Thursday, November 11, 2010

Making Veterans' Day Last Just a Little Bit Longer

In 12 minutes, Taps will, just like any other day, play here at Ft. Lee. I've listened to more bugles, more cannons, more cadence calls in the past 10 days than I ever thought possible. But with every Retreat that sounds at the end of a day, with every marching Soldier that passes, and with every lone cry of a bugle at 11 PM, I am reminded of one stark truth: freedom is not free. There are sacrifices and tears and a price associated with our freedom to worship God or many gods, to curse the president, to pick a school...a side of war...a side of the street. And when we, you and I, are not laying down our lives for these freedoms, someone is. These men and women get up before the sun. As we are brewing the morning coffee, they are running in formation. As we are kissing our spouses goodbye for the day, they are kissing theirs goodbye for the month...or months. Our daily irritations would be welcome distractions from the routines they know and live.

Today, this is not about me or me and Neal. Do we have our own sacrifice looming? Yes. There is certainly no denying that. But today we are together. Taps plays now, accompanied by his snoring and the glow of my laptop. Today is not our sacrifice. But it is someone's...many someones.

I hope you paused yesterday and thought about the men, women, and children who are affected everyday by a loved one's absence...and about the men and women in uniform who go or have gone, regardless of the orders or the expectations. They all have different reasons for serving. Their reasons don't matter. Their willingness to do so does.

The video posted above is 4 minutes long. I hope you are able to find 4 minutes in your day to sit down and remember those who have sacrificed it all, and send up a prayer for those who have done what we have not. You know I don't post videos...well, ever. And I've sifted through an hour's worth of YouTube videos to find one that I thought is a good representation of how it is to live the military life. It's frustrating...humbling...painful...but at the end of the day, it's nothing compared to the beauty of an American flag waving in a slight breeze.

We are traveling back to Macon today for our pre-deployment Yellow Ribbon event on Saturday. I will be spending Champagne Friday with my favorite veteran (Sorry, Army are a very close second's *almost* a tie...really). I hope you are able to spend it with your own hero...someone who may not wear a cape or even a uniform, but makes life easier through laughter and love. A salute and a cheers.....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In This Moment

The dishes done,
the laundry folded.
Cleaning out the fridge,

the bread has molded.

Finding the time

to kiss goodbye.

Neal scurries out

with lunch and a sigh.

One vet remembers,

as many do not.

Each day is a bonus,

not an afterthought.

So I hug a little longer

and call a little more
and forget about revenge

or settling the score.

Each day is a bonus.

we mustn't ignore.
We aren't guaranteed tomorrow,

just right now, no less, no more.

This is part of The Scholastic Scribe's Tuesday Poetry Slam that she has just created. I'm certainly not ready for a microphone and a beret, but it does take me back to high school, writing poetry and pose to fit a picture. I feel like I'm 16 again. Maybe I'll have McDonald's for lunch and slip a note to Neal in study hall. Want to join in? Simply jot down a little something and then click over to Mrs. Scribe's blog and comment that you have done so. Easy as Cheese Whiz!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Champagne Friday: HOOAH!

Champagne Friday rides again...and this time from sunny (finally) Ft. Lee, VA!

As I type this, we are currently staying here:

I can see that you are incredibly jealous and I think you absolutely should be. It is very vintage. I'm pretty sure they were even able to keep the original air filters. How lovely that they have worked so diligently to keep everything original to the building, circa 1961. (Clearly, it's a little early in the winter season for this picture to be one of mine. Thank you so much US Army websites!)

However, if we play our cards just right and secure a PCS to Ft. Lee after Iraq, we could be living here:

My apologies to the nice family whose house I was camped outside of drooling and photographing.

So, to celebrate Champagne Friday, I'm going to leave you with some observations of Ft. Lee 72 hours into my visit:

1) The housekeeping staff, also known as Sharon, is extremely friendly. She is also very honest. She really doesn't appreciate it when visitors leave money scattered about as if to lure her into a made-for-Dateline-filming trap. And if you must leave your underwear on the floor, the least you could do is make sure they are clean. No one wants to see your accident.

2) The gym across the field from us has a cardio room. It is quite possibly the most awkward set-up I've ever seen...and seeing as my degree is in Kinesiology, I've seen a few. The treadmills face the ellipticals. Both sets of equipment have televisions hanging directly overhead. So, the treadmill users are expected to watch the TVs over the elliptical users' heads and vice versa. Basically, if you are like me and love to watch how people walk, run, or just behave in general, you tend to let your eyes wander to the individuals down below. That gets awkward.

3) There are bugles for everything. There are 7:00 AM bugles, noon bugles, 12:30 bugles, 5 PM bugles, 5:30 bugles, and 11:00 bugles. And I may have missed a couple as I'm not here all the time. Yesterday, they fired cannons at 5:30. I'm aware of all of this because the loud speaker is just over yonder from our room. (I can say over yonder because it's Virginia. And the seat of the Confederacy. Which is basically Mother Planet for the South.) I sleep through the 7 AM bugles so no worries there. But I wish someone had warned me about the cannons. I'm not sure my heart will ever beat regularly again.

4) If you skip a workout, you will suddenly find yourself shamed into dragging butt to the gym because everyday after the 5PM bugles, a squadron (or 10) begins doing PT, complete with synchronized counting, across the lawn. Yesterday it rained for 12 hours straight. And yet, there they were, counting, jumping, jacking, and pushing up (which, Shana, is nothing like push-upping). In the rain. I didn't drag butt to the gym, though. I just stood there and watched and prayed none of them caught their death of pneumonia.

5) Either everyone is getting lots of good sleep, lots of good sex, or lots of good food because they are all alarmingly friendly and helpful. Even when it rained for 12 hours, I was still inspired by the Soldier on MP duty, standing in the rain and checking IDs. When I said, "what a day to work outside, huh?" she smiled and said, "oh that's OK. I like the rain." Who the hell likes 50 degree rain? No one. But 2587403 points to her for at least saying it.

I'm now jaunting off to Richmond, about 25 minutes away to scout out sights to see and food to eat should Neal happen to get the day off tomorrow. And I may hit a bead store or 2 while I'm there. But never fear, I'll be back for 5:00 bugles and PT!

Happy Champagne Friday, darlins!!

Are you drinking champagne with me today? Have you been to Ft. Lee? Can I bring you a cannon back as a souvenir?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

S.L.U.T.S. Tour the South

Before I even begin, I must commend Shana @ Fumbling Towards Normalcy on her most excellent recap of last weekend's festivities and buffoonery. And I suggest you hop over to read her blog, as I will only be giving the highlights with pictures and she does a fantastic job of providing you with the bigger picture.

Now, she is absolutely correct in saying that I picked her up with a small bar packed in the trunk because, really, what kind of southern belle and blog author of Magnolias & Mimosas would I be if I didn't at least greet her with mimosas? Although, just in case she preferred a little something harder (or softer) at 11:00 AM, I brought a variety. And my compliments to Class VI at Robins AFB for making all of this possible for under $50. Shana has generously posted photos of Georgia Aqurarium Parking Garage Mimosa Drinking on her blog. (And yes Mama Virgo, this was before we got out of the car and walked around Centennial Park for like 3 hours, so it's all good.)

Because we all know that Virgos love their lists, here's a top 21 from our S.L.U.T.S. (Southern Ladies Under Tremendous Stress) Tour of the Deep South:

1. When staying in Atlanta, may I suggest always staying in The Glenn Hotel on Marietta Street. Always. The staff is young and flirty, the decor is hip, and the views from the rooftop bar are spectacular. Plus, there is a frosted pane of glass between the shower and the bedroom...y' case you are into voyeurism.
leading into the bar from the elevator

the bar (which was decorated for the Halloween party that we slept through)

view from the rooftop bar

rooftop bar with my lovah, CNN, in the background. kisses, Anderson!

2. It is 3 1/2 hours from Atlanta to Savannah. If you must make that drive with someone, I recommend doing so with someone who loves to swap stories as much as you. I love my husband. He does not swap stories. It is a very quiet drive. Sometimes I make up jingles for tampon commercials in my head.

3. Your first stop in Savannah should absolutely be at Savannah Candy, preferably on River Street, so that your second stop can be at some incredibly touristy gift shop to get your fortune told by Zoltar.
Shana gets caught with her hand in the taffy bin

fortunately, when we woke the next morning, Shana was exactly the right size

4. If Zoltar repeatedly rejects your $1, perhaps you don't want to know your fortune after all.
my fortune: "You talk too much. Close your mouth and open your ears. But you are always willing to be helpful to others." So, I guess there's that...

5. There is a difference between sexy witch...
and slutty witch...
It is important to know the difference.

6. When presented with the choice, always spend the extra $15 for a set of really good fangs. You'll never regret it.

7. Halloween weekend is precisely the best time to take a hearse tour around Savannah. Someone else drives your drunk ass through the entire city while you get to see everyone's costume from a seat that is sort of like what the Pope rides around in the PopeMobile. I highly recommend it. (Again, Shana has the best costume pictures posted on her blog)

8. If your tour guide happens to be Wes, a firefighter with the Savannah FD, he may take you into a burned out building that is supposedly extremely haunted. If you are, by your very nature, a total horror wuss, you're going to need to be pretty toasted when you tour this house. In effect, by the time you see this:
everything should look like this:
Trust me. Especially if Wes tries to take you into the basement. And my sincerest apologies to Shana, who kept getting snagged on my bracelet and instead, was sure she was being violated, repeatedly, by the black vomiting ghosts of Savannah's Yellow Fever epidemic.

9. This is Wes, the firefighter tour guide (in the black t-shirt, not the fishnet. Although, I would not have been particularly shocked if he had been in fishnet).
Even if you dress like this for your hearse tour, Wes will not take you home at the end of the night. He has standards, after all.

10. If you tour the burned out house that Yellow Fever built, you will be plagued by the first sign of Yellow Fever, black vomit, even if you have only consumed 1 mojito and 3 LIT's through the course of the evening. To prevent black vomit, may I suggest avoiding River Street's "Savannah Tea" and not eating beef tenderloin bruschetta for dinner. Also, watching Paula Deen on TMZ will only make you sicker. (Again, my sincerest apologies to Shana the Good Witch for not being able to hold my liquor. I blame the Savannah Tea. And the Yellow Fever, of course.)

11. Hell yeah, Y'all...Paula Deen will cure that hangover faster than you can say "fried chicken makes my liver sing a lover's ballad."
ain't nuthin' wrong with dat

12. The Shalom, Yall Jewish Festival will completely destroy any hope you may have of getting a decent shot of the beautiful fountain at Forsyth Park.

Well, one without tables, people, and tents, that is. But you will get to see and sign the pink fire truck, if you so desire. Ruby the fire truck, dedicated to Breast Cancer awareness.

13. If you absolutely feel called to build a house, the least you could do is build it in Savannah. They just don't build 'em like this in Jersey. Can I get an amen?

14. Leopold's Ice Cream Shop is famous. And a perfectly acceptable substitute for lunch.

15. May you never say a negative word about the Holiday Inn Express on Bay Street. The staff is helpful, the price can't be beat, and they also boast a lovely rooftop view of the river. No bar up there, but I think I will suggest it when I write my review on TripAdvisor.
Holiday Inn Express...not just for the Griswolds anymore...

16. Someone (who shall remain nameless, but has been to Savannah numerous times, unlike the other traveler) may try to tell you that The Pirate's House restaurant is absolutely, definitely, and without a doubt on River Street. She will then force you to walk the entire length of River St. 4 times in search of this illusive and supposedly haunted touristy spot.
It is not actually on River Street. But a simple phone call from your fancy new Droid will tell you that.

17. When you finally make it to The Pirate's House, you may feel obligated to choose between shrimp n'grits and pecan-crusted chicken. May I suggest refusing to choose and ordering both?
And the veggies are sliced and sauteed. Not from a Bird's Eye bag. I asked.

18. New Yorkers understand a lot of things...what a bagel is supposed to taste like...where you can find a purse that is easily mistaken for one from the Valentino to travel in large crowds without actually having to touch someone. But what they will never understand unless they leave New York is shrimp n' grits. This is a Shrimp N' Grits Virgin getting her first taste of the explosion of flavors that is only possible down here in the Land of Milk and Honey.
Yeah, want to see that face more often? Give that girl grits! And a bottle of wine wouldn't hurt, either.

19. Bonaventure Cemetery is worth the short jaunt over to Thunderbolt, GA. Made famous by the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it used to house the famous Bird Girl statue. Now, you must give your $20 to the Telfair Museum's Jepson Center in order to see Bird Girl. She is probably miserable. Wouldn't you be if you were uprooted from acres of silence and Spanish moss, only to be plopped down on cold tile, surrounded by electronic eyes? Yes, I thought so. But many other statues are still located in Bonaventure. I propose you get your photos now, before someone else makes them famous. Also, if you start seeing mobile homes and chickens running through the yard on your journey to Bonaventure, you haven't gone quite far enough.

20. It is impossible to take a picture of the Spanish moss that captures its true and mystical form. Case in point...
The only person I know who has been able to pull off a truly spooky Spanish moss/cemetery picture is Salt.

21. Finally, even when you are completely sober (albeit still suffering from an alcohol/fried bacon grease hangover), you will still try to tell your northern traveling partner that the Spanish moss growing in the trees is an "orgasm" as opposed to an "organism," clearly indicating that the next deployment is going to be extra rough.

A city girl and a southern belle walk into a bar...and the town is never the same. And I'm looking so forward to bringing the south to the north this spring. If I come home saying "youse guys" though, I may just have a come-apart.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Pink Campaign Big Reveal is the 3rd of November and technically Breast Cancer Awareness Month ended 3 days ago. I blame the Army. And I-85 traffic. But here I am in somewhat sunny and excessively chilly Ft. Lee, VA. It looks exactly like the set of An Officer and a Gentleman...except no one is D.O.R'ing and I have yet to hear "Up Where We Belong." But other than that, exactly the same. Atlanta and Savannah with Shana were, to put it simply, roaring good times and now that I have lots of time to sit and type, I will be recounting our adventures through the genteel south. But today is the Big Reveal of how much money was raised with Daisy & Elm's The Pink Campaign. I think I may have promised a vlog with Shana...however, that requires a certain amount of knowledge about the webcam installed on my computer. And a certain amount of sobriety. Neither of which were readily available to us. So, we did pictures. We were going to photograph Shana in her divinely sexy (but not Halloween Express shoppers should know the difference by now) witch's costume, but decided to do it in her new Lady Shan-blis hat (if you don't get that, you are overdue for a viewing of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). I think you will all agree that it becomes her.

So, without further ado....

This is the money we have raised thus far for Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure.

And THIS is the money that COULD be raised if everyone, who has not done so already, hops onto the fan page and reviews their purchase under the "Reviews" tab. Go ahead. I'll wait. I will wait exactly 6 days. Check mails on Monday morning. I don't know...that $434 check is awfully pretty. And look how much happier she is about this one! Make Shana happy. It's a beautiful thing.

I would like to specifically thank Shana @ Fumbling Towards Normalcy for posing with checks in this Big Reveal. I would also like to thank Amanda @ It's Blogworthy and Kallay @ Kallaydoscope for re-posting and re-tweeting about The Pink Campaign almost everyday. And to everyone who did the same but I failed to catch them in the act, thank you as well! You all made this a successful event and quite literally, I could not have done this without you. I am beyond thrilled to send such a donation to such a worthy charity. And I absolutely plan on doing this again next year!

On a somewhat related note, let me address those of you who have friends and family members who have fought and won, or fought and lost, their battle with a horrific disease that was not breast cancer. I have heard you and I know that it sometimes seems unfair that Breast Cancer Awareness gets so much attention in October. What about Prostate Cancer? Or Leukemia and Lymphoma? What about childhood cancers? These are all devastating, yet often ignored by everyone except those touched by them. So, today I'm instituting a new policy at Daisy & Elm. If you purchase an item from me, either from Facebook or the Etsy store (or my website should I actually get it up and running sometime while I'm here) and you would like for your payment to benefit a particular charity, please let me know when you are ordering. I will send my entire profit to the charity of your choosing upon receipt of payment. I will only keep the cost of my materials used. If you order this piece during the month that has been chosen to recognize your charity, I will send 100% of your payment, in exchange for a review of your item...just as we did this month. I hope that is a fair and decent compromise. While I have lost women close to me to Breast Cancer, I have lost far more loved ones to Alzheimer's, heart disease, and miscarriage. The charities that represent those causes are nearest to my heart and if given the opportunity, they are the ones I would choose to fund. I want to give you the opportunity to do the same.

Thank you again for making The Pink Campaign so successful and now that I'm 2 hours from DC, keep your eyes peeled for new bling with White House beads...if I can find them!

Peace, love, gorgeous jewelry, and a beautiful cause...