Rehearsal, and then another

I slept in this morning and boy it sure felt good! My alarm didn’t go off until 0645 – almost 2 hours later than normal! On Saturdays, PT is optional, and I “optionaled” to stay in bed. LOL I met my friend for breakfast about 7:30 – after a nice chat with my Sweetie. The morning was all concert band rehearsal. We’ve got some pretty tough music for a concert coming up in a couple of weeks. Rehearsal didn’t go too bad.

After lunch was brass quintet rehearsal, and I was kind of nervous about it after the reaction I got from the 3 soldiers that I put on mandatory practice. But we had fun just like we always do and our music is actually starting to sound like music! We’ve got 12 pieces we’re concentrating on now, and when we get them down good, I’ll start adding a few more here and there. Since it had been a long day of playing already, and things sounded really good, I let them go 1/2 hour early. They appreciated that, I’m sure.

I went and had a massage done around 4 and boy that sure felt good. The girl that did it (ok, so she was probably my age, maybe a little younger) got rid of the knot that I’ve had from carrying my weapon around, and that was the whole point in the massage. Well, that, and I figured I’ve made it a month so I deserved a little bit of pampering. Then it was time for dinner and home for a nice relaxing shower. I watched a movie tonight – the band does movie night in the rehearsal hall on Friday and Saturday evenings. And, yes, I stitched. . . It was a pretty good movie, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it. I’m like that with movies.

Since it’s 2230 already and I have to get up about 6:30 to get ready for church, I guess I should be getting to bed.

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A few more days. . .

It’s been pretty boring around here lately. Get up, do PT, shower, eat breakfast, go to formation, rehearse or practice, go to lunch, rehearse or practice or nap, go to the gym, shower again, eat dinner, relax, go to bed.

What? You want me to elaborate? Ok, fine. . . LOL

Let’s see. . . Wednesday morning we had concert band for the first time in a while. The first half was music for our upcoming VERY high profile change of command ceremony and the second half was music for a concert that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. It’s some tough music for a concert so close. I don’t remember what I did in the afternoon – practiced maybe. I don’t think we had quintet rehearsal. In the evening I went to my friend’s room again to watch a movie. There were quite a few of us in the tiny room watching the movie on a laptop screen. I had my crocheting with me again.

Thursday I practiced in the morning and then we had quintet rehearsal in the afternoon. One of our supply guys fixed my tuba so now it plays a lot better. Rehearsal didn’t start out very well, but it got better by the end. We ended with a piece that we can play pretty well, and it was all pretty and then we get to the end and it ends with just tuba. So I’m playing my notes, and it’s all pretty still until the very last note. At least we ended rehearsal with a laugh! After my gym buddies were done with their rehearsal (which was after mine), we went to the gym for our afternoon workout, and then to dinner. I stayed “home” and stitched for a little bit and then went to bed EARLY. I had my light out by 9:30 and that was nice until someone’s cell phone rang and rang and rang at 11. She wasn’t even home and finally someone else went in her room and shut it off or something. Some people. . . I don’t even know why they have cells here – it’s WAY expensive. Oh well – to each her own.

Today was a pretty good day for the most part. I got up to do PT and neither my friend or I were feeling very well, so we went back to bed. It sure was nice sleeping for another almost 2 hours! Especially after going to bed early. After formation, I got three counseling forms ready for soldiers in my quintet and then I practiced my now-working-better tuba. About 10:45, JG and I went down to the Bazaar area, and he got a couple of DVDs. There’s a little computer shop down in that area, and that’s where we were planning to go as he wanted to get some stuff, but they are closed on Fridays so we went to the Bazaar instead since we were down there. Then it was lunch, and after lunch I got to be a mean Staff Sergeant. The three forms I did this morning were to put the soldiers in my quintet on mandatory practice. They are not playing up to standard, and at the rate we’re going, it’ll be Christmas before we’re ready to perform. So now they are required to practice their BQ music for at least 1 hour per day, and they are to sign in with me before they begin practicing. They weren’t too happy about it, but oh well. I’m in charge of the group, and I’m within my rights to do this. And now if our commander or First Sergeant come to me and say “You have a gig on . . .” and I tell them we’re not ready yet, I have paperwork showing that I am working to remedy the not being ready deal. I really would like to be in a chow hall 2 weeks from tonight. JG and I skipped out on going to the gym this afternoon – he had to play with the Dixie band at a chow hall, and I was just tired. I stitched for a little bit before dinner, but didn’t feel like it after I got home. I wanted to read instead. Yes, you read that correctly – I chose a book over my stitching! Yes, I’m feeling ok. LOL

I’m off to bed now – gotta work tomorrow even though it’s Saturday. I sure miss 2 day weekends. . .

PT, PX, BQ, & RV

We went to the gym for PT this morning and I ran 3.13 miles in 30 minutes. I felt great after! Then after morning formation, I sent an e-mail to take care of some business and then a couple of us headed up to the PX. I bought new running shoes – and they have purple on them! I got Asics – haven’t had those since Basic Training, and boy are they comfy. I bought the last pair of my size until their new shipment comes in. I needed new ones since I was starting to get shin splints, and that’s what tells me I need new shoes. Maybe I’ll take a picture of them tomorrow.

When we were outside the PX waiting for the 3rd person with us, there were some Finnish soldiers sitting at one of the tables consuming lunch from Burger King. I finally got up enough nerve and went and asked them for a picture with them. So now I have 2 countries in my collection!

The other guy finally got done shopping and we headed back to go to lunch. After lunch was brass quintet rehearsal, and we went for almost 2 hours straight without a break. I think we got something accomplished, but boy do we still need work. And I need help on how to run rehearsals. It’s not easy being an NCOIC of an ensemble.

After rehearsal I had a nice sized box waiting in my room for me. Thanks R for all the yummies! The homemade cookies are delicious, and cashews are one of my favorite nuts. About 4 I went to the gym and lifted for back and biceps, and we did some abs, too. It was another good workout. After dinner, I put some pictures from the range yesterday onto my thumb drive to go share with the people in the pics. We chatted and hung out for a while, and then they invited me to watch a movie with them. We watched RV with Robin Williams, and boy was that funny!! I brought my crocheting over with me and they didn’t mind. It was nice being social for once.

Country of the Day:
Today’s country is Finland. Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com From the research I did (at Google), the guy on the left is a Sergeant and the guy on the right is Lieutenant. Of course, I may be wrong, so don’t go quoting me on that.

Silver!!!

Today was range day. And, no, it wasn’t an M-16 qualification range day. It was German Sch├╝tzenschnur range day. Remember a couple of weeks ago when 1/2 the band went to a range? It was the same thing. So today was my turn. We formed at 0700 and headed to Camp Vance, the SF camp where we had our convoy briefing and got our vehicle assignments. I was a passenger in the tail vehicle. Then we left and met up with the Germans and headed outside the wire to the range. There were about 35 vehicles in the convoy. Here they are parked when we got to the range: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com It was a lot of fun convoying, and we got to go through a town so I saw more kids and people – mainly men.

They got the range set up and broke us into two groups. The band members and some others qualified on rifle first. Here’s a picture of me shooting the rifle: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com I had to go twice since the soldier before me didn’t tape over his holes and the coudn’t tell which were mine and which were his, but that’s ok. They let me go again right away so I didn’t have to wait around. I qualified Silver on the rifle – we had to fire 16 rounds: 2 standing, 2 kneeling, 2 prone, 2 standing, 2 kneeling, 2 prone, 2 standing, 2 kneeling. Each position was a different target a different distance away. When pretty much everyone in our group was done, I got a picture with one of the German guys to start my collection of pictures of me with soldiers of different countries. Here’s me with Andy, a Sergeant First Class: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com

After lunch of an MRE, and a whole bunch of waiting around, it was time for our group to go over to the pistol qualification area. Now, I’ve never fired a pistol before, but I did really well. The first section of it was 5 shots at 3 different targets. I hit all 5 of them! The second section was 6 shots, 2 from standing, 2 from kneeling, and 2 from prone, and I got 5 of them. I don’t know where that sixth one went. Here’s a picture of me firing the pistol: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com Even though I fired Gold on the first round of pistol, it didn’t matter. They go with your lowest all day, so I got a Silver. We had one soldier who did Gold on rifle, Gold on the first round of pistol, and Bronze on the second round so he ended up with Bronze. So what does this all mean? It means that I have now earned a foreign award, and have a cool medal type thing with a cord that I can wear on my dress uniform.

It was a really fun day, but a really long one as well. It sure was good to get into the uparmored humvee for the ride home, and even better to sit and eat dinner at the chow hall (chicken tenders), and the best thing was taking a nice hot shower and getting all clean again. If I get another opportunity to go shoot while I’m here, I’m going to take it.

Here’s a few last pictures from the day for your viewing pleasure. A couple of Afghan children peeking at us from behind the concrete barriers: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com And some goats that were grazing (on what, I don’t know. . .) behind where we were. No, we weren’t shooting at them. Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com

Another day. . .

I was tired from yesterday I guess. I didn’t wake up until around 10 so I missed church . . . and breakfast. I went to the PX with a couple of guys from the band, and I bought a blanket from one of the locals selling stuff. It’s like the blankets I got in Korea, but smaller. It’s the perfect size for my bed here. The guy wanted $30 for it, and I told him all I had was $20. And in my head, I said I could get much bigger ones in Korea for $25. He told me that he took credit cards, but I told him I didn’t have one (and I didn’t – not on me cuz I was in my PT uniform). So then I started walking away. He came after me and asked if I liked the blanket. I said yes, and that I like teddy bears (it’s blue with bears on it). He said, Ok $20. So I paid him and got my blanket. Now I won’t be cold at night! I met back up with the 2 guys and we headed back home. I did some stuff online and stitched a little bit and then I had brass quintet rehearsal at 1400. We actually have a couple of songs that are pretty close to being ready to be performed. That’s a good thing.

After rehearsal I went to the gym and lifted some weights and had a good workout, and then we stopped to eat dinner on our way home. I had salmon tonight, and it was really good – especially considering I don’t really like salmon. After I got back, I chatted, checked my e-mail and message boards, called Ryan & Robbie on Skype, and stitched.

It was a good day!

My first Blackhawk flight!!

I left the Bagram compound for the first time today. I was a little nervous, but it all went great. Our commander, SSG J, SSG L, SSG W, and I flew to Kabul to the ISAF headquarters to do some OPS stuff for an upcoming gig. Before we took off on the helicopter, we were standing on the edge of a mine field (within the airfield) while they were refueling the chopper. Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com Then we got on the chopper and got settled into our seats. Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com

It was a short flight – only about 15 minutes, and it was a good one. I thought it was kind of neat that one of our door gunners was a female. We flew over lots of fields where they grow opium – their main cash crop. Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com And we saw quite a few village-like areas. Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com I also saw some camels, goats, and cows. A few families had clothes hanging out to dry in their yards. All the houses and “fences” are made from mud bricks – at least in the “country”.

After an uneventful flight, with landed at KAIA (pronounced Kee-ah) and got some breakfast at the chow hall there. Real plates & silverware!!! (We use paper & plastic at “home”) It was really good food – much better than ours. We hung out at KAIA for a while before our ride showed up – an armored shuttle bus-type-vehicle. Finally it came and we headed to ISAF headquarters. We had to go through the streets of Kabul. We had full battle rattle on, and a loaded magazine in our weapon for just in case. There sure was a lot to see. This was my first time really seeing the people of Afghanistan – kids playing on the sides of the streets and flying kites, men and boys on bicycles zipping here and there, women in burqas, and the usual commerce of a city. I didn’t take any pictures because we all had to be on the lookout for IEDs and stuff, but maybe sometime I’ll be able to take some pictures.

We arrived at ISAF and met with the British Major that I’ve been talking to on the phone. He is very nice. There was a French officer there, a Navy Sr. Chief, and a US Army Command Sergeant Major, and the 5 of us. We discussed the ceremony coming up and they went to look at the parade field. I stayed back in the garden where we met and watched all of our body armor, helmets, and ammo. While I was waiting for them, I got to see the resident rabbits. They are sometimes allowed to wander free. Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com When they got back, the 5 of us went to lunch – in 2 shifts so we didn’t have to take all our gear with us. Again, it was really good food – and on real plates with real silverware.

After lunch, we went over to the U.S. Embassy to talk about a few gigs and arrange transportation and lodging for the ISAF gig. Then it was the ride back to KAIA. While I was getting in the armored van to go back, I WHACKED my head on the door frame. Within just a few minutes, I had a nice lump on my head. I hit it right on top in the middle. OW. So we get to KAIA, and when I was getting out of the van, I whacked my head again – not quite as hard, but still. You’d think I’d have learned from the first time. After a short wait, our helicopter arrived and we headed back to Bagram. I got a little bit of video footage during our flight back. Again it was uneventful, and we arrived safely back at “home.”

I went to dinner with some friends and then home to stitch. It sure was nice to put my gear away and put my PT uniform on. Off to bed now. . .

Picture of the Day:
Your soldier with all her gear on Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com (the black thing on my helmet is goggles, with a cover over them)

Rehearsals

I ran 3 miles for PT this morning – almost 5 minutes faster than I did on Monday with “tubby soldier”. I ran with JG and we had a good time. After morning formation, we had a rehearsal of memorized marches to see how we’re doing on memorizing them. I can tell you that I need MUCH work on mine. Then we had an OPS staff meeting, and we’ll be doing these weekly now. It was a productive meeting. After lunch was brass quintet rehearsal – we played through almost all 12 of the pieces we’ve picked out for chow hall gigs. We still need a lot of work, but we’re starting to get our endurance up. I really need to work on tuba to get to performance mode on it. For afternoon PT, JG and I just did some pushups and called it an afternoon. I got some stitching in before dinner and then a bit more after. I’m off to bed now as I have an early morning tomorrow.