Sunday, December 14, 2008

Post-Reinforcement Pause

It's Sunday afternoon and all is quiet at 105 Golden Eagle. The farmlands that surround us are covered with beautiful white snow, and there are kids sledding down the hill behind us, shouting and laughing with glee as they compete to see who can go the farthest. We have a fire glowing, and the cats are stretched out contentedly at the hearth. Our lives have been in such a whirlwind these past few weeks, we've declared today a day of true rest. No matter that there are still cards to write, gifts to buy and wrap and cookies to bake; today is a day to pause, reflect and replenish. Last night we went to a neighbor's Christmas party and ate and drank and laughed and talked with new friends and old. Last week we hosted an Open House of our own for about 75 friends and neighbors, complete with heavy hors d'ouevres and a pianist at our baby grand, while the kids made Christmas ornaments in the basement, watched Christmas movies and admired their own smiling faces on last year's Christmas cards that decorate the basement tree. And no party could be complete without a Steeler's game, with men gathered 'round the wide screen to jump and shout in those last few moments of yet another turn-around in Steeler City. The piano player didn't mind; he's a native of Pittsburgh, and wonders about the score while he plays sing-a-long carols.

I love this time of year. People smile and hug and strangers say nice things to one another. Houses are filled with wonderful smells and the streets are shiny with pretty lights. I remember a Christmas song my mom used to play on the piano, about how the things we do and say at Christmas are so special, and if we could only capture those feelings for the whole year through, what a wonderful world it would be. I'll have to find that music, and learn to play it myself.


Friday, December 12, 2008

We are Pilots

Hey everyone! I hope you're all doing well this holiday season. I know that keeping warm is more difficult for some than others, but with Seattle on the brink of our first big storm of the season, I have managed a hiatus to Florida and California for a couple weeks.

Anyway, I've been up to the usual over the past few months: no good. I flew my final mission of the year back in early October with a fairly young crew, making things a little more exciting than normal. We spent a couple nights in Germany before heading to Manas via Afghanistan. Manas isn't actually too bad a place: you can actually drink beer and they have washers/dryers we can use. In fact, here is the AF link to Manas. However, it actually looks more like this photo below.
Looks AND feels like a concentration camp!

Besides Manas (which I admit did not have snow at the time, but instead has little annoying rocks that we have to walk over) we also ended up in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for a night. It was a bit rainy and we only spent about 3 hours in the downtown area (aircrew has to sleep and preflight the aircraft at some point), but they had a very well preserved Roman theater and the remains of an old Thracian settlement. Other than that, it felt like Eastern Europe/Turkey/Mexico, which I highly recommend!

Anyway, I spent about 12 days doing that before heading out to Oklahoma for Instructor School. Can you believe it? I'm actually certified to teach people stuff now! Though at times it is difficult to remember what that stuff is...hmmm...oh well. But seriously, I learned a lot and got some good flying in, which was especially nice since I won't be flying from January thru May (more on that below). Altus hasn't changed much since my last trip there a year ago, but it is close to some of the Texas Grangers and I was able to make a trip down to Austin to see Philip, Tammi, Logan, and Lacie, plus catch a Horns game. I also made a few weekend trips to Dallas with some friends - basically I left Oklahoma at every possisble opportunity! I love Texas, btw. People are friendly and there are things to do, good food to eat. yay. Oh, and plenty of Tito's to drink.
Phil, Aaron, Tim, and Raph drinking Tito's BEFORE the tailgate

So, I finally graduated from Altus for the 3rd time on Nov 20th, and on my way home, who do I stumble upon at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, but Angela! So we took a pic. You may recognize her from the hit series on NBC, "The Office" on Thursdays.
She's actually very nice in person...and REALLY short!

I wasn't back in Seattle very long before heading to Covina for Thanksgiving which was a nice break from all the hard work I've clearly been up to. Megan and Becca weren't around, but Jonathan and I made the most of things with our parents for the big day, with Sarah, Josh, and Will even joining in the fun. We played a stupid board game as well. If you have more than 6 people, I do NOT recommend this game. Trying to play with more than the MAX limit, when combined with alcohol, may induce brothers to say mean things to each other. Just sayin'.

Anyway, we followed up Turkey day with a little get together on Saturday night and had a nice turnout. Katie drove down from SB, the Bruner boys made it back, and then add some friends and mix it up with parents, a hyper-active golden retriever, some snacks from Trader Joe's and a jaunt to BevMo. G2G...noob. I don't know if there are any pics, but we had fun....but not too much ;)

Anyway, I've been back here in Seattle for the past 2 weeks getting ready for a 120-day deployment to Qatar. I leave at the very end of the month and will be back in mid-May, hence the no-flying comment earlier. Al Udied AB isn't so bad these days, with wi-fi in some places and a brand-new gym complete with 4-lane (indoor) swimming pool. I'll probably be working 12-hour shifts, everyday, for 120+ straight days...but I won't have much else to do but eat, sleep, and workout, so that will be fine. The goal is to be in triathlon shape by the time I get back, so no excuses. In fact, I just bought a new pair of speedos that I conveniently left in Covina, so I'll be sure to collect them when I go home for Christmas.

Next week I'll be in Florida for a little training, and then Vegas/Covina the week after that. So, if I don't see you before I leave, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Oh yeah...don't forget about the Armed Forces Bowl on New Year's Eve; Air Force v. Houston...go Falcons!!


By the way, my post title is a song by Shiny Toy Guns. Check them out, and make sure you listen to "Rainy Monday" too! Sehr gut, danke!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bedtime at Betz's

Did you ever lay on the floor and look at the lights on your Christmas tree? Maybe you still do. This is the view at our house this December; Celia & Colby are relaxing together in front of the tree at the end of a long day... (although niether of them are really looking at the tree?)
Hoping all you Herberts can enjoy some twinkling lights and are feeling richly blessed this holiday season.