Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fix Bayonets

So, what does this photo have to do with what I am about to write? Absolutely nothing! I just thought it was a reasonably good pic of myself and the QM General, Brigadier General Cross...nice guy, but totally beside the point! So I was running today...big surprise, right? It was my favorite type of day, raining and cold, which meant the trails were all mine. No one in their right mind would be out on a day like today. Although it was nasty out, the trees were budding and the crocuses were just peeping out of the ground, so I figured, being a hardy New Hampshirite, that a nice long run would be perfect.
Donning my spandex and layers of tops, I started out for the battlefield. The battlefield is a great place to engage in any outdoor activity, but there are some risks involved. One such risk is the deer. I love them dearly (no pun intended) but something spooked the herd my way, and I think I gave the poor animals quite a fright, as they all ran headlong onto my trail, only to be rudely interrupted in their flight by this scrawny biped. Well, they put on the brakes, and so did I, and we both turned tail and ran. I made it a couple hundred yards before my curiosity made me go back. I wanted to see what could have spooked a herd of the most calm deer in the world. So I jogged towards the clearing that I knew was close. I could here movement, which was odd, as I am the only person ever to go that way (at least I have never seen another soul by this ruined old foundation/ chimney that reside in the field). I slowed to a walk coming out of the woods, and could not believe the scene in front of me. I had a platoon of rebels coming my way! The damn Confederates were out in full force. So I did what any good soldier would do: I dove for the closest cover and concealment (a large well placed sycamore) and started making a plan. Could I take them all on my own? I was weaponless, but those single shot riffles didn't look too deadly...Hold on...the Civil War is over! Now this poor little LT was just confused. Crouching behind my tree, it dawned on me. These guys were Civil War reenactors! So, feeling very foolish, I made my way back to the trail and continued with my run. Further on, going back towards the car, I did run into a couple of them making camp. Once again, I had a hard time believing I was in 2009, and not 1864. They not chatted with me a bit and were true southern gentlemen. I could swear I was in Gone with the Wind. All I have to say to that is, "Oh, Ashley!" As I have said, there are some dangers you must look out for when running on the battlefield, yet I never expected one of them to be Confederates!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Possibly Coming To An Editorial Page Near You

The below explains itself mostly. I hope this is the only place that this is ever posted, I hope we can clear this up. I want a dog. And I thought this was relatively well written. I just hope that I can get to print it out and let Trueman chew it to pieces:

For my wife and I, both new LTs and Platoon leaders in Grafenwoehr, Germany is our beginning. While we have been together for more than 5 years, and have been officers for coming up on a year, this is our first permanent duty station. Like any young couple, we are eager to start a family, but perhaps not in the normal way. While children are definitely in our future, the family we are talking about needs just one addition. That addition should have 4 (or 3) legs, a tail (or stub), lots of energy, big ears (or small) and a nice wet nose. Yes, we came here looking for a challenge, for the beginning of our careers, and a dog. In all honesty, I expected the first two items to be the challenge, not the last. Not just any dog will do, we want one that loves us, and that we can love. I thought we had found that with Trueman. A mutt in the truest sense, Trueman stole our heart from miles away. Over the internet my wife and I searched from both sides of the Atlantic, and stumbled upon the dog of our dreams. Using my D- earning to its fullest, I waded my way through emails until finally being put in contact with Trueman’s foster mom. Which is where it got difficult.

I have experienced prejudice against soldiers before, I am from a famously liberal part of the country where ignorant people stain my fine political leanings by using it to mock and abuse the holders of duties and responsibilities they don’t comprehend. But I never expected to encounter it in a dog foster parent. Nowhere in my mental list of challenges on the road to doggie adoption was this even a consideration. Yes, it would cost extra to get my rental car cleaned of dog hair, yes, I would have to hurry up the unpacking to spare our belongings from becoming chew toys, and horror of horrors I would have to pick up dog poop. I just didn’t think that being a Soldier made me incapable of taking care of a dog. I thought a dog that had been in care for longer than I have held a commission would be easy to adopt into a loving home. I never thought that among the wonderful people who deciphered my mangled German in emails, the one who spoke English would hold me in such contempt. Yes I am bitter, yes I am sad, and yes, I wish Trueman were here. Don’t let this stop you from the search for your own addition to the family. Let it be a warning, that there are some who don’t respect what we do, and who let that get in the way of rescuing those fine creatures that cannot help themselves.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gruss Gott

Okay, so it has been too long since I update the blog on my wanderings and adventures. Now, thanks to a moment or two to breathe, I will seek to ameliorate that. In the spirit of full disclosure, that means that for the evening I have given up on unpacking and have surrendered to the war zone that is unpacking without sufficient storage equipped furniture.
Oh yes, as the previous statement would imply, Jak and I now have another house. This one isn't ours to keep forever and ever, but it has its compensations. Like the fact that I don't pay the mortgage, the rent, the utilities, or damned near anything but the internet. We (I at this point, we in 18 days, not that I am counting) now reside in Building 116B, USAG Grafenwoehr. It is actually a really nice place, with the exception of some rather dated flooring. If you dont believe me, ask Ethan and Pa, they are the only other souls who have set foot in it so far, and they can attest to how nice it is, and how futile my unpacking efforts have been so far.
I moved in last Wednesday, and they came down that evening to help with things. It was awesome to see them both, I had on the previous weekend as well, but both times were great. I must admit it was frustrating that Pa's German seems to be better than mine. So much for that old dog new trick thing.
In other news, I am now the Platoon Leader of 2nd Platoon, 41st Transportation Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command. How is that for a mouthful? It is quite cool, every LT dreams of getting a platoon right off of the bat, and I have.
Now, as with all things in the military, there are several twists. I am an Ordnance Officer, quite proud of it, yet I am leading a Transportation Platoon. I wont go into details, but the names themselves should suggest the great difference between those two jobs. I still know how to lead troops, I just dont know what they are doing. I took over last Tuesday, just in time to take a PT test in a snow storm, doing the run in a parking lot that was kind of, by which I mean not really, clear of snow. After a total of 4 days with my platoon (okay 3, one of those days I was moving in) I was assigned to be the Unit Movement Officer. Again, explanation will have to wait, lets just say I had to ask what that was. The first part of that is to take a 2 week class, which started yesterday. So my second week in charge, in the midst of trying to work with my equally new Platoon Sergeant on a training schedule, is now spent away from the unit. To be exact, it is spent 115 Kilometers away in Bamberg, a distance myself and 2 NCO's from my unit drive back and forth each day. I am not complaing (much), I am just saying there is never a lack of excitement with the army.
Now for some fun things I have encountered, placed in bullet format as I fear my writing is beginning to deteriorate:

  • I have driven on the Autobahn at 150KPH and been passed like I was parked. . .
  • I did the same going 120, in a snow storm
  • I found a bike shop that has parts stockpiled in a parts area the size of our Condo, many of which I havent seen except in the "New Old Stock" sections on Ebay
  • I have already become know as the biking LT, and I havent even gotten a chance to put them back together yet
  • I have been assigned as Jak's sponsor
  • I bought a dining room table and chairs, they are wicked cool
  • My express shipment was sent to the wrong end of Germany, so I still dont have the things that were supposed to be here first
  • I heard Tina Turner for the first time on the radio. . .
  • and than heard her for the second time. . .in one day
  • I saw Ethan, and his iPhone is inferior to my Blackberry
  • I have cooked myself dinner every night since I have moved in, and God it is amazing to cook again!
  • Multiple old German women have assumed I am German. . .
  • Until I start talking
  • I found a Xylophone in our stuff
  • I spelled Xylophone right
That is all for now, sorry for the ramblings.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

These are the most wonderful invention ever! Well, I might exaggerate a little, but these workout bands are fantastic! I know I need to strength train, but I detest lifting weights. I will go to the ends of the earth to avoid it. By using these bands (and the neat instructional DVD) I was able to get a pilates strength workout in just over half an hour. I love that you can vary the resistance depending on ability level or exercise. I cannot be happier with my $14.99 purchase! This may sound like a commercial, but I like them...Alli, I think these are great, and you should get a pair to help work your arms in preparation for mountain and 'cross seasons. They are also good for a killer ab workout, too. Mum, with your killer arms you would snap them...just kidding, but close! Next time you see me, I may almost (and by almost I mean not even close) be able to beat Mum at arm wrestling! Anyway, this was my success for the day. I had a good run, chatted with Miller a bit, and got a bit of work done. I miss you all. Can't wait to get out of here! 18 Days until Germany!

A Day in the life of a lonely LT in Fort Lee....

So I am a complete loser. Yesterday was a good day, at least in my books. In the morning, I went down to Williamsburg, stopped at the outlets and bought some neat stuff (I am stocking up on the things I like that are harder/more expensive to get in Germany). After that short excursion, I came back to the Fort Lee area and decided to walk the unusual! Not. Although the light was poor, I did get some interesting photos. None of them were all that great, and I must have looked funny sneaking through the woods to get close to the deer (not a very challenging thing), but it was fun. Later, I was able to aquire all the rest of James Herriot's books, and read one, All Things Bright and Beautiful, last night. I really have enjoyed reading his books, all true stories about a rural veterinarian. I would suggest them to anyone who loves animals and a bit of humor! Anyway, that about wraps up my day yesterday. I know it isn't exciting, but I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ode to the Old Man and Car Washing Adventures

So I miss him. I think I drove by the site four times this last weekend and got teary every time. People not from New Hampshire probably do not get our obsession with a chunk of granite that looks like a face. They may ask why we still keep it on our license plates and road signs. I don't really know why we love the Old Man of the Mountains, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that most New Hampshirites see ourselves in him. We are a tough group who are solid and predictable. We enjoy the changing of the seasons and possess the abilities to withstand whatever is thrown at us. So even though he is no longer with us, the spirit of New Hampshire that he embodied lives on....and whatever people say, Indian Head will not replace him, as I stared at Indian Head (off of exit 33 on 93 North) for ten minutes and still couldn't see an indian's head in the rock!
Now on to a completely different thought: car washing. So, like the good OCD person I am, I wash my car and vacuum it out far more often than most people, including my lovely husband who has been known to let things rot in his car. When I drove in to the carwash yesterday, I lovingly scrubbed my car, rinsed it, and even put on the shiny tire stuff I love so much. I then proceeded to vacuum it, wash the interior windows, and clean the leather. When putting the final touches on my sexy VW, I noticed that not only was I the only female in the packed car cleaning place (I expected that), but I was the only white person there. Why is it that people of other ethnicities take care of thier cars so well? Granted some of the cars they drive look silly with 23 inch wheels on a civic, but that is a whole other rant entirely! I mean, the guy next to me had a late '90's Toyota, but was waxing it as if it were a Mercedes. It looked as if it had just rolled out of the show room, even though it was ten years old. That was also true to be said for every car in the carwash lot. Why is it that white people just don't seem to care about thier cars. Case and point: Miller NEVER had washed his car before he got his Jetta and I started forcing him to. Alli had Red Hots embedded in her floor mats last week! It kills me to see it, because I would wash and vacuum that car every week in the summer. I even did that to our decrepit '87 Camry that she and I shared in high school (granted any love I put into it went out the window when the brake line burst and Alli ran into the back of a black Ford Focus after school senior year...). I don't know why I love my car and obsessivly take care of it, or why a higher percentage of blacks keep thier cars in pristine condition. I am not sure what this has to do with anything, but it is food for thought!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our New Place

Firstly, I must say, "Thanks Auntie Robin for being the best mortgage broker in the world!" Secondly I must say "Thanks random Air Force LTC for leaving us a ton of good beer in the fridge!" Alright, so today was the first full day that Miller and I were homeowners. It felt great! I love saying that I own a place in Lincoln, NH, my favorite town in the world! The previous owners kept the place spotless and left even more than was in the contract (we bought it furnished), including my favorite lamps that they said they were taking. The location is great (less than two minutes drive from Loon Mountain, and about 15 minutes from Cannon). Everyone has dogs in the neighborhood (always a good sign!). To top it all off, the previous owners left us a rock from Antarctica, a ton of awesome board games and two MREs. What more could you need in life! Anyway, if you all want to check out photos they are on

Friday, February 13, 2009


After months of mild disaster brought on by the evil manipulations of Snoopy's puppet masters, we have not only left them behind for Merrimack Mortgage, but Merrimack has actually done the impossible. Namely, they have said "here is a closing time" and than done it!!!! So thanks to the magic of blackberry messenger being free and working from here to the states, my beautiful bride informs me that we are now homeowners!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fort Lee....

I know I have not written in a while, as I have been a busy bee or a bored bee, one of the two. I used to think that working with petroleum or water purification would be very interesting. Not so much anymore. Let me just put it this way: yesterday it was 72 degrees in lovely Virginia. That is just a death sentence for my concentration abilities for dull subjects. I, having no desire to go to class made some appointments to square away my thoroughly jacked-up orders, get a new ID card, and arrange for the the shipment of both my stuff and myself to Germany. Having left class very early in the day, I thought that it wouldn't do any more damage for me to miss a bit more instruction after finishing with my administrative excursions, so I went for a six mile run, took a long bath, and finally dragged my well pampered rear-end back into class. The instructor was still talking about the same subject as when I left five hours earlier! To make it worse, he didn't even notice I had left, picking up a conversation I had been having with him earlier while we took a short break during the lesson. Some days here, I wonder what, if anything I am learning. Now don't get me wrong, I do not condone skiving off class, but sometimes, for the sake of sanity is necessary... I mean heck, I have gone through so many soduku books here (I would read, but that is really obvious, whereas writing on a soduku page makes it look like you are taking notes), I should own stock in puzzle book companies!
Although I have been bored, I did have a great adventure this last weekend. I took a drive to Richmond to find some new MTB trails and found a gold mine of fun! Not only did I ride on some great trails (although I am still a bit sick, so I did spend quite a bit of time hacking), I found the niftiest park. Right in the middle of the city, there is a park called Belle Isle. To get there, you have to walk on a suspended pedestrian bridge that spans the James River. After crossing the river you can walk along all the trails by the water. From these great trails, I was able get onto some rocks pretty far out into the river to get some great photos of white-water kayakers. It was a blast. If you ever come to Richmond, a city I truly enjoy, be sure to check out all the great recreational activities it has to offer. Richmond is just dandy, as it is truly dedicated to preserving its great history and natural spaces, while progressing into a modern city (but luckily, the city has recently voted to ban any expansion into the surrounding areas to prevent urban sprawl). Just my very biased opinion...Lastly, I will in NH this weekend!

Crazy Europeans

Just for now, here are some of my observations of Europe's quirks (at least from an American perspective).

-Sports: they like random ones, making Eurosport always fun. Some prime examples of things I have watched so far are the Welsh Open Championships of Indoor Boccie and Competitive Arm Wrestling

-Bike Paths: They are everywhere! This is amazing, or it will be once my bikes show up

-Pork: It may just be a German thing, but the love of pork is something I was surprised by. It is pretty tasty and wicked cheap though

-Built in Tax: Dear USA, please take a hint. It makes much more sense to put the tax on an item in the price, or maybe that is just me. I also like it because for major purchases I can get a VAT exemption form, removing that 19% tax from the item.

-Pants: Yes they wear pants, but damn, how do they get into them. At least when I have been in some of the city centers on my admittedly limited travel, I have been impressed. It must take forever to get dressed.

-American Music: Now I have never been all that up to date on my music tastes, but than again I have never thought it acceptable to have UB40's Greatest Hits playing in a store. They like the most randomly bad American Music.

-Beer: Their beer is heavenly, but strangely their purity laws (in Germany at least) prevent any playing around with ingredients. It is still awesome though

More will follow I am sure

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Week In Review

Well in all honesty, it is slightly more than a week. Last Saturday myself and the other two LT's from my unit, Katie and Jen, went to Regensburg. It is a beautiful medieval city, with an absolutely stunning cathedral. Complete with a gargoyle of Jews suckling on a pig. Who says anti-Semitism is a new phenomenon. Well I suppose no one does, but it is disturbingly interesting to see something like this that is hundreds of years old. The inside of the cathedral was amazing, but no photos allowed, so I will just have to say it is breathtaking. And it has a catacomb, which is wicked cool. We wandered around the town, having amazing Gelato, seeing lots of cool stuff, and had dinner in a restraunt that in the states would have cost us a fortune. All in all, Regensburg is awesome.
The week was more eventful, as on Wednsday I came down with what can only be described as hellish gastrointestinal fireworks. Further explanation need not be delved into. We also had the memorial for the soldier who died the Friday before I got here. The ceremony was the most emotional thing I have seen in long time, my thoughs are with his family, and I know they will get the answers they want once the investiation is complete.
Thursday was the culmination of my Head-Start class (Germany for Dummies) where we went to Anberg for a field trip. Saw another amazing church, totally different style but still stunning. We had lunch at the restraunt right there (its from the 1600's) and I had venison, which was awesome. Then we explored the town, which again, is amazing. I have never expierenced the sheer beauty of the towns and cities here, and I really dont think it is going to get old. We also went to Real, the German version of Wal-mart, where I bought the essential things in life. Gummy Bears, Bike Magazines, and Harry Potter. The last is for Jak, as reading it still is way beyond my German abilities, but I still felt cool.
I am starting to recover from my gastrointestinal adventures, and Jak is out of the field, though still quite sick. I should find out about our housing situation this coming week after some paperwork SNAFU's, as always, people seem to have no idea what to do when there is a dual-military couple. Anyways, I am rambling, and have things that need to be done. Love to you all.