Thursday, April 28, 2011

What I'm Looking Forward To

As we near the end of April, I realize I have so much to look forward to in May!  Here are a few things that are coming up:

Haircut- I get bored with my hair easily and am constantly changing it.  My natural color is blond, but I also really like  going red.  After growing it out and keeping it long for 2 years, it's finally time to chop it off.  As of next Wednesday, I will be going from long and red to short and blond- perfect for summer!

Home for Mother’s Day- I'm trying to remember the last time I went home and can't.  As close as I am to my family, it's hard to see them as often as I'd like since we live so far away.  JD hasn't been able to take a real vacation since our honeymoon last year, which kind of hinders any travel plans.  With him in the academy, he won't be able to make the trip with me, but I took a few vacation days to make it a long weekend.  I actually think this will be the first Mother's Day I will be spending with my mom since I moved to NC.  Long overdue!

Girls’ Beach Weekend- There are few things I love more than the beach, and even though I'm living in NC, it's still a few hours away, so I don't get to go as often as I'd like.  This will be a much needed weekend away, with girls instead of police recruits, where we get to talk about things other than shooting guns and traffic stops, all while enjoying sun, sand, and blue water :)

Visit from my Sister- Not only am I going home in a few weeks, but my loving sister is coming to visit over Memorial Day weekend.  I saw her over the holidays, but we had a lot of family in the house and things were pretty hectic.  This will be the first time in a while that she and I will have good bonding time.  I miss her dearly, like in a I-want-to-snuggle-up-in-bed-with-her kind of way, but I won't do that, mostly because she thinks it's creepy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beware of Dog

Tonight is a reminder that in a few short months, I will have to get used to sleeping alone again.  At his previous job as a 911 dispatcher, JD worked both day and night shifts, so there were always a few nights a month where he was gone.  

I really hate being by myself at night.  I'm admittedly still afraid of the dark, and because I'm light sleeper, wake up at the smallest noises.  One time, one of the dogs rolled up against the door, and I made JD check the whole house because I was convinced there was someone downstairs (gotta say, it's nice being married to a former Marine- he has a huge knife knows how to use it).  We live in a safe area, and we have 3 rowdy dogs, so I know I'll be fine, but I can't help having a bit of anxiety once in a while.

Although I'd gotten used to the night shifts, with him being the academy, I'm now "un-used" to it.  It will be an adjustment when it's time to go back to the old schedule.

Still, it's not all bad.  It's nice to have the house to myself, eat a bowl of cereal for dinner, and watch the crappy shows he hates.  I like having room in bed to cuddle with the dogs, and enjoy, well, quiet.  

*Special note to any home invaders reading this blog:  Harrier will eat you.  Not even kidding.  He almost jumped our 8 foot privacy fence to eat a solicitor one time.  You've been warned.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Roof

I was nervous as JD began to climb the ladder.

“Please don’t fall!” I called up.

He brushed it off with a, “Working on roofs is no big deal for me.”

When he reached the top, he put one foot on the roof but couldn’t get footing.  It was too steep and he needed to hammer some boards into the roof to act as steps.  After hauling some boards to the roof, he went to work nailing the boards in.  Once he was off the ladder, I stepped back to watch him work.  He sat at the peak of the roof and looked around.

“You getting a nice tan up there?” I called up.

“Yeah…” his voice trailed off.

“What’s wrong?”

“The roof is too steep and I don’t have a way to tie the tarp down.”

“Okay, then just come back down.  We’ll wait for the insurance company to get someone out here.”

“I can’t.”

“Why NOT?!”

“The roof is too steep.”

“But I thought you built steps.”

“I only built 2 and I can’t reach them from here.  If I try to slide down, I’ll slide right off.”

“What were you THINKING?!” I exclaimed.  I really don’t understand why he thought 2 would be enough, or how he got up to the peak of the roof if he couldn’t reach his steps now.

We tried taking the ladder to the side of the house, where JD could scoot along the peak of the roof and get to the ladder, but it wasn’t tall enough.  Then someone suggested taking the smaller ladder and  setting it on top of one of his homemade steps so he could climb down the smaller ladder to get to the big ladder.  I did not like this idea, especially when he was trying to get rid of everything he couldn’t carry, and the hammer knocked one of his homemade steps off the roof.  I couldn’t imagine how the remaining step was supposed to hold him and the ladder if it couldn’t hold a falling hammer.

I tried not to panic, but I kept thinking, only JD would survive a tornado and kill himself by falling off the roof the next day.  I swear that boy is going to give me a heart attack.

Fortunately, the step managed to hold the ladder and JD got off the roof without incident.  I think we all learned a valuable lesson- leave the roof work to professionals.  Always.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Tornado, Continued...

Although the big stuff had been cleared away, there was plenty of work to be done the next day.  There was still smaller debris throughout the yard and leaves stuck to the front of the house.  Plus, we wanted to tarp over the shingle-less part of our roof.  Insurance agencies are addressing things according to severity, and we are certainly not at the top of the list.

David’s grandparents came over with a power washer and an extension ladder.  They were rock stars as they helped us power wash all the debris and rake the entire back yard.  JD’s attempt to put a tarp on the roof was unsuccessful, because our roof was too steep (there is another story here, but I will get into that tomorrow).  So, hopefully we get a contractor out here before it rains on Thursday.  

Meanwhile, our neighbors, armed with their chainsaw, went around the neighborhood offering to help cut up fallen trees and drag them to the curb.  Though there were others trying to make money off the destruction, our neighbors asked for nothing in return.  Yet another example of how amazing they were this weekend.

In the middle of the afternoon, our out of town neighbor finally returned home.  She had the same overwhelmed look we must have had when we first pulled into the neighborhood. At this point, we’d had 24 hours to process, but she was seeing it all for the first time.  We showed her pictures of what her yard looked like the day before.  “I want to cry,” she said.  “I can’t believe what you guys did for me.”  We never questioned helping her out- it was an automatic response.

It was about this time that our work was winding down and JD’s grandma and I decided it was time for an ice cream break.  We headed down the street to Sonic for milkshakes and blasts, but when we got back, I saw JD coming out of the back yard with a tree branch.  “Where did you find another tree branch?!” I exclaimed.

He angrily explained that the Leaf Lady had returned with a vengeance, and the police had shown up because we left the remnants of our tree at the end of the street behind us.  Apparently, there is a town ordinance that all yard debris has to be in front of your house, and the officer told us we’d be fined if we didn’t move it to the front.  I’m not really sure how the police had time to be out and about arguing over yard debris when I’m sure there were much more pressing matters throughout town, nor am I sure why they planned to enforce fines when people were just trying to clean up from a natural disaster, but the bottom line was that all the work the boys had done the previous night was wasted and we had to move an entire tree around to the front of the house. 

Our neighbors and their friends once again stepped up, and we all grabbed a branch and started hauling to the front.  I’d only moved a few branches before I finally broke down.

Standing in the middle of the cul-de-sac, holding a branch from my favorite tree, I cried for the first time.  Not because I’d lost my favorite tree.  Not because I couldn’t handle the extra work.  Not even because the full realization of what had happened finally sunk in.  But because I couldn’t understand how, after everything that had happened, someone could be so petty.  Honestly, we all just survived the worst, and she was worried about a few tree limbs?  And called the police about it?  What kind of person does that?!

Our tree debris is just over the fence in front of the road.  You can see it sticking up a bit.  
And see the white house way in the distance?  Yeah, that's the lady who complained.

My tree branch neighbor, who works for the town, immediately jumped into action and called her friend who works for the police department.  I won’t get into the details, but I’ll say that it was taken care of.  We didn’t have to move the tree, and Leaf Lady will have to deal with our offensive yard debris until the city can get around to cleaning everything up.

As the day winded down, both sets of neighbors migrated over to our porch, beers in hand.  We sat, chatted, and laughed, and before long, tree branch neighbor was offering to share the large crock pot of beef stew she had made for dinner.  Since they still had a hole in their ceiling, she brought the food to our house and we all sat down for a much-needed hearty meal.  As we sat there together, it felt like the ending to a TV drama.  We’d always been friendly with each other, but through terrible circumstances, had really come together.  Suddenly, we felt like we were friends, and talked about getting together for dinner more often.

So, the storm brought out the good in people and the bad, but the important part is that my immediate neighbors were part of the good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Tornado

It was a typical Saturday.  JD and I were out running errands- buying mulch, getting groceries, etc.  There were very few people out shopping for a Saturday afternoon.  Minus the patter of rain the roof, the store was eerily quiet.  As we were checking out, JD’s grandma called to ask where we were.  “Don’t leave yet,” she warned.  “There’s a tornado on the ground near your house.”

We left the store as the sky was clearing.  As we pulled off the highway and onto the main road that leads into town, we started to see debris across the roadway.  Then we saw a beastly tree that had been completely uprooted.  The damage only got worse as we got closer to our neighborhood.  I couldn’t find words- only “Oh my God,” over and over.

We weren’t sure what we were going to see when we pulled onto our street, and we were both worried about the dogs.  Pet lovers know that they become a part of your family.  I knew that we would feel guilty and heartbroken if anything had happened to them.

We turned the corner and both held our breath.  I gasped.  It was bad and it was good at the same time.  Our house was still in one piece, and we heard the dogs barking so we knew they were okay.  Our neighbor had a branch through their roof.  We had some shingles missing, but no other visible damage.  You couldn’t even see our other neighbor’s house because there was a fallen tree blocking it.  JD’s car was in one piece.  His motorcycle was still standing like nothing had happened.

Our neighbors (with the branch) were outside and came up to the car as we pulled up the street.   Chainsaws and emergency sirens echoed throughout the neighborhood. 

“Is everyone okay?” we asked.  They were fine, though understandably shaken up.  They said the air was strangely still, then they felt a drastic pressure change and ran to huddle in their bathroom with their young daughter.  They heard a crash and waited, expecting the roof to fly off the house, but then it was over, they still had (most of) a roof, and they were all safe.

Shaken, we went around to the back of the house.  My beloved tree- the one with branches that came up to our master bath and bloomed with pretty white flowers in the spring- had fallen victim to the storm.  It was all over the yard, although not through any windows or siding, which we were extremely thankful for.  We’d also lost a small tree on the other side of the yard.  Shingles were scattered around. 

Our other neighbor (with the hidden house) lost 2 trees in her back yard.  One had snapped in half and the other had fallen into a house in the neighborhood behind us.  It didn’t look like it had done much damage to the house, and I saw the residents outside later so I knew they were okay.  Hidden House neighbor was out of town, so we called to let her know what had happened and reassure her that her house was okay.

When I came back around to the front of the house, I found a piece of rain-soaked mail in our bushes.  I picked it up and glanced at the address.  It wasn’t ours.  It wasn’t even to one of our neighbors.  It was for the house at the end of the street and around the corner.

Next, we tried to call family and friends to let them know we were okay.  Our cell coverage was spotty, so I finally gave up and sent a mass text.  JD updated his Facebook status.  Within a few minutes, we had several people text us to ask how they could help, and several more post on his Facebook status.  A few hours later, we had 7 police recruits with chainsaws and axes, ready to help in any way they could.

It was a team effort- our neighbors, their friends, JD and the police recruits worked to remove the branch from my neighbors roof, then clear the driveway for our out of town neighbor, then clean up our back yard, working well into the darkness.  I was cleaning up smaller debris from the front yard when I stopped for a minute to watch them work.  In that moment, I was so grateful for so many things.  I was grateful that all the trees seemed to fall the right way, that everyone’s home was mostly intact, that no one was hurt, and that we had such amazing friends and neighbors.  The kind that will drop what they’re doing, drive 30 minutes to your house, and offer to help before you’ve had a chance to ask.

We didn’t have cable or internet, so any information we got was from people who came in from other areas to help.  As more reports came in, I grew more worried about friends we had in affected areas.  My hands shook as I checked Facebook on my phone or dialed the number of someone I hadn’t heard from.  Miraculously, everyone was okay.

After the day’s work was done, we took the recruits out for pizza as a thank you, then went home to shower (our power was already back on!) and fall into bed.  We stared at the ceiling, exhausted, trying to comprehend what had just happened.  The day was surreal.

To be continued... Clean-up Day 2...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Google Can Be Bad For You

Another beautiful spring day in NC.  The sky is blue, the sun is shining, everything is green, lush… and covered in a dusting of yellow pollen.  If I had one complaint about living here, allergy season would be it.  I never, EVER had a problem with allergies until I moved here.  But the pollen around here is unreal.  Most places, you wouldn’t know it’s allergy season until you started to feel bad.  Around here, you SEE it before you feel it.  Cars, porches, asphalt, picnic tables, and sidewalks are all coated in a familiar yellow dust.  The result? Headaches, sneezing, itchy eyes, and today it feels like my head is going to explode out of my eyeballs (a mental image my co-workers really appreciated).

I also have a somewhat abnormal symptom- my tonsils swell.  I doesn’t hurt and I don’t have trouble swallowing or breathing;  mostly, it’s just uncomfortable.  In a moment of weakness yesterday, I decided to Google this symptom and see if anyone had some advice on the best ways to treat it.

Of course, I read through several forums which all made me panic immediately with warnings such as “See your doctor IMMEDIATELY.”  And, “You need to keep Benedryl handy in case your throat closes up completely.”


I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of the doctor, but I definitely don’t like going if there’s not a good reason.  I also don’t like taking a bunch of drugs, especially when the FDA is constantly pulling stuff that was previously deemed “safe.”  I’ve had the tonsil-allergy problem ever since I’ve moved here without serious complications, so I’m going to pass on the doctor’s visit, unless it continues past allergy season.  In the meantime, I’ll keep pumping myself full of OTC allergy meds.  The FDA hasn’t found any problems with those yet :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Second Chances

JD's body armor came in today. I'm not sure I trust my husband's life to a company called "Second Chance." I mean, we're talking about getting shot at here. Pretty sure there's only one chance. They probably should have thought that through more.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Ready For My Close-Up

Yesterday JD and I took a photography class from one of his friends, who is a professional photographer and offered some of the guys in his motorcycle group a free class.  He gave a very informative presentation, and then we went around and took some pictures around the campus.  I don't claim that any of these pictures are really good.  Remember, we're still learning!  Yesterday was about experimenting...

Posing inside the sphere.  This is an example of a bad picture- too much sunlight.

JD likes this picture because he says I have attitude.  I really just wasn't paying attention.

This is our "instructor" showing me the proper modeling techniques.

And voila.  Amateur to professional in 10 seconds.

Starting to get tired of getting of getting my picture taken.

Bright sunlight actually isn't the ideal light for taking pictures- you want some shadow and dimension!  Also, I'm super pasty, which doesn't help.

JD caught an awesome picture of this squirrel as we were walking around.

Now we're learning about shutter speed!  Blurry subject and sharp background.

Sharp subject and blurry background.

My turn! Another example of a not great picture.  My framing wasn't very good here- that random white box in the corner is a wall.

Got a great angle of the rainbow through the waterfall.

Enjoying the beautiful afternoon.

Pretty much the only picture I took that I really like.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Things That Make Me Weird

I brush my teeth 3x a day… every day.  Which means I brush my teeth at work.

I only have one dimple.

I use an exercise ball as a desk chair.

I pronounce both with a “L”... like “bolth.”

I don’t like The Beetles.

When the office is really, cold, I use a Snuggie… and love it.

I honestly have no idea what weed smells like.

I think cars have feelings.

I really don't enjoy concerts.  Why pay all that money to deal with a large crowd and have crappy sound quality when I can enjoy my iPod instead?

I actually like my job.  

The only kind of seafood I like is salmon.

Brad Pitt is too good looking for my taste.  Imperfections are beautiful.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Re-posting because this is very relevant today... with this added thought.  I am IRATE that our senators and our president (when their childish stubbornness has caused this mess) STILL GET PAID during a shut down, whereas hardworking Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck, and OUR TROOPS OVERSEAS, do not.  Our government is worthless.

Dear Political Candidates,

I don’t give a crap.  So please cancel your expensive ad campaigns and put that money towards something worthwhile.  We all know if you get elected you won’t get much done anyway.  You’ll waste your time arguing with your opposition, and since you all refuse to compromise, you’ll waste time talking instead of doing.

Why is it that you care so much about everyone else’s religion and sexual orientation?  In the grand scheme of things, why is it so important?  Why can’t you stand up, be the leaders you’re supposed to be, and say, “Those issues are personal and have nothing to do with the government, I’m going to focus on our most important issues- the war that’s been going on almost 10 years, our poor economy, our need for new, clean energy, and the fact that our people aren’t getting help from our government when they need it most.”

So get yourselves together because I’m sick of the finger pointing, I’m sick of the complaining, and I’m sick of nothing getting done (or at least, nothing significant).   Newsflash:  I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat.  You all suck.

You don’t deserve anyone’s vote.  You need to earn it, and you certainly haven’t earned mine.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Love/Hate Relationship

Not everyone likes police officers.

A few weeks ago, we were driving along when a dog ran out in front of our car (no, we did NOT keep this one).

She had a collar and a leash but no tags, so we brought her over to the nearby apartment complex to ask some people standing outside if they knew who the owner was.  One of the men stood back cautiously, and as we were chatting looked at JD and randomly asked, “Are you a cop?”

JD hesitated.  He wasn’t wearing anything that might give that away, and he laughed as he explained he was in the academy.

“You just seem like a cop,” the man replied.  I could tell that wasn’t meant to be a compliment.

A few months ago, we were raking leaves in the back yard when we got yelled at by a neighbor.  The street behind our house dead ends at our back yard, so we usually rake leaves through the back gate to the end of the street, instead of raking them all the way down through the front yard. 

We noticed the lady who lives in the house behind us taking pictures from her driveway.  “Are you taking pictures?” JD challenged her.

An argument ensued.  She called us “very rude” for raking leaves into “her yard.”  The city’s rule is that you rake your leaves to the curb; whether we rake to the front of the house or the back, I don’t think it should matter.  Not to mention that her house is quite a distance away from ours, and since we really were leaving the leaves at the curb, it had nothing to do with her yard.  Regardless, she was not happy and threatened to call the police.

“Go ahead.  I work for the police!” JD shot back.

“Fine,” she yelled, and stormed off.

I tensed up, wondering if the “I work for the police” had made the situation better or worse.  I had visions of her spray painting “pig” on the front of our house or poisoning our dogs while they were playing in the yard.  Of course I was overreacting, but there are times that I feel JD’s chosen profession makes him a target- on and off the street.