February 2004

Things have been going along here. Not much new…just daily occurrences. Hopefully I’ll have more to post tomorrow after we go to the circus!

I had a rash on my stomach last year, just before I went to the US. I was practically cleared up by the time I got there. I haven’t seen any sign of it coming back until about two weeks ago. After a few days I realized that both times I’d been cutting back on my carbs, and had used Splenda in some goodies (’cause I don’t ever go too long without something sweet to eat). I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m allergic to Splenda! And madly so…this rash is the itchiest thing I’ve ever come across! I’ve tried Caladryl, it doesn’t even affect it; Benadryl seems to be drying it up, but the itch is just as bad. Anyway…it looks like it’ll all be gone in another two days or so. The bad thing is that I just found a great recipe for chocolate icing…it tastes sooooo chocolaty. It’s to go on some chocolate cupcakes also made with Splenda. Man, they’re hard to give up. I have some Sugar Twin I’m gonna try with them…hope it doesn’t have the same ingredients as Splenda!

We had a great ride on Wednesday. Cindy had the horses all ready to go when we got there…it looked like it would rain at any second. We mounted up and took off on our own! After we’d gone down the road a bit she came behind us in her Jeep, parked it and just kept an eye on it. Both Bonny and Lulu behaved beautifully! The only time I was nervous was when we passed the dogs: We’ve gone by these dogs before, but every other time they’ve been behind a fence. There are four of them, and they bark madly every time we come near. Bonny pays them absolutely no mind. Lulu gets a tiny bit nervous, but TJ has no problem controlling her. Wednesday they were loose running after rabbits (I think) in the field next to us. When TJ pointed out the fact that they weren’t fenced in I got pretty nervous. I know Bonny is steady, but would she be so calm if dogs are nipping at her hooves? Fortunately my TJ is pretty smart: those dogs never came near us. On the way home he pointed out a cloud over a mountain. The way it was shaped told him how it was formed, and that he could expect turbulence, so he should avoid flying over that mountain. I never thought about pilots needing to know that much about clouds.

Man, living in this house is getting old. We thought we were getting such a deal with this house…the one the other Americans were living in was such a big mold-fest. So we moved in October 2002. A few months later we realized we couldn’t use the (miniscule) closet in the master bedroom. I griped about it, but we had 2 other (miniscule) closets we could use for clothes. We bought and had shipped over 2 temporary wardrobes to set up in the spare room and called it a day. Everything was good for a year, but this winter things have gone south quickly. I finally realized we couldn’t use a drawer in the closet in the spare room; I found water dripping from the shelf at the bottom. A few weeks later I had to move all of shoes we had on the shelf away from the walls of the closet. Finally, a month or so ago I had to take everything out…I thought my trenchcoat was molding! The laminate is curling up in the back from all the moisture. Carm says she has mold growing behind her furniture…even behind the pictures hanging on the walls! She moved into that house before the construction was even finished around the end of 2002!! If a brand new house grows that much mold how can we expect a house as old as this one to be ok? TJ’s tried to call the landlady several times, but she doesn’t answer the phone. We think the escalation in mold growth could be due to the huge leak we suspect/know there is in the hot water pipe under the house. Until we can get in touch with her and have her get a plumber out here there’s nothing I can do but empty that room, I guess. I dread looking behind the furniture in that room. What’s worse is thinking how the mold will multiply when our furniture is shipped back to the US and is stored for us while we find a place to live. Only 4 1/2 months!!!! We still don’t know where we’re going, and I’m still soooo excited! I’m trying to soak up all of Spain I can now; I know I’ll miss it when I’m gone. I guess that’s gonna be the story of my life now; looking back and remembering the places we called home.

Just to fill out this post, as if I haven’t written a novel already…I’ve always thought pilots were sexy, and being married to one really takes the cake. I think it surprises TJ when I tell him that all women think pilots are sexy. I got to watch him get ready for a flight…wow! I love to see him stride out to the plane in his uniform, make all the required checks to the exterior of the plane, get in, strap in, and start his in-plane checklist. Then he makes these signals to the guy on the ground…starting engines…disconnecting the ground power unit…remove the chocks…I could watch him all day!

My TJ is such a sweetie! He kept telling me that I’d get to open my presents before he went to work on my birthday. I couldn’t imagine he would want to wake up early for that…but that’s what he said. We went to bed around 11:30. At 12:05 in the dark he lit some candles he’d put on Oreos (which I’d been eyeing since we started this diet last week) and woke me up singing Happy Birthday! After I made my wish and blew them out he pulled out the presents. :-) Diamond earrings, a book off my wishlist (White Oleander, by Janet Fitch) and a book of coupons…and those coupons are great! There are 62, and they will all be used: a fantasy weekend, an indoor picnic, an extra birthday, queen for a day, a 20 minute foot massage, etc etc etc! I think I’ll save the convenience store run for when I’m pregnant. :-P

Saturday we went to Palermo’s for steak…they have the best steak I’ve eaten anywhere in the world! We picked up Jay and Carm on the way…we had a great time as we always do with them. I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to schedule stuff to do with them. We always walk away saying we should get together more often. We made plans to go to a Turkish place with great kabobs this Friday with them. While at the restaurant we noticed a couple of other tables full of Americans. TJ said they must be the guys from the helicopters that landed at the base Friday…unfortunately it was after TJ took off, and then everyone was looking for him to interpret. Oh, well. We talked with a few of them a little bit…they were looking for a quiet bar to go to. After dinner we walked around a bit. The tents for Carnaval (Mardi Gras) were set up, and the music was so loud! It was about 11pm then and people hadn’t even really started arriving yet. It never ceases to amaze me how late thing are here. By local standards our dinner was early, and we got to the restaurant at 9pm!

Last Friday was my worst day yet at the stables. I generally leave feeling like I’ve learned something, or at least had a good time, but not that day. I couldn’t get Bonny to stop for anything! That really burned me up. Usually I can’t get her to get up and go, but that day it was the opposite. I wanted her to stop so I could take off my jacket, but she just kept going. I could steer her wherever I wanted, but we ended up at the stables with my jacket still on. I know I’m getting better, but it’s in such small, infuriating increments.

I guess I’ve been living here long enough now:
Our water heater is gas powered, butane, in fact. One of my Spanish friends told me a while back that when the gas is running low you can shake the tank and put off changing it out for a while. Last Friday morning I was washing dishes; no sooner did I get my hands all soapy than the gas started running out. I generally wash a good bit, and then rinse all the clean stuff off, and wash a bit more, etc. When I went to rinse off the first batch I noticed that the pilot light had gone out. I dried off my hands, shook the tank, walked over and lit the pilot, and then walked back and rinsed the dishes. After washing the second batch I again had to relight the pilot; then I got smart…I pulled the tank out, laid it on the ground and continuously rocked it with my foot while washing/rinsing the rest of the dishes :-) Now, if I could only figure out a way to do that while in the shower I’d be all set!

Right now TJ’s wrapping my birthday presents!!! I’ve been begging off and on the last few days for him to let me open one/some tonight, but he insists that I have to wait until tomorrow morning before he goes to work. Oh well; how exciting! :-) I love presents!!!

I thought this idea was so cool!

States TJ has been to:

He says to be sure and mention that if I’d let him put the states he’s driven through or landed in there would be a lot more red in his map.

Here’s mine:

I’m still looking for a map of Europe. I’m still pretty impressed that I went to nine countries last year…obviously our Mediterranean cruise helped out a lot.