Finding new places.

We have done a little renovating around our house as you all know.  I have also explained how Mark likes to help me put up the Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving.  Today is that day.  We dragged out the boxes and began to unpack.  Since we were in Germany last Christmas we weren’t here to put anything up.  We also got more decorations and now need to find homes for new stuff, remember where we put the old stuff and find new places to put stuff up that lost its old space due to the renovation.  Also due to little people that need constant supervision around breakable or irreplaceable items I have had to find different spots for somethings.  Normally I put my large collection of German Santa’s on the half wall between the living room and foyer.  Not this year, Cooper and Rose can move furniture around to whatever they want to “examine”.  We have a large wall unit in the living room.  I emptied the shelves with glass fronts which have doors that lock, put those things in the lower shelves, which have doors that lock and refilled the shelves with glass doors with items which are kid magnets but are breakable.  I also put out several nativity sets which can be played with so there is something we can say yes to in the same room. 

I now have to find new homes for lots of things which I usually put in and on the wall unit.  I also have to hammer nails in the walls for all my hanging decorations, they can go anywhere since the kids can’t reach them.  Somethings won’t get put up this year, I just don’t have enough protected spots for everything.  I will have to wait until the little ones get bigger.

BEARDFACE

I’m home for Thanksgiving Day, once again, and it’s good to have mom and dad back this year.  Family dinners always seem so much more organized when mom is spearheading them.

I brought a surprise home this year.  No, not a girl, unfortunately, but I brought the next best thing:  a beard!  That’s right, starting November 4, I started growing a beard for the first time in my life.

I got some amusing reactions.  One of my nephews stared at me with his mouth agape.  My mom and dad just looked at me and laughed.  My older brother said, “I think your face is moldy.”

I, for one, am actually not wild about the beard and will most likely shave it off, maybe even tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll give it another shot further down the road but as of right now I think I prefer being clean-shaven.

Thanksgiving traditions Abersold style.

The feasting is finished, at least the formal feasting is finished.  We decided we like to eat early so we can snack on leftovers for the rest of the afternoon.  Thanksgiving is all about the food, and about being grateful.  I am grateful that my children are enjoying being together.  Mark got a call from his workplace and if the problem can’t be resolved he may have to go back to Seattle tonight.  He just said “I am glad I have a job!”  Good attitude Mark. 

How are family traditions established?  If you do something that unifies your family and everyone enjoys it then it can become a tradition.  This year we did karaoke last night with the grown-ups and today we are doing karaoke with everyone, a little chaotic, but fun.  Kurt just ran up and made a comment about the noise and then ran back down, guess it’s not really bothering him.  I am upstairs writing this and watching the turkey broth.  We aren’t having our usual pie buffet today.  We decided that we would have the pies on Saturday and we are calling it pie day.  We think that pies are wasted on Thanksgiving when you are so full from the feast so we will eat pie on Saturday when we can all be together again.  We will just have Turkey soup, salad and rolls (if there are any left).  That will leave lots of room for pie.  I guess we have just established some new traditions for our family. 

My children enjoy singing, they aren’t great, but we have a lot of fun singing karaoke or else singing around the piano.  They just sang Bohemian Rhapsody together and they sounded great, I went down and watched them.  Dale sang 99 Red Balloons, in German of course.  Now the kids are all singing the theme from Sesame Street.  Fun times.

Mark is still working on the problem from work, but runs down to sing when it is his turn.  We will have pie soon and then everyone will go home and the little ones will go to bed. 

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Pros and cons of space-A traveling

We just got back last night from a quick trip to Utah.  It was very fun, we were only there a little over two days.  We left here Friday just before noon and got back this morning at 2AM.  Not a terribly convenient time, and certainly we wanted to be back much earlier than that, but when you travel space-A you get what you get. 

The flight to Hill AFB is very convenient in a lot of ways and not so convenient in others.  First of all McChord, where the flight originates, is much closer than SeaTac.  We can get there easily in about 30 minutes.  The flight happens twice monthly, although next month due to Christmas there is only one and it is in two weeks.  The flight is free, a big plus.  When a flight leaves from an AFB you don’t even have to pay the federal tax to pay for the extra security you need at airports.  You are already in a place where you have to have special ID to be there.  The parking is close and is free, so you don’t have to add an extra 8 to 12 bucks a day onto the cost of your trip.  You don’t have to call a shuttle when you get back either.  You just walk out to your car and drive home.  There is an easy conviviality with the other passengers, we are all in the same boat.  The flight itself is straight forward, you board, get your earplugs have a safety briefing from an airman and you are on your way.  When you get to the other end you all pile out, no waiting and then you drive away.  Simple.

Now the things that don’t work so well.  We are number last on the priority list, everyone goes before us except other retirees and only if they signed up after us.  Sometimes you don’t get the flight (although we’ve always made the Hill flight in the past).  The flights are often erratic, once we were manifested to go to Hickam, Hawaii and the airplane flew on without even stopping.  The rules change and sometimes the airmen who check you in are  confused and hassle you a bit, you have to know your rights and be able to argue your point.  The Air Force is very concerned about maintenance and safety, they will ground a plane if something is amiss (and well they should).  We have experienced that as well.  The flights usually end at an AFB which is not terribly convenient for other transportation or lodging.  We had to walk a long way early one morning to get back on base after spending the night in a motel because there was no room in the inn (ha ha).  There are other negative things about this mode of travel, but we still like it and will take advantage (when we are can) of this military benefit. 

In fact we think we want to just go out to McChord hop a flight to somewhere and then hop to somewhere else just to see where we can go.  I guess the biggest pro of space-A travel is that it is a true travel adventure.

Be prepared!

It is that time of year.  I expected the power to go out in the last storm, though the lights flickered twice they were never really out.  Last night as we were going to bed the lights went out, and we heard the “boom”.  They came on again briefly then went out, we heard another “boom” and that was it. 

 I keep a small flashlight by my bed which came in handy.  I also have a place where I keep candles and other flashlights just in case, and we always keep a good supply of batteries on hand.  We have lived here long enough to know that November through March is the time of year when power outages happen. 

When I got up this morning the power was back on (I had noticed it was on during the night).  It was off for about three hours for us, not so bad really and all during sleeping time.  We never got cold and really not inconvenienced.  Yeah, let it be that way always instead of the sometimes 3 to 5 days during the coldest part of the year.  Of course it won’t always happen that way so… 

Be prepared!

A job I dislike (putting it mildly).

Today is the day that I am taking down the blinds and cleaning them.  I have put if off.  Every time the sun shines I can see the dust laying on the slats.

When we moved in to this house over 24 years ago, Dale told me that I could order custom window treatments for the living area windows.  This included the living room, dining room and upstairs family room (ufr, oofer in our family).  They were really expensive, but I wanted something nice.  They are wooden venetian blinds in the living room and dining room and a cloth vertical blind in the ufr.  They have really withstood all our family has thrown at them over the years (literally thrown, I have 3 boys after all).  Once we even had a kitten do a blind climb with our dog in hot pursuit.  The blinds still look very nice.  The problem is they get dusty and then they are not so pretty.  I have to take them down and vacuum them.  It isn’t that hard it just seems to go slowly because I don’t like to do it. 

I have the living room finished and I’m taking a break to tell you how much I dislike this job.  I’ll be glad when it’s over. 

Now, back to work.

Veterans Day, a celebration of peace.

I am always bemused when I think about Veterans Day.  What does it really mean and what does it mean to me and my family?  I have always been interested in what people think about military life and the lives of military families.  Do they think we are all war-like and aggressive?  Do we celebrate war and victory?  

As I think about the many friends we’ve made over the years, most in the army of course, I think first about families who are a good cross section across the social economic spectrum.  True there are not many very wealthy people in the military, but there are some who come from more privileged backgrounds than others.  All the officers have a college degree, and most have advanced degrees or at least advanced training in some area.  Most of the senior enlisted also have a degree, and almost all the junior enlisted that I have known have been going to school in their spare (ha ha) time. 

 I don’t think I know of anyone who was excited to go to war.  It was a job that they had sworn to do (you take an oath after all).  To step into a place where people are trying to kill you is scary.  You don’t know who to trust and you can never relax, you must always be vigilant.  There is no job that I can compare it to out of the army.  Some of the mistakes that are made are due to people operating in the extremes and they have lost their moral compass.  They are in a place where almost anything goes and so does their common sense.  So you have massacres of innocent civilians or antics to embarrass and degrade enemy prisoners.  We too can fall prey to those kinds of mistakes, however, we are around people who can tell us that we are thinking wrong thoughts.

I don’t celebrate war, I was the first to tell my friends that I didn’t want my husband to go to war.  That I thought war was a bad idea and that women and children were always the ones who suffered the most.  I have talked to so many people about this, some who think I am weird and shouldn’t have ever been a military wife and others who agree with me completely.  Strangely enough some of those who agree with me are in the military.  I always felt like “My husband will be sent away first if a war is declared.  Put yourself in my position before you decide to support the war.” 

I love peace.  For me that is what celebrating Veterans Day is about.

The Unwalled City

November 8, 9 and 10 of 1989 were a few days of an emotional roller coaster ride for me.  It all started on the 8th, with the death of Grandma Edith.  This being the first time I had lost a close family member, it hit me pretty hard.

The next day was different.  I don’t remember exactly where I was or what I was doing when I got the news, but I got the news nonetheless.  East Germany was lifting travel restrictions for its citizens.  In minutes, Berliners from east and west headed for the checkpoints and the Ku’Damm, and the border guards could not keep the East Berliners out.  A mass of people flooded into the West, literally into the waiting arms of the West Berliners.  Pandemonium ensued (but the good kind of pandemonium).

We did not go out on the night of the 9th, as we were still in mourning for grandma.  Dad left for her funeral on the 10th.  That night, mom decided to take the kids out.

We left our house in southern Zehlendorf and took the S-Bahn through Steglitz up to the city center.  The train was packed, standing room only.  We stayed on for the segment of the S-Bahn that went through the east, as it passed through the eerie abandoned Potsdamer Platz station.  We got off in the West, and I’m not sure how which direction we walked, but we ended up just outside the Brandenburg Gate.

The festive atmosphere from the night before had died down.  Now there were guards lining the top of the wall, and news vans from networks all over the world parked everywhere.  Mom wanted us to see this to show how important an event this was not just to Germany, but to the entire world.

After that, we had to walk through Tiergarten to find a train station, which we eventually did.  Mom was a bit worried about walking all the way through Tiergarten, but I wasn’t particularly worried – I was having fun!  We eventually caught the U-Bahn, I’m not sure which station it was, but I want to say it was Gleisdreick.  After a few transfers, we found ourselves home.  We didn’t go to the Ku’Damm, probably because Mom didn’t want to take three kids to a crowded shopping district.

A few days later, we found ourselves with hammers and chisels at the Steinstucken exclave of Berlin, chipping away at the wall and bringing home as many pieces as we could.  We still have a box of pieces of the wall in our garage at home.

They were three incredible days.  While I don’t exactly remember the details of what happened (I was nine, give me a break!), I don’t forget how it felt.

I look forward to writing about the twentieth anniversary of reunification day next year!