Tower, and again, and hopefully done

Sunday night I was in the tower for a few hours again as my friend had the last night of his class. Right around midnight he came out to relieve me, but I didn’t get back until 1:45. I headed home the way I normally go, but when I got to Disney Dr. (our main road), it was blocked off with red tape and cones. They were probably doing some de-mining or something. So I turned around and had to go all the way around the perimeter to get home. So I finally get in and check my e-mail and message boards to relax a bit and then went to bed about 2.

Monday was a pretty slow day again, other than a Fallen Comrade ceremony in the afternoon. We ended up standing on the flight line for quite a while as we were waiting for a Colonel and his Sergeant Major to show up. As I was standing there waiting, I was watching the sun getting closer and closer to the mountains. And I was not looking forward to the sun disappearing behind the mountains. When that happens, the temperature DROPS like 10 degrees or so within minutes. So there we were, standing, holding chunks of metal in our hands, and no gloves. But we made it through the ceremony and then got to go home to our nice warm (or too warm in my case) hooches. In the evening I went to Bible study at the chapel. There were just me and SSG Sarah Miller (National Guard) and Chaplain Ebb there, but we had a great time. We learned a little bit about the Hebrew language and talked about all kinds of stuff. I wish I had started doing this earlier in my time here.

Tuesday I slept again since I had to go do tower for my friend again. He needed to sleep Tuesday night to retake his ASVAB on Wednesday (the classes he was going to were to help him improve his score). So I spent the whole night in the tower this time, and boy was it a long night. Not only was it quiet outside the wire, but the radio was quiet. Usually people are always doing radio checks when they go on foot patrols and stuff (not necessary but they do it anyways), accidentally setting things on the talk button, etc. But we made it through, and after a small breakfast, I went to bed and slept (or tried to) for a few hours. I say tried to because it’s hard to sleep when there are saws and hammers being used less than 20 feet away from where your bed it. We are getting a roof built over our smoking/hang out area, and of course they were working on that when I was trying to sleep. Oh well, I needed to sleep over night anyways. Wednesday was another Fallen Comrade ceremony, but I wasn’t on it cuz I was sleeping. (No, I didn’t sleep through it – they didn’t need me for it. . .)

This morning I had a dry run for the Change of Command ceremony we are playing at tomorrow. Oh my! I think some of these MP’s have never done a ceremony before. The first time they ran through it, it was just short of a total disaster, and I was thinking that it was going to be a really long day. As the band operations person, my job at dry runs is two-fold – first, make sure that the band and whatever unit are on the same sheet of music as far as the order of the ceremony, special music requests (like we need the MP Regimental March for this one), etc. And second, to make sure that they are actually doing the ceremony properly according to regulation. Since the band does ceremonies all the time, and most of us could do one in our sleep, we are the subject matter experts. Well, they managed to stumble through it that first time and each time was slightly better. After 4 times through, I decided that everything would go fine and asked them if they needed me for anything else. They didn’t, so I left.

Shortly after I got back the ANA Band finally gets there (I had figured they’d be well underway by the time I got back a little after 10). We broke them down into sections to work only on the U.S. and Afghan National Anthems. Well, since you don’t need 3 trombonists to train 1 and the other 2 in the section hadn’t planned on me being there anyway because they didn’t know how long I would be at the dry run, I didn’t need to help out. So I went to my room and crocheted. After lunch I hung out in the rehearsal hall – our jazz combo and their “orchestra” (the small combo you saw in the video from last time) were having a big jam session. It was a lot of fun – especially when one of our guitar players started doing “Dueling Banjos”. Their keyboard player (not a piano, one of their traditional keyboard instruments) played it back by ear. That was really neat. Then our guys played a few tunes and their guys played a few tunes, and one guy danced to one of them. It was a lot of fun.

After they left, I relaxed for a while and crocheted and then I went to dinner and then to the chapel for my friend Sarah’s Confirmation class. She and Chaplain Ebb invited me to join them for her last couple of classes before she is Confirmed on 10 December. We had some really good discussions and totally lost track of time. My battle buddy came looking for me (he was over in the MWR building watching a movie and he also called his wife while he was there) because I had been gone so long.

Off to bed now – early morning tomorrow.

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A tale of 2 duties and a piano

This weekend was wierd. I had tower duty Friday night so I slept most of the day Friday. So duty is going well and my tower buddy and I have drank about 1/2 pot of coffee so far, and shortly before midnight the guy I’m covering for shows up with all his gear. He had gotten home from class and was bored (his computer died and the other guys on nights live in different hooches) so he decided to come out and relieve me. Ok, that was nice and all, but when I got home, I just wasn’t tired after having been up all day. So I computered and crocheted and finally went to bed about 3 a.m. My alarm went off at 4:45 so I could get ready to go do PT Traffic Control Point duty. It was my scheduled day, but since I was going to be in the tower the other guy was going to do it for me, but since he relieved me in the tower, I did my TCP duty. Basically I got to stand at an intersection for an hour and a half. They block the roads off for PT in the mornings and my job was to make sure that only authorized vehicles (they have a special pass allowing them to be on the road) turned onto Disney Dr. Our spot is at the end, so I got to make a lot of vehicles turn the other way. It wasn’t too bad other than that it was 20 degrees out. Thank goodness for the new Army cold-weather layering system! I was nice and warm other than my fingers and feet.

Saturday wasn’t bad other than that I was tired. I took care of some Ops and Transportation stuff and then crocheted. I finally took an hour nap in the afternoon.

Sunday morning I was up at 6 and went to breakfast and then headed up to the chapel. I got there about 7:30 so I could practice my hymns for the service. It was Chaplain Lee’s last Sunday, so we had a transition Sunday on the piano. He played the liturgy and I played the hymns. We are all going to miss him and his talents on the piano, but his family will sure be glad to have him home again. During our last hymn, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” Chaplain Ebb made Chaplain Lee stand up front with him. It was a very appropriate hymn to sing to send him on his way and I think it made him cry a little. After the service I chatted with Chaplain Ebb for a while and ended up being able to walk back “home” with the 2 guys from the band that play piano and direct the choir for the Catholic service. That was kind of nice. After lunch I made a beaded ornament and then crocheted. And after dinner, I headed out to the tower again for a few hours. I was relieved again shortly before midnight and headed home to bed. I got home about 12:45 (had to take the long way home cuz I got to Disney Dr. going the way I normally go and Disney was blocked off, probably for de-mining) and finally got to bed about 2.


Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends near and far (mostly far). I hope you all had a blessed day and took the time to think about those things that you are thankful for.

I slept in this morning – until almost 8 – and then I had a nice time chatting with Ryan, my Mom, and my friend A. Of course, I may have had too good of chats since I didn’t start getting ready to go to formation until 15 minutes before formation. But I made it on time, so it’s all good. After formation I took care of a couple more transportation requests and then came home and crocheted. I went to lunch at 1 (lunch was from 1-5 today instead of 1130-2) and after waiting in line for about 1/2 hour (LOTS of people today), I was wowed by the inside of the chow hall. They had commanders and sergeants major and first sergeants serving the food and it was decorated like you wouldn’t believe (the chow hall, not the food). I had turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (mom’s are sooooooooo much better), corn on the cob, green beans, cranberry sauce, apple pie and ice cream. But there was ever so much more food than that. It made it feel a lot more like Thanksgiving – it hadn’t felt like it all morning. After a very enjoyable meal, I came home and crocheted more.

In the evening, I headed up to the chapel with the other 2 band members that are in the De-Minor Chorus (the barbershop group I’ve been singing in) and we got warmed up and then headed over to the JOC (Joint Operations Command) to sing for an Air Force dinner they were having there. That went very well and then we hurried back to the chapel (we had a bus) for the Thanksgiving service. The Brass Quintet played for the hymns and we sang after the sermon. It was a really nice service – lots of singing! And we sang good again. Oh, the piece that we sang was an SATB piece and not a barbershop piece so that was nice. After the service, I sat down with Chaplain to figure out the hymns for Sunday’s service, and then we just talked for a while as well. It was nice. I finally headed home and got to watch Robbie on the webcam while I crocheted and chatted with Ryan. It sure was nice to get to see him play for longer than a couple of minutes.

I went to midnight chow with a couple of other night shift guys – I’m staying up tonight at least for a few more hours. I need to be able to sleep tomorrow so I don’t sleep in the tower tomorrow night. Maybe I’ll get some more crocheting done.

I’ll leave you with some pictures.
The kids playing: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com Sunset over the mountains, taken from Tower 4: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com

Thanksgiving decor in the chow hall. . .
A few cakes: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com
Made with bread: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com

Snow in the mountains: Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com

Question for the day: What are you thankful for?


Work!?!?

I actually worked today! But before that, my day started with a 2 mile run for PT. It was 27 degrees out and I ran in a long sleeved t-shirt, SHORTS, and gloves. It was a little chilly when we first started out, but then I warmed up as we got going. After formation, I had some Ops stuff to do. I did 3 transportation requests and made 3 phone calls! It actually took maybe 45 minutes total, but I actually did work. LOL

After lunch I practiced piano for most of the afternoon – I’m going to be the pianist at my chapel service for the next few Sundays. Boy my piano chops are rusty. But I think if I practice every day, I’ll be ok for chapel. If nothing else, I can play the melody for the liturgy and hymns. But I’m going to keep working on it.

I did get some crocheting in during the day as well. And this evening I had choir practice at the chapel for tomorrow’s service. It was a really good rehearsal.

Off to bed now. . .

Battle Buddy

If you go anywhere around here, you need to have a battle buddy with you. Well, my buddy J had some business to take care of pertaining to getting our stuff (instruments, equipment, the library, etc.) out of here when we leave, so I went with him. He handles the business and I sit off to the side and read the book that I always carry in my cargo pocket. Right now I’m reading “The Cat Who Sang for the Birds” by Lilian Jackson Braun. It’s a good book, as are the other Cat Who books I’ve read so far. We were at one place pretty much all morning and then came back for lunch and went back to another place. We wouldn’t have had to come all the way back here to eat lunch, but J needed to get a special badge for the place we went this afternoon. I don’t have one, but he can sign me in.

Once we got back from there, I took a nap for a while and then went to the gym. I did about 20 minutes on the elliptical and then lifted weights (back and biceps). It was a good workout. We stopped at the chow hall for dinner on our way home and then I went and watched the last part of Band of Brothers and crocheted.

Question of the day: If you were told that you were not allowed to talk on your cell phone when the lights are out in the hooch (indicating quiet hours), would you still do it?

Will it ever stop?

It rained most of last week and after a few nice days, it’s at it again. It’s so much fun walking through mud and puddles to go to the latrine or the chow hall. Going to the chow hall is the worst. There is a huge puddle we have to traverse through. Several of us have been talking about getting a boat for it. LOL From what I’ve heard from people who were here this time last year, this week or so is the worst for rain and bad weather. Of course, I’ve been watching Band of Brothers with my friend J, and boy that sure puts things in perspective. I really have nothing to complain about.

So, other than swimming to get anywhere, not much else has been going on. I was in the tower overnight Saturday to Sunday and had planned on going to chapel Sunday morning. But after falling asleep in the truck coming out from the tower, I decided against it. I slept a good part of the day Sunday and then stitched some when I got up.

Today was a 2 mile run for PT, breakfast, a surprise phone call home to mom & dad (!!), an hour of crocheting before formation because the internet was down and I couldn’t do my usual pre-formation e-mail check, and then after formation, J and I headed “downtown” – he had some business to take care of (that he ended up having to go back after lunch to do. . .) and I had to go talk to the Chaplain to get music for next Sunday. I’ll be playing the piano for my protestant service until I leave as the other piano player is leaving now. We also went up to the PX and got some coffee from Green Beans and just kind of sat for a while. After lunch and formation was more crocheting. After dinner was Band of Brothers with J and I crocheted during it.

Kids

They may wear different clothes. They may have different cultural beliefs. They may have different family values. They may live in different kinds of houses. But no matter where you go, kids are kids. They all like playing in the mud, throwing rocks in mud puddles, running around and chasing each other, and just having fun.

Those were my observations today during my 12 hour tower duty shift. I had to fill in for another soldier who was ill. During the day, the kids bring their families’ goats out to graze. At one point today, there was close to 20 children of all ages – a baby being carried by a young girl all the way up to 10-12 or so years old. It’s been raining the past few days and there were some good sized puddles for them to play in, and plenty of mud. I really enjoyed watching them play and watch their goats – there wasn’t anything else going on. It was a long day, but it wasn’t bad. I did take a few pictures, but I’m too tired to upload them right now.