It’s been a while since we last spoke …

Ok, maybe not quite as long as it has been in the past, but it’s still been a few days. What’s new with me?

Well, for the first time in a year or two, we have a Christmas tree up …

It’s looking a lot like Christmas around here …

Of course, the reasons are far from being particularly Christmas-y. There are no presents underneath it and we aren’t particularly feeling Christmas-y (yet), but I did need it for the backdrop for our first ever family portrait for Christmas cards (which are more of a duty than out of anything other feeling right now). Yes; I am admitting it on my blog. I’m not sending out Christmas cards because I feel the spirit of the holiday season. I am doing it because it’s what is done these days, at this time of year.

For a couple years now, I’ve wanted to add my own creative touch to holiday communiqués. Buying cards, writing a little nonsense on the inside and sending them far and wide is a tradition I grew up with. It shows that you’re thinking of these people at this special time of year. I like the gesture, but I hate the chore of it. I’ve always wanted to *make* my own cards. For birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. And last year, I made myself a promise that this year I would do exactly that. (“Project!” *whoooo*)

I guess the spirit is lacking in me this year … for several reasons. Mostly personal. Still … I am going to “fake it” because at some point I am hoping that I’ll actually feel it. And this is my first attempt at faking it. A christmas tree – all lighted, and pretty, and festive and stuff. The next step is the cards (some of which have already gone out – some of you will be receiving yours WAY early; yaadies may get theirs a little late). A third step is participating in a Jeep Christmas parade this Saturday (maybe I’ll get some pictures – we’ll see if I get a chance to work the camera a bit). One certain step is on December 21st (which is my “Christmas”), I think I’ll flood the house with candles (some of them ones I make for myself hopefully) all day.  Candlemas is supposedly February 2, but for me December 21st is all about coaxing the light back – even more so now that I live in the Northwest U.S. where the daylight lasts less than 12 hours (it’s actually about 8 hours in total; not counting dawn and twilight).

So … it’s early days yet, but here’s hoping all of you have a very happy and safe holiday season – whatever you may be celebrating at this time.

 

Thanksgiving chatter

So, today is Thanksgiving Day in the US. I am still trying to get used to that. A whole holiday for being thankful? And what are people thankful for? It sure looks to me like it’s all about the food and football (cringe still can’t get over that the sport of “football” rarely involves the use of feet connecting to the ball #old). Asked the hubster this morning what it really was all about; his response was “it’s all about getting the family together”. I can get behind that. A day to be especially thankful for family (and friends too, of course) which involves fellowship and food and fun. Yup; that I can definitely get behind. (Course, it would help if the hubster wasn’t working today … but that’s another issue altogether #MilSpouseWoes)

 

So anyway, we’ve been under a burn ban here in Thurston County, WA since the weekend. Of course, I hadn’t noticed that until Tuesday morning – after we’d already burned wood both Sunday and Monday nights for warmth. No worries; I didn’t think it was too late. I told the hubster, no wood fires until the ban is lifted. Thus it’s been a wee bit cold in the house. This morning, however, we realised something else. It’s also dry in the house. Neither of us realised just how much moisture our little iron kettle on top the wood-stove actually contributed to the humidity in the house. Ouch.

 

So, since we can’t light the stove, I hauled out the humidifier to try and get some moisture back into the air. The thing about the humidifier is this: it uses water from the tap. And our water here is notoriously …. hard? Meaning, it has so much stuff in it because it’s ground (well?) water which isn’t treated with too much chemicals. (Au naturel?) As a result, there is residue on just about everything in here that water touches.

 

The other day, I had to replace my aluminium (Oh hey! Aluminium and aluminum are the same thing; the difference is accounted for by “the pond”! #SomehowIThinkIAlwaysKnewThat) kettle because it started to make strange funny noises that sounded like it was about to explode. (That might be because I boiled it dry one times too many, but I digress …) The only options I had were copper bottom kettles with a ridge and a glass kettle. The copper bottom ones, while fabulous for conveying heat, won’t work well on a cooktop (because the bottom has an edge or a rim); so, glass kettle it was. And h’oh boy! Now I’m not so sure I wanted to see what’s in my water when its boiled. :/

 

But to come back to the humidifier – since it hadn’t been used in a while, I took it apart to clean it out. What a nightmare! So much gunk buildup – I’ve never seen that much hard water deposits. This particular appliance has a water channel that moves the water to the heating chamber in the back of the unit. While washing it out, the water wouldn’t flow at all. I couldn’t get into that channel at first and I thought I’d need to throw it out or wait for a pipe cleaner. Then I noticed the top could be removed. Inside? Completely blocked with gunk!

 

Moral of the story? Always clean out your appliances before you store them.

 

I know, I know – that’s on the user’s guide that comes with all of them. Who reads those things anyway?

 

Anyway … Happy Thanksgiving, all! Enjoy the day!

 

Turkey

Turkey (Photo credit: wattpublishing)

 

A not-so-good week.

I’m not sure what’s in the air this week, but it hasn’t been all that productive for me this week at all. Distractions abound. Every task I attempt is interrupted by some frivolous pursuit. Nothing is happening the way I want it to. And when I think of how well last week went, I want to cry. And so I try to think what I did differently last week, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Among those distractions? A new series that I discovered via Netflix called Twisted. I’ve already finished all 11 episodes. : Earlier in the week, it was just trying to stay focused through my not-quite-ill state. As flu season descends again, and hubby receives his bi-annual nose-squirt, he comes home and breathes on me and shares it with me. So I’ve been fatigued, and stuffy, and achy all week. My tinker hobby (Vaping) took some more of my attention later in the week.  So frustrating.

In the mornings, I can barely crawl out of bed. As a result, in the evenings I’m not tired enough to go to bed early enough. I sleep like a rock throughout the night, but not restfully because I wake up just as tired, if not more so than the day before.

Yesterday, I left the house. I needed to get out. The walls were closing in. I refilled a couple prescriptions (which reminds me, I need to message my doctor about refills), and then spent a good 2 – 3 hours at close-by Starbucks. I got *some* work done, but not half as much as I’d have liked.

This morning, I woke myself at about 5am by unconsciously trying to yank my nose ring out by the fingernail. At almost 7am, I gave up and just got up and started the coffee maker. Because after laying in bed for 2 hours without any sign of sleep returning, it just seemed more prudent to get up.

The best part of all of this? I got so much done already this morning for work. I really do need to get up at 7am or earlier if possible. Even if it means a nap about noon. Hubby heads off-road (and possibly into the snow) tomorrow, but I think I’ll be sitting here writing and reading. Bummer! So much for trying to get much done during the week so I’d have the weekend to myself. Even more of a bummer since I’ve not seen hubby for longer than about an hour or two each day in the last week or two (#HellishArmySchedulesFTW).

Argh! If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d have torn all my locs out already. Grrr….

No matter; next week *will* be better. /nod

Isn’t all noise the same?

I often tell people that noise gets to me. But when I say “noise”, I am usually referring to people noises. I’ll sit outside on a quiet day, and enjoy the birds, the creaking branches of the trees as they bend and sway in the wind, and even the rustling of the underbrush when wild creatures wander, as they like to do, through our yard. I love the sound of trickling water, and delight in the sound of the wind through fir trees. The wildlife where we live is amazingly alive and thriving and I spend as much time as I can outside.

Yet, the minute my too-near neighbours start to yell at each other, rattle around implements of civilization or just simply appear, I get annoyed. It never occurred to me until now. What’s the difference between the noise of the birds and the sounds of a lawnmower or leaf-blower? And why does one but not the other annoy me so much?

I’m inclined to say that it’s because I am more attuned with nature than with my fellow human beings. But that seems a little arrogant since I love my Internet access and my microwaved leftovers as much as the next guy. I don’t “live off the land” and I don’t particularly engage in ultra-natural food or habits. So why should I be so offended by the fact that my fellow humans indulge as often as I do in the products of the industrial and technological ages?

Is it possible that on some level, I am aware of how parasitic humans are? Is it that I somehow instinctively rebel, on behalf of nature, against the encroachment of technology on nature by consciously being averse to the sounds of “civilization”? Or am I just naturally asocial and would prefer a completely harmonic existence with the earth? I don’t know. But it is certainly something I want to spend more time examining and analysing.

All I know is this: if I never have to live in a big city again, it will be too soon. I love my little woodland haven here and I fear that having to leave (as I most likely will) it will traumatise me in ways that I may have great difficulty in overcoming.

Environment happy but me unhappy.

I tried the environmentally friendly way. I really did. When we moved here, the instructions were “Absolutely NO BLEACH!” The explanation was that because of the septic tank, bleach was a big no-no because it killed all the friendly bacteria and caused the tank to back up. So I threw out my bleach. Not down the drain, just figuratively. I had no bleach when we moved here and when they told me no bleach, I just never bought any more.

That is all wonderful and I get it. We are killing the world slowly with all our poisonous shit. I get that. Now hear me out.

I am blessed (or cursed) with an abnormally sensitive nose/sense of smell. Washing our dishes with environmentally friendly stuff gets them clean, I assume, but they stink. When I put my omelet on a plate and the plate smells like day old-fish, the environment might be happy, but I am not. There has to be a way we can coexist. As it is, I can’t use any of my side plates and not be constantly nauseated.

My mother suggested cider vinegar as a way to cut that raw smell. I tried that for a month of two, but my dishes still smell like day-old fish. I’ve tried just about everything: hot water and soap; vinegar, hot water, and soap; cold water; cold water and soap; multiple washings… nothing has helped.

So today, I’ma get me some bleach. Don’t worry. I’ll be gentle with it. I’ll dilute it mightily and use it sparingly. But Goddess help me … I cannot do without my bleach. My nose knows the difference and it’s not happy.

UPDATE: Cascade Complete did the trick! I’m happy again!

I am feeling less like a milspouse these days

These days, I feel so far removed from military spouse life that I sometimes wonder if I was fooling myself into feeling a part of it in the first place. There is no avoiding the face that I am a military spouse. If the ACUs in the laundry hamper and the various items of other military gear lying around the house aren’t good reminders, then I have serious issues.

No, what has happened is that our life has become quite civilian, living out here in the so-called boonies.  I no longer hear the bugle calls, there are no unruly children running around in my front yard, every second person is not wearing some kind of military uniform and a trip to the supermarket does not mean I will be one civilian swimming amongst a sea of ACUs.

To be honest, I sometimes forget that we are military. It feels as if we have transitioned to civilian life and I suspect that is only because I was civilian for a lot longer than I have been military.

In some ways, I miss it. I felt safe living on-post in Texas and in Kentucky. I knew that no matter what, I was one amongst a community that would be taken care of in the event of something bad happening. It was an illusion, though; at least in Texas. When Maj. Hassan blew into work one morning and emptied his gun into a crowd of soldiers, all I officially knew about it was that we were to stay inside and keep our doors and windows locked and our air conditioning systems off. (Yes, our air conditioning units.)

A few months later, there was a flyer being placed on our front doors warning us to be on the alert for a man in uniform who was not a soldier but a sexual pervert who had assaulted at least two other women on post.

When they caught the guy driving a car full of explosives near the gate where we lived, we heard nothing about it until way after it happened.

Safe? Safety is an illusion in this crazy world. There are so many disillusioned and ignorant people around that I am beginning to feel safer trusting myself to the wild than to the wider community. I would rather be mauled by a bear in my backyard than come that close to a car full of explosives again.

Meh … I fear my misanthropy is showing again; and while that may be true, I have to say I like living out here in the boonies. I like the peaceful quiet of this neighborhood. I don’t know what I would do if I learned I had to leave.

How is life different than it was in Jamaica? Pull up a chair.

I am studying communications at the University of Phoenix Online and the course I am currently in is dealing with interpersonal communications. This week, we will be dealing specifically with cultural barriers to interpersonal communication. One of the week’s resources is to watch a series of interviews with people from different cultures talking about their integration into the community the now live in and how it differs from what they call “home” originally. One of those videos is the inspiration for my post today.

I posted this photo on my Google+ profile today. My post said that I’d forgotten what awesome photos I used to take and I said where this photo was taken. Years and what seems like a lifetime ago, I took this photograph on the coast of Jamaica, on the Palisadoes strip, just outside of the Norman Manley International Airport. The photo is from a different time in my life. I was my own woman then and no one else’s. I had already met hubby I think, but the relationship at that point was not yet formalized into anything other than a fascination. Neither of us had any clue we would end up where we are today.

The day I took the photo, I was out with friends on a fishing expedition. If I remember correctly, this was the day I caught my first fish. A tiny little thing that I threw back in almost immediately so that it would be able to breathe and continue to live. I was a hardcase. People called me “bitch”. But I could not catch a fish and let it die.

I worked in the corporate world and I earned enough to be comfortable on my own. Internet was a staple. I had ditched my TV cable service a couple of years before because I rarely watched TV and anything I wanted to watch I could get on disc and watch from my player. Or just watch on my computer.

There was no such thing as worrying about credit ratings. You paid your bills so that you would not have a disruption of service. You tried not to get into too much debt because banks charged exorbitant interest rates on credit cards. Debit cards had recently (within the previous 10 years, that is) become the latest convenience yet quite a few merchants still did not accept your debit card for purchases.

Cell phones plans could be had on a prepaid basis and all cell phones available were sold at a subsidized rate. Phones were “locked” to a network because that network had possibly invested money in importing your phone and wanted to ensure they got your money from calls as well as. “Unlocking” of phones was possible, but only if you wanted to travel abroad and slip a foreign carrier’s SIM card into your phone whilst you were abroad.

The beach was taken for granted. It would always be there, so I didn’t feel the need to visit it that often. Every chance I got, however, I drove north out of the city just for the hell of it. There was nothing I loved more than a road trip to the countryside – especially if it took me into the cool interior of the country.

Coconut water was most certainly not taken for granted. I would order a gallon a week and it would be finished in a matter of days.

Life was good. I wasn’t happy, but I was satisfied.

Fast forward 6 years. I am sitting in my “office” – the middle bedroom of a 3 bedroom house – in Olympia, Washington. It’s freezing outside. We had some snow today – the kind that is really just frozen rain but it looks white. Hubby lit the wood stove twice today but the house is still cold. I am wrapped in a blanket, doing schoolwork at 4am and writing – something I would never have dared to do in Jamaica since Monday morning meant work at 8am. Now, to go to work, I simply have to open a browser window.

We are bound by the military. Well hubby is. I can leave for Jamaica anytime I want; hubby can’t. Even if he could, it just isn’t in the budget. Contrary to popular belief, money does not grow on trees here – much to my consternation. ;)

There is no coconut water. Well, none like I have ever tasted anyway. The ones I have sampled are bland and tasteless and no matter how good it is for my now soaring blood pressure, I refuse to drink them.

There is no beach of the likes we have in Jamaica. No such thing as gentle surf, white sands, coconut water and blue waters. Here, the beaches are grey and rough and freezing cold.

Here you pay your bills or you’ll never get another credit card, loan, or checking account ever again.

Cell phones are subsidized so long as you commit to 2 year agreements to continue service with the carrier … otherwise you pay an exorbitant amount of money to go somewhere else.

I am ecstatically happy but life is much different from it was in Jamaica; more restrictive.

Americans don’t know how to make you feel at home in their country. There are constant reminders that I am not from here and while I could care less about those who choose to hold that against me, it is still something you will never have to encounter as a Jamaican in Jamaica. I tell everyone the reason why I love Washington so much, and in particular the Seattle/Tacoma area, is that I feel less out-of-place here than I have felt in any other place in the United States – and I have been to many places in New York, D.C., Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Maryland. Here, I feel less like a black girl married to a white man and more like Camille than I have since I left my home in Jamaica.

‘Farin’ not so wonderful unless you can find that one thing (or person) who makes you happy. If it weren’t for hubby, I think I’d be on the first plane back home to Jamaica. I hate the heat, but I hate feeling out-of-place more.