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Archive for January, 2008

Jan 29 2008

The Gloom Period

Posted by Mugs @ 6:54 am in Family

On Sunday I entered the church at the same time as another woman. She was cheery and brightly dressed. I was wearing black and white and in a gloomy mood from several days that barely got above freezing. Apparently, your outlook and attire can greatly influence your attitude. Who knew? When we were attending West Point, one of the most depressing times to be a cadet was from January to March: the sky was gray, the buildings were gray, our clothes were gray. We called it the gloom period. It is difficult to be cheery and upbeat when surrounded by gloom. Of course, I found it difficult to be cheery and upbeat throughout all four years of that awful place. I went there wanting to discover why all those people threw their hats with such joyful abandon. After enduring the four years, I understood it oh so well. When we returned to West Point years later for Dale’s teaching assignment, it was in late spring and everything was in bloom. It was beautiful. I was shocked. I asked Dale if it had always been this pretty. He said, “Yes, Mugs. It has.” I never saw it. I was so miserable the four years I was there I never saw the beauty of the place. After that shocking revelation, I committed to never again get so full of gloom that I don’t see the beauty around me. So, today, I put on a red shirt and went outside in a better mood. I might have been influenced by the fact that it was sunny and warmer. When we lived in Hawaii, it was always lovely. Other than some heavy rains, there was rarely a bad day. However, I realized something when I was there. You don’t really appreciate spring if you are not forced to endure winter. The joy that comes when the sun shines, the weather warms, the birds sing, and the flowers bloom springs forth from a gladness of recognition that the cold no longer grips you.

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Jan 25 2008

Gogjalee Site Visit

Posted by Dale @ 10:22 pm in Deployment,Outside the Wire

For some reason, Mugs seems to think everyone is bored with my FOB Life postings! I have been out and about, but I knew you would all much rather read about my new CHU. I guess I’ll change it up today and post about today’s site visit to the Gogjalee neighborhood of Mosul. The Iraqis get a huge kick out of hearing me try to pronounce the names of Iraqi towns, so I won’t bother with a phonetic description of Gogjalee.

After passing over the Tigris River heading east, we drove through one of the gates of Ninevah. Remember Jonah 1:2? “Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (The Message) The picture below is actually us heading back through the gates on our return to the FOB, but I wanted to include it first!

Gates of Ninevah

At the pump station, there is a family living in the operator’s building. When we arrived the women and one of the sons came out to talk to us. The father and the other sons were away, but we saw them returning as we were leaving.

Old Woman

I was finally prepared for the boy. I bought a pouch for my body armor to hold a stash of goodies. So I was able to give this boy a dum dum sucker and a tiger finger puppet.

Finger Puppet

After the site visits were complete, I kept my camera ready to take a picture of a particular mosque I had seen on the way out. This is the Nebi Yunus mosque, or in English, the Prophet Jonah mosque. Reportedly, in one of the rooms is a shrine to Jonah complete with whale bones.

Jonah’s Tomb

The trip itself was very uneventful, thanks to the soldiers of the 3rd ACR. Chris Johnson’s unit, 1-8 Infantry Battalion, is part of 3rd ACR. In my trips outside the wire lately, I’ve noticed a much increased presence of US troops throughout the city. Over the last couple of days, we experienced a huge blast that leveled a three-story building followed the next day by a suicide attack that killed the Mosul Chief of Police. The Governor of Ninewa put a curfew in place, so there were no civilian cars on the road at all today. He must have seen the news reports on the TV in his office!

Jan 24 2008

Zeke’s Musical Theater

Posted by Mugs @ 9:09 pm in Family

Having spent two years in Hawaii and two years in Australia, my children have been informing me that we are well and truly behind in keeping up with American fads. Quite a bit is based on tv programs and movies they have not watched. They have been asking to watch one of the latest shows that I haven’t gotten around to previewing. In my defense, I declared that I let them watch Keenen and Kel. Josiah then informed me, “Mom, that’s from the 90’s!” Oh those 90’s, now so out of date. I decided to further defend myself with the declaration that there must be some kid in Josiah’s class whose parents don’t let him watch all this stuff. He replied, “Ya, I’m him.” Somehow, I’ve become the most conservative parent. So, in an attempt to catch up with the culture, we watched high school musical I & II. Zeke found these shows most interesting. Zeke watched Christmas Cantatas at church throughout the month of December and occasionally joined in uninvited with the singing. On Christmas Eve his encore version of a woman’s solo sent his cousins into fits of giggles. Over the last month and a half, he would periodically find the piano book with “Go Tell it on the Mountain” in it and hold it up, stand straight and bellow the song forth. He even sang it to the preschool principal when he went in for his evaluation. When Gabe told him that Christmas and the time for singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” was over, he got his Oh My Oh MY Oh Dinosaurs book, opened up to the page where the dinosaurs are singing and burst forth with “Our God is an Awesome God”. At church, when the worship team finishes a song he likes, he will declare “That was a good one!” loud enough for everyone in the church to hear. Last summer, he filled our days singing show tunes he had learned watching the Muppets. Well, high school musical fascinated him. A world where people periodically break out in song and dance seemed wonderful to him. At one point in the show, the sad breakup duet was sung and Zeke was especially moved by this song. He got up off the couch, walked into the kitchen, stood in front of the pantry and looked at the giant box of goldfish crackers. He then began his own sad song which had a mournful tune and lines such as “My goldfish ran away down my shirt.”

*** Update 28 Jan 07 ***

For your listening pleasure, here is Zeke singing a medley of old favorites:

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Jan 23 2008

Rain in Mosul

Posted by Dale @ 8:32 pm in Deployment,FOB Life

This morning, we were treated to a wondrous sight, rain in Mosul! We had a nice, light rain for most of the day. When I checked outside as we were getting ready for lunch, it was drizzling a little, or spitting. I thought Glenn was joking when he said he was going to grab his umbrella. But he walked proudly with his umbrella in hand.

Rain in Mosul

From left to right: Sarah, Liz, and Glenn. Liz just arrived in MAO as the Area Engineer, the senior USACE civilian in the area office.

Jan 21 2008

4 and 20 Blackbirds

Posted by Mugs @ 10:48 pm in Family

I have greatly enjoyed watching the variety of birds that visit my back yard. They constantly remind me of a verse I was given in the summer. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” I have seen blue jays, nuthatches, robins, doves, bluebirds, woodpeckers, cardinals, hummingbirds, a Cooper’s Hawk, and an entire flock of red wing blackbirds. My Mom declared my yard a bird sanctuary. On Saturday, as I watched the 4 and 20 Blackbirds, I was feeling blessed like the king with his dainty dish. Today, I went out to refill my bird feeder and broke it. I suddenly felt like the maid in the garden who got her nose snipped off. I had dropped the feeder and snapped the center plastic pole that links the top with the base. I looked at the feeder and told myself, “Just throw it away, Mugs. You’ll never be able to fix it.” But I am stubborn in my pursuit of trying to learn to fix things. Soon, Gabe and I were trying to repair it with twine and packing tape. As the task got more and more frustrating and I got more and more frustrated, Zeke decided it was a good time to come over and ask again and again and again and again and again and again and again that I help him with something else. I lost my temper and everyone in the vicinity got yelled at. Josiah was the only one spared as he was off somewhere else dealing with the pain of new braces. Our Pastor spoke on Sunday on how the fruit of the Spirit should be our initial response. It should come from within. It should not be an outward control that we use to suppress our innate response. Self Control and Patience coming from within. Here I thought I was doing a passable job and then I’m shone that the bar is set so much higher. Gabe and I finished jerryrigging the bird feeder and went outside to hang it back up. I filled it partway and lifted it. It seemed to be holding, so I filled it all the way up with bird food and lifted it. Crash! It broke again. Gabe looked at all the bird food spilled on the ground and said, “Well, that was a waste of money.” Apparently, he is greatly concerned about the price of bird food. So, God will have to feed the birds for awhile. I will, of course, buy another feeder. You see, I still want to help God with His job. I enjoy displaying my goodness outwardly, because allowing Him to create His goodness from within me is a much more difficult work. It requires that I recognize my righteousness is as filthy rags and the only thing good in me is Christ.

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