Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

Two Sides to Every Story, Take Two April 13, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,military,Political — Addicted to Yarn @ 5:46 am
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Exterior

Exterior

Interior

Interior

I feel like a previous post has been misunderstood so I am going to attempt to clarify (or muddy up the waters so much no one can see where they are going).

This is what I was trying to say:

War is a very powerful tool. Let me compare it to an axe. An axe is a very powerful tool. It can bring down a mighty oak, perhaps one that has stood for a hundred years. Cutting down such a tree should not be a decision made lightly. Perhaps the tree is in the way of your new condominium you want to build. Should you apply the axe to the tree? I don’t think so. Perhaps the soil has washed out from under the tree and it is leaning precariously over the home of a family. Should you apply the axe to the tree? If other methods of securing the tree and keeping the family safe have proved fruitless, than yes, you should chop down the tree with the axe.

But an axe is not a maintenance free tool. Chopping down a tree wears down the axe. Every time you resharpen the axe, a little of the metal is worn down. Chopping down the tree is necessary. The tree itself might not have done anything wrong. It’s just doing its job, which is to grow. It must obey gravity; it has no other choice. The soil is the part which has failed, causing the tree to endanger the safety of the family. But the tree still must be removed.

But do not think for a minute that there isn’t a price to pay. The axe head will be worn down. It will have to be sharpened and eventually replaced. The bigger the tree, the more of your axe you are going to wear away. If you haven’t counted the cost and do not have sufficient axe heads, you will be left with a tree which is even more unstable than before and an axe head which is all used up. You will have consumed the axe and not gained any safety for the family.

But if you do count the cost and do have enough axe heads to finish the job, you have made the family safer. You have also removed a living tree from the ecosystem and however many axe heads from your tool belt. What’s left of the axe heads can be remelted and turned into new axe heads but there is a net loss of metal. So in the end, if you were successful, you are still one tree shorter and X amount of metal shorter. There is an intangible gain (the safety of the family) and a tangible loss (the tree and the axe heads).

If the tree is the “enemy” and the axe heads are the “good guys,” in the end, there has been a net loss of life. If you believe that human life is precious and the ending of it bad, than you have to believe that war, which results in a net loss of life, is bad. It might be less bad than doing nothing, which would result in the net loss of the tree and the innocent family. But it is bad. Is the axe head bad? No. It’s simply doing its job, wielded by someone else. Is the lumberjack bad? No, he’s doing his job, too. Is the soil bad, for washing away and leaving such a precarious situation? No, it was following the rules of phyics. So who’s to blame for the net loss of life, tree and axe head?

Well, it’s complicated. Who planted the tree on a hill above a house? No one? Who didn’t maintain situational awareness to be aware there was a tree growing on the hill over the house? Who should have noticed the tree when it was small and removed it then, perhaps relocating it somewhere safer? Who made the decision to let nature take its course and not shore up the hillside to prevent errosion? Maybe there was strip mining going on which caused the hill to erode so quickly. Maybe pollution killed the ground cover, exposing the soil to the effects of erosion. There is a HUGE chain of events leading up to the current crisis of tree threatening house. Is there any one person or group to blame? Who made the family build under the tree? Why didn’t they move? Why didn’t they cut down the tree when it was smaller, using their own axe heads at their own expense?

And so on, and so forth. I believe that war is evil but as as John Stewart Mill said, “It’s not the ugliest of things.” War is bad. It might be a necessary bad. It might be better than allowing nature to continue her course. But it is bad. However, the people fighting the war aren’t bad. They are just doing their jobs, many heroically. Many are heroic in a bad situation. But they are not in a heroic situation. They are in a bad situation and they, because of their character, become heroes. But they are the hereos, the heroic ones, not the situation they are in.

 

Two sides to every story April 11, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,military,Political — Addicted to Yarn @ 4:59 am
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Omaha Beach Cemetery

Omaha Beach Cemetery

I watched Saving Private Ryan yesterday. I watched it years ago when it first came out and haven’t watched it since because, quite frankly, it was incredibly disturbing. I don’t like seeing the insides of people on their outsides. I don’t like watching people die horribly. I don’t like to see men wasted and war wastes men.

We have a friend in Iraq right now. He volunteered for his current job. It’s the most dangerous job in the Air Force right now. He opted out of a mission a couple of weeks ago and the two guys who went instead were both killed. He had to identify their remains and guard them until they were evacuated. I don’t like that.

My husband is in the Air Force. He will probably deploy this year. I don’t like that. Many of my friends are spouses of military members. Their husbands also deploy as do the fathers of my daughter’s friends. I don’t like that. I don’t like my loved ones being placed in harm’s way, for any reason, no matter how noble.

But John Stuart Mill said something many years ago that I agree with, even though it means that my husband, my daughter’s father, my friends, my friends’ husbands and their kids’ father must all place themselves in mortal danger. He said:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of men better than himself.”

I agree. There are things worth going to war about. There are things worth fighting for and against. There are things that are more important than my own personal safety and the personal safety of my loved ones. I agree with that. But I also agree with Jimmy Carter when he said:

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

And that’s a fact.

So I am divided. On one hand, I absolutely believe that war is sometimes a necessary evil. On the other hand I believe absolutely that war is evil.

Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

 

Frankfurt fears February 20, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany,marriage,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 8:53 am
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Israel leaves on Saturday. He flies out of Frankfurt Airport at about 11 in the morning. I don’t want him to go. It’s only for two weeks. It’s really not that bad. It’ll be the shortest TDY he’s ever had. But I don’t want him to go. I don’t want to be a single mom, even for two weeks. It’s just not as much fun without him here.

But there is a silver lining to many clouds and the silver linings to this one are several. Number one, Israel gets a two week break from 60 hour work weeks. I get a break from living with someone who’s working a 60 hour work week. Israel will have the opportunity to eat at Applebee’s, something he’s been surprised to miss. I will have no expectations of meals placed upon me, as Jael is perfectly content to eat Macoroni and Cheese at every meal. I will have more free time and will have a chance to catch up on some of my projects.

But all of the silver linings in the world will not grant me the motivation to use these two weeks wisely. My previous behavior during Israel’s absences has been to eat myself sick and stay up WAAAAAY to late. I’m hoping that a year and half of growth and maturity will have given me a bit more self discipline. I know the sleep thing will be an issue…it always is, even when Israel is simply working nights. But I’m hoping that since I have a class, which is very important to me, to be alert for and multiple homeschool related things, I will not abuse my body too much.

Also the shortness of the TDY should help with that. I’m not going to have two weeks to get back on track before Israel returns. If I spend two weeks making myself sick he’s going to come home to a sick wife and I don’t want that.

What’s really concerning me is driving to Frankfurt and moreso, driving back from Frankfurt by myself. I’m nervous. I’ve driven in Trier and gotten lost each time. I am not looking forward to driving in Frankfurt and getting lost when I don’t have a navigator sitting in the seat next to me. *sigh*

And you know what’s really frustrating? When it’s all said and done, I will be fine. I will be better for my Frankfurt adventure and I’ll be really glad it happened. I will have grown and learned and it will be a good experience, one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

*sigh* And now, I need to go put clothes in the laundry so that I can sew patches on tomorrow. I HATE sewing patches on and, no, I won’t grow from it or learn from it or look back and be glad I had the experience. It’s purely because of the highway robbery they practice at the alterations shop and the lengthy wait that I am sewing the patches on and not paying someone else to suffer through it.

 

Evil Twin or Crappy Library? You Decide! January 4, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 7:25 am
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My evil twin has invaded Spangdahlem Air Force Base and has checked out the books and movies I want. I know this is my evil twin because she did not return the items but has stolen them and they are now “lost.” I provide this evidence:

  • Beauty and the Beast (a movie with a strong female character I think my daughter would enjoy): Lost
  • The Chicks with Sticks guide to knitting : learn to knit with more than thirty cool, easy patterns: Item missing
  • The Crochet Stitch Bible: Item missing
  • Elf (my favorite Christmas movie): checked out since the 18th of December, making it 2 weeks late
  • Vanessa-Ann’s My grandmother taught me to crochet: Missing Inventory

There are five other requests I’ve placed with the library but those five are all at different libraries and not missing. There are other copies of the above books, at other bases and not missing but because our library “has” them, they can not or will not have them sent to Spangdahlem. ALL five things our library “has” are missing, lost, or so overdue that they will, no doubt, soon be classified as lost.

WTF? Who is going to the library and STEALING the books I want to borrow and return responsibly? Why the HELL are people not being held responsible for the books and movies they steal? This is why we show ID to check things out and are not allowed to just walk out the door with them. I AM SO INCREDIBLY ANGRY!!! ANGRY!!!!

 

HHG Shipment November 4, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 5:43 am
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For you non-military members out there, you might not know what HHG means. Well, let me assure you, it means a lot to us. It stands for “HouseHold Goods” and the shipment part means they are on their way here. As in, in two days they will be unloading all of our crap out of a truck and into our home. YAY!!

We are very excited. And a little nervous. Our house has been very hard to keep clean because we don’t have any furniture. So now more stuff is coming but not much of it is furniture. (Before we moved, we got rid of 75% of our stuff – including most the furniture because it was junk we didn’t like and didn’t want to have to get rid of over here.) So while we have plans of making a large purchase from Ikea, we haven’t actually done that yet and so we will have more stuff and still, no where to put it. We may have to keep some boxes just to contain the madness for a while.

But our stuff is coming which is great since I have one mixing bowl and it’s too shallow. I have almost no tupperware type things. We have silverware for four. Do you have any idea how many things you use silverware for besides eating? And our silverware was one of the few things we actually liked. Oh, and our vacuum. I love our vacuum! I am soooooo ready to have it. It’s wonderful and fun and has cool features and we have cobwebs on our ceiling that we’ve not brushed down because we have no vacuum and I am READY for them to come down.

So many reasons to be excited.

I’ll let you know later how it goes. And hopefully I’ll report that they didn’t destroy anything. Oh, and our computer. As much as this little laptop has been a lifesaver, I am ready to have Ubuntu back. And I’m hoping Rosetta Stone will work better with Ubuntu than with Limpus. It won’t recognize my keyboard or the microphone so no writing and no speaking for me. 😦 Oh, and music! I’ve missed the five solid day worth of music our computer has on it. Thanks, Alex!

I think German door to door evangelists from some religion just knocked on my door. They were dressed in suits and started to tell me about this flier they were handing out. I said, “Ich verstehe ein bischen Deutsch,” and one said he spoke English. He said they were handing out information to German and English people but they only had German fliers. Someone would be by later to give us an English one. Then he asked if the upstairs neighbors where German. I said yes and instantly felt like a traitor. Maybe it’s not the “ARGH! WEIRDO’S AT THE DOOR! FREAK OUT!” that it is in the States. Maybe they will be glad these men in suits stopped by. Tweed suits by the way and not black. They didn’t give me the Jehovah Witness vibe. As much because they were older. The one who spoke English was my father’s age and the other was at least ten or fifteen years older.

Anyway. I’m off to Spangdahlem to see if I can find a fan for Israel. Have you ever tried to sleep in the same house as an awake Jael? My in-laws know what I’m talking about. It’s insanity. But at least we have doors we can close.

 

Halloween Night November 1, 2008

Guten Abend meine Fruenden,

(Good Evening my friends)

We are doing well here in the Walker household. Tonight is Halloween and we are back from Trick or Treating with Jael. She dressed as Tinkerbell but unfortunately she wanted an authentic Tinkerbell costume, which meant a very tiny dress. I took a turtle neck and cut the sleeves off. I sewed the arm holes shut and cut the hem into a zig-zag. Jael wore it like a tube top with the turtle neck being the bodice of the dress. I made a pair of wings out of two coat hangers shaped into wings, covered them with a pair of white pantyhose and then sewed a couple of pieces of elastic to them and Viola! Tinkerbell. Of course, being that it looked an awful lot like Tinkerbell’s actual clothes, Jael was freezing and so wore her winter coat over the costume. I told her that next year she needed to dress up as something warmer, like a dog sled musher.

We went to Trier last weekend. We’d planned on taking the train but I must admit, the score is “Train system: 2; Walker’s: 0.” We’ve not figured it out yet. I think we are going to ask our landlords for advice. So we ended up driving. Which would have been fine except that we didn’t have a good map of Trier and the route I’d planned had been based off us starting at the train station. The first hour of our time in the city was a little frustrating but once we were parked and had figured out where we were, we were good to go.

The first placed we stopped was the Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen).

The first cool thing about the baths was that I had to speak German in order to get our tickets. I said, “Zwei Erwachsene, ein Kinder,” and the man behind the counter told me the total and I almost understood him. Small victories.

We were able to go into the service tunnels underground and walk through the cave like labyrinths. As we walked along the outer wall, I noticed the holes in the walls for archers to defend the city from invaders. It was strange to walk along a wall, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and know that men had died on the ground we walked on, defending the city we were enjoying. It was strange to walk through a building that was so big. Not just physically but in importance. The Imperial Baths were a big deal. Trier was a big deal. The same people who built the “Colosseum” built the building we were walking through. The same society that gave us the constitutional republic, built this building. We were, literally, walking through history and it made me feel small.

We walked to the Porta Nigra, and I, again, got to practice my German. Again, success! The two things I remember the most were a loud and enthusiastic tour guide in period costume and Jael’s hunger. Sie hast hunger (She is hungry, or literally, she has hunger). I’ve not learned past tenses.

We went through town to find something to eat and I think we may have walked through the biggest crowd we’d ever seen! It was a little nerve wracking. I worried about losing Jael but luckily, she was perfectly happy to hold tight to a hand. There were street musicians playing with their cases open at their feet, playing for the few odd coins passerbyers might throw in.

We stopped at a park on the way back to the car and Jael played for a couple of minutes. She attempted to play with two sisters but they just looked at her like she was insane and continued to play amongst themselves. They even got a little mean, going out of their way to exclude her but she just kept playing. She’s a resilient kid.

Then we headed home. A successful trip. We were very tired by the time we got home. I think the crowds tired us out as much as the walking; at least for Israel and I.

Oh, and I passed my driver’s license test last week. It’s a hundred question test and you can miss up to 15 and still pass. I missed 7. I missed two sign questions and they were stupid mistakes. I don’t know what the other five were so WATCH OUT!!  ha ha.  Anyway, it’s been very good to have wheels again.

Our furniture should be here somewhere around the 17th of November. We are very ready to have some furniture. You might think it is hard to keep your house clean…try it with no furniture. No bookcases for books. No desk for paper, pens and tape. No file cabinets for paperwork. No dresser for clothes. No toy box for toys. Our house constantly looks like a tornado tore through here or a “miscellaneous stuff” bomb went off.

Jael went to Kindergarten today. I left at 8:30 to clean a house and at 8:45, Maria, our landlady who works at the kindergarten, stopped by to ask if she could take Jael with her to work. I had called last week about enrolling Jael and was told that they didn’t have any openings and that they had to offer any openings to German students first. Anyway, Israel said that was fine so when I got home, Jael was gone. Israel told me the deal and to my surprise, tears began to fill my eyes. Israel’s eyes welled up and we spent a couple of minutes holding each other as we realized how grown up Jael is getting. Israel asked what I wanted to do and all I could think was, “I want my baby back!” But we waited until 2 and picked her up. She was not happy to see us (very typical. She’d always rather stay and play than go home…makes me feel great!). She’d had a great time and brought home a little ghost she’d made.

We came home and carved our Jack-O-Lanterns. Jael drew the face for one and Israel did the other. They both came out great. We set them out and lit the candles. I was really pleased. I wish I had a camera and I would send pictures, but alas, we don’t so I can’t.

I can’t think of anything else. I have got to write more often so I don’t end up with such long letters. But I probably won’t. Anyway, that’s what’s going on here.

Becky

 

Shots May 15, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,military,parenting — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:19 pm
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Jael received four shots today as we continued our game of catch-up with the vaccinations. As we answered countless questions, the nurse asked, “And her vaccinations are current?”

And I had to answer, “Actually, no.”

Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of that as something we should do before we head overseas. I just spaced it…kind of like sunscreen. So we headed to the immunization office and Jael got her four shots, after screaming only a little bit before hand. As soon as they were done, she was good. She was fairly excited about the Bugs Bunny band-aids she received.

She has one more to get in four weeks and then she’s all caught up. Then I’ve my “overseas screening” appointment next week and then we are medically cleared to go to Germany. YAY!

Tonight, for dinner, I grilled steak. I bought some really high quality lean steak and it was so worth it. I cooked them to perfection; brown outside, warm red in the center. Israel’s was purple and cool in the middle like he likes it. It was the best steak I’ve ever had. It was also the rarest so that may have had something to do with it.

Israel once ordered a steak “blood rare” and had the waitress throw it down in front of him with, “That’s disgusting.” As he cut into the steak and began to eat it, he noticed everyone at the table watching him. He looked up and one guy asked him, “So…how’d you get into that?” Like it was sado/masochism of something. I guess it’s weirder than I thought.

And we had corn on the cob. It was amazing. Some of the best I’ve ever had. I think I might buy more next week. Yum.