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It’s 2020…

August 30, 2020

Looks like I haven’t written anything since May 2019. Or was it 2018? The Chief even asked me if he should/could delete the shortcut to my blog. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say…I’ve got plenty…the muse and purpose just wasn’t there. The Chief and I are still working out–after 27 years together (Aug. 5, 1993 was our second date and beginning of our relationship)–how we communicate with each other. And while these are my thoughts, my musings, how they are presented and received is a fine dance. If he had his way, I’d write and communicate like him–because that’s what he understands. Well, I’m not him. As our daughters find their voices as young adults, I’ve reflected on that dance. I’ll let him lead (sometimes! 🙂 ) but we’re writing the music together and I’m penning the words. (Funny thing is, he used to be the one to write poetry. Maybe he needs to get back to that…) And BTW, there is definitely an “engineer voice” as T1 is developing it and sounding just like her father, only with a lot of young adult female drama…it’s so confusing!

I took him to the airport this morning. He’s been sailing with the company officially 29 years in January. We should be planning for his retirement in 2022…but he thinks he’ll sail at least until June 2024 when T2 graduates. Who knows, though. His credentials expire in November. He sent in his documents for renewal so crossing our fingers that everything gets renewed.

The house is empty. Except for 4 large dogs! That’s right, we have three greyhounds and a borzoi now! Artemis, fka Sofie Bazzie, joined our family in March of this year–I call her my COVID crazy baby. She’s an alpha so she and Simi-Ruthie, the demon borzoi, have had to work things out. Artie’s youth (just turned 4 on August 5th) has not allowed her to successfully challenge the old lady who will be 12 in November. Hedwig will also be 12 in December and Bailey Boy will be 7 in November. So not really an empty nest.

T1 is starting her third year. She had just gotten back to campus for third quarter when the pandemic started. Most college student were mid-semester but being on a quarter system changes things. While other college students just had their spring break extended and the semester ultimately turned virtual, T1’s classes were just starting. We didn’t know whether to make her come home once the dorms had closed or to agree for her to stay in-state at the home of her boyfriend’s family. I kept asking, “Are you two adequately supervised? Are you giving them money for food? Are you outlasting your welcome?” She stayed until the end of May. It was hard but it was the right choice–too many changes would have been too hard on her. Virtual was difficult with her hearing loss though they made every effort to close-caption all her meetings. Her school is in-person and starts after Labor Day. We’re hopeful. There was just no way to keep up a virtual environment for engineering classes. I don’t know about you but I don’t have a massive distillation lab in my garage.

T2 graduated. Or walked across a stage, smiled for her three guests (me, my best friend, and her best friend), and couldn’t wait for it to be over. Because our district chose not to “grade” the final semester, if she hadn’t had 4 AP tests to prepare for she never would have attended any virtual classes. The Chief had left for sea on March 3rd in the hopes of being home for her CGS and regular school graduations. Instead he was at sea for 101 days and nights. I messed up the video conference and he never saw her regular graduation. Thankfully once our state moved into Phase 2 her CGS graduation, such as it was, was held and he was home for that. We even had family overs for a socially distanced celebration. Three months with just me and her… and four dogs. I’m not sure I ever imaged that. I will cherish the time.

T2 is at university now. She had her early decision acceptance last summer, months before any of her friends, so senioritis was BAD! She just wanted to start this new experience. I’m happy to say she’s had a week of classes and seems to be doing well. I plan on driving down to take her to dinner on her 18th birthday. I can’t not be with her on that day. If I think old lady Heddie can make the trip I will bring her with me.

And I am back at work. It’s been stressful because everything was left unfinished. There were too many unanswered questions. I watched 14 out of 16 hours of the school board meeting, seeing the best and worst of our community members and elected officials, where they ultimately voted to begin the year 100% virtual instead of hybrid. Really, the decision was between a rock and a hard place. My biggest take away from starting up was the stress of information loss. One usually hears about information loss in students over the summer–how the first weeks of school is spent relearning what has been lost, even after sending home take home packets and suggested summer activities. If I as an adult can’t remember quickly the processes I did every day for 6 months, how much will the children have forgotten? We’ve had 2 weeks of teacher training, one week of online orientation with students, and one week of online classes. I’m not as stressed.

Empty nest… typically a time when career military marriages fall apart. The Chief and I have really worked hard. And I have to say, I have enjoyed the past month–a week in Florida with him when he took his re-certification classes, and these weeks after the girls went to school. I cleaned up my desk during quarantine and found about 20 unused restaurant gift certificates! Let’s just say we used as many of them as we could! There was an intimacy that I think we both we looking forward to–an emotional intimacy that said, “we earned this, we did this, our job, and now it’s just us.” Sappy, I know. #goals LOL

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Call Them Mariners

March 10, 2019

I recently posted an article on a Mariner spouse page. Call Them ‘Mariners’

I posted it for a couple of reasons… I’m big on education and if the spouse don’t use the correct terms and history… Well, that’s a pet peeve of mine.

It’s been received well. One person did ask what were the veteran benefits. I answered “Veteran status means getting recognition and benefits like medical care from the VA. So many WWII Mariners died before getting veteran status. Interestingly, it was the newly formed Air Force that opposed Mariners getting veteran status. They weren’t even their own separate branch from the Army in WWII. 😒”

One member asked me why I was singling out the Air Force… She posted the legislation as “interesting reading.” It is a very lengthy PDF from the Congressional Record. 2017 legislation does fix some oversights and errors. It’s a shame that most WWII Mariners are now dead.

My reply was “Yes, it was the Secretary in particular.”

I was then asked why I was dissing the Secretary of the Air Force because he was acting on advice of the Civilian/Military Review Board. I find it particularly interesting that that she mentioned civilian influence.

I replied with my go-to source that I have used for over two decades. The United States Merchant Marine organization’s position. My detractor sees this source as merely an OpEd piece.

Honestly, I don’t care who is responsible, it’s a shame. Look, I support our military and I am a proud Patriot. But how can someone connected to this industry not want equal recognition and benefits for those who served and also gave the ultimate sacrifice? Vet status given to those who flunked out of military training?? Vet status to dieticians and clerks before a branch of service that list 7,000 men?? And arbitrarily saying vet status was only good up to a YEAR before the official end of the war?? (2017 legislation appears to have fixed this.)

The USMM is older than the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Certainly older than the Air Force.

During my short time at Sea Power Magazine, I met former military who didn’t know the USMM actually has combat medals. I don’t know how many years the Almanac of Seapower had been published before I asked where were the Mariner medals? No one in the office knew that the United States Merchant Marine Academy is the only federal service academy to send it’s cadets, midshipmen, or airmen into EVERY war and military action. Including Desert Shield/Desert Storm. NONE of the other four took part in that conflict. No one in the office knew that USMMA was the only federal service academy NOT invited to the celebration parade!

I remember being asked to get a picture of a Mariner officer at work so I pulled a picture of the Chief off my cubicle wall and the Senior Editor said, “No I need an officer (in uniform).” My Chief was in jeans and a t-shirt so response was, “My husband is an officer and that is his uniform.”

We aren’t often include in Memorial Day services and Veterans Day services. I met the Merchant Mariner who fought to make sure the USMM medallion was included as part of the World War II Memorial. I met men who had accomplished the 1988 legislation and were still trying to vet status for those who served between 1945 and the end of WWII in 1946, Korea, and Vietnam.

I got tired of hearing that if I took my children out of school to celebrate the one holiday that honors past and present Mariners (Maritime Day–a NATIONAL holiday on May 22nd) it would be considered an unexcused absence.

It’s been 13 hours since I posted my link. I’m assuming the other spouse has Air Force ties. Where I live I know people from every branch of military service. I am not knocking them. I am grateful for their service and sacrifice. And I agree their benefits are grossly inadequate and veteran affairs and medical care needs such an overhaul.

And yet I also know that despite our “civilian pay” and benefits, our Mariners and families make sacrifices too. Currently, no my Mariner has not gone into a war zone but given the fact the Chief is “deployed” 5-7 months a year EVERY year for the past 27 and we don’t have Exchange benefits, support groups, housing, etc…, That if he were ever sent into a war zone I would hope he would be honored with veteran status.

Getting off my soap box now.

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Our Life

February 7, 2019

Image may contain: one or more people, water and outdoor

The Chief is STILL sailing. T1 is already has enough credits to be a Sophomore during her first year at college, living 12 hours away from us and studying Chemical Engineering, minoring in Business and Music. She joined Pep Band and was appointed junior conductor. She’s on her second roommate (don’t ask). Joined a sorority. Made Dean’s List for the first quarter. And is currently joining the ChemE fraternity. Whew.

T2 just scheduled all her senior classes–5 of which will be AP level. We’re hoping she has enough AP credit to start college a sophomore and can skip all her gen-ed requirements. We’re waiting for the college of her choice to announce summer early decision days and we could actually know exactly where she’s going before her last year of high school even starts.

I finally have my current dream job–library para-educator. Unfortunately, my boss said she wanted one thing–independent, self-motivated, competent, strong, creative, co-teacher that she didn’t have to micromanage but what she really wanted was someone who would only do what she specifically told them to do. I’ve edited this sentence because I am trying to practice … I don’t know what I’m trying to practice. I just have to grin and bear it. I love the work. I love most of the students. I don’t have to test any more. And I have a sneaking suspicion she won’t be returning.

Merchant Seaman Tee-Shirts and Hoodies posted the above comic. The Chief FINALLY join the evil FaceBook to keep in touch with his woodworking forums. Every now and then I see some of his activity. His comments to this comic brought tears to MY eyes.

My used to say she sees me more even though I am gone half of the year than if I were stuck commuting to an office every day.

The ability to communicate has gotten easier over the last 30 years, but nothing takes the pace of just being there(.)

Another mariner responded: Especially when you’ve got kids. Takes a strong-willed woman.

Very true. And my bride has done a great job raising 2 more strong willed, self-reliant women.

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Life Takes a Funny Turn

October 2, 2017

Summer was winding down. The Chief was going to be late by a week for T1’s ceremony. Any potentially appealing job listings mysteriously disappeared off the county website after I had inquired about not hearing anything when I had been promised help transferring into another position. I was pretty much resigned to going back to full-time subbing. Maybe that was for the best. It would be T1’s senior year and I knew it would be a crazy time for us.

But I couldn’t help not being satisfied with that. I started looking at the nearby neighboring county. Some of their schools were actually closer than my last job was to my house. But interestingly the pay was almost $1,500 LESS!

The Chief was in sell range and we were talking about all manner of upcoming things. I finally asked him how he would feel if I applied for those jobs even if the pay was less. Three schools were closer to home and to my gym. He supported my decision.

I spent the next few hours applying and uploading resumes and letters of recommendation. It was after midnight before I finished. It was in God’s hands.

The following day I had a follow-up ENT appointment for myself for my sinuses and I was going to have a hearing test to see if I was the reason T1 suffered from hearing loss. I had been at the gym earlier but I had a caffeinated drink and it triggered my SVT. I spent the next few hours in SVT but nothing major happened. My appointment was running long and my cell phone rang.

It was the principal from my children’s elementary school, the place where I had desperately wanted to be the library para and had been passed over twice now. He was offering me the Title I para position I had been released from at my previous job when they lost their Title I status. It was last minute but I would report the following Monday.

Sure it wasn’t the library position I desired but it would be one mile from my home and I wouldn’t have to take a pay cut. I agreed to take the job.

There was of course some comedy of errors on the part of human resources. Because I was technically still on the pay roll, no one called me to offer me my salary memorandum. It had been emailed to my still active email account. This also caused some confusion about filling out my benefits paperwork–that I had signed in January. No one seemed to know any answers and my drive over to the school board office was for nothing.

We’ve been in school four weeks now. I am making bulletin boards and having fun at that. I’m teaching reading and math remediation. Familiar faces have been so welcoming. And my new boss? It doesn’t hurt that she is the blonde doppelganger of the most delightful woman at church. So far we are definitely getting along. One of my classroom is a bit annoyed with the fact my group is noisy. It’s kind of a chicken or egg situation–she has a noisy class in general.

We’re knee deep in marching band. We’ve had Senior Informational Night. Tomorrow is the FAFSA night. It’s getting real.

Just got to trust God’s timing…

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