun was shining right on it, was that key…as if someone placed it carefully right in front of my usual parking spot to be found by me.

I believe we were not supposed to be at our final destination yet just like I was not supposed to find that key earlier in the day.  Who knows the mysteries that we are not able to see; the workings behind the scenes, like the Truman show.  I do believe though that when we get to our final destination, it will be exactly when we should have been there for reasons we will never understand.


Common Sense??

Our first full day on base.  The collecive sign of reief was probably heard all the way back home.  It was just a welcome change.  When I awoke at the crack of noon (1223 pm),  I felt well rested and happy.  Some people rack their brains trying to figure out when to sleep and eat in these crazy situations.  I am very fortunate to have been given some very good advice very early on in my flying career.  When I was flying to Europe and South America out of JFK, I once asked a Captain how to handle it and he hold me to bring lots of things to do and snacks to eat.  Then, sleep when you are tired and eat when you are hungry…your body knows what it needs.  Then when you are up at 3 am you can eat your food and do your activites you brought with you.  That has always worked for me.

Once I got up and showered,  I hit the BX and the commisary and the post office.  Hmmm…then I realized some things that I forgot and I hit the BX, post office and market again.  Then a friend of mine had some things she needed so I went in for a threefer!!  They all thought I was a little nutty at each location on the third trip but when you can cycle all three places in under 2 minutes, I think your brain does not worry about forgetting something because you can just go back.

Tomorrow there is a flea market at the exchange in the parking lot in the afternoon.  I think we have all marked our dance cards and will be there ready to shop.  Not that we need anything but it is nice to have something that you can plan to do.

I had no idea that I would blog about this next issue but it just does not make sense to me.  When we were in the downtown hotel, I thought it odd that they had regular shower/tubs..maybe a tad narrower than I am accustomed to in the hotel rooms but the shower came out of the side of the wall.  I figured, the piping was created when the bathroom was set up differently and to repipe every room to accomodate a normal shower was unrealistic.

So we get on base and my shower looks like this:


It is EXACTLY the same!!  To me this is the same as making a bed sideways….why would I want to shower this way??  The shower curtain sticks to my face!!   It is crazy to me that no one in this country has spoken up to say…”Hey, if we add another couple feet of pipe, we can all shower at one end and have the whole tub as room to get clean”  You know that you believe every one has thought of everything you think of?…well someone is going to be a hero when they fix the shower issues in this country.  I guess that same person can fix the toilet paper problem too.  I bought cottenelles today at the  commissary (second trip) and geeze, if I can't put toilet paper down the toilet, what are these going to do to the system??  Hopefully I leave before I find out.

Well…..off to the gym!!  Until next time.

To Rise Above

I know I just blogged a few hours ago but here it is 1247am and I can’t sleep.  I am so frustrated sometimes by life.  As I was sitting today at an outdoor cafe and speaking to a friend of mine on this rotation, I was commenting how lucky and happy I am to have had the guard in my life.  That in February of 1996, a board thought enough of me, my value, my integrity, my person to allow me the privilege of serving my country along side them for the last 18 years.

I have loved the guard, the military and the service but somehow as humans we can always manage to screw up a good thing.  That is what keeps me up sometimes at night.  The human factor of life.

You know who your friends are?  The people that ask you first how you are doing and then what they want from you.  The person that thinks enough to contact you to make sure you are always inluded.  The people that take the time to tell you what is going on that you do not see so that you are not blindsided.  The people that you cannot do enough for because of all they have done for you.  I am so fortunate to have so many of these friends.  What makes me disappointed is that we can all be a friend like this, some simply choose not to be and I just cannot figure out why.  I get angry and I want to set records straight and call people out but I have learned to sit and breathe..it is much more productive.

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I apologize to those of you who diligently Facebook….I am not a good contributor.  But I love to sit at night before I go to bed and read what and how everyone is doing.  Tonight this gem ended up on my timeline.  It changed my mood immediately and caused me to get up and write it all down here.  

Does God ever know what you need and when you need it!!  Not only do I have amazing friends but I have someone looking out for me that is more powerful than any of the people who are not.

I try to be kind, honest, truly happy, good and give 100% in everything I do…and it is good to know that the most and only important person is paying attention.  I certainly fail at times at this endeavor but every day I try.  

Today is the day I live by my own advice.  Run your own race Patricia and let the world chase you…..to date they have tried, but they have never caught up to me….probably because “it was never between (me) and them anyway.” —Mother Teresa

Goodnight and sleep well…I know I will.

Street Meat

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Ahhh…it takes a week but you learn a lot about a place when you are given enough time to see behind the facade.  Today was a good day for many reasons:  we are one day closer to getting where we need to go and where we all want to be.  We have had some incredible experiences and one of those has been food.  We found an Italian restaurant on Yelp and decided to give it a try.  The food was AMAZING!!  We decided to go back last night for our last meal in town.  Now although the restaurant is fabulous, the eating out has not only taken a toll on our wallets but our waistlines.  One of the eating options that we learned about is this Kabob joint on the way back from town to the hotel.  At all hours of the day…a line out the door.  I am sure this country is just like ours and that place must be great.  A few of us have trickled in there and realized that all the meat is fabulous and cheap.  Tbose kabobs pictured to the left were about $5!!  And they were good.  I got a couple to go as we had no idea what food was going to be waiting for us on base.  We all were happy though to get on the bus and get closer to our airplane.  Once we got here, we now have a gym, coffee shop, a post office, a theater and those little tastes of home were so welcome.  Tomorrow I think you are going to see all of us at the gym!!  We were all at the exchange tonight buying shoes and gym clothes so we are going to be a sharp looking bunch as we work off our numerous days at the all day bar.

Jesus is Everywhere

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So I am walking down this street and I see an alleyway I have never seen before.  I walked down this tiny entrance and it opened up into a courtyard.  At the far side of the courtyard was this church.  It was so beautiful.  It was quiet and beautiful.  There were beautiful frecoes on the walls and beautiful archetechure.  I wish I had been able to attend a service but I could not find a schedule.  It is nice to know that Jesus really is everywhere!

Will We Ever Get There??

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And so it continues.  As we all gathered to get on our plane last night to head to our final destination….alas we are staying longer.  We have had gourmet meals, days filled with shopping, nights filled with shots and I find it hard to believe that we all sighed that we are staying longer…but we did.  It does get to a point when you just get tired of living the day by day vacation.  If I knew I was going to be here a week, I would have done so much differently but you just are waiting everyday to find out what the word is.  There really is very little American influence here…so we all were shocked when we were driving around the island and there it was….the golden arches.  Our first sign of American influence in this country.  It was funny that they call the drive through, the “McDrive” and none of us was desperate enough to give the food a try.   Today is Sunday and lucky for us it is one of the 7 Sundays during the year that all the stores stay open in this country.  We are now looking into boat trips and things to help us pass our idle time.  Time to head into town for some shorts and a swimsuit since mine like many other folks’ is stuck on a pallet on the airplane.

The Last 24 Hours

Well, I think our European vacation is finally coming to a close.  Our airplane parts are arriving tomorrow, maintenance is all geared up to get the airplane repaired and we have a takeoff time to get us to our final destination.  Today, we finally “went” somewhere.  We went to a palace that dates to 3000 BC.  This palace had running water and flush toilets!!!  There were more than a couple of us that immediately made note of the fact that this country is covered with signs in every bathroom warning you not to flush your toilet paper but rather to put it in the wastebasket.  I find this disgusting as you know that each piece of refuse in that basket next to the toilet  is officially nasty.  What happened?  These people were setting the bar in bathroom advances 5100 years ago and they all of a sudden stagnated? For Gods sake, lets at least get to the point where as a society we can flush our 1 ply toilet paper.

The palace was pretty impressive but not as impressive as the driving of one of our crew members.  We rented a 9 pax van and this guy was not even blinking at some crazy 90 degree claustrophobic turns that were required to get our vehicle parked.  I was impressed and so happy that I did not have to do the driving.

You know it is time to leave when the locals start calling you by name as you walk by and they want to know if you want the regular. Also, this city is so well connected.  Every single eating establishment has free wi-fi.  A selling point as important as the food.  I have gotten to the point where I can travel from the hotel to the water and be continuously connected on my iPhone!!   I am going to make one last stop to the All Day Bar tomorrow for one last drink on the water and then head off to finish my journey that I started 8 days ago and relieve some folks who are very ready to be heading home.

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May day

Well, as I said as you head further east, things get more relaxed.  In this country on May Day, it is considered a “Holy Day”.  As I stood at the front desk and racked my brain abuut what happened in the bible…maybe this was when Jesus ascended into heaven?  Oh noooooo…this is when they had a work strike here and each May they all don’t go to work to honor that event.  That is very bad from the tourists perspective because now we cannot “do” anything because everything is closed!!.  We were planning to take a trip to the Minoan Palace that is a ways from here but that will have to wait until Friday because today everyone is celebrating a day off with a day off.

Here are some of our flaming libations from last night……..



© Patricia Murray 2014