The Geek & The Chic

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I Have Returned

First things first. My trip to Corning was fun! Mom and I found the Corelle/Corningware store and made that our first stop. I felt like a kid in a candy store -- all those patterns and pyrex and gadgets to choose from. Sadly, my Spring Blossom pattern has been discontinued. It's a spray of little green flowers against white and now it's become history. Unfortunately, there were no stray pieces left to snatch up. But I did buy a few gadgets I decided I couldn't live without including a zester, cheese cutting board and pyrex measuring cup. I would have happily spent more money but controlled myself.

Market Street is quaint. The shops have been refurbished so they have a small town feel and the bricks are made of sidewalk. We were there about 4pm on Saturday and were surprised to find so many of the shops closed. The LPGA was in town so we thought maybe everybody was watching the golf but it was also a long weekend so maybe everybody just left town. We went into an antique store and I saw a set of mugs that matched the Spring Blossom pattern but there was no price tag on them. Since my friend Monica is an expert at these things, I should have called her to ask her what she thought I should pay but I didn't think of it. There was also a set of nesting bowls with a very large bowl I don't have but I didn't need the others so I passed on that too.

On Sunday morning we went to the Corning Museum of Glass and watched glass being made into a vase. It was fascinating and very hot. I was impressed by the constant rolling of the tube the glass sits on as it goes into and out of the fire which is done, I learned, to prevent gravity from mishaping the object. I found some very cute and patriotic looking 20 oz. drinking glasses for 99 cents each, so I bought some. I also bought some martini glasses too, for the proper enjoyment of my favorite dirty martini at cocktail time.

Afterwards, we decided to head a little further west into Hammondsport which is on one of the Finger Lakes (Keuka Lake) and sample some of the fruit from the vineyards that have made New York State wines a force to be reckoned with in the grape world. The first vineyard we stopped at was off the beaten path but it would turn out to be the one we enjoyed the most. My mother liked a Chardonnay and I liked a Strawberry Merlot. I know it sounds funny but it's soooo much better than a wine cooler because it is not malt based.

We stopped at three more vineyards but only lingered at the last one, Dr. Frank's. Personally, the name didn't inspire me to think lofty thoughts of fine wine but rather Frankenstein himself which is not a good image to have when you're talking about wines. The sommelier (is that what she was? I have no idea. I should have asked what she called herself) only offered us selected samples of dry vs. sweet in similar families like Reisling. We didn't care for any of the samples.

By then it was after 4pm and we decided to head back into Corning and the hotel. We had supper at Applebees and were on the road the next morning to head back to Syracuse and points north. Our next trip when she visits will be to visit Canada.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Big Plans

Oh, life is good and sweet and wonderful. I am going to my own, personal mecca this weekend: Corning, New York. If the name sounds at all famaliar to you, it's because that is where Corningware is made, the dishes that don't break (but smash into a million pieces when they do shatter). But that's besides the point.

I proudly own the pattern called, "Spring Blossom" which was popular in the '60's. I received the set from an ex-boyfriend's mother who was upgrading to something more modern. Since then, I have kept an eye out for any pieces that might turn up at thrift stores and garage sales. Thanks to some good friends, I've even been able to add larger serving bowls to the collection. This weekend, I will be on the hunt for the drinking glasses. I was thinking about adding the teacups but we'll see.

The town of Corning is supposed to be quaint and the streets lined with little shops and such. I'm excited to see it. There are more activities in the area -- it's in the Finger Lakes region which has become popular for some very good vineyards in recent years among other activities. It's a weekend of shopping -- for vintage kitchen!! Oh, I'm in heaven!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sold! To The Highest Bidder!

For sale: Patriotism. Enlisted soldiers only. Must be in good standing with the U.S. Army with eligibility to re-enlist while currently deployed to a war zone. Desire a "willingness to accept a large bonus!" to do so a plus.

The original sentence that came to my attention actually read, "...demonstrating their dedication to the army, the unit and their willingness to accept a large bonus!" It was written by an officer. I was being asked to include the sentence in the newsletter I edit. The sentence offended me and I told Command that. I was told, very nicely, to put it back in. So I did but I am not at all happy about it.

I asked my husband what he thought about that sentence. He took it in stride but said if the dollar amount had been included, it would have been really tacky. My problem with the sentence is that it cheapens everything it said until that point. Like Pavlov's dog... dangle the money in front of someone and you can get anything you want. Worse, I think it's an insult to the soldiers who choose to re-enlist because they're choosing the army as a career. And those are the soldiers who stay in after their original obligation is finished because they believe in what they're doing, they see the difference they're making in people's lives and they're proud to serve and even more proud to call themselves Americans.

Is money the deciding factor in these decisions? Maybe in some cases it is but I strongly doubt it's the only factor. Let's think about this SIR: Is the $15,000 the Army is willing to pay my husband worth another year's deployment? As my husband pointed out, the army can't pay enough to ask these soldiers to do what they do. Re-enlist, get sent to a war zone and have people shoot at you. It's really all in a day's work for them but not for you, is it SIR? Because you get to sit behind your desk and order my husband and others like him into the fray. How much do you get paid to do that?

In that one line, my thoughts about the future -- our future-- changed. Up until then, I had thought Husband should put in his 20 years and call it done. Now I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure I welcome the prospect of yet more deployments to who knows where for how long. I'm not so sure the retirement benefits are worth the worry and stress that seem to be part of the army spouse job description. The decision is my husband's and I will support him no matter what he decides. What I do know for sure is that my husband's patriotism cannot be bought. For any price.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Two Sides of Me

It's all over the news so everybody probably knows by now that ten soldiers from Fort Drum were killed in Afghanistan when their helicoptor crashed this week due to mechanical failure. I am thankful to say my husband is fine. My husband's unit was not involved at all.

But somebody, somewhere is not fine. It's an uncomfortable irony that I can be so thankful yet know that someone is grieving. It's bittersweet to say the least. This kind of news is the kind you hope you will never have to hear. Yet the day you say "I do" at the altar is the day you accept that reality into your life.

I am an army spouse. My friends know that; readers of this blog know that. I have never made it an issue or used it as a crutch -- well, I will use my I.D. if it gets me a discount but that's another story. The point is I think I've tried to separate it out. Like there's a civllian me and a military spouse me but the line I've tried to create to keep separate the two is eroding. I am no longer sure they can be separated. Let me explain.

An army spouse lives with worry. Since I'm a worrier anyway, this wasn't too much of a stretch for me. In fact, I have a headstart on it. There's the kind of worry that comes from sending your husband off to war and the truths of that, to the horrible, faithless kind of doubt that comes from being separated for a year could bring. Like, will we be able to pick up where we left off? Will he have changed? Will I have changed? Will he still be -- and want to be, the love of my life?

Then of course there's pride. I can't think of any other profession that could instill pride in a parent or spouse than that of someone who willingly serves their country. I used to only know that it took a special kind of person to serve in the military (that will have to be another entry) but I know too now that it takes a special kind of person to be a military spouse. I was into what I (now) call intelligentsia world-- that is, if you were smart enough, you'd never have joined the military. How wrong I was. Let me state here and for the record: the soldiers I've met are extremely intelligent. Case in point: My husband is going before the promotion board next month. Before he left, I was helping him study and the things he has to learn! Holy cow! We reviewed first aid. This is more than how to give CPR, it's about how to tie a tourniquet or stop bleeding. It's about how to save someone's life in the field when the hospital is miles away. So yeah, you have to be smart. Until I met my husband, I did not know that there's actually an exam you have to take before you can enlist and if you don't score high enough, they refer you to the Air Force (that's an army joke!).

But mixed in with the pride and worry is love. In CBS' The Unit (which I will have to write about again since I've changed my mind since my original post on the topic) Molly Blane, an older and more experienced army wife is educating Kim Brown, a new wife to the unit. This is what she says to her: "You say you love him; now are you brave enough to act on it? Here you are ... pretty little girl, fine daughter, a child on the way, a man in combat. You're frightened and you want him home. This is not your own special circumstance. You know what this is? It is the history of the world." And that's it exactly. I love him so much I am brave enough to act on it. And now that I've figured it out, I wouldn't want my life any other way.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Worst Commercials, Part 2

I'm going to finish the list tonight and much to my surprise, there aren't many left.

The one I was trying to think of, that set all of this in motion, is a commercial for life insurance through AARP. The wife is speaking to her husband saying, "we've got to get more life insurance" and she keeps whining and whining until her husband says, "Honey, shut up!" No, he really doesn't say that but I wish he did. The other, and slightly more tacky, AARP spot I don't like is the auto insurance card for AARP. In the ad, a female motorcycle cop pulls over the driver for no apparent reason other than to harrass him to see if he has AARP insurance. I think today's seniors are more savvy than these commercials give them credit for and if I was in the silver haired group, I'd be insulted. I should go find a grandma and ask if she is. Maybe we could stage a rebellion against stupid commercials.

Also on the list are most drug companies ads too. The Claritin commercials must go away, as should any product dealing with incontinence, indigestion and bloating. If you must run these ads, please do not use people for the before and after affect. If I have the problem, I'm already famaliar with the symptoms and probably don't want to be reminded of it. Drug companies make enough money anyway. I suggest by saving the money they won't be spending on the ads, spend the money in third world countries that cannot afford the cost of an aspirin. Then you'll be a good guy in my eyes.

The other spot I dislike is more because of it's trend, not actual product. At the moment, there's a Shredded Wheat commercial airing -- the frosted kind, and the cereal and a girl are at a spelling bee and the little piece of cereal is helping her spell aardvark. I'm all for spelling bees and heck, we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. No, what perturbs me is talking food. I do not want to eat anything that can talk back to me. I don't talk to my food, why should it talk to me? And it's not even limited to food but crosses over into inanitmate objects too. There's a spot selling soda and in the darkened deli, the party by the soda cans in the refrigerator case begins while the other soda cans down below complain about the noise. Hey, I live in an apartment -- you think I need to be reminded about noisy neighbors? A few years ago -- I don't even remember what it was for, they showed a talking sandwich sitting in a refrigerator with two olives for eyes. So not only did it talk, but it could see you too. Can you imagine what food would say if it could talk, "Aaaaahhhhhhh, don't eat me!" Or would it give us stock tips and weather reports? Now that would be worth listening to. But seriously, the only thing any food should ever say is snap, crackle, pop.