Friday, October 31, 2008

In honor of the day

Lincoln the zebra and a Donald Duck clad Collin say, "Happy Halloween!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Under new management

There was a change of command at Zac's work today. The captain who had been there for the last three years was relieved by a new captain. The transition was accompanied by all the pomp and circumstance I have come to expect from the Navy. (The Navy
loves its pomp and circumstance. Bunting? Check. Band? Check. Dress uniforms? Check. Let's celebrate!) It was actually a touching ceremony, even for someone as cynical as I am. The ceremony was comprised of one speaker talking about the outgoing captain, the outgoing captain making some remarks, and the incoming captain saying a brief hello.

It was moving to see the outgoing captain reflect fondly on the last three years as the, "best three years of [his] professional life," and knowing his words to be genuine and true. I suppose it would be easy to say, "Of course he said that," but from the description of what this captain and this command have achieved in the last three years, I could see where he would believe it to be a major professional accomplishment.

And you couldn't help but feel a little lump in your throat when the captain choked up and had a hard time saying goodbye to the sailors standing to honor him. The captain was awarded a ribbon for his service, and he choked out an acceptance saying that every thread, every fiber of the ribbon was because of the sailors that he served with. There wasn't anything contrived about it. It was honest affection and respect for his fellow sailors, enlisted and officer.

After the ceremony, the band started playing some jazz standards and everyone ate and said goodbye to the outgoing captain and hello to the incoming one. The outgoing captain nearly disappeared underneath a mountain of leis. He must have had 30-40 leis on him. It was sweet. It was a formal affair - everyone in their dress whites. It was very proper, very dignified. Zac looked sharp. It was the first time he has had to wear his chief dress whites, and while he had a few technical hiccups getting it in line with regs, it ended up looking really good.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No dog . . . yet

Zac and I just got back from the Hawaiian Humane Society. We've been thinking about getting a second dog, and we decided to start the search. I think this will be one of those things where we won't get a dog until we both look at the dog and instantaneously know that it's the right dog to fit into our family. We saw some great dogs today, but none of them were quite right.

Apparently there are some concerns here on the island with puppy farms and such. Like everything, dogs are more expensive here, especially full-bred dogs. Big money can equal some questionable business practices unfortunately. I don't need, or want, a full-breed. I want a dog that has been evaluated by vets and volunteers and found to be healthy and sociable. I trust the Humane Society and, frankly, I want my dollars going to them instead of to a breeder.

We're not particular about whether we get a puppy or an older dog. There are pros and cons to both. I think I'd like to get something that's 2-5 years old, about 30-40 lbs. There are specific breeds that we are not allowed to have in military housing. A fair number of the dogs at the shelter were mixed with breeds that we can't have, so we had to rule them out from the get-go. There were a number of chihuahua mixes, but Zac can't bring himself to have a dog that is that small. He just can't. He'll pet them all day long, scratch behind their ears and laugh at the little guys, but he won't take one home.

The people at the Humane Society said that we can bring Toivo with us to the shelter and have him meet any dog that we're interested in. That's certainly a plus. After all, this second dog is as much for him as it is for me. (I've been trying to play it off like the second dog was exclusively for Toivo's sake, but no one around here bought that.)

It is hard to see all those dogs at the shelter and not take them all home. I really had to steel myself against it before we walked in. Usually when I've walked into Humane Society I've walked out with something. When we were leaving I saw a quote on the wall from someone that said, "In a perfect world every dog would have a home, and every home would have a dog." I liked that. So the dog quest will continue, but we won't be bringing home a dog until it's right.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ethel and the Morning Show

I grew up in a house that regularly listened to Minnesota Public Radio. (MPR) It was on in the mornings with the Morning Show. It was on in the evenings with All Things Considered. It was on weekends with everything from Sound Money to Car Talk to A Prairie Home Companion. I will steadfastly attest that listening to all that quality radio made me a better person. It made me aware of different music, the world around me, humor, and it made me use my brain. Our National Public Radio system is a national treasure and we all should be grateful for it.

I could devote a couple of entries to MPR, and perhaps I will in the future. A couple weeks ago I tracked down the Hawaii Public Radio channels here - one classical music, one news. It was comforting. Then, last week I saw a headline on that read:

MPR's "The Morning Show," to end Dec. 11

My heart sank. I haven't listened to the show in a long while, but I hold it dear to my heart. It was the show that was on every morning as our family got ready for the day. It was always on in the kitchen, playing from the radio stashed on the top of the fridge. I knew where were in the course of the morning based on what was playing. I knew if it was a news update, it was the top of the hour. If I heard the intro music to "Poole on Sports" I knew we needed to get out to the bus stop, because we were just about to be late. Dale and Jim were voices that I knew as well as anyone's. They were calming, entertaining - just what we wanted as we eased into our days.

I hopped over to MPR's site to get some details about the show's end. They're going to have a big final show at the Fitz to celebrate. I wish I could be there. Just to hear "Lime Jello, Marshmallow, Cottage Cheese Surprise" one more time. Or "Waltzing with Bears." Or something with mandolins or harps.

Or Ethel.

Ethel Merman. If not for the Morning Show, I might have never heard of her. I'm guessing most of the people reading this blog haven't. She was an actress -- movies, Broadway. And she sang. Her voice was big as a house. Some people can't stand her. I adore her. She sang loud and uninhibited. She was born to be in musicals. Annie Get Your Gun. Anything Goes. Gypsy. She was a hoot. The Morning Show played Ethel every now and again. Gems like, "Anything you can do, I can do better," a duet with Bruce Yarnel.

In order to "warn" people that Ethel Merman was about to be played, the Morning Show guys developed a siren and warning that they played before her songs. The warning consisted of an alert that the next song was by a woman with a big voice, and might be a little jarring this early in the morning. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek, of course.) I loved the alarm. I think she would have gotten a kick out of it.

My mom got me an CD of some of Ethel's greatest hits for Christmas last year. It's a great album. I listen to it when I clean the house. Because washing the floor isn't so bad when you're belting (and I mean belting) out songs trying to mimic Ethel. I hadn't thought about Ethel in awhile. Or the Morning Show until I read about it's impending end. They were both on my mind when I got this e-mail from my mom this morning:


On my way to work this morning (approximately 8:29), Dale Connelly read a request from a mother to her daughter who's birthday is today. The mother said that she has been listening to the morning show since Garrison and Jim Ed were together - 30+ years. (I could have been that mother writing.) She was requesting a song for her daughter who turns 34. I made me think of you. Ethel Merman singing 'I Can Do Anything Better Than You'. Jim Ed announced that there was a "Merman Alert". I had forgotten there was a Merman Alert and buzzer noise! How many 30+ year olds out there even know who Ethel Merman was let alone know how she sang! The Morning Show made us better informed listeners!

Love, Mom

I teared up a little. It was one of those things that made me smile. A little happy, a little sad. But all good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where's the sun?

To start with , here is a little data I need to share to get us all on the same page:

Summer solstice, Minneapolis
Sunrise: 5:26 am
Sunset: 9:03 pm

Winter solstice, Minneapolis
Sunrise: 7:48 am
Sunset: 4:34 pm

Summer solstice, Honolulu
Sunrise: 5:50 am
Sunset: 7:15 pm

Winter solstice, Honolulu
Sunrise: 7:05 am
Sunset: 5:55 pm

Now, granted, Hawaii doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time but the differences in amount of daylight are stark. I hadn't even thought about the latitude issue until I got to Hawaii and was alarmed at how early the sun was setting. I was ready for bed by 7:30 pm each night. (The sun was setting here in HI around 6:30, nearly an hour later than it was in MN before I left.) I mentioned it to another MN ex patriot a couple weeks ago and she theorized the following:

When it's warm (80+ degrees) in MN, the days are long. Really long. And the sun doesn't set until late. When my MN-timed body comes to a climate that is 80+ degrees, it expects there to be an similar amount of light. After all, it's summer right? But no. We're much further south here, and that isn't the case. If it was 30 degrees outside, my body would be okay with the sun setting before supper, but since it's not getting cold here I'm perpetually stuck in summer.

I think she nailed it on the head. I've been here for more than a month, and it's only now that I'm getting used to the the "short" days of "summer". So it's not like you can come home from work at 5:00 and hit the beach with a couple hours of daylight left.

I don't really have a point here. It's more of a Public Service Announcement. A "Let's Learn About Hawaii" entry. I'm all about sharing the knowledge.

I'm not even sure how Daylight Savings Time fits into this analysis, but I'm pretty sure it would involve math. And, well, that's not going to happen.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I was reading about the kick-off to the Gopher's hockey season on yesterday. I sighed deeply and sadly realized that I would only be able to catch the few games that were going to be televised on the Big Ten Network this season. (I am perhaps one of the few wives on the planet that urged, nay, demanded that her husband to upgrade the cable subscription to include the sports package.) I resigned myself to this sad fate and chalked it up as another blow to my hockey lust. (Is there a German word for that? Like Wanderlust? Hockeylust?)

So today I was going through my usual routine - sitting on the couch, laptop fired up, working on documents, watching ESPN. I debated what main-land evening sporting event I would watch this afternoon. I knew Hawaii football was on at 2:00, and it was an away game so I started scanning through the channel guide looking for it. (They show home games on Pay Per View. Money grubbing much?) Lo and behold, I come across a listing for "College Hockey". I'm intrigued and pull up the info. Wisconsin versus Denver! WOW! WCHA hockey! Yes!!! I can watch WCHA hockey! It's not MN hockey, but they'll probably have updates about my game during their game, and it's COLLEGE HOCKEY.

I was so excited that I almost didn't notice that the next entry was also "College Hockey". I clicked on info again and . . . .

Minnesota versus St. Cloud State 2pm

I was speechless. And then I began to laugh, and almost cry. YES. YES! YES!!! I can watch my Gophers from this rock in the middle of the ocean! I don't know if I'll get any other game this season on this channel, but I get tonight's game and that's all that matters at the moment.

The game doesn't start for 2.5 hours and I'm already sitting here in my U of M Golden Gopher hockey jersey with Robb Stauber's number on it. A gift from Megan last Christmas, and one of the singular greatest gifts I have received in my lifetime. Here's a photo of Paul and I wearing our gear from Christmas.

To complete the look I've also got my Gopher shorts on. Because it is Hawaii after all. But I'm here, ready and rarin' to go. Let's start this WCHA season.

Everybody sing!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Extended weekend

It's Columbus Day, meaning lots of government employees have the day off, including Zac. Now granted if we were invaded by Indonesia he'd have to go into work, but right now he gets to chill out watching NFL Live on ESPN.

It's been a busy weekend. On Saturday we spent the day doing some cooking. Usually weekends are reserved for grilling, but Zac and I had a couple of things we wanted to try that were a break from the meat-on-fire routine. First off we decided to roast our own red bell peppers. Zac really likes them (so do I) and he was flabbergasted to see how much a jar of them cost here. So we decided we'd roast them ourselves. It was obnoxiously easy and they turned out really well. We'll definitely being doing that more often.

The second thing we made were tortillas. We use a lot of tortillas around here and we wanted to know how tough it was to make them. We found a couple recipes online involving some sort of flour, water, oil/lard/shortening and salt. We mixed the dough, rolled them out and cooked them up. The toughest part was getting them as thin as we wanted. I think we'd need one of those handy-dandy machines to do it effectively. (Like those old-fashioned laundry wringers. The kind that have two rolling pins on top of one another.) We ended up with some very soft, tasty, chewy gordita-like tortillas. They'd be great for tacos, but maybe not so much for Zac's famous breakfast burritos.

They looked really nice though!

After playing in the kitchen for the afternoon, Zac and I went to the Hawaii football game. This was my first visit to Aloha Stadium (home of the aptly named Aloha Bowl). It was strange being outside at a college football game. It was strange that the sun had been down for an hour and it was still 80 degrees. But it was a fun experience. It was Hawaii's homecoming so there was a decent-sized crowd. I would imagine they usually draw a decent crowd, as it's really the only show in town. That, and the University's women's volleyball team, which is consistently ranked nationally. I guess in a lot of ways it reminds me of Nebraska -- College football is king, college volleyball is queen and sometimes college baseball comes into the mix.

After the game we went to a local watering hole. Zac had called them a few days earlier to see if they had karaoke or darts. They said they had both so we decided to check it out. It was a hole in the wall, for sure. It was filled with locals, and I think they were all a little surprised that a military guy and his wife had wandered in. You could tell that most of the people in there were regulars and put in an appearance every Saturday night. But, much to my surprise, they were very friendly and inviting. Zac threw darts with a couple of guys that were really good, so he had decent competition for once. We had a good time and I'm sure we'll probably go back again.

On Sunday we planted some tomatoes, some mild jalapenos, basil and cilantro. It's odd to think that in MN we're getting close to frost and here I can plant tomatoes whenever I want. We'll add some plants after we get these going. We'd like to add some bell peppers. We'll probably do some other spices and herbs as well. We'll see how green our thumbs are. Zac is a farmer boy, so I expect great things from his agriculture mind.

We also finally went to the beach for the first time. We were going to go to Waimea Beach, but the traffic was awful once we started getting close. We decided to pull off the highway early and ended up at Haleiwa Beach, which turned out to be just fine. I used sunscreen effectively and emerged from two hours on the beach and in the water with no sunburn. After the beach we swung by the Dole Plantation on the way home and had a pineapple float. (Pineapple soft-serve in pineapple juice.) Then we went home and practically collapsed onto the couch. Too much fresh air, too much sun, too much ocean.

I'm glad that we have today off too, just to recover from the weekend.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

First missed Harvest Dinner

Tonight is the annual Harvest Dinner at Epworth. I'm not there. I guess this is perhaps the first big fall/winter event that I'm missing. My Oct-Dec in MN, like most people's I suppose, is usually choc full of events. Birthdays, church events, holidays. It's a really busy time of year. By the time the first week of January rolls around I'm usually fairly exhausted. It's kind of like when a planet has one of those orbits that is elliptical and the gravitational pull of the larger celestial body kind sling-shots the planet around the short side of the orbit. That's how I feel about the end of the year. The rest of the year moves by at a consistent rate of speed, but as I enter the gravitational pull of Oct-Dec I feel like time accelerates and I am hurdled through the 90 days.

My mom makes peanut brittle for the Mini Boutique that accompanies the Harvest Dinner, as I've covered before. This year I wasn't there to help. Also, mom was working on a class action lawsuit at work which had a deadline of Oct 1. This made her almost too busy to make any peanut brittle at all. I think that might have caused a riot at church. As it is, she wasn't able to make any fruitcakes, another of her major contributions to the Mini Boutique. I think she did get some pumpkin bread and banana breads made. Then she usually makes soup mix too. Seriously, my mom supplies about a fourth or a fifth of the food product on sale there all by herself.

I'm going to take a stab at making peanut brittle here in Hawaii, though I'm not sure how it will turn out. Warm and muggy don't make for good candy-making. Even in MN, if Mom is trying to make it on a 65 degree rainy day it doesn't always turn out well. I might have to crank up the a/c to get it cold enough in here to make it. I'm also a little concerned that the counter tops might not be tough enough to handle the hot liquid peanut brittle when I pour it out.

I do miss not being there with Mom. We had fun making peanut brittle. Part of the tradition is that she has to play Christmas music while we do it. So even though it is the beginning of October, we'll crank up the holiday tunes and bob along as we stir bubbling pots of melting sugar. We laugh a lot, talk a lot. Dad usually makes us lunch. By the end of the day we're sticky and buttery at the same time. Our feet hurt, our backs hurt. We will probably have a few minor burns on our hands or arms. But we'll be satisfied with our output and sleep soundly. And that's just the first installment, for the Mini Boutique. A few weeks later we'd be right back at it for a couple days to satisfy the needs of November and December.

Maybe next fall I can take a vacation home during the sling shot and get swept up in the business of the season again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Midweek musings

I've got writer's block. Blogger's block?

I went out for coffee on Sunday with an acquaintance from MN, Kim. I worked with Kim and her husband briefly back in Eagan. (They're both attorneys.) Then her husband joined the Air Force and they moved out here to Hickam in April. We made a point to keep in touch via e-mail and the other day we made some time to meet in person. Kim and I don't know each other very well, yet, but she's nice and easy to talk to. It's nice having someone going through the same things. Her situation is somewhat different, but that makes for interesting contrasts between our scenarios when they do come up. I'm going to be hanging out with Kim and a friend of hers on Friday night which I'm looking forward to. The friend is also an attorney, and her husband is currently deployed to Iraq. They were married 4-5 months ago. So the three of us have some major things in common: We all got married within the last year, we all have spouses in the military, we're all attorneys. It sounds like a great premise for a tv show. (But only if we started a law firm where we wore Ally McBeal-inspired skirt suits, right?)

Anyhow, it should be an interesting evening, and I'm really looking forward to it.

What else is new . . . Not much. Zac and I get up, he goes to work, I go to the living room. He gets home around 3:30-4:00. We chit chat, eat supper, run errands, hang out, watch House, take the dog on a walk and go to bed. Repeat.

Paul has chastised me for not going to the beach yet. I've been in Hawaii for almost a full month and I haven't set a toe on the sand or in the ocean. Zac and I might remedy that this weekend. We're thinking of driving around the island some and hitting up one of the beaches. That would be nice. I'd like to get out of the house and stretch my legs a little. As much stretching as one can do on an island. But it would be nice to see something other than Pearl City. Right now my life consists of a driving circuit between Pearl City, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, the NEX and back to Pearl City again. I haven't had much reason to stray beyond that since our arrival, save a few exceptional circumstances. I think a trip to the North Shore might be a great change of pace.