Friday, May 22, 2009


M has been home for a week today. Well, sorta. Last night, and the night before, he spent at C's, so it was like the old folks' home here once again. Well, it would have been had not M's friend, Ko, dropped in with Oreo cookies and Blue Bell ice cream. The night before that he spent at Ko's, and tonight S is on the schedule.

A short trip to visit Little Granny in the nursing home in Kerrville is on the agenda today. I may or may not go with him, depending on if he gets a better offer. I will be perfectly happy to go with him. And I will be perfectly happy to stay home.

D and the little girls will be here from Kansas this weekend, just to be sure they get a glimpse of M before he is off to Israel on his first step into the world of International Travel; Monday the plan is for a mini family reunion/group birthday party. There just isn't enough M to go around, and we have to share.

Now the early morning sun is coming up. The windows are open, the birds are singing, and my Man is off to work. Summer is coming on, with the same dreadful anticipation as always, but right's the perfect springtime day in central Texas.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way." ~C. S. Lewis

I hope someday to be one of the former; I have certainly had more than enough opportunity, but I fear I am probably still too much one of the latter. A myriad of situations and circumstances have surfaced around here lately, a great many of them not at all to my liking, and what to do?

One thing I can always do, and sometimes the only thing I can do, is to pray. Prayer calls on the Lord, the only One ultimately, Who can do anything about, well...anything. It might be my most under-rated resource, calling on trust and faith to take the place of worrying. That is hard. But there is only so much I can do, and I suppose that it would behoove me to stick to that and leave the worrying to God. But often that is hard, too.

So...Which one am I? I wish I knew...

Saturday, May 16, 2009


  • I got a new can opener for Mothers' Day. Leave the perfect gift to C!
  • M is safe at home in his own little bed. Let the sleeping begin.
  • Swine flu continues to be the biggest non-event of the year so far.
  • My sister directed me to $ Tree for good old-fashioned 60- and 75-watt light bulbs, priced at 4 for $1. They are probably the exploding kind, but I won't know for sure until I use one; un/fortunately, most of my lamps and light fixtures are currently manned by the "new, improved" variety of light bulbs, so I should have an opening any day now. But how, oh, how, can I dispose of the used bulbs?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Yesterday the Unknown Caller phoned. I am always just a little bit afraid of answering, but since M's # shows up that way, and chances to talk to him are few and far between, I am always afraid not to answer as well. You never know what you're going to get...always a surprise, but not always a good surprise. Well, this time it the voice of Cadet A at West Point. That in and of itself is surprise enough. But even moreso...!

M was granted grad leave! Several months ago, when he realized accepting the opportunity-of-a-lifetime, too-good-to-turn-down, all-expenses-paid trip to Israel would mean little to no leave at home this summer, he applied for grad leave. Having heard nothing since, we reasonably concluded that it was denied and went to Plan B: four days between Graduation and Israel. So, yesterday, at the very last minute, he got the good word: Grad leave approved! This means not only that he is authorized to miss marching in the Graduation Day parade, but he gets to come home for almost two whole weeks. This, as the currently hot saying goes, is huge, calling for a huge change of plans all around, but we're up for it.

All M had to do, after his final TEE ("final" in civilian) was finished this morning, was get his typhoid shot for Israel, pack up and move out of his room, sell his books back to the bookstore, change his airline ticket, and arrange a ride to the train. If he seriously put himself in turbo, he could have made the 5 o'clock plane tonight, but that allowed only for everything to go smoothly, and things don't generally happen that perfectly in our world. In any case, this way he gets to go to a show on Broadway with his friends tonight and then sleep a few hours at the Soldiers', Sailors', Coast Guard & Airmen's Club, Inc for only $25, unless, of course he checks out early. He plans on catching the 3 a.m. bus to the airport for his 7:30-ish flight, so I'm pretty sure that qualifies. That puts the cost down to $10 for the night, and if he notifies them ahead of time, well then it goes down to $5. One more cadet perk, and you just can't beat that!

All I had to do around here is cram into one day what I had planned to do in the next almost-two weeks. Dust, vac, tidy M's room, put fresh sheets on the bed, and the same in the guest room for D and the Princess and the Gingerbread Cookie, who will be here for a week in honor of M. M and a couple of the little kidlets have birthdays in this time frame, so there is that to plan for, not to mention, speaking of HUGE, daily rations for a big boy who is tired of dining hall food. And speaking of even more HUGE....I have been re-arranging some furniture the last couple of days, and one room in particular is a disaster, but oh, well.

If we have learned anything from this year, we have learned that in order to get along with West Point, you have to be two things:

  • Extremely structured. Things are planned to the nanosecond more than a year ahead of time, and you better be ready to hurry up and wait; and
  • Extremely flexible. It's all about the last minute, and you better be ready to jump at every eleventh hour opportunity.
The last I heard from M was a text message: "We're on the train." M is on his way home! Me, I am on my way to bed. Gotta be ready for that drive to the airport and back tomorrow.

Welcome home, M!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Welcome to the Neighborhood

I used to think Copperas Cove was the most highly regulated city in the country, but I couldn't be more wrong. That dubious distinction actually belongs to Killeen (the ironically motto-ed "City Without Limits") where C and De recently moved. They were ever so excited to be in their own house, after ten weeks at the in-laws', but it wasn't long before the snake showed up in Paradise.

Barely two or tree days after the move, as C was busily sorting out the kitchen, she happened to look out the front window to see a man at the curb taking pictures of her house. Dropping what she was doing, she went to the door, only to see the man taking off in a city truck, so, still in her slippers, she sprinted off after him with the Other Princess hot on her heels. Fortunately, he was compelled to stop at the sign at the corner, giving her the advantage to catch up with him.

"Why are you taking pictures of my house?"

"Umm.... which house are you in?"

"Duh, the only one you took pictures of..." Gotcha!

It turned out that this was one of Killeen's code enforcement officers, and he was there to take pictures of all the codes that were being violated:

  • Thou shalt not have boxes on your front porch. Never mind that they are all flattened and clearly labeled with the name of the locksmith who had been by earlier and asked to have them, promising to pick them up that night.
  • Thou shalt not have a trailer full of boxes and other miscellaneous moving detritus on the grass. It's a rodent hazard. Never mind that the only rodents that had been encountered came from the facility where their stuff had been stored for the past three months (Maybe this diligent public servant could find time in his busy schedule to check them out?). And when asked how moving the trailer to the driveway, as he strongly suggested, would be a deterrent to rodents, he neatly sidestepped the question and deftly changed the subject.
  • Thou shalt not have bags of trash out here by the dumpster. Never mind that, courtesy of the last occupant, the dumpster was already FULL when they moved in, and if the city is so worried about the volume of trash, why don't they pick it up more than once a week? Could some of these code officers maybe go on garbage detail?
  • Thou shalt not park you car so that the tail end of it hangs a foot over the sidewalk. Never mind that it is your car parked in your driveway.
  • And on. And on.
C: Do you think it looks like we might be in the middle of moving in here?

Code Enforcement Zealot Officer: You never know. This is a military town and you would not believe how some people live.

C: So. Given the transient nature of the military, don't you think you oughta know what moving looks like? And what, exactly are you implying about the military?

And, given the overwhelming majority of military population in the area, I cannot imagine a civil servant making an offensive remark like that.

The man went on to explain that he was one of five code enforcement officers in Killeen, public "servants" whose job it is to drive around seeking whom they may harass. Given the dreadful state of the economy, are we sure Killeen can afford to keep these guys on the payroll? Perhaps the city could do everyone a favor and get rid of some of the dead weight, but until they do: Movers beware!

Commenting that she was unaware of the local codes, C was informed that she should have looked on the internet for the complete Rules of Engagement. Oh, well that solves everything, doesn't it? Like that is her top priority. Like she has plenty of time to sit and do battle with a sometime-functioning internet, leaving the children to run wild and make their own little living, while the unpacking chores pile up and proliferate. If the city's Code of Conduct is so all-fired important, why doesn't the city furnish copies to realtors and property managers?

Moving has to rate way up at the top of the list of stressors in modern life, so thanks, Killeen, for piling on a little bit more. C's final comment: Had we known, we would have never moved here, and we will never consider buying a house here.

Welcome to Nazi Germany Texas.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The End of an Era

Provided, of course, that they pass, the plebes at West Point had their last class as plebes today. Tomorrow begin the TEE's, "Term End Exams" by the Army's fondness for acronyms, commonly known in the civilian world as "finals." And just like that, M and his classmates will be through 1/4 of their career as West Point cadets.

Impossible! Well, it sure seems that way. It is the tritest and tiredest of cliches to say that time flies, but, as cliches are wont to be, oh, how true. Actually, if there were something faster than flying, that is what time would do...At least from my point of view. M suggests that the year went a lot faster for me than it did for him. ;-)

I've been remembering and reminiscing with myself about this time last year. The countdown chain, which once draped around three sides of the room and ended in a puddle of colored paper links on the floor in the corner, was down to barely stretching along one wall, and we were frantically trying to keep up.

Admission papers, medical forms, shot records, parking passes, reporting instructions, bus schedules, packing lists, hotel reservations, plane tickets, rental car information, google maps, snacks for the airplane, a ride to the airport.... Did I forget anything? Maybe not, because everything went smoothly. Well, there were a few quirks and glitches along the way, but overall the trip was uneventful, and when it was over, we were all present and accounted for.

I remember, and thank God for, the hot and heavy e-traffic on the candidate-net where the newbie parents were huddled together in a fog, and friendly moderators had the answer to every question. Now we are seasoned veterans of a year of plebe-net, where a whole day can actually go by without an emergency or even an inquiry or comment.

So now it's someone else's turn. Right now, there are approximately 1,300 cadet candidates all over the country stressing out about things that we are now taking in stride. And if there are that many cadet candidates out there, there are twice that many parents ~ and more, in this age of step families when pairents no longer necessarily come in pairs ~ freaking out about turning their children over to Uncle Sam and their own personal Trail of Tears that will follow.

By this time, all of us, plebes and parents, have come to terms with some of the basic changes in our lives. We have become resigned to the fact that USMA now has first claim on them. Our plebes remain our kidlets, but we have been relieved of responsibility and authority. Oddly, I have a bittersweet feeling about the whole thing.

The bitter part is easy: no more M coming home every night; he will still come to visit, but the time of him actually living at home is getting shorter and shorter. Already his shouldabeen three-week leave of this summer has been abbreviated to four days, and we wouldn't even have that if not for the kindness and generosity of an airline employee who graciously offered M a buddy pass for the trip home.

The sweet part is harder. What is there that's sweet about the end of our family life? Well...mainly that it is as it should be. No matter that we might not like or want it, there is rightness in kidlets growing up and leaving home. This past year, we have all learned a lot about ourselves and about each other. And of course, memories.

After next week, M and the Class of 2012 will be rising yuks, going on to bigger things, and the misery of Beast Barracks will fall to the hapless candidates of 2013. So here's a toast to the end of plebedom, with a hope and a prayer for the new yuks. ;-) Only 36 months to go!

What a difference a year makes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's Slingtime! the Blue-Eyed Boy would say.

You know it's springtime outside when:
  • the world is turning green;
  • the grass goes from freshly mowed to ankle-deep overnight;
  • the birds are chirping and twittering incessantly (outside the window, fortunately, at my house; but in other houses the chirps come from inside the chimney);
  • dense fog at dawn; raging, roaring, rolling thunderstorms in the morning; a steaming sauna by mid-afternoon;
  • sweat happens :-(

You know it's springtime inside when:
  • the table is served with fresh green food;
  • the refrigerator and the pantry get a cleanout in the same week;
  • the windows stay open day and night;
  • the closets go from flannel and long sleeves to shorts and t-shirts;
  • the two-shower day is making a comeback.

Definitely Sling!