Capt Mike has been away on course since the beginning of January. It'll be a long one. He will get a few weekends here and there, but overall it will be an 8-month-long learning experience. Dexter and I are somewhat used to him being away, but this is the first extended absence Zeppelin has had to deal with. I think that might explain some of his new behaviours. The jeans incident...stealing an olive from my antipasto tray last night when I had dinner guests...extra clinginess.
I am keeping myself busy with school, the dogs, going to the gym, and, it being January in Ontario, shoveling snow. So, my mind is pretty well occupied for the most part. But there are times when I see something on TV or hear something at school that I know only Capt Mike would appreciate to quite the same degree that I do--the Jeopardy contestant whose "interesting story" was that she made up songs about her cats; the underwhelmed tone of the Slop Chop infomercial guy; the ridiculously terrible lyrics of Theory of a NickelCreed's newest single; whatever antics the dogs have gotten up to that day.
I usually try to keep a list of all the things I've seen or heard that I think he'd find pretty hilarious, but it's not the same as the immediate reaction I know we'd share if he were here to experience them with me.
For example, I know that he would be touched by the sentiment of the following song, but also find it mildly annoying that it's set to a Grey's Anatomy montage. :-) But he would watch it, albeit grudgingly, because he loves me.
While walking the puppies in the woods this afternoon (a luxury that can only be indulged by working at home and a spouse burning through some vacation leave), I posed such a question to Capt Mike. How has our first year rated, so far? As wedding anniversaries go, our first has definitely been our best. We took ourselves out to dinner at Smith and Wollensky (who kindly indulged us even further by letting us leave with approximately 5 lbs of Grade AAA angus rib eye for Dexter and Zeppelin, free of charge), bought a bottle of champagne at Bloom on the way home, and toasted in our "New Year" while watching Saturday Night Live highlights on E! (the cable channel, not the pharmaceutical).
As far as our year goes, we've done fairly well. We've learned that there really is no keeping score: things get done when they need to get done by the person who needs to get them done. Sometimes it sucks when that person is you and the thing that needs to get done is cleaning the toothpaste residue out of a double sink again, but in the grand scheme of things, the universe does have a way of evening this stuff out. We've learned that Weimaraner puppies really do eat everything, and somehow manage not to get themselves killed doing so (you try eating 3 lbs of tea light wax and live to tell the tale). We've learned that all of the world's problems could probably be pretty easily sorted out if the involved parties were willing to sit down over a few glasses of Banfi's Chianti Classico Riserva (seriously, this sh!t really is bananas). And we've learned that life would be inconsolably, stiflingly, incomprehensibly wretched without being able to laugh at its idiosyncracies together.
Here's to us, Capt Mike. Happy Anniversary. I cannot wait to see what our next year together holds.
I've long puzzled at the popularity of parenting shows like Nanny 911 and Super Nanny. The thing I find most confusing about these shows is that the parents they showcase (a) obviously aren't crack addicts and (b) obviously weren't raised by crack addicts, yet they have completely abandoned the tried and true methods of previous generations that successfully produced themselves when it comes to raising their own children. Though not parents ourselves, Capt Mike and I are both of the opinion that if we turned out okay, our parents probably did a pretty good job; ere go we'll probably end up following their example if and when we have our own kids.
Apparently, Capt Mike and I can now be considered trendy for thinking this way. The new craze in parenting has a fancy nickname, "Free Range Parenting", but it pretty much boils down to some common sense: if you smother your kid with attention and fill every one of their waking moments with structured, supervised activities, you're going to end up with a stressed out child incapable of doing anything on their own. i.e., ditch the colour-coded fridge calendars, and let your kids be kids once in a while.
I got another call from Capt. Mike today to let me know he was doing alright. Apparently there were marajuana fields nearby, but he was more excited at the prospect of maybe getting some fresh corn or watermelons at some point. He asked what the coverage back here was like. I told him I hadn't been watching the news much, but that I had been reading the Globe and Mail and going to the Global News Web site. They interview a couple of people whose names I recognise, so it's fairly comforting to read about them. Apparently a CBC news crew caught Mike with his pants down, quite literally, while he was washing up. The image likely won't make it onto the National with Peter Mansbridge, but they said they'd give him a copy. If it's not too X-rated, or nothing that a strategically placed black box won't fix, then Saedigh.com readers can look forward to seeing it too.
I also told him about the memorial service in Petawawa yesterday. It was pretty overwhelming. Over 1500 people spilling out of the 1RCR drill hall to share their grief with the families of the five fallen men. For the most part, the coverage of the event was quite well done and respectful. However, shortly after the service the CBC posted a story about it that took some comments out of context. One soldier, eulogizing his late friend, described going through the initial steps in the 7 stages of grieving. When he got to anger, he stated that his initial reaction to the news, after shock, had been that he wished he knew who the bastards were that had done this. Sadly, it was that quote, without any context, that CBC zeroed in on and printed in their initial coverage. I have since tried to find the story on their Web site again, and it seems to have been redacted.
It angers me when I see things like that. In another story in The Globe and Mail on-line, in which readers were invited to provide commentary in an open forum attached to the article, a platoon commander who I know personally was quoted as telling his company commander that after a short quiet period, his men were "chomping at the bit" to get back into action. The forum users this time, not the actual press, were the ones to twist his words into something they really didn't mean, arguing that retaliation was the basest form of war and that cowboys like him were going to get more people killed, etc. It is disheartening to see such a public display of callous ignorance. It is pretty obvious, from the opinions that I have read at least, that such man-on-the-street-type Canadians clearly have no idea about what's going on in Afghanistan or how our military is trained and prepared. People keep saying that they've been mislead, and that the mission is no longer one of peacekeeping and reconstruction. They don't realise that it never has been a peacekeeping mission. They also don't seem to understand that it's pretty damned impossible to reconstruct a war zone before the conflict has ended, and before any sort of security has been established. But I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion, and their freedom to express it, even if they personally would never consider standing up to really defend those rights the way the people they are so quick to criticize have.
I spent a great deal of the Labour Day weekend trying not to obsess over the news. I am sad to say that I failed pretty miserably. I was glued to CTV NewsNet and CBC Newsworld most of Sunday and Monday, hoping that I wouldn't recognise any names.
It was pretty obvious that something bad was happening when I went to the Deployment Support Centre Sunday morning to drop off a package for Capt Mike. His first issue of Legion magazine had arrived, and my Dad had picked up some hotrods and beef jerky from a local packing plant in Simcoe to send over for him. When I asked to use the parcel-wrapping room, the usually open door to the orderly room was closed. I could hear someone on the other side of the door talking about contacting the A-channel, a local TV station based in Ottawa.
When I drove my parents past the 1RCR building to see if they could recognise the base from when they'd lived here, the parking spaces closest to the door were all full. It's rare you see that many people in on a Sunday.
By the time we got home, two names had been released.
I managed to hear from Mike late yesterday afternoon. He was doing as well as can be expected. He was looking forward to eating a chili ration for dinner, and having watermelon for dessert. Where the watermelon had come from, I don't know. He sounded like Mike though, so that's good. The conversation was pretty short. He didn't have a whole lot he could say, and I didn't know exactly what I should say. But I got to hear his voice, which is the important thing.
And hopefully, when this is over and he gets back to the airfield, there will be a shoe box full of dried salty meat treats and a copy of Legion magazine waiting for him.
Capt Mike called yesterday. He is going to be away from phones and e-mail for a few weeks, and isn't sure when he will be able to talk to me again. I am not sure, but I think it has something to do with this.
I am agnostic, but I can see why the phrase "there are no atheists in fox holes" is so popular these days. I certainly feel more like believing in something. Anything, really.
Dexter and I said good-bye to Capt Mike this morning as he set off for his second tour in Afghanistan.
This tour will be a little different from the last one. I just realized what a silly word "tour" is. Contiki, this ain't. I think it will be more interesting for him, but it will also be a little bit more worrisome for me. I know that he is prepared and that he is surrounded by very competent, well-trained men and women, but it's still hard to say good-bye to someone knowing that they are going to one of the most dangerous places in the world, a place where they won't always be seen as friendly.
And so, the countdown has begun. In 96 days, we should be meeting up in Sydney, Australia, to begin our Down Under Adventure. I think that it will be a well-deserved break for us both, and that those 96 days can't go by fast enough. In the meantime, when I am not fantasizing about SCUBA diving in the Great Barrier Reef, I am going to try to keep myself and Dexter busy. There are many long walks in our future (at least, once the weather stops being so miserably hot...the poor little guy is really suffering in the 47 °C humidex). I will also be taking a French course through Algonquin College, and have joined a cardio class at the new martial arts gym downtown. I may even graduate to sparring if I get angsty enough. My hope is that I won't look like an albino manatee when we do finally get to the Reef.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I am going to engage in some daytime TV therapy.
My apologies for being gone for almost a month. There's no real excuse, other than Life, The Universe, and Everything.
Captain Mike arrived home safe and sound, and has been enjoying his leave by training for the most insanely gruelling exhibition of physical stamina I have ever heard of, a Military Ironman competition that involves running a marathon, portaging a canoe by yourself for 8 km or something, and paddling along the Ottawa River. Or the Petawawa River. Some river anyway. While carrying an extra 50 lbs on your back. (I think it's 50 lbs... my brain stopped processing after the "run a marathon" part.)
Anyway, that takes place on September 23rd, which coincidentally also happens to be my birthday.
In other news, lots of changes at work. People returning from mat leave, people leaving for school. Luckily, I have managed to keep my group fully staffed despite the huge turnover.
Other than that, I really don't have much to say at the moment. The coverage of the hurricane's aftermath has left me pretty disheartened and outraged, but I can't say anything that hasn't already been much more eloquently stated by a thousand other bloggers.
I will say this though: Why did Mike Myers look like he was undergoing a prostate exam when Kanye West started deviating from the script? I didn't think a comedian could be so stiff. Improv, Mike! Seize the freaking moment! Or were you too worried about upsetting the financiers for Austin Powers 4?
So, my family can be a little quirky from time to time. The trick is, figuring out when they're being serious, and when they're not. Sometimes, it's hard to tell which is which.
My dad is a fan of the "sitrep". That's military jargon that stands for "Situation Report", which really just means "update". The latest has to do with the recent smog alert in southern Ontario. A redacted version is copied below.
From: Gerald Currie
Sent: February 7, 2005 10:19 AM
To: Currie, Sarah
Subject: Re: sitrep this
...Believe it or not, Toronto and Hailton have been under a smog alert for nearly a week now. There haven't been any surface winds, so the emissions are just mixing with the humid air and hanging there. We had a couple of bad days here in Simcoe too. I've never heard of smog alerts for this area during winter before. Another good reason for everyone to get on side and implement that Toyota Accord...