(Please allow all thumbnails to load before
clicking on them)
1st - My last days in Philly and the Ice Park Adventure
My last day in Philadelphia passed
much too quickly. I spent the day with my mom, over at my brother's
house, since I had to leave so early for the airport the next morning
and was spending the night there.
there, my nephew Sean came into the house followed by two of his
friends. He invited me to come out and look at the tree fort they
had built in the woods behind the house. Seeing his fort brought
back so many memories from my childhood. When I was just a kid,
the "Tomlinson Road Gang" (not a gang by any stretch),
built a fort every summer. It was our private sanctuary in the woods
and we spent a lot of time there. We'd get our building supplies
from some of the new home construction sites dotting the neighborhood.
We even picked up the bent nails from the ground and would hammer
them straight so we could use them.
Sean's fort is a very sizeable structure. Like the forts from my
childhood, it's a mishmash of wood, haphazardly nailed to several
trees. He and his buddies are quite proud of their 'condo' in the
trees. I just had to take a photo for him.
prepared a delicious spaghetti dinner for all of us, and we settled
in to watch a movie afterward. Mom started getting tired, so we
had to say our goodbyes to one another before she drove home. Before
she left, I asked Sean to take a photograph of 'the Smalley girls'.
I'm printing it out and putting it in a magnetic frame for my mom's
refrigerator. From left to right is me, Mom, Diane, and my niece
I didn't sleep much my final night in town. The alarm went off
at 5:15am and we left for the airport a little after 6am to beat
the rush hour traffic. My connecting flights were on time, and I
landed in Fairbanks as scheduled. It was good to see Rachael and
Susan waiting for me.
It is good to be back in Alaska. I found more than a foot of snow
in my driveway. Rachael was nice enough to shovel me a path to my
front door, but I knew I had a big job ahead of me the next morning,
if I wanted to get the truck out of the garage. I looked forward
to sleeping in my own bed, cuddling Airborne, and picking Sedona
up from the kennel the next day.
It's been cold, but I'm tolerating it much better than the damp,
windy weather in Philadelphia. The Ice Park opened yesterday, but
it was just entirely too cold to be wandering around in the outdoors.
Rachael and I made plans to go today instead. If you're interested
in following the artists as they create their frozen works of art,
visit the Ice Alaska site.
There will be webcam links there so you can see the sculptures from
the warmth and comfort of your home.
The first week that the park is open gives us a chance to watch
the artists at work. I like this time, because it's usually not
crowded. Many people buy tickets to visit once, and they wait until
later in the month so that they can see all of the sculptures completed
and lit up with colored lights. I buy the season pass because I
like to go several times during the month and watch the progress.
I took a lot of photos today. I don't know the names of the artists
or the names of their sculptures, because the site hasn't updated
yet. Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger photo.
Before I end this entry, I just wanted to tell you just how much
stress has been lifted from my shoulders since our house closed
on Friday. Yes - the deal is finally done! One more thing accomplished
in preparation for the next stage of our life.
Another wonderful thing? If all goes as scheduled, I will be holding
my husband in my arms in about 25-30 days. I hope it's 25!
March 6th - Native Arts Festival and Ice Art Championships
I have had almost a week of lazy
days. I don't know if there's such a thing as week-long jet lag,
but that's what it's felt like. My sleep patterns have been wacky,
and my energy levels have been very low. If not for all the activity
going on in town, I'd be content to do nothing but lay around watching
Saturday night, Rachael, Susan and I went up to UAF campus to attend
the last day of the Native Arts Festival. We watched the dancers
for about an hour, before browsing the craft tables. I came upon
the most beautiful hand made native doll vignette - a circle of
dolls holding a blanket, with another doll suspended above the blanket
- portraying the blanket
toss. The dolls were made of seal skin and moose hide and it
was truly a beautiful piece. It was reduced in price, but still
not an inexpensive investment. If we were settled in our own home,
I would have purchased it. But with moving on the horizon, I'm more
concerned about paring down my belongings, rather than adding to
Yesterday afternoon, I went back to the Ice Park to see what progress
had been made. The single blocks were judged on Friday night. The
multi block sculptures will be judged this Saturday. What a difference
a few days made! I took a lot of photos of completed single block
sculptures and also some photos of artists hard at work on multi
block pieces. It was a sunny day and felt warmer than the 20F we
reached. I'd like to go back again this week at night to see the
sculptures with the lights on them. I really hope they're still
standing when Steve comes home on R&R at the end of the month.
This upcoming weekend is the Chatanika Days celebration. There
will be Outhouse Races, Human Bowling, and other events. If the
roads are in good shape, I'd like to head out there. Chatanika is
about 30 miles from Fairbanks. It's a pretty drive, but the road
goes over hills and into valleys. If it's slippery, that could be
a scary drive. I'm going to play it by ear.
Please keep my mother in your prayers. She was admitted to
the hospital today because of pains in her abdomen. The doctor seems
to think it's another abscess and has ordered a CT scan. I have
no further details at this time. All I pray for is for the pain
to be taken away and my mother to be healed. I hate that she's going
through all of this.
March 10th - Mom and Daffodils
My mother is still in the hospital.
The pain was not from an abscess. She has another tumor. It's the
size of an apple. We're not clear about what the method of treatment
will be. There has been talk of pre-operative chemotherapy to try
to shrink the tumor before removing it, but until we talk directly
to the doctor, nothing is certain. I've talked to her daily, and
she's in good spirits. She's getting injections of Dilaudid, which
helps with the pain. Thank you to those of you who are keeping Mom
in your thoughts and prayers. It is much appreciated.
It is currently -22F here in Fairbanks. I don't know who ordered
this arctic weather, but I thought for sure we'd be on our way to
warming up as spring gets ready to officially arrive. I use the
term 'officially' only because it is marked on calendars that March
21st is the first day of spring. But here in Fairbanks, we still
have a while before we start to see signs of spring (new growth).
We broke a record last year on this date with a temperature of 44F.
Even though it would melt the ice sculptures (like last year), experiencing
a few minutes of that warmth would be welcome right now.
couple of days ago, my friend Susan surprised Rachael and I with
a bunch of daffodils. What a wonderful surprise, and certainly a
reminder that spring will eventually arrive. They were all closed
up when she gave them to us, but putting them in water opened them
right up. I just had to take photos! I'm using them as screen savers
to warm me up.
In a little more than 2 weeks, Steve will be leaving Iraq to begin
the journey home for a visit. I don't have to tell you how much
I am looking forward to seeing him again. He is my rock, my strength,
and the love of my life. I can't wait to be enveloped in his arms
and held close again.
March 13th - Sled Dog Races, and a Visiting Star
We've had sunshine all weekend,
despite the fact that it's still below zero most days. However,
this week should see a bit of a warm up, and we're all looking forward
On Saturday, Rachael and I decided to go to the Limited North American
Championship Sled Dog Race. A three day event, we missed the first
day because we weren't dressed for the bitter cold. We were much
better prepared on day two, with lots of layers, extra camera batteries
(the cold drains them quickly) and a plan to take advantage of the
viewing area indoors to warm up in between races. I am always happy
to attend the races and see the dogs and mushers as they prepare
to race along the trails. It must be so exhilarating to be on a
sled, alone on a trail, with the wind in your face! Perhaps someday
I will enjoy that experience.
Yesterday, Fairbanks had a star in our midst. John Leguizamo (the
voice of SID in Ice Age 2), was in town to officially open the Ice
Park and to promote the movie opening at the end of the month. He
and Gov. Frank Murkowski, 'cut the ceremonial ribbon', using blow
torches because the ribbon was made of ice. They arrived on dogsled
and there was a big crowd on hand to welcome them - to include me
and my friends Rachael and Susan. And it wasn't a warm night either.
We got there early so we could view the multi-block sculptures
before making our way over to the staging area where the festivities
would kick off. It wasn't dark enough to get the traditional multi-color
lit up sculptures, but we were amazed by the detail that went into
the large carvings. We all took some photos, and ran inside the
building to warm up. We weren't the only ones who were seeking out
a few minutes of warmth to thaw our fingers and toes.
We're definitely going to go back to the park after dark to get
some night photos, however we're hoping it will get a little warmer.
Not too warm though! I want them to stay intact until Steve gets
home, so he can see them with me. The park officially closes on
March 26th. After that date, the park will be open to the public
at no cost. I suspect a lot of children will spend some time on
the ice slides long after the park closes.
Mom was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon. She
had a bad night Friday evening - very depressed, and feeling very
hopeless. A friend stayed with her to keep her company, and then
on Saturday she went to my brother Steve's house where she will
be staying for a few days. She is scheduled to have surgery to implant
a port in her chest so that she can start chemotherapy treatments
next week. The treatments will last approximately 8 weeks, and our
hope is that they will shrink the tumor in preparation to remove
March 17th - Sunrises, Sunsets, Moon and Ice
St. Patrick's Day!
The days are getting longer and it's much more noticeable now.
We're gaining almost 7 minutes each day as we leave winter behind
and head toward spring. I just wish the weather would cooperate.
It would be nice if the weatherman was a bit more accurate too.
We're being taunted with extended forecasts predicting temperatures
in the 20s and 30s, and then instead, we're not getting much above
zero. Add in the almost constant wind, and it feels a lot colder
out there now than it felt back in December. Oh well... patience
is a virtue, right?
and sunsets have been gorgeous over the last few days. The colors
in the sky have been so beautiful, that I even threw on my many
layers of clothes a few days ago, and ventured out for a drive around
post just to get some photographs. I took Sedona with me and we
stopped at the golf course so she could get out and run around for
a little while. She didn't stay out too long. The arctic wind brought
with it bone-chilling cold and even having a natural fur coat didn't
help. When I opened the back door of the truck, she didn't hesitate
to hop back in quickly.
Rachael and I 'borrowed' a couple of kids from our friend Nik,
and took them to the ice park a few days ago. Nik hasn't been feeling
well (battling a cold) and her husband was due home any day for
his R&R visit. We thought she'd appreciate a few hours of rest
and relaxation herself. Besides, we were looking forward to visiting
the ice park again.
It was crowded, as it is spring break here in Fairbanks. Can you
imagine having spring break when the wind chill puts temperatures
at -25F? Some spring, huh? But kids in Alaska are accustomed to
this, and a few days off from school is always welcome. The ice
tunnel, ice maze, and ice houses were full of laughing children,
and the ice slides were a huge hit with both the children and the
'big' kids (as in daddies and mommies!). We stayed for a little
over an hour before the wind got strong and bit into our skin with
a vengeance. I hope it warms up a little bit before Steve gets home.
had a full moon a few days ago. I hope it was visible in your part
of the world. It looked bright orange while it was down low on the
horizon - probably because the sun was setting in the sky opposite
the moonrise. The color faded a little as it rose higher in the
sky. Rachael and I stopped home for our cameras and tripods and
took some photos of it over the approach strip and airfield. Unfortunately,
in my excitement, I left the house without gloves. I should know
better - and the sticky notes that Steve has left me in the arctic
room should have been a nice reminder. But I was in too much of
a hurry, so I ran off without them. Big mistake.
My tripod has a plastic grip on it, but the rest of the tripod
is aluminum. And when the temperatures are below zero, aluminum
gets really cold. I'm talking REALLY cold. When we were done shooting,
I picked up my tripod by the plastic grip, but without thinking
I used my other hand to grab one of the legs and put it in Rachael's
car. Immediately, I felt a searing pain on my palm. I didn't think
much of it, except in that second when I yanked my hand off of the
tripod. We were so cold, our only focus was getting the car heated
up and our hands warm.
next day, while taking Sedona for a walk, I couldn't understand
why I had an ache in my palm, where I was holding her leash. I pulled
off my glove and found a blister dead center. A tiny portion of
the skin at the edge of the blister was white. My third winter here
in Alaska, and my first experience with contact frostbite. You can
bet I won't forget my gloves again.
If all goes well, I will have Steve home with me in less than two
weeks. I wish I could put out more precise information, but I can't
for security purposes. Believe me - you'll know when the time arrives!
We spend almost every second of our online time talking about the
upcoming visit. He looks forward to emptying his mind and recharging
his energy. I look forward to cuddling with him before I fall asleep,
lazy days snuggled up on the sofa watching movies, and maybe taking
a drive or two. Scenic drives renew our spirit. Steve's itching
to get out and hit the open road - letting the beauty that is Alaska
rejuvenate his soul. We'll play it by ear. There will be no schedule,
no plans, and no obligations. The only thing we care about is being
able to reach out and touch each other after 7 months of separation.
The butterflies in my stomach arrived days ago. I wish I could
fast-forward the next week or so.
Mom News: Mom had a Pet Scan yesterday. We
should get the results on Monday or Tuesday. This scan is a more
accurate picture of the tumor. Wednesday, she is going in the hospital
to have her port installed. I didn't get a date from Diane on when
Mom's chemo treatments will start. She will go every other week,
for four treatments. At least she's having the chemo at a local
hospital (Holy Redeemer, for family members reading this) and not
downtown. This will ease the situation for both Mom and my sister-in-law
Diane, by eliminating the 'all day' ordeal of traveling to center
city Philadelphia. I can't say enough how much I appreciate Diane
for all that she does - and has done - for Mom.
Currently, Mom is staying with Steve and Diane (and niece Rachel
and nephew Sean). I feel better knowing that she is surrounded by
family, rather than home alone. And she's lucky too, as Diane is
an excellent cook and Mom will definitely benefit from having delicious
meals prepared for her. Not to mention the great company!
Thank you, Diane. I love you, sis!
March 20th - An Event Filled Weekend
I feel like I've been away from
this journal for a long time, and it's only been three days. I have
been running around all weekend, taking lots of photos (you're being
warned that this will be a very photo-heavy entry), and enjoying
the *goings on* in Fairbanks. I'm thankful to have my friend Rachael
to enjoy the events with. She's been having fun taking photos with
her Canon G6 and I've been sharing my knowledge about camera settings
with her, so that she can get the best results. She managed to capture
the Northern Lights the other night - her first time. She's excited,
as she should be.
of the Northern Lights - what an amazing display we had near midnight
on St. Paddy's Day. They were positively magical and I saw huge
streaks of purple for the first time. A little after 11pm, I was
heading up to bed, and as is customary, I glanced out the window
to look for the lights. How glad I am that I did! They were bright
and dancing across the night sky. I grabbed my camera, tripod, and
a few items of clothing and ran into the back yard to get a few
photos. The photo at left was taken from my yard. The one at right
shows the killer icicle hanging from the roof of my house. I don't
want to be standing under that deadly spike when it falls!
As they got more intense, I decided to drive down to the playground/open
field for some shots without houses and overhead wires. It's only
about a block away, so I put on a few more layers of clothes before
jumping in the truck. When I got to the field, they were nearly
invisible. I was so disappointed, but decided to stand and wait
anyway. I'm glad I was in a patient mood, because 15 minutes later,
the sky was lit up with green again.
I stood out in the elements as long as I could before it got too
cold to tolerate. The lights were slowing down and growing dimmer,
so I figured the light show was over for the evening. I drove home,
downloaded the photos from my camera and resized a few to share
in my journal. I spent a good hour playing with photos, and before
I knew it, it was after 1am. I shut down my laptop, climbed the
stairs to bed, and changed into my pjs. I pulled back the covers
and got ready to climb in. I don't know what possessed me to walk
into the guestroom (in the back of the house) and look out the window,
but Oh. My. Goodness!
have never seen such activity before in my life! They were so bright
that shadows and light danced around the bedroom! I ran for my camera
and my tripod and set it up facing out the window. I am quite impressed
with what I captured, but I will remember to take the screen off
the window next time. I couldn't see the interference of the screen
grid in my LCD screen, but it did show up on the photographs. Lesson
learned. How I wish my family would come visit me in the winter
sometime, so that they could see this phenomenon. Can you imagine
laying in bed while this incredible light show played outside the
On Saturday, Rachael and I decided to attend the GCI Open
North American Championship. From the website:
ONAC is the premiere sled dog sprint race in the world, attracting
the top sprint mushers from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan.
The three day race is run every year in March from downtown Fairbanks,
Alaska, with heats of 20 miles the first two days, and a grueling
30-mile heat on the final day.
took some photos at the start of the race, as well as a few photos
of the stage where The Alaska Trappers Association was hosting a
fur auction. Hundreds of pelts from various animals were on display
- each one numbered and with a 'starting bid' posted on it. There
was lynx, coyote, red fox, mink, wolf, bear, beaver, and probably
a few other types of fur. We didn't stay for the auction because
our plan was to make our way to another checkpoint along the trail
where we could get closer to the action. The crowd downtown lined
the street, limiting our vantage point, but we stayed to watch the
first couple of teams get off the starting line.
drove over to an area near Creamers Field to set up for some photos
of the teams as they came off the field and down onto the slough.
We were told by my friend Jan that this is a good place to see some
sleds go up on one runner because of the angle of the turn. We definitely
saw some clouds of snow when the made that turn, and were able to
crouch right next to the trail for a dog's eye view.
Despite below freezing temps, the blazing sun really helped to
keep us warm and made the day quite enjoyable. We stopped at Starbucks
before heading home to put on lounging clothes and be lazy the rest
of the day.
11pm, I saw that the lights were out again. I buzzed Rachael and
asked her if she wanted to take a drive with me to the top of Birch
Hill for a better view. She was game and off we went. It was a bit
scary making the drive in the dark like that, and I was glad to
have her company. We set up our cameras, I gave her some input on
settings, and we started shooting. I'm glad we managed to catch
them, as they didn't stay out for long and clouds rolled over Fairbanks
On Sunday, Rachael and I went to breakfast at The Cookie Jar.
It's our 'regular' Sunday morning breakfast place, and we were hoping
that Susan and her friend Amanda could join us, but she had other
plans. I ran into some local friends who belong to the same Alaska
Living group I do. In addition, one of our members - and his family
- from Eagle River (near Anchorage) was in Fairbanks for the weekend
and looking forward to putting faces on the names. I spent a few
minutes chatting with them, before Rachael and I took off for "A
Woman's Affair" - an expo type event featuring women's businesses,
seminars on women's healthcare issues, etc. We had free tickets
(thanks Susan!), and time to kill before the Parka Parade at Pioneer
Park. (Say that 5 times fast!)
We got to Pioneer Park early and walked through the 'historic town'
part of the park. I took a few photos and converted them to B&W
to make them more interesting. I've been to Pioneer Park many times,
and always find something to photograph (or photograph again).
went back inside to see the parkas on display. Unfortunately, there
weren't many participants in the parade. The parkas were hand made.
Some were more ornate than others, but all were beautiful and took
a lot of work. There were five fabric parkas - with fur trim - and
one all fur parka (absolutely stunning!) which took a year to make.
It was constructed of Holstein cow hide, beaver, fox, and mink.
I took a few closeup photos of the woman wearing the winning fur
parka (the only competitor in the fur division). Isn't it beautiful?!
a few hours of downtime, Rachael and I made our way home to grab
some dinner and rest up before we took off for a night visit to
the ice park. I was really looking forward to seeing the sculptures
lit up with the colored lights. Viewing them at night is an entirely
different experience than seeing them in the daylight. It's festive.
Almost Christmas-sy. We really chose a good night to go, as the
temperatures were a bit more manageable. Nevertheless, I was bundled
up with several layers. I didn't want to take any chances of being
cold. It worked. I was toasty warm all night long. I really hope
that the sculptures are still looking as beautiful next week when
Steve is home with me. (YIPPEE!)
With the passing of another weekend, I am even closer to having
Steve home with me. I spent the day straightening up around the
house, and cleaned out the inside of the truck. I hope he doesn't
read this particular entry, because if he does, he'll know that
I've been allowing Sedona in the truck for rides. I can't help it;
she's my furbaby. I love to take her with me when I get the urge
to take a drive around post for photos. Steve has always been one
who doesn't care for animals in the vehicle - although he never
took issue to it when she'd ride with me in my Nissan. But when
he bought his truck, he made it a point to tell me that when Sedona
goes with us in the truck, she has to ride in the bed of the truck
in her kennel. (There's a cap on the truck to protect her from the
elements). OK... so I've been bending the rules a little bit. *grin*
I've been careful about laying a blanket down on the leather seats
so that she wouldn't tear them up with her claws, and the blanket
has attracted her fur to it too, so less flying around the inside.
I don't think he'll be on to my secret, as the truck looks great
inside. If you're a local friend reading this, shhhhhhh!!!!
excitement is building as I get closer to seeing my husband again.
I replay what I think it will be like to see him in the airport.
It's hard to believe that it's been 7 months since we said goodbye
to one another. One day last week, I was feeling creative and wrote
a poem for him. I emailed it to him and he printed it out and hung
it over his bed. It is so wonderful to love and be loved.
When we see each other on the webcam, we can't help but grin from
ear to ear. We mostly talk about seeing each other again and all
the little things we've missed the most. The sound of each other's
laughter being one of those things. It will feel nice to laugh with
March 25th - Curling Competitions and Playing the Waiting Game
weather has been warming up - warming up enough that we've been
getting snow. Ever after 6 months of winter, I still enjoy seeing
the snow fall. The flakes have been so big, that you can see the
individual ice crystals in them. This past Tuesday, it was so warm
(about 25F), that Rachael and I decided to leash up the pups (Sedona
and Stryker) and take them for a long walk. We hit some patches
of deep snow which slowed us down some - and gave us one heck of
a workout, but we managed to walk a little more than 3 miles. It
was good for us and our pups, who got the opportunity to smell new
smells and see a change of scenery after months of only seeing the
back yard and areas around our homes. I can't wait until walking
becomes a regular part of our daily schedule again.
Thursday, Rachael and I attended the USCA
Mixed Nationals at the Fairbanks Curling Club. We had never
attended a curling spiel (game), but thought it would be a neat
experience. When we got there, we were seated up on the second level,
warm behind a large viewing window. This gave us a bird's eye view
of the curling arena. When I started taking photos, a woman sitting
next to me (who was very knowledgeable about the game) told me I
looked like a 'professional' [as in photographer] and told me I
could go down on the ice if I wanted to. There were children down
on the ice already, viewing the game, so Rachael and I decided to
take advantage of the offer and get some photos from the players'
We didn't know much about the sport of curling, but it appeared
to be played similarly to Bocce, or even Shuffleboard. Teams release
a 'stone' or 'rock', which glides down the 'curling sheet'. Rocks
must land between the hog line and the back line and between the
boards or out lines. Expertise is used to direct the stones as close
as possible to the center 'button', while knocking opponent's stones
out of the way. After both teams have delivered eight rocks, the
team with the rock closest to the button is awarded one point for
each of its own rocks that is closer than the opponent's closest
rock. You can read
about the sport of curling on the Wikipedia site. Best part
of all? There is no age limit for curling! The Fairbanks Curling
Club has players ages 5 to 85.
The local curling club has an annual Rookie Spiel - when amateurs
can come out and compete. The woman I spoke to invited me to create
a team and come out for it. I don't know about that. I'm not very
nimble on my feet, and the thought of sliding across ice reminds
me of retrieving my newspaper from the driveway in the morning.
I'm the furthest thing from graceful that there is. *grin*
|Delivering the Stone
|Curling Stone or Rock
|Stone in motion
|After the Delivery
|Stone and brush
|Delivering the stone
Steve really enjoys watching curling, and the season lasts until
sometime in April. I might just have to take him over there to watch
a spiel or two. You never know... he may be up for getting
a team together for the Rookie Spiel in October or November of this
Speaking of Steve... he got online last night (my time), which
was Saturday morning his time. He has begun the journey home, but
it could take several days to a week - depending on transportation
and schedules. We've waited this long; we'll continue the waiting
game. Just knowing that he's one step closer to getting home to
me is enough. I look forward to the phone call telling me he's in
the US and waiting for a flight to Alaska. Then I'll know he's truly
safe. We're both so excited about seeing each other again! As of
today, he's been gone for 212 days. I remember when the counter
at the top of my journal page was still less than 10. Our anniversary
is on the 5th (April). We'll be married 14 years. And we'll be spending
it together. That's the best anniversary gift in the world. *doing
a happy dance*
MOM NEWS: Mom
was admitted to the hospital to have her port-o-cath installed.
There was a problem during surgery and it didn't go as planned.
Needless to say, the port was not installed. They have rescheduled
the surgery for this upcoming week. Mom was kept in the hospital
for observation. I spoke to her yesterday, and she hoped she was
being discharged. One concern we have at this time is her rapid
weight loss. From the time I was there visiting earlier this month,
until now, she has lost nearly 15 pounds. The nutritionist has recommended
drinks like Boost, etc. but Mom hates the taste and texture. I'm
glad she's staying with Diane and Steve. Diane is an excellent cook
and will make sure Mom eats. She was in good spirits yesterday -
a plus. We appreciate the thoughts and prayers from so many caring
March 26th - Downy Woodpecker... and Soon to See My Honey!
out walking Sedona this morning, I heard the familiar chirp
and 'rat-a-tat-tat' of a woodpecker. I glanced toward the direction
of the sound and was thrilled to see a Downy Woodpecker on the side
of a tree. He was happily pecking away at a birch branch and didn't
fly off as I got close enough to him to snap a few photos. Perhaps
he wanted me to take his photograph! Only males have a red patch
on the back of the head.
Here is some more information about the Downy Woodpecker.
Steve called me at 4am this morning. He finally has an itinerary
and flight numbers. Barring any problems with the airlines - and
we know how reliable the airlines are *insert eye roll here* - I
will be watching my husband get off a plane in the wee hours of
Wednesday. Fortunately, the rules have changed regarding meeting
your party at the gate. If you're welcoming home (or sending off)
a service member, there is a special pass issued which allows you
to go up to the gate. You better believe I'll be up there watching
for him to come up that long hallway! We're so close now and the
butterflies in my stomach have become huge birds.
It's been so long.... but soon the love of my life will be standing
right in front of me. It all feels like a dream. I suppose it will
feel this way until I actually see him, and hold him, and kiss him.
I will try to post a brief entry letting you all know he has arrived
safely. After that... well... you might not hear from me for a while.
March 28th - My Love is on His Way!
morning I heard the most wonderful voice on the phone. It was Steve
and he was in Dallas on a long layover. What a relief to know that
he is finally in the states! From Dallas, he'll head to Seattle
- where he'll have another fairly long layover, and then onward
Our soldiers were welcomed very nicely in Dallas, and given an
opportunity to shower- which he took! When I spoke to him, he was
eating a sandwich, reading the paper, and watching CNN. He said
it's great to be back in America.
Steve had a very short layover in Ireland on the way home, and
he had the opportunity to shop. (Oooohhh! Presents!) Having him
home is present enough, but how sweet that he thought of me. Someday,
we'd like to go to Ireland on vacation.
I spent the morning doing last minute touch-ups to the house, posting
little love notes in secret places, and hanging a few small posters
where he'd see them. The front porch post is wrapped in yellow ribbon
with bows, and there's a big poster hung out front where he'll see
it as soon as we get home from the airport.
It still feels like a dream to me, and I've been told that the
next two weeks will fly by - but I'm not going to think about tomorrow.
I will take each moment as it comes and savor it slowly. For the
first time in 7 months, I will be complete.
"Love vanquishes time. To lovers, a moment
can be eternity, eternity can be the tick of a clock."
~ Mary Parrish ~
© 2006 Susan L Stevenson