Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Have I Been Home 10 Days Already?

25 April 2005

Ooops! I can't believe that I've already been home ten days. Once you arrive back home, the time just slips through your fingers...along with buku amounts of cash! I had a fantastic trip from Baghdad to Kuwait. We were fortunate enough to get manifested on a C17. After being on how many C130's so far, this was the first C17. This thing was a monster. You could have easily set up a volley ball court in this thing, it was that tall and wide. And the ride was beyond great. Still has seats along the outer walls, but with only ten of us manifested, the flight was way, way underbooked! Instead of the normal 1.5 hours back to KWI, it was only a one hour trip, too. The difference jet engines make versus props.

Once back in Kuwait, I had more luck. Randall, my former supervisor is on his way back up-field to Iraq. He and I had some time to catch up with one another and catch a bite, etc. It really was good to see him again. You get to be like a small family when you are at whatever base you end up at, so seeing one of your buds again is always a treat.

About 10 that night we went our separate ways. I'll probably catch up with him again once I'm back at Victory in June. I had to be up the next morning at 4am for my flight to London. Ed let me know the next morning that Randall left about 1am on a surprise flight that popped up going to Baghdad.

Caught my flight to London at 08:30 without any hitches. Had a three hour layover at Heathrow, which is always a treat. They have plenty of shopping and good food there. Harrod's, even if it isn't the big one in downtown London, is always a great shop. So I picked up a few more gifts there and also managed to pick me up a good scotch to bring back. This Glenlivet Nadurra that I picked up is not yet available in the U.S. and is as smooth as silk. Add just a touch of water or over a rock and you're good to go. Scotch is not "Aftershock". It is something to be sipped and appreciated (with or without the fireplace roaring and with or without a wingbacked chair in the study to enjoy it from.)

Connecting flight from Heathrow to Chicago also went without a hitch. I guess that this means that my flight back to Iraq will be fraught with delays, missed flights and lost luggage or some dumb luck like that! The biggest surprise after landing in Chicago was that my sister, brother-in-law and the kids all met me at the terminal! I was shocked. It was great to see them all and I was certainly surprised. Since I had a limo all lined up, I certainly didn't expect to have anyone meet me there. I didn't let them drive me home though. By the time they took me home, probably about 1 hour 15 minutes, then they'd have to turn around and go back to Joliet which would be another 1 hour 30 minutes, it would be too long a ride for one night with four kids in the van. Still it was so good to see them after 15 months.

Walking into the house after so long was strange. It was like walking into a magazine. I just couldn't believe that it was my house. Our Siberian Husky, Cayenne was shocked. It took a minute for it to register, but in no time, she was jumping on her hind legs and licking at my face. She seems to have made the adjustment well since we lost Razor to cancer back in November. I gotta say, sleeping on a bed with a box spring and pillow top certainly beats what I've been sleeping on in Iraq. I slept like a baby.

My first full day back home was filled with chores. First on the list is a new stove. Delivery estimated: Two weeks. (Get used to this response. Once you get back, it is like you are stuck in the movie,"The Money Pit". Everything is a perpetual "two weeks".)

Next stop was the nursery for trees and bushes. The open lot next to our house is finally going to be filled. When we bought, the slime-bag builder told us it was zoned for a single-family residence. Not so! Townhomes are going to back up to our west side of our house and yard. So we need to create a green fence to block out the new neighbors. They will be so close that I will be able to have them pass me a roll of toilet paper through my bathroom window on the west side, off of their patio or balcony. Okay, maybe I exagerate some, but you get the picture...or the new neighbors will that one time I forget to close the blind in the bathroom and take a shower!

Sunday, we went and looked at new homes in DeKalb and Sycamore. Just to get an idea of the cost. Honestly, it is almost impossible to find a home with all the amenities we currently have for the money we could get for ours. We finally found one that we both agreed on in the Bridges of River Mist subdivision. A beautiful three bedroom with two master bedrooms. These master bedrooms both had a separate sitting room or in-room offices and shower and bathtubs and fireplaces. This 2500 square foot home with three-car garage can be yours today for the low, low price of just $339,000. Really, it is a bargain and phenomenally beautiful in a great neighborhood too. But a wee bit out of the budget this week for us.

The rest of last week has been chock full of chores like verifying that the zoning was accurate for the townhomes going in, having a corner of our fence moved around the electrical and telephone boxes, being home for the trees to be planted, etc. I have met with a number of friends for lunch too. After all, that is what vacation is all about...lunch. "We simply MUST do lunch before you head back."

One thing that I must comment on is about getting back into the cooking habit. It is one thing to come back to a stove that is a piece of garbage, but getting back in the habit of cooking can be very challenging. Before I left, I used to have no problem throwing things together and getting it all to finish and be just right in a matter of minutes. I knew cook-times, prep times, the intricacies of the tempermental stove and such. But not having cooked in 15 months, has kind of left me very out-of-practice. I substituted Turbot for Tilapia (big mistake; it may be flakey, but it is way too fishy.) , I burned the buns, had added too much meat to the Ragu I was doctoring and it ended up flat, the green beans were under-steamed; you name it, it went wrong.

Speaking as someone who not only loves food, but considers it an experience, I've come to a conclusion. Cooking is a lot like an orchestra, but more like sex. When it hasn't been practiced in awhile, it takes some time and patience to remember how you did it so well and got things to where you enjoyed it. That and relearning how to get back into the rhythm you once had. Bon appitit!
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