Sunday, May 31, 2020

Not even 6 months in to the year.

It's been a week. Like opposite sound waves that cancel each other out, it's been a week of great highs and extreme lows. When you sit in the middle you're not sure what to listen for or what direction to turn.

What a week.  But what else should I expect from 2020.

---

My last grandparent died yesterday.  My favorite grandparent, my Babcia, who never had an unkind word to say to anyone, who loved her family above all else, who had nothing but smiles and food for everyone who knew her. She was steadfast and reliable and lived a life of challenge and loss and laughter and history.  She was easy to love and she will be so, so missed.

---

We've spent a lot of time watching the news. There are a lot of thoughts in my head, but they are mine and they have no place speaking over the words that those marching and protesting voice and what they live daily. Words are what I have and they are insufficient and have no purpose but to make me feel better. And this trauma is not about me.

---

Ian came home Wednesday night.  He's home, he's home for good. It's a wonderful thing.  It was a long 11 months, 11 months we hadn't planned on being apart, with about 7 weeks together in those 11 months, which sounds great, and was great, but still.... 11 months. But now he's home, and home is good. The sun is shining, the weather is gorgeous, we have some great food and each other and a cat.

---

The launch yesterday was a shining spectacle of ingenuity.  Kudos. We watched liftoff and then again today for the docking and hatch opening and it really is an accomplishment to be proud of. We've been watching "For All Mankind."

---

And the brightest moment yesterday, 5/30/20, was Rebecca's graduation from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Summa cum laude with a BFA in Production Design... she has worked fiercely for her degree, cultivated relationships, earned recognition, and pushed through uncertainty and every challenge thrown at her. We all see what's ahead - more uncertainty, more challenge, more work. Her industry is exploring how it can reopen with new safety guidelines and she will process through it together with the rest, and we'll be there to assist as we can. We can't restart Amazon or Netflix or any part of the entertainment industry but we can help her with other things as needed. 

---

Several horrible things.

--- 

Several great things, and we need them, all of them. These huge things. And the small things, the tiny things, the minuscule things. The birds at the bird feeder, the puffy clouds, the hand holding, the Starbucks, the comfy couch, the clean water, the lack of rockets, the ability to stay safe at home. 

We are lucky and we are privileged, and we will not speak above the voices that need to be heard. We will use our votes and our funds to do what we can to amplify the voices that do matter.

Yesterday - 5/30/20: In the Foreign Service we don't say Goodbye

We say... See you soon.  Happy onward. Or Until we meet again. We are blessed by the people who cross our paths, enter our lives, become part of our family, some who make a huge impression on us by their goodness and kindness, who make us laugh and have wonderful stories to tell, and who we truly truly love.

In the Foreign Service there are no Farewells to those we love. In my life, there are no Farewells to those I love.

So to Babcia, our Babcia...

Until we meet again. I love you.


2016


Monday, May 18, 2020

Happy Anniversary to my one and only

24.

It was a beautiful day 24 years ago that I had the honor of marrying the guy...



who then traveled the world with me...






raised 4 awesome kids with me...



who makes me laugh...



and think...


and just love spending time with him...



This is the first time in 24 years we haven't spent our anniversary together, and hopefully it will be the last time we're apart.  When we were going to Baghdad together, I didn't even think about it.  When we ended up not going together, he scheduled his final R&R to coincide with our anniversary and Becca's graduation.  Then, well, the rest is history.  Today is the day and he's not here, and what choice do we have but to be OK with it all?  We video chatted.  I told him I loved him. And I miss him. But like all the things this past year, I do what I need to do, he does what he needs to do. Have there been moments of emotional frailty? On my side, I'll admit yes. Thank goodness for my kids, my job, my home - all sources of comfort and normalcy.

We make plans for when we do reunite again. Next week? June? I don't know.  

But it will happen and I'll be ready and waiting.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Time is flying at the same time it's not

Each week I make a pot of something that then feeds me a good chunk of the rest of the week, especially for work lunches. Usually it's something like chili, Panda Express orange chicken (but with tofu), or like last week's butter tofu (Indian butter chicken but instead of chicken... well tofu).  This week it's a vegan pad thai that is oh so good.

It's interesting to see what's sold out at the store each week.  This time it was sesame oil, but thankfully weeks ago I'd bought a bottle for a different recipe. Flour is still markedly absent from the shelves, I'm starting to wonder what's up with that because it's been at least 6 weeks and how is the distribution cycle not adjusting? My parents did curbside drop-off a 5lb bag they successfully nabbed at Aldi a couple weeks ago, so it's just curiousity on my part. Where is the flour?

I finished the blanket I was working on.  It's a continuous mitred square (fiber spider tutorial on YouTube)  that started with some skeins I was gifted at Christmas. It's a lap blanket and pretty heavy, good for winter time.

Of course finishing one project means I picked up another project - a cross-stitch I've been carrying around for at least a decade. Cross-stitches are hard for me so it'll take some time to complete.  My eyesight is changing and this Aida cloth has really small Xs, it's clearly only a daytime project.

I also have a project to make a vest for Jonathon.  I admit that I've put this particular project off because it's a) a piece of clothing in a b) new stitch.  It's scary and will take a lot of concentration so TV will only have to show something mindless, like The Office.

I'm still making masks for my co-workers. I've switched to a more duckbill pattern rather than pleated.  The nice thing with the pleated is that they'll fit any face shape or size.  The patterned ones fit my face but I have no idea how well they fit others.  I do like that they don't need bias tape at all.  A single ~45in shoelace threaded through the sides makes the whole thing snug.  I have not gone down the nose-clip rabbit hole, but I do ponder how easy it might be to retrofit the masks I've made. Afterall, the morning glass-fogging can be quite annoying.

Wish us luck that the upcoming travel our family needs will come to pass.  Ian made Jonathon a flight reservation to come home in 2 weeks.  His flight was canceled this morning.  Ian is supposed to come home in 10 days. No confirmation on that flight. Nicholas is supposed to deploy for training this coming week. Fingers crossed.

So guess I'll go get some coffee, do laundry, and clean the kitchen. Again.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Rainy Rainy April

So much rain, it's making everything grow and green up and stay cool.  Somewhere I saw that this was the coolest April in a while, so although I have a couple little chairs on my balcony with a little storage table and a place to have flowers, until this week it hasn't been warm enough to think about populating the plant shelves, much less consider sitting out for a morning coffee.  Last week there was a freeze warning, so no, there are not enough blankets or hot coffee for me to sit out in 40F on a weekend morning. This after a winter where NoVA had a single snow flurry.  Oh 2020, you're such a jokester... watch May hit the oven setting. These masks are going to get really uncomfortable. Insult to injury.

So anyway, when it is dry and warm I try to get outside for a bit to stretch my legs and get the lungs working in the fresh air more than what an open balcony door can offer.  Yesterday was one of those days, so as work ended around 2pm I made my way over to the green spaces near the office. When did I do this before?  Must have been last year sometime, right?  Oh no, it was March 19. While I do walk back and forth most week days to get about 30 minutes activity and fresh air, it's nice to wander aimlessly and yes, I took off my mask for a bit to breathe in the fresh cut grass and the scent of ponds and fountains - oh that smell. Crisp and clean and bright and, dare I say, hopeful. You know that whole feeling. It creeps in and says that life is good and we can be grateful for the little things like blue sky and a shaded path. Fuzzy little ducklings. Girls who are struggling but so strong. A son in a different country living his own life. A son who turned 20 last week and turns into a turtle. And a husband who is so very tired, but still safe.

My days are spent thinking of them, no matter what else I'm doing or not doing.

Masks are still on the machine, my assembly line is moving along slowly. I attempted a double-sided one but it just didn't sit right, so the rest will have an inner and an outer as normal. Currently I'm on the lookout for a good middle filter material so I don't have to chop up a sheet.

Bread baking continues each week. My parents did a drive-by and dropped off 5lb of all-purpose that hasn't been available in my grocery store for weeks. It was awesome. This week's loaf featured chia and flax seed baked in and I think I'm getting better at it, the whole bread thing.  But what I've also realized is the pot I use to bake in is just too big. I've ordered a small cast iron pot which will hopefully pop out a better shaped loaf.

I enjoy writing letters and sending cards so ordered some fun new paper products from Greymount. It's a small company that I was happy to support.

The two Starbucks near me are closed, but Bread and Water and Commonwealth Joe are still running.  I don't especially love the coffee from Bread and Water but their almond croissant is divine.  Commonwealth Joe makes better coffee and is a further walk, so perhaps my best option is to visit both on Saturday to work off that croissant. It's even better on lovely days that the ordering and waiting at B&W is all outdoors.

So.

It's hard to fill a page these days, isn't it? Besides TV and crafting and home stuff and worrying about my family the stories are slowing to a trickle. That's my doing, I know, because watching SGN proves that there's so much more happening that I'm just not tapping into, and I know that I'll look back on these days and wonder why I didn't take advantage of the time and space available. That will part of the recovery from COVID-times too, not just the time warp but the frustrations from every angle - wanting to do too much, doing too little, not knowing what to do.

I've been lucky to get away without contemplating this for so many weeks thanks to having my job to go to. Filling a few hours at home here and there is far different than facing days on end with no rules or guidelines.

It's giving me a lot to ponder: what do I want to get out of this challenge? Or better phrased: do I want to get anything out of this challenge? After all, I didn't ask for it. None of us did. Yet here are. So I ask myself: what am I going to do with it?

I have no answers.







With that, I bid farewell to April. Bring on May. I won't ask "how bad can it possibly be?" because that is a road I don't think anyone wants to go down.

But if it brings my husband home safe and sound? Maybe? Yeah... bring on May. I'm waiting.




Sunday, April 26, 2020

More isolation-y isolation.

What are the people doing?

Sewing, baking, cooking, crocheting, cleaning, laundering, reading, writing, watching TV...

And I get to start doing more of it now that I'm on the schedule to work every other day.

This week has been about a first attempt at yeast doughnuts which I promptly burned in excessively hot oil. Am I going to eat them? Flour is hard to come by around this neighborhood, of course I'm going to eat them.

A loaf of homemade bread lasts me most of the week.  Last week's featured cheddar and garlic. This week's is flax and chia seed.

A new style of mask is on the machine. My husband reminded me that I've been carting around the material I'm using for 15 years, and while I'd love to make cute masks with Capitals or cat prints or something truly lovely, I have these materials with spiders and odd Escher-esque cubes and black and purple tiger stripes. I still can't fathom why I bought these particular materials when we were in West Africa, because, yes, there are clearly weird "WHY?" fabrics out there but also some gorgeous and amazing and wonderful fabrics I guess I just didn't buy. I blame my 15-year-younger self.

Reading is taking a break from the Witcher series and back to The Amber Spyglass.  I watched the first season of "His Dark Materials" which is nicely cast and produced. In other TV news, let's see.... "Unorthodox," the first 3 seasons of "The Good Place," the documentaries on Maurice Sendak and "Circus of Books," caught up on the Masked Singer and the Spring Baking Championship,.  I restarted "Jessica Jones" and lost interest once again half way through the first season. I tried "After Life" and it has potential but just not enough for now. And now I decided to plunge into "This is Us." Cause why not.  I've already finished the cry fest of "Call the Midwife."

In other news, I thought the cat died last night. When I went to bed he was coughing like he had a hair stuck in his throat. In the middle of the night I woke up and he was laying on his side next to me which he never does and I shook him and he didn't move. So yeah, thought he was dead. He wasn't, just dead asleep, and mildly irritated that I was shaking him in the dark of night and he finally woke up.

I guess it's a good thing about the April Showers.  It's been raining so much that it's not as hard to stay inside.

And so, today is a cleaning day. I've nested into my living room with material piles on one end, yarn in the middle, paper on the side. Dishes... around. Yeah. Time to pick up before going in to work tomorrow.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

This week was not to be outdone by last week...

So April 5 was about 42 days ago, right?

Cause since then, let's see.... well, let's just go with the stress is kicking in and everyone is dealing differently. This sense of losing control is just not good for the brain or the body.

But wait.. then... THEN... the pets decide to get in on it.

Tandoori is fine.  Tandoori is always fine.  It's the evil inside him, nothing will ever take him down until one day he just doesn't wake up.  He's 13 and going strong.  Never been sick a day in his life. Evil cat.

No, it's Mokka who decided this would be a good week to eat chocolate. Again. Stupid dog.  But she was originally a street dog and who knows what she ate then, right? Garbage didn't kill her, what's a little chocolate.  The last times Becca took her to the vet and this time she let it ride, and while Mokka probably had a bit of an upset tummy, today she is rightfully embarrassed at her own stupidity. Will she avoid chocolate in the future? Probably not.  But there's a good chance she won't get too sick from it. Anyway, this time it worked out. 

Then today, it's Shawarma.  Send some good thoughts his way, he's spending a couple days at the emergency vet with a bladder issue. Katherine picked up on his unusual behavior and didn't hesitate to bring him in. The vet did some initial tests and then, due to limited staff and hours as a result of COVID 19, sent them to the emergency vet where he will be monitored round-the-clock for the next 36-48 hours with a catheter and IV to flush him.

...

We do what we can day to day, which is very little. And that is so hard in it's own way.

with ties
with elastic

I was working on masks. I have 2 for me for work and started on more since I have so much fabric but turns out you need other stuff too, like thread, of which I am basically out. I had enough elastic to make 4 masks, but to make ties, or sew anything together, I need thread... Wait, I do have black thread, so if I cut out masks from some dark purple material instead of the orange, I can use the black.  Well... that problem solved.  Know what I'm doing this weekend.
....

And so, completely unrelated, it looks pretty certain that Ian won't be home in May.  While it's what I expected and told myself I'm OK with, I admit that right at this moment, I'm really sad.

Deep breathes everyone.  We're smack in the middle right now.  I don't know how long the middle will last, but we're there.  It will get better.  Do something kind for yourself. You deserve it.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

We've made it to April 5

Is that a milestone of some sort? No.  It's just April 5. It's been 2 1/2 weeks since my last post and, as per the usual in 2020, the past 2 1/2 weeks have felt like 2 1/2 years.  I feel like my little jaunt through DC to get some air and exercise after work was eons ago.  Simply eons.

Time is moving in a weird fashion, we all feel it.  Days blend together, sleep is disturbed, we're all baking and cooking up a storm in the kitchen and pulling out sewing machines that need to be dusted off. We spend a lot of time talking to family and friends on-line and even more time contemplating what our society will look like when we come out of this on the other side. What will change, what will revert back to the "norm." Will we recover. Will we be kinder. Will we recognize the import and value of every worker. Will we never shake another hand again. Will we all just melt into puddles when we give our loved ones big fat hugs.

I'm doing what I can to fill my time, starting with going to work every day.  Yup, still happening.  It's a whole thing, but suffice to say that even as the goalposts keep moving as far as daily work, I'm grateful I do go in because I get to interact with my coworkers and it gives my days a shape which I know so many are lacking.

At home I'm cooking everything I can from scratch.  Bread, olive bread, banana bread, banana bread pudding, corn bread, chili, orange tofu, vegetable curry, vegan bolognese...

My sewing machine is slowly churning out face masks for my ride in to work on the Metro. It would have helped if I'd planned and had everything I needed beyond material. I've finished 6 and now waiting for boot laces and thread to finish the next 10. No, they aren't all for me, I'll bring in the ones I've finished for my co-workers if they want them.

So here's an update for the rest of the family.

Jonathon is still at school in his dorm, still on spring break for another week. It'll be interesting to see how many kids actually return to campus as spring break is a month long and all resuming classes will be online. There's a store still open on campus for foodstuffs and the walkable TESCO is still open, but the latest news is that the health unit on campus is closing tomorrow. So that's... awesome.

Nicholas is still at Camp LeJeune and his deployment is still either postponed or canceled. I get the distinct feeling that Marines feel they are invincible, and yes, that includes mine. It is, bluntly, infuriating. I wish he could come home for a bit, but aside from the big NO in that, he's limited to being within a certain distance from base. He'll turn 20 on the 20th, so send him a virtual hug and maybe a box of Krispy Kremes.

Rebecca has started her final quarter of university with her classes all online and heading towards her non-graduation graduation. She is still working at Home Depot. HD is considered an essential business, and it definitely keeps her busy. Savannah is under a pretty strict home-stay rule so she drives around with what's basically a "permission slip" to be out and about.

Katherine got sick around 12 March, went to the ER on 16 March, stayed there most of the day in isolation being tested for everything and then was tossed in the MRI to check her lungs. Yeah, she was sick - coughing and a sense of breathing underwater. They said she had RSV and sent her on her way home with some prescriptions. I don't think she was fully aware of the variety of tests that had been run, she was sick and alone at the hospital after all (sometimes it sucks not having a car AND being told to stay away from people, especially sick people - but man, when you're kid says she's not sure she's well enough to drive herself but it's the only option....ugh). We learned on 25 March through an email that yes, she had been tested for COVID19 with a brain-scraping nasal swab and she was Positive, with guidance on self-care.  While we're aaaaaalmost to a rapid test now, 3 weeks ago (heck, this past week) test results took 5-10 days. I just wish she'd been told very clearly what and when she'd hear.  Again, she was really sick and alone and they may have said something she missed - it's possible, but frustrating all those days of not knowing. Thankfully she is getting better, and that's all that matters now. Looking back, it's been nearly a month since she fell ill and I'm so thankful that the ER treated her for RSV because it gave her a much better chance to beat this coronavirus without a hospital stay.  Honestly, it's amazing how close she is in MD and yet how far away she feels.

Ian is still in Baghdad and plainly, exhausted. He has expectations he'll be home for R&R in May.  I think I'm more realistic with him missing his R&R and coming home permanently at the end of his tour or thereabouts.  I'd say it's "only 12 1/2 weeks" or "only 3 months" but if you'll refer to this post and the prior post, 3 months will last roughly 4.28 years and that's a long time both in just TIME but also for lots of things to go wrong.  That sounds fatalistic, doesn't it.  I don't mean it that way, but come on... look at 2020 so far and tell me that's not just accepting it for what it is.  I've thought the past few years were dumpster fires but 2020 has just made it personal on so many levels.

That's where we are. Dealing as best we can with what we're dealt. I'd say we're safe, but we aren't all safe.  I'd say we're healthy, but we aren't all healthy.  I'd say we're happy, but that seems to change by the hour.

What we do have is roofs and food and even as we're distant, we have each other. I'll just cling to that. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Oh 2020....

Seriously. We had such hope for you.  I mean.... 2020. The future. The greatest year. So much hope and promise, amirite?

January took about a year in my world.  Ian was having challenging stuff  with the walls burning, and the month just wouldn't end.

February was decent in my world.  Ian was here for most of it and we saw Katherine and Nicholas, and then Jonathon in the UK, and it was just nice and peaceful.

March started and you know the rest, not just for my world but all of our worlds. Ian went back and things continued to blow up -literally- over there and at the same time blow up -in a different sense- everywhere else.

It's been a long, long year.  And we're only in March.  Everyone is being impacted differently.

Jonathon is doing his classes on-line.  The UK is one of the few places that hasn't closed all their universities.  He's living in his dorm and doing his work. It helps that spring break starts next week so a lot of the kids were already going home this week, and they'll all be gone for the next month on break.  That may have played a role in why the school didn't just close up.

Nicholas's training in Norway has been canceled? Delayed? Who knows.  But rather than being out of the country for 6 months, he's now essentially confined to base, if not to barracks, in NC.  He is not happy.

Rebecca's school has moved all classes on-line which is rather hard for an arts school where most of the majors are hands-on, workshop, and program related.  The dorms closed, but she only has 2 classes left and she lives off-campus, so she's hunkered in Savannah.  But the worst kick in the teeth for her.... her college graduation/commencement has been canceled. There's no way to not make that hurt.

Katherine works in a service industry and she's sick. She called her doctor to request testing, they couldn't help her.  She called the MD Health office, they couldn't help her.  Everyone told her to go to the ER. So she did, and they put her in isolation while they ran tests and checked her lungs, because yes, she is really sick.  She came back positive for RSV, and there the tests stopped. They didn't test her for COVID.  She picked up prescriptions and is staying home.  As we learn more about how the 20-45 range is a nice big chunk of those falling ill, it totally makes sense not to test someone for the pandemic virus who's sick in your waiting room /sarcasm.

I am still going in to work. I take the Metro there and back but there are so few people now that it's easy to not touch anything and sit 6 feet away from folks, and I sit 6 feet away from my nearest co-worker in the office too.  But hey, the 3rd floor in my building was shut down today due to a positive COVID result in one of the offices there, so yeah, don't touch the elevator buttons.

The bright side, if you can call it that, is that today with the gorgeous weather I walked around downtown and had some time with Ian showing him the cherry blossoms and the empty sidewalks. There were plenty of people still out but nothing close to normal.  People walking dogs, people kicking balls on the grass, and yes, some tourists. I stayed away from most of them as I passed the Vietnam, Korean, Lincoln, Jefferson, and MLK memorials, and the Washington monument. There were people about, but not that many.

I needed that walk for my soul.  Taking the metro in each day with people who all seem a little dejected.  Sitting at the office where most people work with headphones on. Coming home where now the loudest things outside are the helicopters flying by and the sirens, and the loudest thing inside is the cat.  Watching TV (please, someone give me a recommendation).  Just being alone a lot.  I needed something warm and pretty and not so lonesome, and walking around this city while talking with Ian did me some good.

Take care of yourselves.

Remember that feeling on 9/11 when all the planes were being told to land and we held our breathes as a nation for hours as we watched the blips disappear from the radar screens? And then the silence.  And then the days and days of "what the hell." We all knew we'd had a major hit to our sense of security and felt the sudden loss of life. For myself, this has had a similar feeling but I didn't really recognize it until today because it's been so sloooooooow, so protracted. Yes, while it feels like things are changing hour to hour, the changes have been smaller pieces of a much bigger picture.  Life came to a screeching halt in 2001, this has been more subtle. It's a like an interminably slow squeeze, and it's no wonder that people feel like the world is closing in on them, even if they didn't realize at first that it was.

The last major flu in 1918 didn't have a lot what we have today to the extent that we have it today.  Clean water in our homes, indoor plumbing, stockpiles of tissues and wipes, a doctor on every corner, lots of hospitals, gloves and masks, stocked grocery stores, trash pick-up, mail delivery, home entertainment, and more that all of that, science, risk awareness, and global communication. We have the ability to social distance and self-quarantine that folks in the last flu didn't, and the means to do it safely and dare I say, happily, so it's on us to take those steps. We have 100-years-of progress-advantages, use them.

So yeah, take care of yourselves. Breathe. Eat well. Go outside! If the weather cooperates, open the doors and windows and let the outside in. Talk to people, a lot, over some digital form of communication. Read that book.  If you have a book inside you, write it. Sing on your balcony. Walk the dog. Play with your family and enjoy this time. All that good stuff.  Seems like every museum has free virtual tours and every restaurant delivers. So watch some Kennedy Center or Met Opera streams while you learn how to bake bread or make ice cream. Support the arts, today and always, and recognize how important all genres of the arts world affect our lives and feed our minds, bodies, and souls.

2020 has been anything but predictable. People, there are still 8 1/2 more months to go in this year.... which according to my internal calendar means we'll be in 2020 for roughly 12.48 more years. Just please, don't let my hope that all this will ease soon be met with a stab in the back, or a punch in the gut, or a blindside, OK 2020? We'd all just like to make it through in one piece. I want my kids safe and healthy. And I want my husband home and healthy.  Is that too much to ask?

Just please, no blindsides.

Oh, and if everyone who wants to get tested could get tested, that would be great too.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

R&R#2 in the books.

Ian is back in Baghdad and I've started my job.  It's been a busy 8 weeks. January and half of February was dedicated to ConGen, the generic term for the consular training course at FSI, and Ian arrived stateside on Feb 7 with out HHE delivery on 10 January, so you know... busy. I'm still working on boxes. There is no way that the stuff for a family of 6 that filled a 3-story/5-bedroom house in Jordan can easily fit into 1185sqft of apartment. I feel like the paring down I did in Frankfurt was a good start, but that's all it was, a start.  I didn't really think how "paring down" to 12 pots and pans still wouldn't fit in a single kitchen cabinet. So. Much. Stuff.

So Ian arrived on 7 Feb, and so did Nicholas.  We had Nicholas with us for 10 days, a wonderful time as he'll be heading out on some cold-weather training for 6 months and won't be available again until the fall sometime.

But I have to admit, this R&R was just so different from #1.  For one thing, dishes. And laundry. Taking a bus to class.  Let's just boil it down to, I had to set an alarm.  An alarm!  I couldn't just BE with my spouse and my kid, there were other things pulling me around, and I didn't really like that. We were out every night the first week, which was great but tiring. Dinners with friends. Celebrating Katherine's 24th birthday. "The King's Speech" at The National Theater.  A Caps game. Valentine's Day. Dinner with my parents. The following Monday was a holiday, Katherine and Erich came down for an escape room which we blew through.


So. Many. Boxes.



Something we've noticed with Escape Rooms - as we get better at good rooms we spend less time in them. It's a catch-22, but still a fun one.

The next week, Nicholas returned to Camp Lejeune, we had another sad Caps game, and then Friday Ian and I flew to the UK to visit with our youngest at university.  We strongly recommend the four-poster room at the Rose and Crown Best Western in Colchester. There's a delight in staying in a converted 15th century pub house. The other Best Western I recommend is in Istanbul, it's just gorgeous.  Let's lay it out there - the international branch of Best Western is nothing like the US branch.

Oops, fuzzy, but yes, we had to duck.




Between the raindrops, we checked out the school (we did a college tour in June 2018, very different from gloomy Feburary), saw the boy's dorm room, ate on campus, saw his classrooms and some of his projects, and most importantly, took him off campus for a bit. The weather really didn't cooperate, so the blustery, cloudy, and periodically heavy downpours kept us from really wandering - the required rain boots or hiking boots didn't fit in my carry-on - but we did amble through Colchester High Street by the castle in the oldest settlement in England, and visited the tiny village of Dedham. Dedham has a nice restaurant we tried to go, The Boathouse, but as it was all reserved we had delightful light fare at the Tiptree Tea Room. Tiptree tea rooms are all over Essex and super cute, with cakes and sandwiches, and of course afternoon tea.  That's something I haven't had an opportunity for yet.  We just figured out that upstairs dining rooms in pubs are the place to eat, not the communal tables by the bar - tea rooms are a step beyond that we haven't reached yet. We did an Escape Room with Jonathon too, another successful outing.

The boy.


The last night we had him we had dinner at the hotel restaurant, which shockingly was out of fish and chips (we remedied that the next day in London). I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner with these 2, chatting, having dessert, and some awesome Strongbow cider. Though we'd planned to see him for breakfast the next day before our departure, school got in the way so we said our goodbyes.

As happens every time we leave one of the kids or the kids leave us, I get weepy. Ian hadn't seen J since June, and he won't see him again until July when he comes home.

Colchester is just under 2 hours from Heathrow, but still too far IMO to do the drive the same morning as our flights.  So we returned to the airport, turned in the car, then took the train into town where Ian gave a talk to the Consular ELOs about his time in Baghdad, before we had our fish and chips and caught a showing of "Magic Goes Wrong." I hadn't ever heard of it, but Ian had and we're fans of Penn&Teller. The crazy thing with the show is that they do some actual magic, but there's so much silliness going on you don't really pay attention to the slight of hand. The Mischief Theater Company has 2 other shows currently running in the West End too, so be impressed they've secured so much stage space.

Wednesday morning came too soon.  Ian went to his gate and I went to mine, and 12 hours later we'd arrived at our respective "homes." Opposite directions.

One more R&R to go.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

I keep forgetting to breathe

The U.S. and Iraq and Iran.

I have no words.

That's a lie. I have a lot of words. SO many words. So very many words.

And I can't say them.

So they roll around and around and around in my head, various versions of the same thoughts all oozing with frustration, fear, and a pool of blind rage.

My head is pounding. I need to remember to breathe.

The words will come later.