Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

And the clock is ticking

Some people have been asking me how this moment feels. My sisters and I are part of “The Muppet Show” generation. We grew up when Muppets were entertainment for both adults and children. And the Muppets have appropriate songs for the moment.

A couple of weeks ago, “Saying Goodbye”was the song.

And now, I know the clock is ticking, and soon Josh and I will be Together again.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Introduction to the trip posts

Instead of posting everything in one shot, I thought that I’d do several posts. That way, those who are not interested in aspects of the send off can skip to the parts they are interested.

Time in Mississippi (not including military stuff): here.
Time in Florida: here
The “Pomp and Circumstance” of the time in Mississippi: here

Southern Hospitality

I didn’t know this until we checked into the Bed and Breakfast, but when I made the reservations, they didn’t have a place for us to stay. They spent two months getting a room ready, a room that they were not going to open until the summer! The Hotel Alice gets major points for taking the extra mile.

The Hotel Alice is in the broad category of Bed and Breakfasts, this one having a continental breakfast provided. Price wise, it was a good deal. So, if you’re in southern Mississippi and don’t want to stay in a chain hotel, this is a little less expensive then the Fairfield Inn or like hotel.

The owner of Hotel Alice was very nice. Apart from the obvious above, she and her staff prayed for Josh and me before we left for Florida. It was very important for them that they new Josh had a Bible and believed it before they let us leave.

Also, before the pass, Josh had to wear his ACUs (that’s the new battle uniform). And, though we were generally left alone while we were eating out, at each restaurant, someone would come up to us and thank Josh for what he was doing. You see, Hattiesburg is where all of the National Guardsmembers go for training before Iraq (and maybe Afghanistan, though I’m not entirely certain on that). So, the locals know the routine. Most of the guys wearing ACUs are not from Mississippi, are away from home, and getting ready to go to Iraq. They are very nice and appreciative of what is going on. And they do what they can to make the soldiers feel at home.
As a side note, besides the hospitality from the ladies at Hotel Alice, Josh experienced a great deal of hospitality from the owner of the Lemstone Books Franchise, now called Bob’s Books. Josh became friends with Bob and the other staff members. Bob also prayed for us before we left for Florida and gave us some free CDs for our edification.

Somewhat Normal

What! How did you grow up to refer to this as normal? OK, the place we stayed at was certainly out of the ordinary, but it was my goal to try to make things seem kind of close to normal. You see, on a four day pass, the last one before leaving the states, it’s nice to have something great to remember, but you don’t really want to do tons of sight seeing, or at least, Josh didn’t. My goal in picking a place to stay on the pass was two fold. First, no spring breakers. Second, I wanted a place that we could maybe feel like a normal couple again. A furnished condo seemed to fit the bill nicely.

Sure, life on the beach in an obviously expensive resort is not what is in the normal experience of life. However, deployments are not normal, either. So, we do what we can.

On Friday night, Josh and I ate a nice dinner at the restaurant at the resort. What a meal! Yes, though I still mostly eat vegetarian, I had a steak, and what a steak! On Saturday, we had facials and massages. Yes, Josh had a facial, too. They were wonderful, and we felt very pampered. Josh felt so pampered, that he wanted to buy a bathrobe like the one in the spa to take to Iraq with him. I obliged. Also, in the condo, there were beach towels with a note attached that we were able to take the beach towels home with us as part of our rental payment, but, they said we couldn’t take the bath towels. So, Josh is taking two towels with him, and I have the other two.

On Sunday, we went to church. Grace Lutheran Church was a good church to visit. There were a lot of Navy and Marine veterans who attend that church, as well as many active service members. The pastor, a Navy veteran, was very kind and prayed over us after the service. It was nice that though we are not members of that church, they shared Christian encouragement and treated us like we belong. And we did belong.

Monday, we took our time leaving and returning to Mississippi. We were both starting to feel the stress of the inevitable good-bye, and it was starting to show. Out of sheer curiosity, we drove on the cost between Biloxi and Gulf Port. Words to not describe the devastation that Katrina caused. One thing that did cause me a little amusement was a telephone post, lone on a corner of destruction, with its Nader/LaDuke sticker in tact.

We had a wonderful pass, and a great time. Josh and I listened to NARN on Saturday and the Pastor’s Bible Study re-run on Sunday. Both things we normally do at home. It was fun.

Oh, and by the way, Josh is bringing his Hugh Hewitt “Minne-so-cold” t-shirt with him to Iraq.

Pomp and Circumstance

As has been printed in the media, we had a steak picnic and a departure ceremony. Both were wonderful. And some of the questions like, “Did you see Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman flipping steaks?” I answer, “No.” There were forty-five hundred troops plus their families there. It’s not that I didn’t care to notice, rather, it’s hard to notice. A good time was had by all, and soldiers like free beer and steak. (Well, they do.)

I have personally never been to a military parade before, though I have been to a military ball before. So, I had a general idea of what to expect from a formal military event. I was impressed, and it was well put together.

The troops marched onto the parade grounds over a hill. Then, the official party was introduced. The official party consisted of Lt. Governors of the various states represented in the 34th ID, and some local politicians, such as state senator Dean Johnson. The Chaplain prayed. Next, there was something called the “Adjutant’s Call” where the units were introduced. Governor Pawlenty and the generals were introduced. Next, the flag was presented and the National Anthem was performed and “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was played (shame on the piccolo and the brass for wussing out on the solos!).

And Governor Pawlenty and the generals all spoke. Thankfully, they, like the rest of us, were exposed to the rain, so they kept it quick. Someone also told of the history of the MN National Guard. That part does vary from time to time. It depends on if they go back to the Minute Men or not. This time, they did a brief history of the 34th ID, tracing it back to the Civil War.

We were there for a purpose, to send of our troops well. It was, even though it rained the entire time, a good ceremony and a good send off. They will do their home states proud and should take pride in the support that they have back home.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ground Hogs Day

Yes, a little late, I’ll admit. But I’m actually referring to the movie where Ground Hogs day is relived over and over and over. I have a series of days with Josh that I re-live in my head over and over. One of those things, I guess. I remember our first date… gosh, almost six years ago! I remember when he proposed. I remember our wedding. Our trips various places… there are a couple of really special days that I live continually.

First, I re-live October 3rd. You see, he was supposed to leave October 1st, early in the morning. That got put off until early in the morning October 4th. But, on October 3rd, he was told that he was staying until October 8th… We had a great time on October 3rd, celebrating the extra days we had together. Turns out that he did leave on October 4th, but we’ll always have October 3rd…

I also liked Christmas this year. We were together as a family, Josh and me, my parents, HermioneGonzo, and Becky and Sam… and Dolly the dog. A wonderful time was had by all. I also liked Jan 1 very much because we were just normal as a couple all day.

I’m looking forward to the 18th and 19th. Josh and I will be at our resort, enjoying massages, and we’ll be able to go to church to receive communion together. The memories that will be created just being a couple together. Not quite normal, mind you. Normal happens at home. But special. Special is a trip to a nice resort. Those days in particular are going to be special because I have to say good-bye on the 20th.

So, what have I done to prepare for the upcoming drought of Josh contact? I have a sentimental streak that I get from my dad. I had saved every card, letter, and e-mail that Josh sent me when we were dating and engaged. I also still have the recent cards and letters, but more so when we were dating and engaged. It’s nice to see how we’ve grown together as a couple and nice to think of when we’ll be together again. In the mean time, I will value next week like nothing else and I will need to learn to rely on God more and my family more.

When are your “Ground Hogs Days?” Be sure to follow the example of Mary, Jesus’ mom, and cherish them in your hearts.

Guest blogger

I have invited my sister, HermioneGonzo to guest blog while I’m saying, “Good-bye” to Josh. I’ve given her one specific topic, a tribute to Kirby Puckett. But, she may decide to post on other things, too.

HG just completed her math major this fall and is student teaching to finish her degree in Elementary Ed. How many Elementary Ed majors have taken “Real Analysis?” She does Puckett and Twins stats better then I do, and she can talk about football, too. Plus, she is the queen of pop culture, well versed in the topics of the day, especially life at UWEC, and, as Josh and I say, there is no one as cute as HG.

She’s a little rough on linking, so I’ll edit them when I get back from seeing Josh.

Have fun with my guest!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Thanks for the Memories

It was January 2001, a Monday. I was sitting in Dr. Banaian’s Senior Seminar class, and we were all experiencing the razzing of our lives from Dr. Banaian. The Giants had just handed it to the Vikings and ruined our chances at a fifth Super Bowl appearance. On Wednesday, Dr. Banaian was hoping for a repeat performance of his monologue on how great the Giants were. It was not to be for Kirby Puckett had just been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame! I explained that the Vikings loss did not matter so much because of Kirby Puckett and that all was right in the world for Minnesota. (Now if only Burt will get his turn…) Dr. Banaian said, “You all realize that Kirby Puckett is not the best player in baseball?” We did, but…

And that “but” comes from fans of a small market team with a small payroll. Sure, there are better players. Sure, there are probably people more worthy of such an honor. Not in the eyes of Minnesota baseball fans, and at the time, not in the eyes of the sports writers. It wasn’t just the career, it was the attitude. It was the memories. It was our first World Series in 1987. It was the improbable season of 1991. Yeah, it was great to see Boston have the eight game winning streak in post season play. Yeah, it was great to see the White Sox win. But, in 1991, there was THE home run and THE catch. It was more exciting. It was before this steroid controversy, before the strike. It was before I realized that sports heroes could be lousy people just like the rest of society.

OK, so maybe Kirby Puckett wasn’t the greatest the game ever saw. But the memories are.

"Touch them all Kirby Puckett." Thanks for the memories. 1960 - 2006.

And by the way, Dr. Banaian does have a very nice eulogy here. He does properly appreciate the game, after all.

PS to Dr. Banaian, WHATEVER! OK, so he may not be THE best of his era (I will concede that perhaps Nolan Ryan was better) but:

"• There were the four straight 200-hit seasons. Just three men since the 1930s have managed that trick -- Wade Boggs (7), Ichiro Suzuki (5) and Puckett.
• There were those 2,040 hits in his first 10 years in the big leagues. How many other players since 1900 have cranked out that many? That would be none, of course.
• There was that .318 career batting average. Among men who went to the plate as many times as Puckett, that's the highest lifetime average by any right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio.
• There were those 2,304 career hits, more than any other player (in a pretty fair hitter's era) in the 12 seasons Puckett was around. Only Boggs and some guy named Tony Gwynn were within even 200 of him.
• And there were the 1,028 hits in his first five seasons. The only two players in history with more were Ichiro (1,130) and Paul Waner (1,057).
There's no telling, of course, where those numbers were headed if this man had just been able to see out of both eyes for the rest of his life. But Puckett would never want us to reflect on that, just as he never let us feel sorry that a disease as merciless as glaucoma had ever descended on him.
Then there were the awards, the honors, the accolades.
• This guy made 10 All-Star teams in a row.
• He was an LCS MVP, an All-Star Game MVP and easily could have been a World Series MVP.
• And think about this: He finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting seven times in 12 seasons. In other words, he made the top 10 in more years than he didn't make it. (See ESPN .)

Unfortunately for me, Josh agrees with Dr. Banaian. Yeah, we'll just see who has a wife willing to buy a trip to Cooperstown when Mark gets in!

Kirbeeeeeeeeee Puckett

Please keep Kirby Puckett in your prayers as he has suffered a stroke and has had surgery to relieve brain pressure resulting from it.

Links to Star Trib articles to come later.