Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Busy weekend recap and heading home

Uff da, what a weekend. This was one of those times I was happy to see Monday roll around, just so we could get back into a normal sleeping/eating cycle. Friday morning/afternoon was the ATG command picnic. Zac was in charge of running some of the competitive events (canoe races, horseshoes, tug-of-war) so he had to be there pretty much all day. (Which also meant that I was there most of the time.) It was a long, hot day, but fun. After the picnic wrapped up we rushed home so we could shower and get ready for another event that evening: the Chief Petty Officer Dining Out.

A Dining Out is a formal dinner that has established rules and traditions. While some regions have well-established, long-standing Dining Outs, Hawaii does not. In fact, this was only the second year that they've held one. As a result, everyone is still feeling their way through the process of making it as successful as possible. Some things that we will need to brush up on for next year's Dining Out: giving toasts and reciting limericks. (It's a dinner for sailors - don't tell me you're surprised that the event involves alcohol and bawdy language.)

On Saturday Zac and I spent the morning doing some chores and then headed out to see a movie. We decided to continue our date-night over on base where we could play some pool. We were expecting a relatively quiet, early night. But then we ran into one of Zac's Navy buddies and, well, that plan went out the window. This guy had just arrived back in Pearl to report to a ship later this week. He and Zac hadn't seen each other in years, so the quiet, early night turned into a energetic, late night of catching up. We finally decided it was time to head home around 2am, which is ungodly late for us. But it was a lot of fun getting to meet his buddy and we had a great time. There was always time for sleeping in on Sunday.

(Which is not entirely true because the dogs have no idea what a "weekend" is and demand to go outside by 6:30am no matter what day it is. Evil pooches.)

Sunday we did sleep in, some, and then did laundry. After lunch we met up with Claudia and her husband to help them get ready for Claudia's husband's advancement party. (Claudia's husband just got promoted to E-8, so they were throwing a party to celebrate.) We helped get the food and the keg over to the boathouse where the party was being held and stayed there all afternoon and into the evening. Yet another day of eating a lot of food, drinking a few drinks, and being out in the hot Hawaiian afternoons. While we love spending time with our friends, Zac and I were both beat by the time we got home Sunday evening. Apparently we need to somehow distribute events over multiple weekends instead of cramming them all into one.

On the topic of my return to Minneapolis: I'll be home for the last part of August and the beginning of September. I don't have a schedule of what all I plan to do, yet, but I do think I'd like to have some sort of grill-out for friends when I get back. Maybe over at the Wabun Picnic area by Minnehaha Falls? Or maybe some place with more shelter . . . still debating. If getting to see my shining face isn't enough of an incentive, maybe I can bribe attendance with burgers, beer and pop. I'm hoping to see as many people as I can while I'm back, so this is one of my attempts to achieve that.

Stay tuned for additional details!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cheesecake is good

Ah, cheesecake. How can something that makes my mouth so happy make my thighs so sad? Behold my latest creation:

For the last couple of years I have taken it upon myself to make Zac a cheesecake for his birthday. This year I modeled it after the kind of cheesecake we had at our wedding. It is a chocolate swirl Bailey's Irish Cream cheesecake, with a chocolate ganache topping. And yes, it is as good as it looks. (Much to my utter delight. Pretty and tasty? Success!)

Now that we've had our birthday pieces we come to the difficult part of slicing up the remainder and freezing the slices for later consumption. Hmmm. Maybe "later" could be after the evening news today . . .

So while I think I need to come up with a shorter name for it for the recipe card, for now I shall simply call it DELICIOUS.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shake, rattle and roll . . . sort of

I got to experience my first earthquake today. It was so minor that I didn't know I had experienced it until I watched the evening news, three hours later. A small, 3.5 earthquake went off a few miles south of Oahu around 3:30pm. Zac and I were both sitting in the living room; he was talking to his parents on the phone and I was getting some work done on the laptop. Suddenly it felt like (and sounded like) a huge gust of wind slammed into the house. It's not uncommon for us to get big gusts of wind, especially when the trade winds are blowing. When those winds get going you can hear the wind howling through the house, and if a big enough gust comes a long, the house creaks under the pressure. This afternoon's experience was different enough from the usual wind that both Zac and I looked at each other immediately and asked, "What the hell was that?"

But it only lasted a split second. Then it was gone. We figured it had been the wind. After all, there was no shaking, no rattling, no pictures falling from walls, nothing that said "earthquake". I didn't really give it much more thought until we were watching the 6 o'clock news and they reported the news that, indeed, it was an earthquake. It must have been just one brief, small wave of energy that swept through the neighborhood. Earthquakes on the Big Island are fairly common - Kilauea, the active volcano on the Big Island, causes small tremors every now and again. Earthquakes on the other islands are much less common. If I'm going to experience an earthquake I guess a little one is the way to go.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Jasper and strep throat

First the happy news - I'm an aunt again! Baby Jasper made his entrance into the world on the 7th. Congratulations to Megan, Paul and Lincoln! I was fortunate enough to be with Megan in Minneapolis for her pregnancy with Lincoln. I was there in the hospital, waiting for Lincoln to be born, and I got to see him grow up-close and in person for the first eight months of his life. Then I moved out to Hawaii and now, aside from the few trips home, I've been watching Lincoln grow up via Skype. I thank my lucky stars every day that the technology exists that I can spend face time with Lincoln and my family. It was tough missing out on Megan's second pregnancy and the arrival of Jasper, though. There are times you just want to hug people and, well, technology hasn't evolved that far yet. I had my first Skype session with Jasper, Megan and Paul 24 hours after he was born. How cool is that?

He's adorable, of course. Look at all of that dark hair! Makes me wonder how much he'll look like his fair-haired big brother. I'm really looking forward to getting home and being able to hold Jasper and playing t-ball with Lincoln. Since I don't have a photo of me and Jasper yet, and I'm all excited about my nephews tonight, here's one of my favorite photos of me and Lincoln from December:

On the down side of things, I started getting a sore throat yesterday that continued to get worse as the day/night went. For background here, a few years ago I got strep throat. It was one of those sore throats that I ignored, thinking that it was just a regular sore throat and would go away in a couple days. I woke up in the middle of the third night because of the pain. My throat was so constricted that I had a hard time breathing and swallowing actually made me tear up, it was so painful. I went into the doctor to have it checked. The nurse had me open and say "ahhhhh" to swab my throat and gasped. She said she could hardly get the swab to the back of my throat to take the culture. She said that she hadn't seen a throat like that in a long time, if ever. I was somewhat comforted that I wasn't making up my situation. (This whole time I was spitting into a cup because I couldn't bear to swallow.) Of course, the test came back positive for strep. I was given Tylenol with Codeine and some antibiotics.

After a couple of days I was back to normal, but ever since that incident I have a lingering fear that every sore throat will devolve into something like that strep incident. Like I said, my sore throat started out yesterday and got progressively worse over the next 24 hours. I chided myself for being paranoid, but I called the doctor's office this morning to ask to come in. They didn't have any appointments available but, maybe it was my mentioning that I had had strep before, the nurse managed to squeeze me in for a quick strep test. By the time I got to the clinic for the test my throat was pretty much on fire - it wasn't as bad as my last strep bout. That time I actually felt like I swallowing shards of glass that were shredding my throat. This time it just felt like I was being stabbed in the throat with a millions pins. Believe me, that is actually an improvement over last time.

It took about 15 minutes for the test to come back positive. Honestly, I was surprised that it was strep. I would have bet money that I was overreacting and just had a regular ol' sore throat. Anyhow, I've got my arsenal of Motrin and penicillin to get me through the next few days. So on the downside, while technology couldn't let me hold Baby Jasper, on the upside it also couldn't expose him to my strep when I got to see him yesterday. Here's one more photos, just because he's so sweet:

Monday, July 5, 2010

I need something to do, but I'm not sure what

I'm bored. I think I need to meet some new people. At the very least I need to get out the house.

I spent a good chunk of time searching online last night for something to do. I first thought to look up some community ed classes. (I guess they call it adult education out here.) I think back to the very cool community ed class that Megan and I took a couple of years ago where we learned to make krumkake, a type of cookie, and some strange Norweigan cheese (its name escapes me at the moment). The cheese involved heating milk to separate the whey from the curds and mixing it with something else and, well, it was a strange concoction. But it was fun to make. I love community ed classes. If you haven't taken one in awhile you really should take advantage of them. I figured there would be something out here that would pique my interest. I checked out the class listings for the two closest locations, but didn't see anything exciting or motivating. I was kind of hoping that there might be a writing course, or a Thai cooking course, or some sort of beginning art class, but there wasn't.

I also spent some time looking at the community college catalog from up the street. Again, not much caught my eye. I'm not looking for another degree, just a class or two to keep the neurons firing. I could go big-time and head over to University of Hawaii and get another degree, maybe a MLIS (Master of Library & Information Science), but right now I feel like that would be getting another degree just for the sake of getting another degree. Of course tuition is always a concern. Heaven knows I have plenty of student loans remaining from my law degree. I'm just not interested in taking on another 2-3 years of school with no real reason to.

As far as employment goes as potential activity, I've applied for a few full-time jobs over the last few weeks, but no news yet. I suppose I could see if there is some part-time work out there. Maybe I should just wait til summer break is over (so the teenagers are back in school) and go see if there's anything that strikes my fancy at the mall. Borders never seems to be hiring, but that would be great. I still find organizing tables relaxing when I'm in there, even as a customer. They really should thank me for straightening up a few shelves in their cooking section the other day. Yes, I suffer a mild case of OCD when I'm in a bookstore. Anyone who has spent time working in one knows what I'm talking about.

This is quickly devolving into and entry of nothing but whining, so I should probably just stop while I'm I'm ahead. I'll figure it all out. Maybe I'll just spend a whole lot of time crocheting for the next year and a half.

Happy Independence Day!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! I feel like I spent most of my Saturday and Sunday in the kitchen. In no particular order over the course of 48 hours I made banana bread, lemon bars, potato salad, baked beans, black bean corn salsa, lasagna and garlic bread. I think I might need to fast for a couple of days to get back to feeling normal.

Zac spent the morning of the 4th golfing over at Kaneohe on the Marine Corps base with a couple of his friends. I took the opportunity to read for awhile and then do some of the aforementioned cooking. We spent the rest of the day eating and suffering through food comas. One of Zac's friends is on a ship that is in town for RIMPAC. Zac came up with the cool idea of going over to his friend's ship to watch the Pearl Harbor fireworks. I love fireworks, and I think the ships are cool, so I was pretty excited to go.

Back in day, when Paul was on the Port Royal, my sister and I came out to Hawaii to visit him. I remember that he took us on a tour of the ship, but I honestly don't remember much about it. It was big and confusing. Truthfully, I didn't have the interest in navy ships back then that I do now. I have a much better frame of reference to understand what things are on a ship now. My knowledge is still limited, though.

Zac's friend is on a frigate. The Port Royal is a cruiser. A cruiser is much bigger than a frigate. Zac's friend also said (half-jokingly) that a cruiser is modern and a frigate is straight out of the early 1980s. It was good that the Port Royal happened to be "parked" right next to Zac's friend's ship. It made the difference in size really stand out. That's not to say a frigate is small - it is still a pretty big boat in my estimation.

We sat out on the forecastle (a.k.a. fo'c'sle) on the ship and watched a pretty awesome fireworks display. The coolest feat of pyrotechnic engineering? Fireworks that spelled out U, S, and then A. They did that a couple of times. It was impressive. I don't know how they can get the pattern to make the shape of a letter A. I also don't know how they get those smiley face fireworks to explode correctly. Boggles the mind. But it's not for me to understand, just to enjoy.

It looks like I might be able to go back to his friend's ship tomorrow for a daytime tour, which would rock. I did get to briefly see the inside of the ship tonight, but I think it would be cool to be able to ask more questions. (I was like a little kid today - "What's this?" "What does this do?" "How does this work?" "Why do . . .?") I can't fathom the idea of spending months at a time on a ship. I asked his friend (who also used to be on the Port Royal) if the frigate got tossed around a lot more than the cruiser in rough seas. He answered with an emphatic, "yes". I got a little queasy just thinking about it. I was definitely not cut out to be a sailor.

I hope you all had a great 4th of July. I hope you spent at least some of it with family or friends, enjoying the American life that we all are lucky enough to have. Our country isn't perfect, but it's a pretty darn good place to be. Sitting on a US Navy Ship in Pearl Harbor tonight was the perfect reminder of that.