Friday, December 24, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Gassed

Merry Christmas Eve!  Nothing encourages the old holiday cheer like waking up at 3 AM and realizing the mysterious neighborhood skunk has blitzed the house once again.  We set up a fortress of air fresheners, but only the allergen filter had any lasting effect.  Fortunately the neighbors have given us dogsitting duty over the entire holiday, so we have a place to which to flee.  Unfortunately, they have no Christmas decor at all.  If nothing else, it will match the general shambles our holiday plans have become.

We were going to roast a duck, but the scourge of morning sickness has persisted into week 15 and cooking is the last thing on my mind.  We decided to get Chinese takeout today and have hotdogs tomorrow.  Not very traditional, but tasty.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tis the Season

The wind and the wet are finally back.  I always did like the cloudy grey look, and now I can finally put my spiffy new winter coat to good use.  Unfortunately, it also means the ants have been flooded out of their own homes and are running amok in the bathroom.  Being the same chronically disorganized California ants I remember from last year, they aren't good enough to march in straight lines, so I have no idea where they're coming in.  Standing by, with a bottle of Windex.

David was adamant that there would be no hint of Christmas festivities in the house until at least the first Sunday of Advent, despite the rest of the neighborhood.  That seemed reasonable to me, but when I explained that decorating the tree was a family affair and that he'd better get his homework done early, he decided the preceding Saturday would be just fine.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jumping the Gun

I remember when the Bearenstain Bears were complaining that the Christmas season seemed to start earlier and earlier every year, even as early as the day after Thanksgiving.  Gasp.  Well, apparently somebody abolished Thanksgiving some time ago, because now it's Christmas as soon as the shriveled jack-o-lanterns go to compost.

It seems the importance and/or general impact of any holiday is directly related to it's marketability.  The grocery stores and caterers still have a special place in their hearts for Thanksgiving, but the rest of the retail forces have relatively little seasonal merchandise to peddle in November.  There are a few endcaps for the turkey napkins and paper plates, orange plasticware, and the occasional autumnal votive candle.  There are no Thanksgiving carols, no Thanksgiving gifts, no Thanksgiving candy.  This is probably a blessing in itself, but in practical terms it means that Santa is fair game two months in advance.

I love Christmas.  I've been waiting for months to unveil our awesome tree and play Charlie Brown music. But even I'd feel silly doing it this early.  The radio hasn't actually started playing carols yet, but the Christmas commercials fill the gaps.  Even the PX is starting to sneak instrumental renditions of The Twelve Days of Christmas over the intercom, sandwiched in between the usual non-seasonal selections.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pick Your Poison

I just watched a remarkable documentary via Netflix last week called "Food Matters."  If you don't currently enjoy a Netflix subscription, visit their website.  It really makes you rethink health, chronic illness, and what we take for granted every day.  For those short on time, here's the trailer and a long list of bullet-point highlights.



It begins with the premise that the human body is able to fight disease on it's own when given the means to do so, and that the root cause of almost all chronic disease is basically malnutrition.  The medical establishment is very necessary and useful when it comes to emergency conditions, short-term conditions, trauma, etc., but drops the ball on chronic conditions.  Different chronic diseases are caused by different nutritional deficiencies.

Food is nutritionally deficient because the soil is depleted.  Fertilizer generally replaces nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but neglects the other 49 minerals required for healthy produce.  The plants are weakened, vulnerable to fungus and pests, and so are treated with chemicals.  The end result is food that is both deficient and toxic.

Whatever is left in the deficient and toxic food is destroyed by cooking it.  Try raw vegetables now and then.  Have a salad; enjoy the enzymes.  For whatever reason the immune system reacts to a diet of cooked food as if it were a toxin (digestive leucocytosis), causing unnecessary stress.  It was proven as early as the 1930's that a diet of at least 51% raw food would prevent digestive leucocytosis.

The "2:30 feeling" is a result of the chronic malnutrition and toxicity of the body in the modern age.  Don't suck on an energy drink; take your vitamins.  Vitamin deficiencies from the day, week, or year before cannot be corrected by overcompensating later.  Each day is about not creating new deficiencies.

Less than 6% of graduating physicians in the USA receive any formal training in nutrition.

Vitamin C in high doses can cure much more than the common cold.  This was apparent as early as the 1940's, but goes unnoticed by the majority of the medical profession.

Vitamin C is an anti-toxin, an anti-histamine, an anti-viral, helps regulate blood sugar and elevate mood.  Vitamin E is very good for healing heart disease, burns, and preventing epileptic seizures.   One vitamin can cure a variety of illnesses because a deficiency of those vitamins can cause those illnesses.

The recommended daily allowance of vitamins are simply a general estimate of the minimum required to prevent a deficiency related disease.  More won't hurt you, and will probably help.

Stress requires high levels of vitamin C in order to handle adrenaline.  A vitamin C deficiency combined with a high stress environment causes damage to the cardiovascular system and leads to heart attack.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE CAN BE ARRESTED OR REVERSED WITH DIET AND NUTRITION, which can be much safer and cheaper than surgery, drugs, and side effects.  But it does require a lifestyle change.  Unfortunately, most cardiologists have no idea this is the case, and of course the drug companies don't advocate it.

Drugs for pain management serve a purpose, short term drug regimens such as antibiotics serve a purpose, but drugs for chronic conditions are usually problematic, especially since all drugs are liver toxic.  It's difficult to be well nourished when the body is crowded with toxins.

Dangerous side effects, or adverse drug reactions, kill approximately 106,000 Americans each year when properly prescribed and taken as directed.  These were side effects that were expected and accepted as a risk of using the drug.  That would be 2,438,000 deaths in 23 years, during which time 10 deaths were allegedly attributed to vitamins.

A great deal of research has been completed and published regarding the possibility of treating and curing chronic disease through nutrition therapy, but this research has been systematically blacklisted by the United States National Library of Medicine.

SEVERE CLINICAL DEPRESSION CAN BE SAFELY TREATED WITH NIACIN (VITAMIN B3), even suicidal depression.  Take as much as required to see improvement.  Bill Williams, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous tried it with great success. Two handfuls of raw cashews are the therapeutic equivalent of a prescription dose of Prozac.  No side effects.

Mercury fillings are toxic, especially after long-term exposure, but dentists are not legally allowed to admit it.

Drinking lots of water first thing in the morning will greatly help the body to detoxify effectively.

Cancer treatments and medications generally cause great amounts of damage and kill the cancer at the expense of the rest of the body, if they are effective at all.  70% of cancer patients die within five years, regardless of the stage at which conventional treatment began.  However, Dr. Max Gerson, in the 1940's and 1950's, had a 50% cancer cure rate using nutrition therapy.  Malignant melanoma responds especially well to nutrition therapy, also non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.  Medical school, however, refuses to teach the Gerson Therapy.

In order to be an official "cancer survivor" and inflate the official survival rates, one only has to survive  for five years after the initial treatment.  Die three days after those five years are up, and it has no bearing.

It remains ILLEGAL in most countries to treat cancer with nutritional therapy.  Sounds to me like somebody is truly hell-bent on selling radiation therapy.  If I come down with cancer, pack your bags, we're going to Mexico for a vitamin C drip, which has been proven to be a very effective chemotherapeutic agent.  Inexpensive and safe at doses as high as 200,000 mg daily, it certainly looks like an attractive alternative, selectively toxic to cancer cells.  No nausea, no hair loss, no other cell damage.

The moral of the story is that most food these days is little better than crap, and if buying all organic isn't an option for whatever reason (as it usually isn't) take your multivitamins!  Give chewables to the kids.  Drink water.  See if a little B Complex will keep you happy, and whether a some vitamin C on the side will help you feel great even outside flu season.  Get off the drugs that aren't a life and death matter.  You'll live longer and be healthier.

Halloween Bust

Nobody seems to enjoy the good old childhood traditions anymore.  Admittedly, we had a less than $10 budget for Halloween this year, but we did trick out the house with candles, organ music, and the smallest jack-o-lantern known to man.  In all fairness, there was a Halloween substitute party at the chapel called "Light the Night," but this neighborhood is crawling with more than enough kids to go around.  We had a grand total of two callers all night, and now we're swimming in an unexpected surplus of Raisinets and Milk Duds.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

It's remarkable how time really does move faster when you're a grown-up.  Eventually you also realize that the world doesn't stop to honor another year of your presence on this earth.  Honestly, I barely have the time to stop and notice.  The husband remembered it, so kudos to him.

I guess it's a good sign that I wouldn't know what to put on a birthday list if anybody had asked me to make one.  Eventually I came up with something I really wanted so Dave could get it for me.  We went out for dinner, which is enough party for me.

Unfortunately, the house is still falling apart, or being actively destroyed by kitchen appliances from hell.  But that's another story, shortly to follow.

Dave keeps saying he'll post someday and reclaim his half of this blog.  We'll see if circumstances ever give him the time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Justin Case

This is Justin Case.  He's been a friend of mine for a long time.  He reminds us to charge our phones, pack a snack, fill the gas tank, check the mail, take our vitamins, lock our windows, unplug the computers during rainstorms.

I invited Justin to come live on our refrigerator for a while so that David could get to know him better.  There was a time when David couldn't hear Justin reminding him to pack his homework the night before, or to put the keys in a predictable and consistent location.  Happily, the two of them are communicating much better now.

Justin has an old girlfriend.  Her name is Karma.  You only meet her if you don't listen to Justin in the first place.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Truck Guy

This post is simply about Truck Guy.  We met him today, and spent more time behind him than we ever cared to.

Truck Guy drives a grey working Sierra.  Apparently he thinks the entry of the Taco Bell drive-through is a great place to park and meditate, never mind that other hopeful Taco Bell patrons (us) were then stuck with the trunk of our car stuck out into hordes of oncoming traffic.  Eventually Truck Guy joined the rest of the line and let us in off the street.  It was a long line.  Truck Guy apparently didn't realize when it was his turn, didn't know what he wanted, or started meditating again.  I almost honked at a human being for the first time in my driving career, but even then it seemed rude.  Truck Guy woke up or made up his mind eventually and placed his order.  It must have been complicated.  By the time we made it to the window we thought he might decided to go ahead a scarf his food right there in the truck.  Thankfully, that was not so.

I don't know when or if we will meet Truck Guy again.  Hopefully we won't be in a hurry.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just Kidding

No, we don't actually live in that dump.  Those were the old barracks at Fort Ord, now abandoned.  This is our house.

Forgive the ink spotches (courtesy of photobucket).  I'm neurotic about stalkers and identity thieves these days.  Still pretty drab, but it's home.

This is what it looked like for seven months.


This is what it looks like now.


Much better.

We're still missing some key items of furniture to complete the household, but right now just having a couch is heavenly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Home Sweet Home

This is the housing at old Fort Ord.  Now that we've been here a while, it's actually starting to feel like home.  The house is a little drafty, but it helps keep the air fresh instead of letting the mold spores build up.  Cats, raccoons, and skunks have been seen at various times living beneath us, but they haven't smelled up the place yet.  The windows installed back in the day aren't the best quality, but David isn't a huge fan of sunlight anyway and likes to keep them covered most of the time.

The paint seems prone to chip, but it isn't too bad.  They gave us a disclaimer about it when we moved in, saying it was lead-based and to be careful not to let pets or infants ingest it.  Since we don't have any pets or infants, we don't worry about it.  The backyard also tends to get overgrown.  They mow almost everything as a courtesy, but they always leave the grass behind the fence.  We were considering renting a lawn mower, but all the plants pretty much died during the summer, saving us the trouble.

The maintenance hotline has been very helpful.  They'll send a guy out to fix whatever problem you may have within a day or two.  We've had to call them more often lately because of problems with the water pressure cutting out, and now the back screen door has fallen completely off it's tracks.

Apparently the housing company is starting to phase out these older houses in favor of new ones.  Sounds like a great idea to me.  I don't mind living in a place this drab temporarily, but I'd hate to be stuck here forever.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scum, and How They Inconvenience Decent People Like Me

There is lots of scum in the world, but I would have to say the top of my list includes murderers, rapists, child-molesters, and purse-snatchers.  This particular rant has mostly to do with genus purse-snatcher, including the various species pickpocket, identity thief, and general sleaze.

The subject arises not only because I've had the misfortune of having my purse picked in a foreign country, but because my ever-vigilant dad recently sent me a telling snippet of surveillance footage.  I'm a creature of precautions, so what's a girl to do?  Besides looking both ways and trying not to walk alone, there only seemed to be four options.

1) Let the purse go and pop the sucker with the handgun you managed to smuggle somewhere on your person.

2) Let the purse go, knowing you have your wallet in your pocket and keys on your belt, letting him get away with girly supplies and Kleenex.

3) Keep hold of the purse with bulldog determination and end up beaten, stabbed, or left for dead.

4) Let the purse go and end up stranded with no wallet, no credit cards, no check book, no ID, no keys, no phone, and a soon-to-be-destroyed credit score.

The fact is I am very alone when I run my errands, and indeed most of the time.  When I ask other women how they protect themselves, they usually say, "That's what husbands are for."  Husbands are providers, not round-the-clock bodyguards.  David can't babysit me; he has work to do.  Because I am currently unable to arm myself appropriately, and because I refuse to be victimized again, I have opted for the decoy purse.  It still looks ripe for picking, but I've started carrying a smaller wallet in my pocket and clipping my keys to a belt loop.  Fortunately, most of my favorite skirts are so equipped.  People call me paranoid, but at least I won't be that woman on the news.

At the same time, it's a real pain in the neck to learn a new routine, to remember where your stuff is, to rummage through your pockets in the check-out line because you might possibly be robbed around the next corner.  It's the same smoldering hatred of thieves and the trouble they cause us that most upstanding citizens feel as they struggle to open shoplifter-proof packaging, or waste time and money on the latest anti-virus software.

Death to scum.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Mauling

We did have a slight incident between being sick and getting the car fixed.  The plan for the day was to take a relaxing trip out to Lover's Point to build Monkey a sand castle.  Nothing went according to plan, again documented at Banana Bum.  Besides the bacteria, seaweed refuse, and general inhospitality of the place that day, we thought we could at least feed the squirrels in peace.

Apparently the squirrels at Lover's Point are even tamer than I remembered.  All you have to do is call to them and twenty will come out of the rocks to partake of the proffered goodies.  The way they sat in our laps, rifled through our bags and crowded around in gangs was almost intimidating.  We thought we might have a theme for a new Hitchcock movie.  Still, it was all good until one - the felonious rodent pictured - got quite overexcited and decided to drag away my little finger.

I'd been bitten once before by a nervous young squirrel, but this was much worse.  Bev managed to beat him off, but not before he'd crunched on my knuckle several times.  The wound bled profusely for several minutes as we rummaged for the first aid supplies.  The squirrels didn't seem to comprehend the emergency and continued to crowd around gawking at us, getting blood dripped on them for their trouble.  We considered running by the hospital, but we didn't happen to have the GPS with us at the time, and I wasn't sure how to get there from the beach.

It was a long walk back to the car.  Bev drove home while I applied pressure and a Kleenex.  By the time we made it home to retrieve the GPS, the bleeding had stopped and we elected to just sanitize it ourselves with rubbing alcohol.  The dread associated with the possibility of an unnecessary rabies vaccination did factor into the decision.

It took a week and some days, but the wound healed without incident and my finger has made a full recovery.  Now I have a nice "T" shaped scar.  The moral of the story is to keep your extra fingers out of reach at all times.

Friday, September 24, 2010

General Delays

Sorry the promised "before and after" pictures are taking so long.  If it's not one thing, it really is another.  We're coming down to the wire before Bev has to leave in a few weeks, and we haven't quite managed to reach that moved-in equilibrium that makes the house picture-worthy.

First it was just the crazy cold that put everybody out for several weeks.  We heard later that there's a whooping cough epidemic in California at the moment.  I don't know if that's what we had, but it was pretty bad.  Everybody seemed to catch the bug in waves; first Dave caught it, then I caught it, then Bev caught it, so altogether we were probably unable to go anywhere or plan anything for almost a month.  We certainly couldn't use Bev's awesome gift certificates to the Whaling Station while we all sounded like we had the plague and were too sniffly to taste anything.

When the cough was gone, we were able to unpack, but we were distracted by the saga of the car repairs.  Our cute little car had a minor bang-up the first day Bev was here, and we've been all this time trying to schedule a rental car and a body shop appointment around a move and being sick.  We finally accomplished that objective last week, and of course it's a story all it's own.

Despite the many times I explained to Allstate that we were located in California at the moment, they made our rental reservation in Virginia, so our reservation number came up invalid.  The Enterprise guy spent much time on the phone working that out and making a new reservation.  Unfortunately they had no cars on site at the time.  They found a little VW beetle at the airport, but unfortunately the previous renters had trashed it, and it was in need of much detail work.  All they could drum up for us was an outsized pickup truck, probably the last thing I really wanted to drive.  Bev had a good laugh; the irony was unmistakable.  See pictures at Banana Bum.  But wait -- there's more.  This brand new, dark grey Chevy Silverado had no license plates, no tags, no stickers or markings of any kind.  The best they could do was put the VIN number on the paperwork.  The only thing that would make it look more suspicious would be extra tint on the windows, or maybe an Iraqi flag.  We imagined being pulled over several times a day by police, denied access to the Presidio, and all manner of other headaches.  Fortunately nobody gave us any trouble, but it was still quite the anomaly.

On a sudden impulse, I bought a couch.  The living room looks much better with something between the bookshelves besides a rug.  We had to wait four days for it to be delivered, but it was well worth it.  We were just putting what passed for finishing touches on our space, and almost ready to call it done.

Now that all the backed up chores are taken care of, Bev made our Whaling Station reservations for Saturday evening.  But as our luck would have it, Dave crawls into the car Wednesday afternoon and says, "Ugh, my throat feels like crap."  He's sick again with the same thing that started this whole mess.  The bedroom is a quarantined disaster area, and I'm using our new couch for temporary sleeping quarters since I have no desire to share the love this time around.  Our dinner reservations are in question, but I'd rather two of us go than none of us, and the worst case scenario is that we're all at home next week in our pajamas playing "99 Bottles of DayQuil on the Wall."  Basically, Dave has until Saturday evening to get healthy, or he gets his food in a doggie bag.

Fashion Statement

Now that I have figured out the new blogger templates, the site is getting an upgrade.  I haven't quite managed to reconstruct my sidebar yet, but right now it's the best a clueless web designer like me can do.  I just got sick of having the exact same template thousands of other bloggers had.  At the very least, these new ones have more variables.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yay!

Our things have arrived! Sadly, I'm too sick with a nuclear head cold to do much setting up. Before and after pictures to follow shortly. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Curse of the Airbed

Tonight we have purchased what I hope will be our last Coleman Comfortsmart Queen Airbed. That brings us to a final tally of seven, an average of one a month, and a total of $220.00. Obviously their "Air Tight" guarantee isn't all it's cracked up to be. By this point I really hate the happy family on the box in their happy little tent at their happy little campsite.

"No, we're not CAMPING; we're just trying to live like civilized HUMAN BEINGS despite formidable and unreasonable obstacles!"

Right now it's anyone's guess when exactly the truck will arrive with the innards of our household, including a real mattress, but we had high hopes that it would be tomorrow or Saturday. Naturally our current air mattress, the sixth, decided to go flat last night. Really? It couldn't even manage to last another TWO NIGHTS. After that I could have chucked that piece of crap into the garbage with no regret. If it were a slow leak I'd just tough it out for a while, but it's a flat-in-five-minutes kind of leak. I really didn't want to shell out another $30+ now that we're so close, but what else could we really do? Just to make matters worse, Dave turned up sick this morning and could really use a good night's sleep. I briefly considered going ape again with the super glue and gorilla tape just to patch it up, but that didn't seem to have any effect the first four times I tried it.

The moral of the story is that you can never depend on an air mattress. My father once said that he'd never known one that could hold air, and now I'm not surprised. They're all crap! Save your money and buy a real mattress once and for all. And if the military hems and haws at you about maybe or maybe not moving your stuff, move it yourself! Just be done with it! So we shot $1300 into the wind; what of it?! It's done. Now we don't have to live like hobos under the assumption that we'll have to fit our entire household into the truck of one car! Now we can buy whatever the heck we want!!!

Excuse me, I don't know where that came from. Resume quiet dignity and grace . . .

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Beginnings of Success

Our stuff is on the road! Kudos to my diehard in-laws and all their friends who got soaking wet yesterday loading the truck in the rain. Can't wait to unload!



Thursday, August 12, 2010

More on the Move

We have received yet another demand from the movers, namely that I suddenly appear in Georgia to sign on the dotted line when they pick up our stuff, and then return to California to sign the other dotted line when they arrive. Since I have not yet mastered bilocation, I'll just have to call them once again and beg for some reconsideration on their part.

I really hate doing things from a distance.


Follow-up: Efforts to raise them on the phone were unsuccessful at the house because there are clouds and therefore not even the slightest cell signal. Driving away to the commissary parking lot in my pajamas produced no better results, because Cliff would not answer his extension and nobody else was interested in hearing about my problems or answering my questions.

This move is supposed to be happening in two days, and could still be a huge bust with a nonrefundable deposit. I'm starting to consider the possibility of living in unfurnished homes for the duration of our military misadventure. It seems easier somehow.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dogs and Moths

The move had finally been arranged, meaning we've actually spent money on it and set a pickup date. We're not really sure what the delivery date will be, since the movers gave us a ten day window. The bank will suffer a rather severe bloodletting on Friday when we settle the balance, but fortunately that is also payday, so recovery should be relatively swift.

So far it seems like we have a pretty good deal, but I'll believe it when I see it. There were still a few hiccups along the way, things I wouldn't have even thought about. So many difficulties arise out of not being physically present with the items we're attempting to move. After the contract was signed and the deposit was paid, we were sent an extensive form regarding the Gypsy Moth Inspection we were supposed to conduct before shipping our goods across the sacrosanct California state line. We were informed that if we did not complete the form - in duplicate - with an itemized list of what we were shipping and the appropriate signatures certifying that we have inspected all our worldly possessions and destroyed all the gypsy moths, the Department of Agriculture would quarantine our things at the border. I didn't see any moths eight months ago when I last saw my things, but I don't think that would satisfy the angry farmers. Besides, we don't have anything as extravagant as a printer yet, the neighbors' printer didn't work, and the computers David has access to at work are all property of the US government and don't allow anyone to open attachments. Apparently there's a computer lab at the library here on base, but I've looked for it several times and I'm convinced it doesn't still exist. Fortunately, when I finally got the movers on the phone again, they said it actually wasn't a big deal and nobody really cared who filled out the paperwork, so I just sent the whole email to the in-laws. Movers are supposed to call me on Friday to tell us when the truck will be coming on Saturday.

By this point, I feel like we're trying to ransom our stuff back, just waiting for the next phone call, the next set of instructions, the next pay out.

"IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS AGAIN, PAY $1,295 BY CHECK OR CREDIT CARD, AND SUBMIT TEN PAGES OF CERTIFIED PROOF OF THE DEMISE OF ALL GYPSY MOTHS . . ."

All this happened while we were babysitting our neighbors' dogs, the rat terrier and the dachshund. Just to make matters more interesting, that afternoon we discovered a quivering mass of helplessness hiding under the car; another dachshund, chocolate brown, lost and alone in the world. So, for the moment we have a dog, and her name is Tootsie. She had no collar, no tags, and every indication of having been dumped. Apparently she has expensive tastes, and won't touch dry dog food. After being with us for a few days she's finally started to act normal again, and despite her undeniable cuteness she's off to the shelter tomorrow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Shame On You, Coleman

This current air mattress lasted all of three weeks. Actually, it started sagging after one week, but we only just now started waking up on the floor. Completely unacceptable, but we're maddeningly powerless to do anything about it. We are actively trying to move our stuff, but it's a process.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Nearsighted Life

It's not just my eyes; I think my whole brain is nearsighted. When we got here, we complained loudly about not being able to find the commissary, not realizing it was two minutes from the house. Now, after being here most of seven months, and driving twenty minutes through downtown Monterey to get to Lover's Point every time I wanted some sand and sun, I was tipped off by the neighbors about Fort Ord Dunes State Park. I went to check it out this morning, and it's pretty awesome. Oh, and it's just five minutes from the house.

I had to drive through the ruins of Fort Ord to get there. Something about those buildings make them creepy even in broad daylight. It must be all the overgrown bushes, graffiti, boarded-up doors and broken windows. Just when you think you're hopelessly lost, there are signs posted pointing the way to the park. Not a very picturesque drive, but the beach itself makes up for it.

If Lover's Point is the pretty little beach for moms and kids, Ford Ord Dunes is the he-man beach with sand cliffs, canyons, and roaring waves. I definitely classify it as a "shoes on" beach, just because of all the crap that washes ashore, mostly seaweed tangles and copious quantities of deceased crustaceans. But it does yield a greater quantity of shells for picking, and even more exciting, sand dollars! Finally, after years of wishful thinking, I've finally acquired a sand dollar that has never seen the inside of a tourist souvenir shop. It's a little small, and a little dirty, but I don't care. There were also a few more unorthodox finds today, such as a child's plastic pail and shovel, some of the usual offensive garbage, and . . . broccoli. I'm guessing a seagull made off with someone's health-conscious picnic lunch.

The best part about it by far is that the beaches go on for miles in both directions, and almost NOBODY bothers to go out there. For a few hours, I was the only person on earth. I brought Dave out to see it this evening; there were more cars (three) but it was just as deserted as before. Just us and one solitary otter just offshore, riding the waves and beating a clam.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beach Bum

I really do like visiting the beaches around here, but I have to say the appeal of being there alone is fading. At first it was practically a religious retreat, but now I once again have the desire to socialize. But, while all my friends and family are still far away, I have a new reason to frequent the shoreline.

All these pitifully ugly military houses have a few flower beds for their occupants to play with. Most of them understandably go untended, probably because the transitory residents have many better things to do than worry about the curb appeal of the shanty they're borrowing from the government. I hate ugliness, but I'm not sure I could grow anything in the sandy soil out here if I tried. And if it sprouted, the gophers would dig it up. I considered making them rock beds, but oddly enough rocks cost money. I have heard that poverty breeds resourcefulness, and my latest brilliant idea is to make them shell beds. After all, I seem to be visiting the beach several times a week.

The beaches I've seen don't yield much in the way of the big shells you want to take pictures of and write home about. The rocky ones, however, have large populations of those little sea mussels, and there are broken bits of shell everywhere. Even whole half shells are practically common as dirt; purple, black and white on the outside, pearly on the inside. I still think they're pretty, but after a while they're unremarkable. In any case, they would make our weed beds more attractive. The trouble arises when it seems the other visitors notice that I'm not there for the scenery, but rather that I'm walking up and down combing the sand for large quantities of worthless shells that all look alike and putting them in baggies.

But who cares what the neighbors say? I have a considerable collection already for one day's efforts. Dave thinks I should put some design into our shell bed, that it will look haphazard and chaotic without some creative effort. I think picking each individual one out of the sand and carrying them home is effort enough.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Local Wildlife

The beach trip yesterday was probably the most fun I've had by myself since I arrived on this coast. Dave's a great guy who can be lots of fun in his own way, but he always gets bored and tired at the beach. Besides, he doesn't like precarious places, and I was running around all over rocks and cliffs and overhangs having a grand old time. That distinctive salty beach smell always reminds me of being a kid on vacation in Florida. These beaches aren't nearly as big as Florida beaches, but they are more interesting with all the rocks lying around.

The stale bread was quite a hit with the locals. The gulls were a bit standoffish and grabby, very territorial. The little black birds were just trying to get a crumb in edgewise. Eventually I looked down, and one of the squirrels from the rock pile was right by my foot, waiting for his share. I gave him a decent piece, which he took right from my hand, and then ran off before the gulls could notice.

I moved from the beach to the rock pile because the squirrels seemed like more fun and the gulls had already had quite enough. The older squirrels were the soul of politeness. I got some pictures on my phone, but of course I have no idea how to do anything with them. They would all stand on the rock with their little paws up, each waiting his turn, being very careful not to scratch me when they took their bread bites. They practically said thank you. But the younger ones were so nervous that they crunched down on whatever they grabbed first, which on one occasion was my finger. The resulting wound wasn't any deeper than a paper cut, but due to the circumstances I was quite thorough in disinfecting it. One of the older crowd was really fat, so I suspect they're old hands at this begging thing. It was all peachy until the gulls figured out what was going on and started attacking the squirrels. No manners at all.

There weren't many people there yesterday, being a weekday. I'm thinking of going back this morning while it's still cloudy. It's so much more peaceful without all the screaming kids and the "ching-ching" of the tourist rent-a-bikes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Addiction


They're absolutely diabolical, but so darn good. Very few things treat mild depression as well as chocolate, peanut butter and refined sugar. However, after July 25, my month of self-indulgent mourning will be concluded and I'll have to abandon this relationship for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, I'm enjoying a bag of them right now. I've been tempted to dive into the Nutella craze again, but that monster is best left undisturbed.

I'm thinking about heading off to the beach today and feeding all our old heels of bread to the seagulls. There are probably rules against that, since there are rules against everything fun, but maybe nobody will notice. Hopefully I won't be mauled by a feeding frenzy, either. I gave David advance warning that if he gets a call that his wife is beating geese to death, it is purely a case of self defense.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Elusive Sleep

Good sleep is not hard to get on an air mattress. Honestly, after seven months on one, I have no complaints about the way a good air mattress feels. The problem arises when the air bed decides it will no longer hold air, because the floor isn't such a great place for good sleep. I found that out the first night I stayed in the house with an air pump and a dead battery. We woke up this morning with that familiar sagging feeling, bringing our total up to three casualties. That's an average of one every two months or so, which is still cheaper than renting a clothes washer and dryer, but is still frustrating since each air mattress allegedly comes with a one year warranty.

I bothered to read the fine print the second time it happened, and of course it's not as easy as returning the flat air bed to the retailer; you have to have the original packaging and the original receipt and drive it down to the manufacturer's warehouse (or mail it at your own expense if you don't live close to such a warehouse) and then they will decide whether or not the item was in fact defective. Even flat, these things are so heavy and hard to pack up again that it seems easier to just buy a new one than to try cashing in on the warranty. Maybe they only expect these air beds to be used for camping five times a year. Maybe 375 pounds of people is exceeding some intrinsic weight limit. Maybe we can get them on some kind of rotation schedule, so that when the new one poops out, another will be on its way back from the warehouse.

I wish we could just buy a real mattress and be done, but that would be better than twenty times the price and until the move happens we have no means by which to integrate a new mattress into the rest of our possessions or transport it from here to Point B. Even if the price tag was our only concern, I never have liked the idea of a used mattress, especially now that the new age of the bedbug is dawning.

Just to shake things up a little more, there's a strange wrong number that keeps calling David's cell phone at 4 AM. Nothing quite gets the adrenaline flowing like the phone ringing in the dead of night, especially when the only people who call that early are naval authority figures who want your @$$ out of bed. If Mr. Nobody calls again tonight, so help me, somebody is going to answer or call him back.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Red Tape


I know I'm still new to this lifestyle of the military dependent, but I can't help but wonder whether I'm not alone in feeling something like a paroled felon. Rules, regulations, addenda, fine print. I'm not an anarchist, I believe in maintaining order in the community, and I understand that the need to manage a standing military force of hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families will require certain additional constraints. I suppose the problem arises with those of us who are not active duty and still feel like "normal people," but who are no longer allowed to be normal people.

"You can help watch your friends' children, but not for more than X hours a week. You can have visitors, but not for more than X days each month. If you're pregnant, sick and need help, go home or learn to take care of yourself by yourself." I had more freedom of movement when I was living with my parents.

I can't help but think my particular military experience has been soured by other extenuating circumstances. The botched move which never happened, and being so far away from the majority of my family and friends, certainly hasn't helped give me a favorable impression so far. But I can't complain too much, because I know many military families have endured more frustrating arrangements than this. At least we're not overseas and dealing with a language barrier. Still, sometimes it's hard to get far enough away from the problem to put it in perspective.

The facts of the matter are that my husband is awesome, and I'm not sorry I married him. I don't hate the military, I'm not sorry he joined, and I wouldn't dissuade him from making it a career if he so chooses. I'm not even begging to move out of this state, although it's an attractive prospect. I don't care that our new hometown is a dump, or that our house is crap from the seventies that smells damp, grows mold, has warped walls, asbestos in the ceiling, lead in the water, and skunks in the ventilation. We knew it would be a difficult situation when we signed up for it, but we were determined to work the problems as they arose. Ultimately, the real frustrations come of not being able or allowed to work those problems, and they just stack up to taunt us. "Sorry, deal with it." "That's life." "Who told you that?" "Welcome to the real world." "What mold?"

I was prepared for reasonable difficulties (straightforward waiting periods, deployments, frequent moves, acquisition of copious paperwork, etc.); at least I could have entertained some measure of martyr's nobility for all the hardships we had to endure. Apparently I need to recalibrate my tolerance levels for unreasonable and/or petty difficulties like misdirection, the "merry-go-round" of misinformation, chronically poor cell phone signal, cancelled appointments, sneaky fine print on lease agreements, directories full of disconnected phone numbers, inability to qualify for any sort of moving plan, and all the issues that arise out of having two legal addresses. Those sorts of things just make us feel like we've been had.

Maybe it's because this base is so small and everyone is so temporary that we're not seeing the close-knit community we were told we could expect. There isn't even the level of accountability and personal responsibility we assumed would exist among servicemen behind all the fences and wire and ID checkpoints. Last weekend we had a small disaster to deal with because David's debit card was stolen - on base, mind you - and also fraudulently used on base. Human nature never ceases to disappoint.

My issues with the slow-pokes at the IRS have nothing whatsoever to do with our military situation, but it's just another one of those little things that get under my skin. It's always about the little things. At least my check finally came. The miscarriage had nothing to do with the military, but it certainly didn't help our outlook. The fact that we have no idea how long we'll be here isn't so much the military's fault as it is the nature of this place; we're here until the job is done. Everything else is essentially fallout.

Despite all that, I have to say there isn't anything I would have changed that was within our power to change. Most of what I would like to change would require an act of God, or congress. Nor is there anyone else I'd rather tough it out with. I'm guessing that if we can make it through this first year or so, our marriage will be practically indestructible. After all, adversity builds character, right? (Don't we have enough yet?) I often wish we had fewer crises that demanded our attention, but we seem to work well together when we do resolve them.

We had another of our timeless moments at the WiFi hotspot yesterday, endeavoring with much teamwork to cancel the missing debit card. I must have had a look that would have melted glass, navigating the website and automated phone menu multiple times in search of a real person. Once the issue was resolved, he told me I was beautiful. "It must be the Spaniard in you. They always look so regal when they're p*ssed as hell." Reminds me why I married him in the first place. ^_^

Friday, July 16, 2010

Allergies

We suspect David might not be allergic to dogs after all. He never had a problem the whole week we watched the dogs at the neighbors' house. Maybe it's just cats that are to blame. We've considered getting a dog, mostly because it would be some consolation in an empty house and every military family out here seems to have at least one, but the mere thought of vet bills outweigh the cute and cuddly factor. Maybe in another ten years . . .

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Getting Some Traction

I think I've finally made a full phycological recovery. I can actually get up and make a dent in the list of long overdue house chores, scrub the bathroom, clean the kitchen, sweep and mop the floor and keep the dishes done, all instead of lying around in a sweatshirt with my hair in a knot watching crap on YouTube. I can look at Gerber commercials without going to pieces, and I don't hate the sight of mothers walking through the neighborhood with strollers. I can even visit Facebook once in a while to read about my friends and their new kids.

Meredith came down for a visit yesterday while she was still in town. We went out for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach and rocks at Lover's Point having long overdue candid conversation. We even spotted a few whales in the bay. I'll have to take my sister out there when she comes; she'll love the squirrels everywhere. But next time I'll actually remember to bring some sunscreen. Ouch.

David is taking his mock finals this week, and it's looking more and more like he'll actually get the rollback we've been waiting for. The paperwork in question seems to be making good time through the proper channels. We're not sure exactly how long that will extend our stay out here, but we should know more in a week or two.

Once he actually joins his new class, we'll move our things out here and make this house some semblance of a home. Just cleaning the floor and picking up all the crap that was piled in the corners made it feel less like living in a garage. I put the guest bedroom together for Bev, and it already looks cozy, or as much as it can with just the "bed" (air mattress) and three small pictures from the dollar store. It would be nice to just have a few posters in poster frames to lighten the monotony, but nobody sells posters of anything we'd bother to hang on our walls. I used to swear by Allposters.com, but now they're more about pricy art prints.

The IRS is still mucking around with my tax return, which I filed 16 weeks ago. The first time I called them they gave me some line about it taking eight weeks to process a paper return, which wasn't really relevant, because I filed electronically. The website told me they had deposited it a few weeks ago, but now they've changed their minds and say they might possibly mail it by Friday. I will believe it when I see $705.70 appear in the bank. Maybe this was an act of God, making sure we didn't spend it before we could put it toward hiring a moving truck.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nitty Gritty

I did finally have my last appointment today. It took all of ten minutes. He was able to confirm my condition in surgery two weeks ago, but doesn't see any reason for that to have caused the miscarriage in these circumstances. He recommended against surgical correction because it just makes lots of scar tissue which could cause hemorrhaging, more miscarriages, infertility, etc. He also wants us on contraceptives for six months, which isn't happening.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

As You Were

Despite all the headaches it entails, I have complained my last about TriCare. We did well over $10,000 of damage in the hospital alone, not including the OB and the primary provider. It was a rough few months, and apparently all we have to show for it are bills and an enormous bruise on my arm.

At least we could enjoy our four-day weekend for Independence Day. On Tuesday we wandered around the farmer's market in town and ended up with an apple from the representatives of the DeBrito Chocolate Factory. It wasn't just a caramel apple, it was an "Outrageous Caramel Apple," more specifically a "Snicker Wrapple" with crushed Snickers bars and extra chocolate. Eventually you found the apple in the middle. Pretty darn good, but not something you would want to bite into every day, particularly since we keep forgetting to sign me up for dental insurance.

Apparently my tax return (outstanding since March) has finally vanished between the IRS and the bank. I'm waiting another week for it to turn up before I start filing claims. I've already called the people and the people are useless on both ends. None of them know any more than I do. We've also started the driver's license song and dance one more time; I was a few weeks too early to renew it when I actually took the trouble to FLY back home to the DMV, so now I'm trying to resolve that issue before it expires in October. The process online was surprisingly uncomplicated, but they warned me it may very well get lost in the mail.

No kidding this time, my last OB appointment is tomorrow. Hopefully there won't be any other emergencies to reschedule me. Then maybe we can resume life as normal.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Your Cross"

"The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity
the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost
Heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His
all-knowing eyes, understood with His Divine mind, tested with
His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His
own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one
ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name,
anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation,
taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it
to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms
of the all-merciful love of God."

~ St. Francis de Sales

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spinning Wheels

Apparently we're not moving at all, at least not until October. There's no way the military will help pay for any of it, and we don't have the resources right now to do it ourselves. The last thing I want to do is beg the family for more money, so we'll just tough it out. Besides, now that we've lost the baby, the issue of general comfort isn't so pressing.

We had considered renting until October, or at least until we knew whether or not he was getting a rollback or some other extended assignment that would keep us here. But the more research I do on the rental companies and how they work, I'm more reluctant to even open that can of worms. Air mattresses are cheaper in the long run, easily disposed of, and they don't have bedbugs.

I have my last appointment with my OB tomorrow. I have a host of questions, particularly whether we should continue trying to have children or I should look into expensive corrective surgery first. I have my doubts about whether Tricare would help us with that sort of thing.

We just can't seem to catch a break out here. :'(

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moving Once, Moving Twice . . . ?

We have officially had enough of our empty house. We have decided to DITY move out here regardless of whether we might be packing up again four months, which is by no means set in stone. We spent last week at the neighbor's house watching their dogs while they were gone over their class break, and it was amazing to sit on a couch again. Dave's class break is next week, so we're hoping to get all the required paperwork and arrangements taken care of during our free time. So much for a real vacation, but when else are we supposed to go visit these offices which are only open during class hours?

It would also be nice to have a real bed on legs, and some pictures to hang. Morning sickness has stricken with a vengeance, so I spend most of my days flat on my back anyway, staring at two pasty off-white walls and a belching closet (when I don't have my face in the toilet). Crawling up off the floor to make a stumbling dash for the facilities is getting more odious every day, particularly when the air mattress doesn't hold air like it's supposed to. It also has a habit of slowly migrating away from the wall when I try to sit up to eat or watch movies, which eventually creates a gap wide enough to swallow my pillows.

While we're on the subject, food aversions are an interesting phenomenon, but aren't there supposed to be one or two foods left that aren't repulsive? I have to eat sometime, right? I've had very little luck so far finding a healthy menu to get me through the rough patches. The stuff that stays down best is always salty, soggy, floppy, limp, chewed and swallowed with minimal effort. Thank God for Taco Bell; their regular soft tacos fit the bill perfectly, and always look like they've spent the entirety of their short wilted lives next to a humidifier. For the especially sensitive days, I still resort to french fries.

Quite another story altogether, but one worth telling, is the saga of the Vanishing Rollback. A while ago, a spot opened up in another class and it was offered to Dave. It would give him a chance to backtrack a few months and get a running start at the more advanced material. It would also move his graduation date from October to March. He accepted it, and we were told the finalization process would take about a week or two. A month and several inquiries later, we were informed that the open seat had defaulted to the Army because the paperwork had been snagged up too long. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200. Fortunately, his chain of command was as frustrated as we were, and apparently they are determined to find something else for him. Whenever the next guy drops, hopefully Dave will get his spot. Or they may try him in a different language altogether, and we might never leave. One way or another, we really don't know when we'll be moving away, and we're tired of waiting to find out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Follow Up

The good news is that yesterday's bureaucratic ordeal served its purpose. After several more calls, the correction of a few computer glitches, generating and faxing of more paperwork, the crisis has been resolved. We have an appointment for next Wednesday. Yay!

Tomorrow we should be able to resolve the issue of having the wrong name on my insurance card as well. Thank God for half-day class days.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Miseries of TRICARE

How hard could it be? Go see the doctor you were assigned, get a pregnancy test, be referred to an OB/GYN. Everybody's happy.

IN REALITY:

1. Drive away from house to find phone reception. Ask assigned doctor if she will see you even if you have been unable to change your legal name with TRICARE. Be reassured and invited to visit.

2. Visit doctor, wait for an hour, and submit requested specimens.

3. Wait two days for authorized referral from TRICARE. Not too bad. Be advised by friends that there are certain OB/GYNs in the area you ought not visit on peril of your life.

4. Wait a full week for a phone call from Dr. Unintelligible-Over-Your-Voicemail.

5. Receive a letter from TRICARE with the name and number of the OB/BYN you were assigned. Be informed that you must call them (they won't actually call you like they said they would), make an appointment, call your regular doctor to inform them of the appointment, and visit TRICARE's website and log the appointment so everyone can get paid. Apparently they can't communicate amongst themselves.

6. Wait until the next day's business hours to attempt to make an appointment.

7. Drive away from house to find phone reception. Call the OB/GYN with paperwork in hand.

8. Be rebuffed by OB/GYN, who apparently isn't accepting any new patients and has no idea why you were referred to her.

9. Drive back home, nick a quick internet connection from the neighbors to look up TRICARE online.

10. Drop-down menu fails to function properly, rendering a search of the site impossible.

11. Dump Safari for Firefox and attempt search again.

12. Discover there are only two OB/GYNs in the area accepting new patients. Write down contact info.

13. Drive away from house to find phone reception. Realize you left your pen at home and have nothing to write with.

14. Drive to PX and buy a bag of cheap pens. Finally make call to new OB/GYN from PX parking lot.

15. Sit on hold for ten expensive minutes, with no music.

16. Receptionist can still barely hear you and is incapable of spelling your name correctly despite numerous attempts. She cannot promise OB/GYN will accept you without changing the referral/authorization from TRICARE. The paper from TRICARE seems to indicate that such a change would be unnecessary, but she isn't interested in an explanation.

17. Discover that the office will be closed for lunch practically all day long, and the best they can do is invite you to visit and fill out "extensive paperwork" in the hope that you will be approved upon review.

18. Drive back home and kill time writing a fuming blog post while you wait a few hours for their lunch break to end.

In conclusion, after almost two weeks, I'm still basically nowhere. No one wants to see me, no one cares a rat's hindparts about my problems, and no one anywhere really knows what TRICARE is all about. Apparently everyone has to become his own expert, because there is never anyone you can trust to give you a straight (or accurate) answer.

Is this normal? Does this happen to everyone? No wonder the world is angry.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finally Moving?

Now that a new addition to the family is on the way, we've decided to bite the bullet and move our stuff across the country. Besides, David has acquired a roll-back, and we'll be here until March. The bare minimum lifestyle is starting to get a little old, and some furniture would be really nice. We just haven't quite figured out how we're going to make it happen.

We're strongly considering a DITY move with PODS, but apparently that requires attendance at a DITY move class which will be inconvenient for him to attend (i.e. missing regular class). There is the option of a "home of record" move, which would sound great if I had some confidence that our things wouldn't be stolen or destroyed before they reached us. Apparently military movers ain't what they used to be. Maybe losing a few dozen plates and knocking the heads off a few statues is an acceptable sacrifice for acquiring an actual bed with legs? Otherwise we'll be putting the baby down to sleep in a plastic laundry basket.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Safe Return

I have successfully returned from my expedition to Virginia. I never thought I would admit it about this place, but it actually feels good to be back. I guess any place could be homey, so long as the husband is around. :)

There were times when it felt like I wasn't making much of a difference out here, especially since none of the work I do has any kind of monetary reward. But judging by the rate at which the house deteriorated during my absence, the puttering around I do all day is more helpful than I thought. I am pleased to say, however, that the dishes and the laundry were quite dutifully done while he was home alone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to the Front

So ends my short trip home. Now I get to climb back on a plane and head for the other coast. The good news is that I accomplished all of my objectives, insofar as they could be completed. My taxes are filed. I have new stickers for the car. The info on my driver's license is officially changed, but now I have to wait for it to find me via snail mail. I pray it has a safe and direct journey.

It's been a little strange behind home again, actually. It's almost like nothing ever happened, and we were just picking up where we left off in November. It was good to see the family, though.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nutrition Nazi

I have successfully converted my husband to lemon pepper and turkey burgers. Wonders will never cease. ;)

There is an ongoing war war with the air mattress as we attempt to keep air inside it. After waking up on the floor a few times, we found the leak and attacked it with superglue and Gorilla tape. It seems to be leaking again, but we have enough tape to fight the good fight for a while yet. It apparently comes with a year warranty, but only if you kept the original sales receipt and if you spend a small fortune shipping it back to the factory.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Anybody There?

Why does no one update the phone directories? Why is every official "let us help you" handout rife with incorrect information? Why do essential phone numbers of essential institutions published in essential and allegedly current lists turn out to be disconnected? Probably the same reason government offices disappear overnight. It's the freakin' Twilight Zone.

I appreciate everything the military does for us, but the insignificant and mundane disorganization is really starting to get under my skin. I'm trying to work with these people, I really am, but I feel like a hamster in a maze. Welcome to the real world, right?

And why is there little to no cell signal out here, in this bustling suburban metropolis of military families? My pathetic phone has a hard enough time connecting as it is. I was prepared to drive into town every time I wanted to use the internet, but not every time I want to make a phone call, particularly if that phone number turns out to be disconnected.

That is my rant for the day.

The Positive Post

David is apparently dismayed that I never post anything positive. For the record, in spite of the ubiquitous frustration, stress, and general isolation, we are still very happily married. I didn't expect to have to clarify the point after just seven weeks. I am glad to be here, believe it or not. Maybe I'll be more convincing in a month or two.

Friday, February 19, 2010

'Round & 'Round

Unbelievable. Fleet and Family stood us up again. The first time was mildly amusing, and even canceling on us the second time was understandable, but the third time we were shuffled into the middle of a seminar we didn't need to attend, and the person we actually did need to see was once again out sick without notice. This has been going on for a week. If we weren't on a deadline ourselves, I wouldn't mind so much. It should hopefully be worked out by Monday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whatever

I tried calling the DMV again, this time by a different number, actually got hold of a real person after holding for a half hour (a half hour of Tracfone minutes) and got the same trained monkey answer about how they can't help me unless I hop on a plane and visit them in person. I was just about ready to give up on the whole thing, but David's chain of command is baffled by the problem and determined to look into it themselves. I would dearly love to know what they turn up.

We were also supposed to obtain the last bit of official paperwork for his BAH yesterday, but when we turned up for our appointment at Fleet and Family, the guy we were supposed to see had already gone home sick some time ago. Nobody thought to call us. Apparently they're going to try working us into the schedule today. We shall see.

We're debating whether or not to bother moving our stuff at all. We're so tired of arranging things that it just seems easier to extend our domestic survival camp for the next eight months. It would certainly save us the trouble of moving away from here. It shouldn't be too bad, but I don't feel like much of a homemaker.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Crisis Recovery

Okay. Apparently the powers to which we had recourse failed to accurately inform the husband of the proper protocols by which to "move ashore." Apparently we'd been doing everything out of order, and there were several other errands and documents to be taken care of. Belatedly, a checklist was provided, a deadline was established, and the mad scramble began.

Fortunately, the majority of it has been taken care of, courtesy of overnight mail. I love overnight mail. Everything that remains to be done should be done within the week.

That just leaves my crisis of identity. No one will tell me what to do with my driver's license. This is of course all tied up with my state of residence and all those bothersome details. I wanted to get a new one in Georgia, but there wasn't time. I need to renew mine in Virginia before it expires this year (when we're supposed to be moving), but I can't change my name on it unless I come in person. The Virginia DMV hung up on me twice rather than let me talk to a real person. They couldn't give my mother a straight answer when she went to ask on my behalf, except that I should have done it "within thirty days" and that it's already too late. We're going to ask the ID card people on base when we go to get that changed (if we can get it changed), and if they don't know, we'll take a trip down to the legal office. I really don't want to bother getting licensed in California just to ditch it nine months from now, but there may be no better option.

Give me a paper-pusher. I need to strangle one. I beat a fly to death this afternoon, but that wasn't quite good enough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Madness

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!


Details to follow, if they are decent enough to print.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bureaucrats

The drama continues! Sometimes I wonder whether we'll ever be officially ironed out properly. Progress is being made, but there always seems to be more paperwork than time. :P

Monday, February 1, 2010

In Brief

Long story short, we have a house, it's almost a real home despite being all but entirely empty, and its great to finally have a place to live together.

Most of the rest of the mundane details I'd prefer not to remember.

The paperwork remains a huge nightmare. We're working it out slowly, but apparently not soon enough. I finally did get my name changed today. When I tried doing that Friday, it turned out that the office no longer existed at that particular location. I know I'll probably have to drive to Salinas again at some point, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Now that it has been dealt with, we can focus on the housing allowance mess, the insurance mess, the driver's license mess, the car registration mess, and the moving mess.

Yeah, apparently the military won't move our stuff to this particular location, especially since we're Navy types. But if we ask the right person, they might give us some money to arrange it ourselves. In any case, that's not a huge priority right now. We'll get to it eventually.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Last Drive

Hopefully I won't have to be making this drive every week anymore. If we do finish the process tomorrow, I intend to stay in the house, furniture or no furniture. Dave has to vacate the barracks as soon as possible if we want our rent allowance to kick in on time. There's a whole process involved there, but at least I'll be around to help move his stuff. In the meantime, I'm not sure when I'll next be online. There is a Starbucks five minutes away which should suffice for emergency email checking until we can get our own connection.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mostly Successful

So ends an extremely interesting (and expensive) extended weekend.

My drive down on Friday was thankfully uneventful. I was too keyed up to handle much excitement at that point. A great deal of traffic was negotiated at high speeds, gravity was defied (coming up that darn hill), ID cards were flashed, official paperwork was acquired, ownership of the vehicle and possession of insurance were proven, a great deal of navigating was done on the fly, speed bumps were conquered, and then I had finally . . . driven onto base and found the hotel. I knew it was going to be a long day.

David met me there after class, looking incredibly spiffy in his black and khaki everyday uniform. We checked in, dropped our stuff, then immediately drove off base and back down that hill in search of the housing office. Getting there proved chaotic at best; the right lane has a bad habit of turning into an exit with little to no warning around here. But the GPS saved the day once again, at least three times actually, before we finally found the place. The staff were very friendly and straightforward once we got there, but they declared it to be too late to do any touring of the vacant houses. We thought the hour and a half left before closing would have been plenty of time, but nobody asked us. They printed a list of possibles for us, encouraged us to poke around a bit (but not too much), and then closed for the weekend.

Waiting out the weekend for normal business hours in our situation was rather like being put on terminal hold on a prepaid phone; our minutes were burning rapidly. The budget didn't really allow an extended stay, but we decided to bite the bullet and keep me there through Sunday night in the hope that we could tag-team it Monday and just get the job done. We used Saturday to run errands, peak in some vacant windows, and spend some of our Target cards on survival gear like an air mattress and all it's accessories. David is plagued with exams this week, so he spent most of Sunday studying. Sarah probably should have been studying, too, but we had some time to catch up.

Monday dawned bright and early at 5AM. I dropped David off at his building and then went back to pack up the room. I put the TV on out of sheer boredom and was informed that the rain was in route once again. Serious rain. No one told me this was the rainy season over here. The clouds would be rolling in today, and Tuesday would be all about thunderstorms. It did not bode well for driving the length of the bay back and forth over the mountains, and the sleepover money had run out.

Breakfast was prepackaged bagels and muffins, courtesy of the hotel. I called the housing office and scheduled a tour for 10:30. I checked out at 9:45 and was then officially homeless for the duration. I drove back out to the office, with only one wrong turn this time. A nice representative took me for a tour of the four possible homes we were interested in (i.e., the ones that were ready NOW). Five minutes per location, twenty minutes and we were done. The guy actually made the comment that he had never finished a tour that fast. Really, there wasn't much to inspect. They were all exactly alike, except for a few obvious details. The first had nice cabinets and new carpet, but we would be requred to have it professionally cleaned before we left; the second was hardwood with nice new floors in the kitchen and bathroom; the third was hardwood, with ugly tile floors in the kitchen and bathroom; the fourth had a nice kitchen, an ugly bathroom, and smelled like toxically fresh paint. I liked the second one, no contest. I promised to return with the husband later that afternoon.

For the rest of the day, I was essentially living out of the car. I wandered around and did some bargain hunting at Ross, did some necessary shopping at Target, topped off the gas tank, drove back to base, wandered around the PX, sat in the food court, then returned to the car and rummaged through my collection of paperwork, said a rosary, munched on granola bars, cleaned the rear-view mirrors, and did whatever else I could to pass the next two and a half hours. David turned up as soon as class let out, and off we went once again. By this time, I had that drive pretty much figured out. They were ready for us, and got him to sign the line where he was supposed to. However, there is apparently a third phase of paperwork we hadn't counted on, and (lo and behold) it was too late to do it today. They were very willing to do it tomorrow, but David had a horrible exam scheduled, I had no place to stay the night, and I certainly wasn't going to drive anywhere through the thunderstorms. It was raining already, and there was some doubt that I would outrun the storm at all. We scheduled our last meeting for Wednesday, I dropped David back on base, and took advantage of a sudden break in the clouds to make my escape.

On the whole, much quality time was had, and I'm glad this was all arranged as quickly and efficiently as it has been. It was still quite an adventure, though. I am back in Cupertino now, at least for one more day. Then we can do it all again. ^_^

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Grand Exploit

Several hours later, we seem to have solved several of our perceived problems. We do have to get everything done Friday, but we have more time to do it than we thought we did. Maybe we won't have to drive like maniacs after all.

And speaking of driving, this will be my first major solo commute in California. A combination of mediums have been employed in an effort to get me and my directionally-challenged mind safely to my destination without too many turn-arounds. I have been very thoughtfully provided with ye olde fashioned paper folding maps in addition to MapQuest (which can't seem to route its way through the correct highway) and the GPS (which produces an "Error" each time it approaches a certain town along the way, and doesn't seem to know about the particular gate through which I'm supposed to enter the base). Patchworking all three together, I think I can find my way down. I'm leaving plenty early, though, just in case.

Navigating to what remains of Fort Ord, however, is entirely upon David; neither MapQuest nor the GPS seems to know of its existence. He's produced a few miracles of organization already, so I expect it will be all right.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Still Homeless

We had another lovely and productive weekend lined up. I was supposed to drive down on Friday, meet David that evening after class, spend Saturday making a leisurely trip out to look at apartments, meet with the authority figures, sign paperwork, etc., and then possibly have an address of our own.

But apparently the office in question is not open on Saturday.

How they expect to cater to a student population with a schedule like that I have no idea. The poor guy is trying to choreograph all of this today WHILE attending class. We don't even have a phone number for the office in question yet because the officers are busy elsewhere and everyone else who knows is apparently unreachable at the moment. If we fail in scheduling a special appointment on Saturday, we're going to have to see if we can get in on Friday, which would mean getting me down earlier, grabbing him as soon as he sets foot out of class and rocketing away like a bat out of hell to try getting in before they close for the weekend.

There are also some small snags to consider, like getting the car on base without the appropriate stickers, which would require getting a temporary pass on the spot, which apparently I can get even though all I have is an ID card with the wrong name on it because we haven't been able to visit Social Security because we don't have an address. Here's hoping there aren't any horrible flooded roads or other unaccounted for obstacles after this 20-year storm we've been having all week. Yes, it's still raining. Hopefully it should be enough to keep the state from burning down this summer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Save the Car!

Hailstorms? Really? I hope the little car didn't manage to come all this way just to sit on the street and get hail damage. Apparently they almost never have weather like this around here. Go figure. Flash floods and mud slides. Making that possible trip to Monterey this weekend could be very interesting.

Even the experts say this is a record-setting storm front. Everyone here can just thank me, I guess. Whoopdeedo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Family Curse

The family curse strikes again, bringing freak weather patterns and seismic anomalies whenever we move to a new place. In 2002 we brought drought, flash floods, a minor earthquake, and Hurricane Isabel to Virginia. This time I brought thunder, lightning, and rain storms the like of which California hasn't seen for a good while. The swimming pool is about to overflow. Perhaps I should have warned the locals that I was coming. They seem to appreciate the water, but I just hope my car doesn't float away in the night.

The car did arrive yesterday, by the way, in one piece and (as far as I can tell) undamaged. Today we had it checked out and changed the oil, so it should be completely road worthy. There seems to be a good deal of driving in our future this weekend.

Now that I have all the free time, I have indeed reopened the files of my neglected novel. It's still a slow process, but everyone is gradually coming to life. I owe it to Sarah at least to have something more than half a chapter before she leaves us.

Monday, January 18, 2010

One Step Closer

Today we're supposed to have the car back. The movers called on Saturday and set up a tentative delivery schedule for this morning. I'm still waiting to hear from them on that point, but it's been raining quite a lot and I suppose they're running late. It will be great to finally have an independent set of wheels so we can work our own problems without bothering all our friends in the region. However, everything I hear about driving in California seems to promise no end of on-road adventures, mostly caused by insane drivers and senseless obstacles like big trees planted in the middle of the street. I've seen the latter for myself, and I have to admit it looks like a design from the mind of a crazed landscaper who never owned a car in his life. There is some doubt that the movers will be able to negotiate their way into this neighborhood with a transport trailer on account of these trees in the road. Hopefully they'll just bring the car by itself.

David and I had a very nice weekend to ourselves on the base, and took the grand walking tour of Monterey. It's a great vacation spot, but I wouldn't want to live here permanently. We even managed to take care of some official business while we were there. I'm still stuck with my maiden name for the foreseeable future, however, until we can actually get the wheels turning with all the other office drones concerned.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Phase Two

After a mind-numbing day of traveling, I arrived safely on the west coast (with all my baggage) yesterday afternoon. I had never seen that much of the country all at once before, but unfortunately I was never quite sure what I was looking down at. It was basically one big brown patchwork of fields and cities, with the occasional bunch of mountains.

For the moment we're just waiting for the delivery of several very important items, notably the car and a lot of official paperwork. The current plan is to spend the weekend with the husband, service the car when it gets here, and then look at potential domiciles on base next week.

The blog is also due for a makeover now that the wedding is old news. If there is a demand, I will create a photobucket for wedding pictures. They're on Facebook at the moment, but if anyone wants to access them and can't, just say so. :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Done!

The wedding was perfect in all the most important ways. It's a huge relief to have it done, but still hard to see him leave again. He arrived safely and in good time on the other coast, and I hope to join him some time before the end of the month. I'm stuck behind fielding paperwork. Further details will be forthcoming when I'm not so tired, and I'll post my favorite pictures when they come back to me. :)