I didn't get a chance to take many photos this week, and certainly didn't try the whole spot-metering thing that Courtney so eloquently explained over at Click It Up a Notch, and I definitely didn't take this this past week, so I guess I shouldn't post this on there. But I just love this picture. I took it 3 years ago during my mother-in-law's pneumonia-hazed visit to Italy. (She was the one with pneumonia; I was just using a cane.) We went to Venice and also Murano, the nearby island that has hundreds of years' history of glass-making. Some of the factories let you peek into their glass-blowing shops, which is where this was. I took this with my old point-and-shoot, which served us so well that Nathan got the same camera a little while after me. You know when you feel so blessed to have seen a moment and to have captured it with one click? Yeah. We miss Italy. ::weeps into her home-made cappuccino::
Today was a good day. We got to mostly hang out around the Hepler House of Excellence & Relax*. (Usually I'm far too busy and important for that.) I got a lot of dishes and laundry and piano practicing done, and Eva got a lot of sleeping done. The weather has been absolutely beautiful the last couple of days. It has been noticeably cooler--in other words, not as hot as h-e-double hockey stick--and breezy and sunny. Around noon we, along with the rest of base, went to the BX to pick up a few random items and ran into our friend who just brought her adopted baby back from China. She is precious, and I feel privileged to have gotten to see her so soon after landing. These friends are borrowing some of our baby stuff, for which they keep thanking us, but the truth is that we're getting the good end of the deal. Have you ever tried to store an exersaucer?? Wait, if they're borrowing our baby stuff, that means I don't have a baby. My little Eva is a gigantic toddler. Every day she discovers something new. Tonight, while trying to avoid eating her dinner (she's going through a not-eating phase and she has a cold) she discovered that if she smooshed her steamed peas on the end of her finger like a fork, they would often stick and then she would carefully bring it to her mouth with an exaggerated "ahhhhrrrmmmm!". No thumb needed! A new level of efficiency! You might wonder why I was feeding her steamed veggies when she is not eating, but they're actually her favorite. Good girl. Of course, after success with several peas she tried it on a corn kernel, which was less successful. But to my surprise she pulled it off a couple of times. After dinner we went on a walk. Sunrises and sunsets here are quick--not quite tropical quick, but, you guessed it, subtropical quick. The diet coke of quick. No lingering luxury like Arizona. Not blink-of-an-eye either. OK I think you get the point. It was mid-to-late dusk for our walk, so the Okinawan fruit bats / Okinawa flying foxes were out. They are, on average, the size of female red-tailed hawks in Virginia but some are much bigger. (What? That doesn't help you?) For bats, they're huge. I love being out at dusk because it's still light enough that you can look straight up and see one's pitch-black silhouette against the lapis sky. We lucked out and a smaller one (maybe only about 10 inches head to tail) landed in a tree right next to the sidewalk. I pointed him out to Evangeline and she watched, interested, as he did the upside-down shimmy. Then I shouted and clapped at it and it whooshed away, and Eva went "dat!" and pointed to the branch it had left.
If you go to that Wikipedia article on megabats, you will not only learn the word "megabat" but also frugivorous, nectarivorous, and chiropterophily. Apparently the sausage tree benefits from chiropterophily (mutualism between fruit bats and plants)...I did not know that sausages grew on trees.
*Even though things are less funny when you explain them, I'm going to do it lest you think we're just really pretentious. "...of Excellence" is what Army tacks onto the name of every school/center ever. "Relax" is the European hospitality industry's favorite word, and they always use it where "relaxation" would be the proper choice. Hence Hepler House of Excellence & Relax.
I realize that this is a strange picture of strange subject matter. But I was taking pictures for something else (hopefully an okinawa hai! post on Kumon) and decided to work with what I had on my table. I tend to get nothing quite in focus when I'm focusing manually, so I spent some time just practicing focusing on the different piles of books and the awamori/candlestick. I liked this one the best. (Fine, honestly, the others were all slightly blurry!) I just used "I" 7 times in 5 sentences--wait, make that 9!
Thanks Courtney at Click It Up a Notch!
Oh my goodness, if you just read my paragraph talking about me practicing lousy photography, you must really love me!
I don't consider myself to be a squeamish girl. I have no problem with needles. For the last 5.5 years I gave myself an injection every week, and for a month in there I added daily heparin injections just for giggles. In the last year I've taken needles to the thigh (that was the weekly one), both knees, the butt 4 times, the epidural space, the elbow-pit (but that's normal I suppose) and the baby, which as all moms will attest to is the worst of all. I even saw the inside of my finger and thought it was cool, but I was high at the time so I'm not sure if that counts as "not squeamish". This year I caught a lizard and a bird with my bare hands in my house, and I laugh in the face of smeared baby poop. But give me eyedrops? I totally spaz out. Grimacing, holding my breath or panting, crying--I mean tearing, missing the mark (I had to attempt my eye drop 4 times one night recently before I actually got it in there), coming up with excuses as to why I can't do it just then. I hate eyedrops. But I was recently told that I have glaucoma, which is medical talk for "you are slowly and sneakily and painlessly going blind" so I get to do them every night for the rest of my life or until I get up the nerve to have a laser poke holes in my eyes, which might possibly be worse than eyedrops but I'm not sure. I didn't choose that option because it seems like a pain in the rear and I'd have to get a babysitter and it only lasts 1-5 years and blah blah. I only got my eyes checked because I had iritis as a kid (connected to my second bout of chicken pox) and after you have iritis--which I remember simply as a blinding pain when I tried to look out the back window of our house at West Point--you have to get slit lamp exams every year for the rest of your life as punishment. So I went in because I was bored here in Oki and hadn't made any friends yet and had the barrage of tests done (also, I'm on Plaquenil and they also punish you with eye exams for taking that) and after 6 or so weeks of retesting, blocking the Dreaded Eye Pressure Puff Test with my lightning-fast blinking, and getting upgraded (sweet!) from optometry to ophthalmology I was told that my eyes, the organs of which I've always been so proud because they work so well, were planning on an early retirement. So lazy. Secretly I wonder if I just have a blind spot (ok 2 now) and slightly high eye pressure. Honestly, I'm thanking God that I got my eyes checked. The eyedrops stop the damage by lowering the eye pressure. There's no way to predict who will get glaucoma (besides old people); it's not tied to iritis or Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it seems to happen in Raynaud's patients but probably just because they're the old, sickly types. A lot of people don't know they have it until it's basically too late; the nerve damage is irreversible. So I am thanking God for this gift of protection for my vision, and also for the fact that the eyedrops make your eyelashes grow longer, darker, and thicker. Not a bad deal after all.
Two soldiers from the 173rd (Nathan's unit in Italy) were recently awarded serious medals for things they did during the 2007-2008 deployment to eastern & northeastern Afghanistan. Their stories are definitely worth reading.
These guys (and, of course, many others) did literally lay down their lives for others; they just survived. I'm glad they are being recognized.
I regret not seeing the 173rd memorial when we were at the National Infantry Museum last October. But it was cold and rainy and we had a little tiny baby. I've said this before, but if you get a chance, go to that museum and plan to spend a whole day. I wish it were in D.C. so more people could go.
(That's just a random Attack Company picture up there from fall 2006.)
P.S. Don't they look cute in their jump boots and their maroon berets?!
OK none of my pictures are that great so I'm posting several! (Nathan: "It doesn't help that we let our daughter play in a drainage ditch.")
-Just for fun.
-Yes, I let Evangeline play in that choice location. I think she was inspired by her love of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and grativated toward the water spout. And, yes, she was perfectly happy to be barefoot on the rocks. -Nathan liked the flower one.
I don't think I'm ready for critiques yet ;-)
15 months ago Nathan and I got a fancy schmancy camera. Our Digital Elphs served us well but they were in tatters after several years of college, Europe, Australia, and Afghanistan fun. But neither of us know the first thing about photography, nor have we learned. So now my neighbor is doing a blog to teach photography basics and I'm participating. And every Friday I will have a lesson in humility, posting a picture that I took on manual mode during the week. Bear with me while I learn!
Disclaimer: This is not supposed to be in a complaining spirit. But sometimes the federal government Vogons produce stories too good not to share.
Every good Army wife has two passports. One is your typical tourist one, and one is a "no-fee" passport that looks exactly the same but you are supposed to use it when you PCS overseas and back. (No-fee passports are not the same as official passports, which are maroon and allow you to go through the diplomatic immigration line. Having a cherubic infant also allows you to go through the diplomatic line, but I digress.) For various reasons having to do with rushing out of the country ASAP after marriage, my no-fee passport was issued in my maiden name. Last winter we finally got around to sending it in to get it changed, and 3 months later it had not been sent back. The State Department's central passport processing office had a record of receiving it, but there was no sign of the packet itself--including my old but still valid no-fee passport and marriage certificate. After several follow-up emails between the Fort Huachuca passport office and the central processing office, it was determined that my packet had vanished into thin air. I maintain that someone filed it under "Helper" and no one has had the brains to check on that. (Digression #2--why is it that Japanese and Thais can get Hepler right but no American ever has?) We didn't determine that my packet was gone forever until after we moved to Okinawa, so in a move of dubious legality I just came here on my tourist passport. Now we are trying to finally get my no-fee passport, and found ourselves at the local passport office today being told that it wasn't enough to fill out the passport application and the lost passport report, we also had to file a police report or have an affidavit. You want me to file a police report stating that the State Department lost my passport? Seriously. After much debate between the Vogons and my Vogon-slayer husband, it was decided that it was enough that I contact the Fort Huachuca passport office and get them to forward me the email sent to them from the central processing office stating that my passport had been eaten. And I could forward that email to this passport office. As I was about to hand in my passport application I checked it over one last time and realized that I had put the wrong social security number on it as mine. In 99% of situations, an Army wife has to put her husband's social security number down instead of hers. The Vogons don't even bother saying "your sponsor's SS number", they just say "your SS number" and you know what they mean. But here I had put down Nathan's (from memory, of course, and apparently it was the first SS number to pop into my head) and for once they wanted mine. Foiled again, but by myself.
You have to give kudos to Japanese people for every attempt at English they make. I mean, they come from a language that doesn't even have an alphabet (it has 3 syllabaries--thank you BlogPress for telling me how to spell that). It should go without saying that there are amusing mistakes and cultural mistranslations everywhere. It is lovely, when we get on an airplane, being greeted with broad smiles for Evangeline instead of the guarded, "oh no a BABY!" looks that she gets from American flight attendants. They always have a little trinket of some sort for her (never age-appropriate but it's hard for non-parents to know what is and isn't). Eva was given a toy (a tiny plastic airplane surrounded by cardboard that was somehow supposed to be a book--I can't explain it) on our last flight from Tokyo to Okinawa which came eleven safety warnings. Here are a few choice selections, exactly as written:
To ask your full precausion before assembling
3. Keep away from small children under age3. The tiny parts may be drinked by mistake. 4. Do not use other pieces of this product with care from many projections. 5. For your safety use, do not use if it is broken or deformation. 7. Do not throw or swing this product, in order to avoid an unexpectedaccident. 8. On disposal occasion, please follow your local regulations of waste disposal. 9. Mold sometimes forms by humidity, so when keeping, keep in a well ventilated place. 10. To prevent from unexpected accidents, please keep this product away from children.
I think my favorite is #4 because I can't actually tell what it means.