Flexibility–Issued by the Navy

Nothing is ever set in stone with the Navy.  Especially return dates.

I got a call from husband yesterday saying, “Guess what!  I’m coming home a whole day early!” 

“Hurray!” says I–and then I look around the house which is cluttered and in need of just a couple of ‘deep cleaning’ items, think of the somewhat spontaneously planned trip to meet up with some relatives that will require a 2.5-3 hour trip both ways the same day and panic a little bit.  “Oh well!” says I (what’s the deal with the ‘says I’ thing?  I don’t know either…)  So I devised a plan to get as much housework done before leaving to not be mortified if husband got back before our return, with the hopes that I would have an hour or so after our relative trip, to tidy a bit before needing to go pick him up.

Get an email from the ombudsman this morning, “Your sailor will be here in the mid afternoon of return day!”  “Yippee!” says I.  Then I consider calling relatives to cancel the trip to do that deep cleaning and to ensure that I Will be here to do the sappy welcome-home thing (even if this was only a short one).  I complete the rest of my morning computer tasks and suddenly the phone rings. 

I rush to get the phone as Little Miss is still sleeping.  Smile to see that it is DH calling, and answer happily knowing that he is about to tell me that he’s on the first flight and will be in by mid afternoon.

“Well….”  He does not sound happy.  “The flights got all messed up…  I won’t be leaving until late, late, late return day night…  so I probably won’t come home until early, early, early the next morning.  Don’t worry I already have a ride.” 

“*sigh*” says I.

Before my husband joined the Navy I never used the word, “flexible” to describe myself.  Generally it was more along the lines of, “uptight.”  “Planner.”  Etc.

After only 2.5 years I have thrown out the notion of planning, and especially the notion of knowing anything concretely.

This is just one example.

We’ll have the light on and the welcome home sign up…  whenever he gets here.

Hey Look, Mom! I Have a Tongue!

Little Miss discovered her tongue today.  Or rather, she discovered my tongue first and then realized that she, too, had the same sort of appendage. 

We sat playing for a while, sticking out our tongues in turn, and I found myself thinking, “Oh my goodness…  She has got the cutest little Tongue!  Look at it!  It’s so little and pink and cute!  It’s just like a grown-up tongue, only it’s miniature!” 

And then I thought, “Only a mother could use the words ‘cute’ and ‘tongue’ in one same cohesive thought. 

And people say this job is boring!

The Pearls Girls

This morning, I got myself all spiffied up, put on a strand of pearls, and took off for an official meeting of “The Pearls Girls.”

Somehow, through the quirkiness of life, the three of us found one another and came together as a funny little sisterhood.  We are all three very different.  We have different origins, different interests, different approaches to life.  Jamie and I are young’uns according to Jennie, but it doesn’t seem to matter.  What matters is that we have chosen to care about one another.

All of us are part of the involuntary fellowship joined when you watch a person who has been one of your anchor-points in life–who inhabits a large part of your heart, and helped to forge your soul–suffer, and succomb to a disease called cancer. 

We can all be pretty random and silly.  One of the first times I went to Jennie’s house (Jamie was along too, of course), Jenn looked at us and in her perfect hostess voice said, “Would you care for some play-dough?”  Jamie and I gratefully accepted and had a lovely visit while making snakes and balls and play-dough dogs.

Nearly the same time I met Jamie, faeries mysteriously began leaving little things on my doorstep:  flowers some days, brownies, others….  A book by an author that I’d mentioned liking.  Neither of us are strangers to the phone call that follows, “This just showed up on my doorstep–do you know anything about that?”  And generally a full confession follows.

The day I met Jennie and she found out I was pregnant, she loaded me down with fresh tomatoes and offered soup anytime I needed it.  And when Little Miss was born she was emphatic that “Auntie” be put in front of her name from that point on.

We fix one another chicken-soup when one of us is ill, we bring casseroles for major life changes and events and we can’t go too long without a phone call to say, “Are you still there?  How is your world?”

Yes we are the pearls girls, and I don’t know how I would have made it through the last two years without being part of this sisterhood.

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming…

So of course–since I started to “come out” about the whole M.Div/Seminary thing, now there are some major snags in the line.

I spoke to our Associate Pastor today when I asked him for a letter of reference.  Turns out that the United Methodist denomination can be a bit sticklerish about Ordination.  A wise idea, I’m quite sure.  They have a list of ‘approved’ schools that one may go to if one wants to be ordained in their denomination.  And…  My choice isn’t there. 

However, I now have a list of schools that are approved, so now it’s a matter of just researching those and finding out which programs might work for me given my location/stage in life/husband in the Navy constraints.

As Dory says, I’ll “Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming.”  (Speaking of–writing “Swimming” that many times with all of those WIMMIs is enough to make one’s head do some swimming.)

Starting the Ball Rolling

So I know I keep speaking cryptically about a new direction, and I know it’s probably very tiresome.

Let the mystery be solved:

I just submitted an application to begin taking classes at the Earlham School of Religion.

I want to eventually get my M. Div. 

And–I am doing these things to hopefully one day become a hospital or hospice chaplain.

So…  we’ll see what happens.

Ice Cream Man Terror Be Gone!

We have two ice cream men that drive by in their respective vehicles throughout the summer months.  The first guy is exactly what you’d expect from an Ice Cream man.  He is a jovial looking man driving around in a big boxy truck, with colorful stickers on it.  And his music is also what you would expect–cheerful happy little kiddy ditties.  But he…  He doesn’t come around here very often.

The other guy is not your run of the mill ice cream man.  He drives a maroon mini-van.  His ice cream menu is peeling off.  There aren’t very many cheerful colors. 

And the music…  Oh… 

For a few months he played one song and one song only:  Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.”  Now, I am a fan of Beethoven, and I like the song “Fur Elise” just fine, but the computerized bell tones of the ice cream truck speakers just distort the song into something truly disturbing.

In fact, most days when he would come by I would picture a scene from a horror movie:

It’s a stifingly sunny day on Toesin’s street.  Things are still.  Too still.  (The strains of creepy ice cream man music begin to filter through the trees)  Children are bouncing balls to a drone like rhythym and then suddenly…  THE ICE CREAM TRUCK COMES.  *Duhn duhn duhn.*

The worst part about it all was, invariably the truck would come creeping down the street at the very point of the day that was the pinacle of stress.  I’d be cooking dinner, DH would be getting home and changing, and grumbling about his day, Little Miss would be screaming, and the ice cream man would come.  Now I’m the kind of gal that in a high-stress situation I WELCOME the sight of ice cream.

But not this Ice Cream…  No…  For this Ice Cream brought with it the terrifyingly slow, dark melody of Ice Cream Man “Fur Elise.”

In the last three days something truly miraculous has happened:  The scary Ice Cream man has changed his song.  Yesterday, he played Brahm’s lullaby (ok–there was still a slight creepy-factor, but overall it was a dramatic improvement).  Today, it was a happy little ditty which I didn’t recognize.

Ahhh…  Once again the appearance of the Ice Cream Man can be heralded as the happy event that it was always meant to be.

The world became a little righter today.

I’ll Take the Gremlins!

It is a well-known fact in military families, that when the husband (or in some cases wife) leave to do their job away from home, be it for a short time or a long time, inevitably there will be ‘gremlins.’

By this I mean, the family vehicle will take that opportunity to get a flat tire, or the transmission will go out.  The kitchen sink will suddenly become clogged, or the toilet will refuse to flush.  The dishwasher will break, or the refrigerator will suddenly break down.  And we, the spouse left-behind, will be left alone to fix it.  Incidentally, it is almost always the case that the gremlins will involve part of the household duties that the remaining spouse generally doesn’t handle.  It’s just part of the rules of military life and separations.  We learn early to expect it.

To be honest, we’ve had a relatively small amount of gremlins during DH’s many short and long times away.  Anything that has happened has been minor enough that I could sort through it on my own.  For the detachments and deployments of last year, I was home with my folks’ most of the time so I guess maybe the male-presence of Dad helped ward off the gremlins.

However: instead of gremlins, it seems we get major family medical emergencies or other major crises. 

It’s been a pretty crappy 2 years or so.  It really, really has, though we don’t forget how blessed we are anyway. 

But almost every time husband has been “out” or even just his group was “out” and he was on “stay-back crew” terrible things have happened in immediate and extended family.

His first Detachment, his Uncle’s diabetes spun out of control, his blood pressure sky-rocketed, and he went into a coma that they were not sure he would awake from.  He did pull through ok.

The next one, Husband was on stay-back crew because I was 39 weeks pregnant, and my grandmother died. 

The next one, we found out that my mother’s tumors were progressing rapidly.

The next one, my Mom died.

Then it was time for deployment.  Things seemed to be perking along ok until Christmas, when husband’s grandfather became very ill, and passed away.  Shortly after his grandmother had some health problems as well.

And that brings us to this latest little one…   Husband’s brother lost a good portion of his belongings to a house-fire earlier this week, and our littlest nephew took a nasty, nasty fall and had to be rushed to the ER.  He should be released from the hospital tomorrow, but what a terrible thing for such a tiny little guy, and his family, to go through.

I know it is likely a spurious correlation.  We’ve had other terrible things happen in the last two years that have occurred when he was home.  The problem is probably just that our family has had a run of lousy luck lately.  But sometimes you just gotta question the universe or God or whatever.

Makes me wish we could tell the Navy that husband has to get out for the safety of our family members.  (If only!)

Anyway–to the universal powers that be and that think that there must be such difficulties every time he is away from home, I say simply this: 

Bring on the gremlins!!!!!  And leave our family ALONE!!!!