Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Right from the start I kept talking about Kirk. Not about what was happening always, although it was important to talk about that too, but just about him. He was part of our lives, he always would be, and I didn't want the horrible stuff that was happening now to stain backwards over the rest of our lives together.

So whenever something happened that reminded me or the kids of Kirk, of something we had done together or the sort of things he would say, I would talk about it. It wasn't a huge choice on my part; it was perfectly natural. We've never really lost those memories, we talk about him all the time and it's good.

The problem is other people. I'll be talking with friends and something Kirk said, or something we did together will be relevant and I'll quite happily add it into the conversation. It seems to be the social equivalent of tossing a matching set* of underwear into the middle of the room.** Everyone gets embarrassed and uncomfortable and then reacts according to their personality:

Type 1 feigns complete unawareness of the underwear. There is no underwear. There is no underwear.

Type 2 shifts a little, gives a sort of combination hiccup-cough to acknowledge that the underwear is there but really we should not mention the underwear because Miss Manners has not covered underwear (HA! Best phrase I have ever written on this blog! I'm unbelievably pleased...)*** and what does one do at this point?

Type 3 acknowledges the underwear gravely with a preternatural solemnity - even if the story was funny. Underwear: it is very serious stuff and should never be taken lightly.

Type 4 flares its nostrils a bit but girds up metaphorical loins and soldiers on with the conversation, valiantly including the underwear but making a bit of an effort to do so.

Type 5, the rarest of all beasts, accepts that now and then into every room a little underwear must fall and (oh dear. I should have chosen a better metaphor) embraces the underwear gracefully.

I do understand that it's hard to know what to say when someone has had a tragedy. I'm past the point now when I feel I have to work extra hard to make other people feel comfortable around me and my Very Dreadful Life. I've gotten used to the fact that yes, it makes people uneasy when I talk about Kirk.

I could stop doing it I suppose, although it would take a real effort because we were married for 15 years; my stories are his stories. I would have to mentally edit much of my life just to keep people from feeling a little uneasy. Somehow I think that would be wrong.

Of course, it would be much more wrong to do it on purpose just to watch folks squirm. I save that for special occasions.


*Tasteful mind you, and clean.

** Not that I have ever done this.

*** I have a deep suspicion that this post will bump me up the Weird Searches on Google That Include The Word Underwear and Miss Manners. The price I pay...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Blog For a Year

This is an interesting experiment. Basically, if I can get enough votes then they'll pay me for a year to blog. Trying hard to come up with a more enticing possibility... well, outside of being handed mind-numbingly large amounts of cash I honestly can't come up with one! Click on the link once a day and it counts as a vote. Have no idea what else goes on with this, but hey! Fun times!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Not Posting on What I Could Post on If Only I Didn't Have a Mother

It's so hard. It's like the entire universe is spitting in your Wheaties when something happens first thing in the morning that would make an unbelievable post, but you can't post on it because your mother reads your blog and she's not supposed to know about some things.

I mean, look at the ingredients:

3 children (ages varying, but all of reasonable intelligence) and me

1 homeless man (cleaner variety, nicely trimmed beard, belongings in plastic trash bag)

1 word that my mother does not admit to knowing the meaning of.

See, the homeless guy really and truly seemed to be trying to come up with a good opening line, something casual but friendly, something that would establish a rapport before he then followed up with the inevitable request for "coffee" money. I give him credit for that effort. It's just that, well.... he might want to work on his content.

But to go back to the main point, what he said was so obviously intended as blogger fodder, and I can't blog it. Darn my continuing efforts to keep distress out of my parent's lives.

After all, it was just the one word that was the problem, all the other words were perfectly fine for a conversation starter with a complete stranger.

It went something like this:

Oddly tidy homeless man: "I'd have a/an [WORD ALERT!!!].... If I could. Do you have some change?"

Phew. Got the post out of my system, and didn't offend any maternal sensibilities. I'll just let you guys fill in with a word of your choice. I even edited the article so you won't be unduly influenced by "an" vs. "a."

It's a class act, this blog.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Parenting is Your Chance to Screw Up the Next Generation

Everyone's family is nuts in some way, right? Mine is beautifully normal in all the important areas - loving, generous, supportive, hospitable - and completely crackers everywhere else. Which is why when I started to date Kirk I startled him (and possibly nearly sent him screaming in the other direction) by having a rather unusual habit. It's this thing, see, where someone says something quite innocent and all, and you immediately respond with a song. Kirk even tested me once, and thought he would stump me with "splinter." Poor man had obviously not sung "Clementine" shrilly at top volume over and over and over again.

Yes, I know. Annoying AND embarrassing! It's the perfect personality quirk!

It's not my fault though, my mother whiled away every spare minute, particularly on long road trips, by singing. And as she had memorized the collective works of Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, and many, many other artists of the folk-singy-granola bunch her repertoire was extensive. Also it was augmented by a large set of songs-for-kids that mostly take well known and otherwise inoffensive numbers and make them unfit for public use by adding twee or "funny" lyrics, preferably of the infinitely repeating variety.

When we married and had children of our own we were on a long road trip and I, well trained, turned around and started suggesting that the kids sing a particularly awful song along with me. It's not that I wanted to sing, mind you, or that the children did anything but look at me with disdain and disbelief, it's just that in my experience you have to sing on road trips. It's sort of like having a book when you head to the bathroom - it's required. Kirk however looked at me as though I had sprouted something unpleasant from the top of my head.

"What," he asked reasonably, "do you think you're doing?"


"You do know that song is horrible, right?"

"Well... yes."

"You do know that if you sing it it will run around in your head for weeks and you will complain to me the whole time about how you have this stupid song going through your head."

"Well... yes."

"And you also know we're in an enclosed car and none of us can get away from you, right?"

"Um.... yes?"

"So why are you singing?"

I blinked at him for a few seconds and then blurted, "you mean, I don't have to??"

It was a beautiful moment.

However, it didn't cure the root disease of being mentally equipped with far too many obscure, or irritating songs which tend to lurch out of my subconscious at the strangest moments.

It's not all bad though. I sat down today without a clue what I would write about, and the titles of the last two posts stared at me. Sure, now I've got "3 Coins in a Fountain" running lightly through my brain, but on the other hand, I got a post out of it.

EDIT: It's such a waste really that I should have that inspiration on what to write today of all days, because this morning I also got a charming message which is worth a post in and of itself. Clearly it's from someone who loves me deeply. She said:

"abernathy aminobenzoic corpse cure" and

"bestselling bolshoi bernard" and even

"breast axolotl comprehensive alphameric aberdeen breakdown"

Verna Fontenont, whoever you are, you always say the sweetest things.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Coin

I thought I had told about this, but after an exhaustive (two minute) search through the archives I can't find the story.

This was in Germany so... way-back machines set nicely. Kirk (remember) was a Russian linguist working intelligence intercepting radio transmissions from the Soviets.

At some point he intercepted a message and, translating it, believed it was really important - not just sort of important, but time sensitive, vitally, politically essential important. He found more messages, translated them, and pushed the whole thing up the chain as hard as he could.

As always, I don't know what the interception was about specifically. What I do know is that it was August 1991 and there was a significant coup attempt in the Soviet Union. I also know that some anonymous person sent us a section of barbed wire, and that seemed significant to Kirk.

The message and the results were important enough that Kirk's immediate commander put him in for a pretty important award. That recommendation went up chain, where the major (who had not even been aware of what was going on until it was all over) downgraded Kirk's suggested award and put himself in for a more important one. The same thing happened again at the next level. In the end, Kirk was given an Army Achievement medal (I think... I'd have to dig through the dusty box of plastic award folders) while the colonel or someone was trying for a Silver Star. It was all very silly, and Kirk was mostly irritated that people who had nothing to do with anything were trying to grab glory for themselves. He certainly never paid attention to the medal he was given, except that he enjoyed wearing it sometimes on his Air Force uniform and watching the other officers try to work out just what that ribbon meant.

However, someone up the command line must have felt a little guilty, because on the day the award was pinned on they also handed him a division coin.

It's a big brass thing, heavy and thick, and on the front is the name and symbol of the 8th Infantry Division enameled in blue and green. It's a bit battered now because Kirk carried it around with him when he was in the Air Force. He had generals tell him that they had never seen division level coins - it was a good conversation piece, and never failed to win the coin game.

In California he had stopped keeping it with him - there was only one friend who would understand the significance anyway - and the coin just sat in a drawer with some other bits and pieces. Then he went to Iraq, and my memory betrays me. For a long time I thought he must have taken it with him, and it had been lost along with all of his other personal belongings. Now I have a faint memory of him asking me to send it out to him, along with a few other things. I think I tried to find it and couldn't. I know I looked again when we were moving, but there was no sign of it that I could see.

So it was a little strange when, along with a Russian watch, a WWI German ring we found in the soil one day, and a few other pieces of memorabilia, the coin turned up in a plastic bin. I had been so sure it was gone, stolen with all of Kirk's other belongings, another thing missing in Iraq.

The other things were dusted off, more carefully protected, and stored again for the unseen time when we'll want them again. But the coin will stay out. It's on the bookshelf now, in incongruous company with a blue glass bottle and a piece of Russian cloisonnes work.

One piece of the past reclaimed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

An Excercise in 3's

Three things I thought I have but don't (anymore):

1 Bombay Company wooden shelf/plinth thing that hangs on the wall and used to hold a tasteful reproduction of a Greek vase.

1 set of 6 (does that still count as 1?) simple silver candle holders

1 can opener

Three things I have but had completely forgotten about:

1 brass unicorn, gift of grandfather at age of about 10 (actually gifted to entire family, but he placed me in charge of caring for it which obviously meant absconding with it when I married)

1 glass pumpkin (small), the only thing I could stand to buy from the annual Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival (except wine. We bought wine too)

1 small box shaped like two toads - best surprise of the move as I had forgotten all about this lovely thing and I ADORE it. Favorite thing in the house. Sorry kids.

Three things I thought were lost, stolen or strayed but which have turned up:

1 book on the history of the English language - a linguistic study (bedtime reading for children if they don't behave darnit)

1 high school diploma (see mom! I did gradumagate!)

AND - Kirk's division coin, his 8th ID division level coin that I thought had been lost in Iraq.

Very strange finding that coin. More tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Point Me At the Boy Scout Sign Ups

So Child 3 and I had a very important talk this morning. Not that Very Important Talk - Child 3 could probably tell me a thing or two there. No, we had a preparedness talk.

It started with Child 3 letting me know that it had worked out something pretty essential. It had spent the night before mulling over the best way to escape from hostage-holding mobsters - you know, the variety that jam a handgun up to your throat and ripple their muscles suggestively. I thought about it for a moment and announced that I too had a solution. Child 3 wasn't interested. It just wanted to let me know what it had figured out. Its method used some lightning quick reflexes and a bit of head butting. Mine was much simpler.

I'd lick 'em.

Then we went on and solved other conundrums that might emerge. We are now prepared for the following. For those who haven't been as careful and might wish to know how to deal with life's little emergencies I provide our separate solutions:

1. Alligator attack:

Child 3 - punch it in the nose

Me - reach down its gullet and lift up the flappy valve thing Steve Irwin claimed was there so the critter starts to drown and then spits you out, probably making cat-with-hairball-noises

2. Killer bees:

Child 3 - explain to the bees that you live in a swamp and offer to give them a tour of the home (based on apocryphal book it claims to have read at some point)

Me - drive away really really fast. Or do that thing they do in the cartoons where you walk on the bottom of the lake with a reed to breath through. Of course, in the cartoons the bees are never fooled and they spell out rude messages or make themselves into arrows and things, but I don't think bees are as smart as they are in cartoons.

3. Stranded on top of disintegrating ferris wheel:

Child 3 - climb down superstructure, doing the fireman pole slide on the straight bits.

Me - use the mountaineering equipment you brought along to rig up a belay line and whiz down on a carabiner. (small argument about whether one would have this gear. My point being that having worked out the solution one would now never go on a ferris wheel without such items)

4. Falling off cliff:

Child 3 - dive headfirst so as to avoid lengthy and painful death

Me - glide gracefully down using your skydiving suit thing with the flaps on it. I know I've seen one in a movie somewhere. (same argument)

I think we covered all the basics. You're welcome.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Feeling Blue

We painted Child 3's room this weekend. It chose a nice blue, bright but not cold, and I set about training the available Children in the fine art of DIY painting.

Step 1 - purchase supplies. This is an art in itself. Not only must one negotiate the Mammoth Home Center, one must avoid the charms and allurements of the power tool section (mmmmmm.... sliding compound miter saw.... laser cut line... oooooh), forcibly pry all three children away from the color sample chips (NO Child 2 you may not paint your room a. black or b. red), resign oneself to handfuls of paint sample chips lying around for days AND remember to get all those little niggling extras like two rolls of masking tape, a drop cloth, and edging tools. Check. Success on all fronts. Also, does anyone want to buy slightly used paint sample cards? We have a few...

Step 2 - move furniture. Designate - that's the key. In other words, children are slaves and should be used for all heavy lifting and other manual labor. However, the adult in charge should stand around helpfully saying things like "mind the walls," and "didn't I tell you to mind the walls?"

Step 3 - tape. Here's where the adult in charge has to dance carefully between the perfectionist's need to get the masking tape EXACTLY in a straight line around every baseboard/window/door and the aforementioned slave status of children who really should be doing this tedious job as well. It's a difficult life I live.

Step 4 - drop cloth. Realize that going cheap and buying only one drop cloth (even though it's a tiny room) and also going lazy and not removing the large and bulky bed means it's going to be a harrowing morning as we shift the drop cloth c-a-r-e-fully from one side of the room to another. Inform the Children that dripping paint is one of the signs of the apocalypse, and war and/or pestilence will be visited upon them if they get any paint on the pristine surface of the drop cloth.

Step 5 - edge. Child 2 realizes at this point that messiness is going on and passing it by, and wanders casually into the confined space of the semi-drop-cloth-covered room. It is allowed to edge because it of all the children has inherited that perfectionism, but it should not be left alone as it also has a tendency to lie prone on the floor in the middle of everything and sigh heavily.

Step 6 - roll. With drill-sergeant precision one must coordinate the efforts of the edger (with rolly edgey tool thingy), secondary edger (with paintbrush for the corners) and roller. Special attention should be paid to height/reach, and the ability to notice when bright blue paint is dripping down one's arm. Assign child 2 to checking walls for bald patches, which it does happily and with great thoroughness, but remove it from duty after two walls because no one wants to go back and fill in at that point.

Step 7 - clean up. Adult in charge should do the primary clean up as Children seem to lack grasp of staining capabilities of paint on carpet, furniture and concrete. However allow Child 3 the delight of holding its thumb on the hose and creating a high-pressure spray for the roller. Point out that it is possible to do this and have most of the milky-paint water spray forwards rather than backwards at the hose holder and its closest relatives.

Step 8 - assess damage. Final count - three highly painted bodies (me, forehead and temple plus arms, Child 2 arms with marvelous coverage, Child 3... easier to point out the small bits still flesh toned), not one drip or mark on the carpet, and one freshly painted blue room.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Familiar Faces

It's a strange sort of unpacking we're doing. Our other moves were simple, if irritating, affairs; we just loaded our belongings into boxes at one end, and a few days or weeks later unloaded them again. This time I hadn't even been the person packing everything - there were so many friends and family helping out that day that boxes were just filled, taped and hustled to the truck without my even seeing inside them.

Once we got to my parent's house those boxes lived a sad sort of life for a few months, mouldering in the garage while we pulled out only the few things we considered "needs." That meant that legos were quickly uncovered for one child, books for another. Movies and computer programs slowly emerged and were found shelf space as available. Everything else sat there, ignored by me and fretted over by my mother.

Eventually the dust and the possibility of flood forced a new plan - large plastic bins. It meant disinterring the box contents and at least trying to force a general sort-by-category on the contents. I knew it had to be done; I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

All of Kirk's things were there - we had even kept socks and t-shirts because, of course, he would need them when he got back. Arm-pit stained white t-shirts should not be emotional objects, but they smelled of him, and when I opened the first box and came across them I simply closed it up again and left.

There were his Russian things as well - uniforms of various types, the hideously impractical and uncomfortable tall leather boots, pot-metal awards pinned half-haphazardly onto a strange, thick swatch of cotton cloth.

Even the boxes of kitchen things had traps for the unwary - the Wildflecken stein we had bought together, the pottery bowls and mugs with moose and bear on them from Alaska. Every thing - a story.

In desperation my mother finally did it all, tossing everything into bins based on her best guess as to what it was. And there things stayed - about 12 large blue bins containing everything we owned - our mutual past.

Now, in our new house the kids and I have been doing archaeological work on those bins, slowly working our way through. We haven't seen much of this stuff for over three years, and I find I have no expectations about what will emerge. I recognize it all, or almost all, I just haven't thought about these things for so long that they no longer feel like mine.

There are the two crystal "snow ball" candle holders from Germany, the chipped set of mixed cappuccino cups and saucers from Wechtesbach which the kids used for tea-parties when they were small. There is a small Greek vase with the Death of Achilles on it, and two plaster bas reliefs - St Cecilia and a Gryphon. There are antique pictures we picked up at flea markets, and a series of photographs of the cliff-side beach near our house in California framed in plain black frames.

We bought these things because we loved them, and because they were powerful reminders of things we did, places we lived - our story in objects. Maybe it's because that story-line was broken, but I do feel removed from them all. Our things are only acquaintances now, no longer friends.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Moving - California

The move from California was... difficult. Partly because I was still desperately hoping it wouldn't have to happen, that Kirk would be found, that he could come back to our home. I did set a deadline though, and my parents planned to drive out to the coast about a month after Kirk went missing.

I sorted through things, packed boxes, and started trying to re-paint the living room and hall we had only painted together two months before. We had finally decided that we would stay put in California for a while, so we should try to make this house (a house I didn't particularly like) feel like home. Painting it was our way of marking it as ours. Now I had to try and undo it. I was trying to work hard at it every day, but somehow couldn't seem to get everything done as I should.

Only a few people knew what was happening - Kirk's best friend in California, his friend and former colleague from the counter-terrorist days, my family, his family. There was so little I could do, keeping the secret was the only way I could think of helping Kirk, of trying to keep him safe. If the story got out inevitably his background would be discovered as well, and if he were being held by someone then his past as a spy, and as a counter-terrorist expert with high clearance knowledge, would surely endanger him. So, after the first week, the kids went back to school, we kept going to soccer practices and games; we went through all the motions of life as normal.

And then the story broke. An article was written by a British reporter who had met Kirk once or twice in Iraq. It had his name, it gave the same details I had heard from the army investigators, and it also included our home town. Someone called to warn me I think, but I can't remember who now. I just remember feeling as though I had been punched - winded.

Within an hour of reading that article on-line, the doorbell rang. The guy was young - one of those people who look like they're about 12 or so, and he asked if I was My Name. Then he asked me about the story, and it was so quick - I hadn't imagined anyone would find me so soon. I had not begun to think about how I should respond, so I just said "no comment." And by the smug, satisfied smile that spread over his face as he turned away I knew that I had confirmed the whole thing. He spent the rest of the morning knocking on all my neighbor's doors. That was the day before my parents were due to come into town.

So when we moved, we didn't have a week to quietly sort and pack all of our things. Instead, our amazing friends, family and neighbors came over and worked all day while reporters and photographers camped outside the house and ambushed everyone who went in or out. They tried to follow my children down the street when they were going to another house to get away from the madness. They shoved business cards into people's hands and insisted they be carried in to me. They left dozens of phone messages on the telephone until in desperation I unplugged it. One of them even tried to carry away an old computer that had been placed out on the street for the trash. A friend took it in his truck instead, wiped the drive with a powerful magnet, and drove it out to the dump himself.

There was no time to organize anything, or make reasoned decisions about things. The majority of our furniture was simply given away. The only things I cared about were keeping as much of the kid's belongings as possible; and throwing away nothing of Kirk's. People kindly pointed out that we might sometime want kitchen things again, and I nodded and agreed to everything they said.

The reporters stayed around all day, only leaving in twos or threes to follow cars that left the drive. One friend chased a van away, then followed it down the highway, and when it was clearly planning on circling back pulled up next to it and gave the driver a full and explosive piece of her mind. "We're just doing our job," he said. "This is a huge story." I knew that - it wasn't their fault that doing their job felt like they were killing my husband.

We had planned to leave the next day, but I was so distressed I couldn't face staying in the house one more night. We spirited the kids away to one friend's house, mixing them in with her children and driving around the block. We parked the moving truck there as well because it could be hidden off the street behind a high gate. My parents and I went to Kirk's best friend's house for dinner; a few hours of peace where we could talk quietly, and admire their baby daughter. Then we spent the night with yet another dear friend who took us, and my large and messy dog in and loved and supported us without a thought.

I'll never be able to repay all of the people who helped us that awful day. But I think of them constantly, and am always aware of how generous and loving people can be.

It helps to remember that.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Life in Statistics - Moving

I got curious after I had done my quick count-on-the fingers. Even though I knew it was a rough count, and probably not accurate since I'm a bit lazy, I still have told at least four people this past week that this latest was our 18th move. So now I have to actually do a real count, and face up to the fact that I have been counting move-across-the-city moves as well as move-across-the-country moves and I feel vaguely guilty about that. If you have to box up and shift all your stuff doesn't it still count? Or do you need the additional bother of a multi-state drive or a long and harassing plane ride?

So, I present the Opera of Life in 18 (or so) Move[ments]

1. New Mexico to California - with all our worldly goods (mostly brand new wedding presents including about 5 crock pots) crammed into a VW bus. Kirk had chosen the apartment without my ever seeing it, so we ended our two day drive in Monterey in a one-room bedroom-cum-everything-else that barely contained us much less the five crock pots. Which led, only a month or so later to:

2. Monterey to Pacific Grove 2 - This one had two whole bedrooms with real doors and was furnished almost entirely with founds and cast-offs. Yes indeed Kirk did come home in utter joy and announce that someone had actually left a "perfectly good" mattress by the side of the road! Imagine! Our first child was born while we lived here, and one of my main memories is rocking it while Kirk meticulously polished his boots. Two repetitive motions; trying to keep sane.

3. Pacific Grove to San Angelo, TX - Our friends from Pacific Grove found our apartment for us, right next door to them. It was Texas in the summer, and since I was no longer working we couldn't afford to run the air-conditioner. In the evenings when Kirk came home from intel school we would put Child 1 in a stroller and go swim in the deserted apartment pool. When we came back we would have to spray down the sheets repeatedly with water to get the bed cool enough to sleep in.

4. San Angelo to sort of New Mexico kind of - Kirk had one more school to go to (and I don't remember at all what it was - some kind of radio school maybe?)in Boston, and as it was only for a few weeks it made sense for me to go back to New Mexico for the duration and wait until he was settled in his final assignment.

5. New Mexico to Wildflecken - Our first Germany apartment was the top floor of a white-stucco house (tells you nothing - every house in that town was white stucco with red tile roof). The town's name was Sandberg, and it totaled about 200 people, most of them retired. The hausfraus had nothing to do but watch each other and make sure everyone was tidying their house properly and on the right day. Until we arrived that is - then they spent most of their time talking about how I didn't hang my bedding out the window on Wednesday (or was it Thursday?). The father of our landlord had a crooked back and walked with two sticks - a gift from the Russians in WWII. He loved Kirk because Kirk was spying on the Soviets.

6. Sandberg to Sandberg - The second Germany apartment. This one was over a cow-barn, on a farm. The actual town was a mile down the road. The landlady was gruff and angry and disliked us because we didn't buy her cheap cigarettes from the BX. At least not very often.

7. Sandberg to... can't remember the town! Block away from the Rhine - The only time we lived in government housing. It was my favorite of the places we lived, but I remember it mostly because of Kirk's unhappiness as he tried to get out of the army.

8. Germany to New Mexico - back to live with my long-suffering parents. We had two small children (aged 3 and 1) and I was pregnant.

9. New Mexico to New Mexico2 - Kirk's father signed over a house to all of his children, allowing us to move out of my parent's to everyone's relief. We didn't have to pay rent, but until Kirk got his commission we were still desperately poor. But it was our own (sort of), the closest we have ever been to actual home ownership.

10. New Mexico to New Mexico3 - Back to the parents (I have mentioned many, many times of the amazing saintliness of my family) while I finished my last semester of college and Kirk went on to Texas for asymmetric warfare intelligence training.

11. New Mexico to San Angelo - We spent four months here. Kirk had chosen a house that was close enough to base for him to bicycle in, and it was horrible. We could run the air conditioner at last, but it was so awfully hot the kids couldn't play outside for more than a few minutes before they would droop in to lie pathetically on the furniture and sigh.

12. San Angelo to Anchorage - Our first Alaska house, remarkable for its emerald green carpets and proximity to the school.

13. Anchorage to Eagle River - Second Alaska house. I loved this house, although there were things about it that were very odd (drop panel light fixture thingy in the kitchen that I never could work out what it was for). This was the house we brought Sophie the dog home to, the house where Child 2 broke its arm, the house where the kids for the first time had dozens of friends to play with, and it was safe enough that they could run around everywhere and I didn't worry. Unfortunately, the owner decided to sell which led to:

14 Eagle River to Eagle River - Final Alaska house. It brought Child 1 to within a block or two of its absolute soul-mate best friend. Also there was a balcony with a view of the Chugach mountains. I remember lying on the couch in dark of night, watching the aurora out the window and talking to Kirk on the phone from Italy where he was planning bombing targets in Kosovo.

15 Eagle River to Newport News, VA - Biggest and most impressive house we ever lived in. We never did get truly settled though. This was where Kirk slept no more than four hours a day sometimes, and we went on long mountain biking trips every weekend while he tried to forget about blast radii, bio-weapons, and terrorist targets.

16. Newport News to Moss Beach, CA - We lived in this house longer than we had lived anywhere else - a full three years. There are only two places that really have felt like home - Alaska, and California.

17. Moss Beach to New Mexico - The move we made when Kirk went missing. I do have a post about that running around in my head. Probably later this week.

18 - New Mexico to New Mexico - This move.

Looks like I can count after all. Eighteen moves. And we still don't feel like we're home. But we're together - and for now, that's home enough.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Alan Johnston - Video

A video of Alan Johnston has been released, the first since his capture, and can be seen on the BBC site here:


Of course there's no knowing how old the video is, but it's encouraging to see it. Hopefully this will help keep Alan's story in people's minds.