Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Just a thought...

You know, I've been sitting here playing around on the web, reading, organizing, etc.  You know, just generally killing time.  I've grumbled at the TV, moved it, tilted it, and strung ribbon over it, but not once did it occur to me to turn it on.  I've been without television for so long, that I've about forgotten what they're used for LOL.  All I've thought of about it, till just now, is that the big, bloody ugly, box is in my way.  HA!

Willie Nelson & The Allman Brothers

That's what was in my head all day yesterday and the day before.  "On the Road Again" by the former, and "Ramblin' Man" by the latter.  Let's see... looks like I have a little catching up to do.  (Un)Fortunately, I have some time to do just that while I sit here killing a day in a hotel.

I had in on good information what time and date B was going to be arriving.  While he normally doesn't tell me much of anything going on over there -- he takes OPSEC very seriously and I'm not exempt from it like a lot of wives are.  Of course, judging from the way a lot of those wives (and soldiers too) blabber everything all over the internet, they really ought to be put on informational restriction.  Sorry (sort of) but that's a huge peeve of mine.  The information that they let out could cost someone their live(s).  If something happened to my B because someone couldn't keep their trap shut, I am not going to hold myself accountable for my actions if I find out who it was.  That is inexcusable.

Ok, rant over.  What was I saying?  Oh, yeah.  I had it on good information what time and date he would be here, because while he normally keeps radio silence, he knew I was stressing over missing his homecoming due to communication issues I've already had with eArmy messaging.  So, I was all set and ready to go.  We had a "practice" party at the house.  My dad says you can't go into a good party cold, you gotta get in the partying mood, and he's a professional partier so ought to know *grins*  That lasted till the wee hours of Sunday I spent the day getting everything (minus a few key somethings) ready for the trip.  I loaded the truck up, covered it all with a tarp, caught an all too brief -- 2 hours -- nap, and then I was off like a herd of turtles on the nearly 1000 mile trip.

When I got here, I still had to unload the truck and wouldn't you know the room was on the second floor and didn't have an elevator?  I thought I was going to cry.  By the time I finally got everything unloaded and hauled upstairs to the room, then put in something resembling order, I'd been up for about 36 hours and was beat.  Right as I was getting ready for a shower, B logged in to tell me he had bad news.  He'd been bumped to a later flight because some soldiers with family difficulties were getting prioritized.  Dang... ok, but it was only going to be a few hours later, and I think it's good that they prioritize the guys with pressing things that they need to come take care of.  If I were having an emergency here at home, I would want them to send B back to me as fast as possible.  Just as I was falling asleep, I got a message from eArmy messaging that his new flight had been delayed and won't be arriving until a day later.  Dang again...

So today, I've been rearranging things in the hotel room to make them more user friendly, got some groceries since we're expecting to be in this room several days, and taking inventory.  I forgot the poster I made for him!  Ugh!  So bummed about that.  It was awesome!  It was a great big wanted poster, and his sister had given me a picture of him decked out in early 1900's western style that I blew up some and edited to sepia tones.  That was going to get put on the poster after I got here, because I didn't want it to get bent up.  I planned to take the picture back off of it after he got here and frame it.

And if that wasn't aggravating enough, I forgot THE dress.  The dress I was gonna wear to meet him in!  I was going to go all 40's glam in my black empire waist cocktail halter, with peep toe stilettos, the hair, the make-up, the works!  I remembered everything *except* the dang dress.  I even had a silk scarf with stars and stripes on it.  It was my granny's hair scarf.  Gah!  I can't believe I forgot them!  C'est la vie I suppose.  At least I remembered the Hero Cookies and all the little accouterments I made to go along with them.  They're set up on the dresser in here since I can't take them to the welcome ceremony.

The bright side him being delayed is I have another day to recover from the long drive and all the manual labor that accompanied it.  As of right now, I'm still tired, sore, and irritable.  I'm not fit to welcome him home from a fishing trip, let alone a deployment.  So, I'll just sit here and piddle around on the computer, chill out, and wait another day.  I hope it's only one more day.  We'll just have to wait and see, though.

In the mean time, I think it's time for lunch.  That's what my stomach says at least.  It's still on Eastern time, so it's still a little early here.  Sandwich anyone?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tick --- Tock --- Tick --- Tock

Have you ever noticed that while you're waiting very, very (VERY) impatiently for something, it just takes that much longer to get here?

B actually was supposed to already be on his way home, but there were delays, so he's still there.  But! He's been debriefed, so that means that the ball is actually rolling.  I'm anxiously waiting to get my 48 hr phone explosion (They text, call, and email me all at the same time.  So my droid is going to have an aneurysm.) so I can jump in the truck and start eating up asphalt.  I've made a lot of progress on packing up.  I even had the truck partially loaded, because the last news I had would've had me on the road by now.  Just goes to show truth in old adages.  Don't count your chickens before they hatch.  Now, I either get to ride around with a load of household goods in the bed of my pick-up, or I get to unload all the stuff I loaded, because it's going to be several more days at least before I go anywhere.  I'm thinking unloaded is going to be the better option.  I have a dinner date with a friend tomorrow, and I don't really want to be over in a real town with my kitchen goods in the back of the truck.  I'd be more upset if my kitchen goods got stolen than if just about anything else managed to wander off and disappear.

Unfortunately, I've also packed up most of my yarn and fabric, too.  So I can't really do much in the way of further preparations.  I feel like I'm in a stalemate and just sitting on my thumbs.  At least I've got work to do. My sister-in-law sent me another transcript right before I got news that B would be coming home early.  I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish it for her before I got the word to go.  As it turns out, I've got plenty of time and might even be able to knock out one more short one before I go.

Here's to patience!  One of the virtues I seem to be lacking in.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Drum-roll please...

Cue drum roll, fanfare
Enter stage left

Today technically marks the first day of my initiation into The Bon Bon Club.  I went to my last shift at work at 2300 Friday night and got off at 0700 Saturday morning.  So, while Friday was officially my last day, it sort of lollygagged into Saturday as well.   Yesterday was a very, very long day.

When I got off work at 0700, the initial plan was to drive two hours over to see my sister-in-law.  On the way, I got a text from Alan asking if I was still in town and wanted to go with him for birthday breakfast.  It had crossed my mind to send him a text or call to see if I could come by and at least give him a birthday hug, but I knew he was off work and wasn't sure he'd be up so early in the morning.  I'm glad he texted :-)  We went to IHOP, and I bought us breakfast, then we hung out and visited for a bit before I headed on over to see my sister-in-law.

I left her with a lot more than I showed up with, and she kept piling more stuff in the "to-go" pile.  I tried to remind her that I was bringing B back to Georgia with me when I came to move my stuff, but she wanted him to have it as soon as he gets here.

Speaking of B, I got wonderful news.  He should actually be home sooner that anticipated.  He "drew the short straw", since apparently someone(s) on this earlier flight are people that most of the other folks in his brigade would rather not deal with, even if it means coming home sooner.  He got voluntold, and I told him to suck it up, because it just means he comes home early.  He agreed.  :-)  EXCITED!!!

*Snoopy dances all around the house*
*Snoopy dances around one more time*

But, with his earlier arrival also means shortened deadlines for getting some stuff done.  Like packing, and truck maintenance, a short shopping list of requested items, etc.  Instead of looking at potentially weeks, I'm looking more at potentially days to get it all done.   Not complaining!  Just feeling the performance pressure.  It's like thinking you've got 20 minutes to jog the mile, then finding out you've got 13 to run it.

I am so friggin happy I could pop!  *POP*
*wipes at her screen*

Monday, June 13, 2011

♪♫ It's the final countdown♫♪

Not my favorite song in the world.  Even though I'm an 80's baby, I did my best to avoid the strange digitized sounds, roboticly choppy beats, and often redundant lyrics of the music.  However, Europe's song has been in my head ever since I woke up this afternoon.


Because it's the final countdown:  my last week of work as a law enforcement officer starts tonight at 2300 hrs.  I am strangely nervous.  I am such a pessimist so often.  I'm a strangely happy pessimist.  I guess it's because I generally expect the worst, so even mediocre makes me happy by comparison.  Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best, right?  I spend so much time waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering what's going to be just around the corner, or what new ways the fates and other humans can find to mar something good.  I am anticipating being on the blocks a lot through the next five days.  That only seems appropriate since, with the help of my doctor, I managed to skate out of work the last two weeks.  I am thinking there might be some minor retribution in store by assignments to my least favorite posts, and ribbing by my lieutenant and coworkers.  But we shall see.

Chance warned me, in what I suppose passes for concernedly stern from him (he's really such a teddy bear of a guy and very sweet.  But I do imagine that when his temper gets piqued he could be intimidating), that I am not allowed to slack up in caution and vigilance just because I'm a short-timer.  No worries there.  The jail is not a place to stop paying attention, although after a while you do tend to get inured to the things you are exposed to and sort of acquire callouses over your eyes and ears.  Words like 'ordinary' start to apply to a host of things that, in the daily lives of the average person would warrant something closer to 'unusual', 'revolting', 'offensive', or even 'frightening' just to list a few.

At times I wonder if I will miss it at all.  I believe the answer to that is complicated.  I will not miss the environment, the stress, the schedule, etc.  But I will miss the exceptional people I've had the opportunity to work with.  Not all of the officers are good.  Unfortunately, quite a lot of them are the exact opposite and worse than some of the inmates.  But the people who are good are exceptional.  I've met some wonderful people at the LEC.  People who I could without a doubt trust with my life, people who can be relied on in a whole host of situations, people with huge hearts and caring dispositions who will still step up and throw down when necessary.  I guess in a sense it's sort of like the friendships forged in combat situations for soldiers, because even though we don't go out on a "battlefield", we do encounter life-threatening situations and have to be able to know that our comrades will stand ready.

It has been an educational experience if nothing else, and while I will miss some people, I am honestly glad to be done with it.  Nearly five years is quite enough, and thankfully I have few lasting injuries to show for it.  Some of the folks I've worked with are not so lucky, and I am hoping my luck continues to hold for one more week.

Here we go!  Let's rock this funky nougat!  Because once this week is over, that's just one more week closer to my love coming home!  *woot woot*!

Family is a Feeling

Home is a feeling, more so than a place.  Well, I think family is a feeling, too.  I've always said that friends are family you get to pick for yourself, but sometimes it's really amazing how much more like family friends can feel than the family that fate has placed you with.  This was really brought home to me in multiple ways today.  I met some wonderful people for the first time, and one of the women reached out to me in a gesture that quite literally brought tears to my eyes.  It was just such an honestly kind-hearted gesture and completely unexpected, immediately following a really unpleasant (though mostly private - I took the call outside as soon as I realized where it was headed) conversation with someone who is family.

People like Ms. Terri, Mr. John, Sam, and Katie.  People like the generous, nurturing lady I met today and her family.  People like my friend Ry, whose only complaint when I talked to her about coming over at 11 o'clock at night to borrow some space in her rabbit barn (the reason for is a story which I would rather just keep to myself) was that I didn't have an overnight bag with me.  People like my friend Aleta whose door is likewise always open, as well as her ears and heart.  My new and new-found brothers, who really haven't spent enough time in my life to warrant such concern have nonetheless shown concern and compassion in matters big and small.

These people teach me what family feels like.  It makes me amazed, because I am not really one to look for or expect the good in people.  It makes me happy, because it really feels wonderful to have people genuinely care about you and to not enter or leave an encounter with a sense of dread and disquiet.  But there are times, too, where it feels slightly bittersweet.  It's not that I don't appreciate the love that I'm suddenly finding in my life.  Not at all.  It's simply that -- well, I guess it's like seeing something in the light for the first time.  In the dark, what you have might look just fine, but when someone brings a candle in, you see it wasn't really so nice at all.  You just couldn't tell the difference.  I'm finding candles everywhere lately, it seems, and some of the corners of my world that are being illuminated are not nearly so nice in the light.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DIY: New Table and Chairs - again ;-)

About a week and a half ago, I posted about a dining set that I was refinishing.  Well, I've finally finished with the final finish of the refinishing.  I feel like I need to say finish one more time.  Ok, I'm finished :-P

Above are two pictures of what everything looked like when I hauled it out of storage.  Note the unfortunate shade of dusty blue.  It also happens to be quite grimy with tobacco residue and had accumulated a rather tacky patina of accumulated dust, grime, and who knows what else while sitting for the past several years in a not-so-weatherproof storage building. In my defense, I honestly didn't know the roof leaked.  :-(

 In an attempt to get the paint off the chairs and about 40+ years of varnish off the table top, I bought a spray can of paint and varnish stripper.  It didn't so much as even bubble the paint, and only barely scraped the surface of the varnish.  An entire can of stripper, and hours and hours spent with sandpaper resulted in this:
As you can see, there are still large areas of varnish still all over the table.  It was extremely frustrating!

So I got some of this citristrip stuff.  It worked like magic on the varnish, and it "worked" on the paint.  The varnish peeled right off the table top like plastic wrap.  It was awesome!  The paint...  well the paint was oozing off the chairs like it was fresh.  It was coming off, but in a gloppy, slimy, smeary way that made it impossible to take off satisfactorily.  It just smeared around and dripped a lot.  I guess the bright side is, I did actually get most of the paint off with little sanding.

Even better, the citristrip didn't react on the bare wood areas that had already been stripped.  You can see in the picture above that the areas of bare wood still look like wood.  The areas that had varnish started turning a milky color.

Unfortunately, I found out a little belatedly that the chair seats and the table feet were pressboard.  Citristrip dissolves pressboard, just FYI.  No matter how much I sanded, the pressboard still looked like the half chewed leavings of some bored beaver.

 The table top came very clean!  It's a very, very old table top.  So, there are a lot of imperfections in the surface (singed spots, dings, dents, scratches etc.)  I decided not to sand them out, and not to polish the wood before I stained it.  I love stuff that shows its history, and this table top has a lot of memories for me.  Me and my Gramma used to peel apples for jelly, string beans, shuck corn, hull peas, and have lots of long, long talks at this table top.  It's been around all my life, and I love it.  The original pedestal was a daunting project all on its own, so I decided to cobble together a hybrid of my Gramma's table top and my Aunt's dining set.

Needless to say, I got absolutely filthy!
 The pedestal was a prefab job that had a formica table top, originally.  I had to add some cross pieces to the small square support you see, so it could support the heavier solid wood table top I wanted to put on it.  The vertical support, thankfully, was real wood, so I stripped it, sanded it, and stained it with the same stain I was using on the table top.  It is a walnut colored stain, and while I sanded very carefully, I couldn't get all the paint out of the divets and curves.  The walnut stain darkened the paint enough so that it no longer appears blue.  It almost looks charcoal.  It's an interesting effect that I hadn't necessarily intended, but I like it.

The table top was pine.  At some point in the course of its long history, it became fat lighter.  I learned today that not everyone knows what fat lighter is.  Fat lighter is *highly* flammable, and very, very, very (did I mention very?) hard.  It's like fermented pine, I guess.  It burns like blue holy hell, and catches fire like it's been cured in lighter fluid.  It's a little darker than fresh pine.  It almost has a reddish tinge that kind of looks like cedar, but not quite.  The top side of the table doesn't show it well, but the underside is very red-brown.  I didn't think to take a picture of the underside of the table, since I didn't do anything under there.

 This is the table top after staining.  The rich gold color of the pine blended with the dark walnut color of the stain.  Apparently fat lighter is also not as porous or absorbent as fresh wood, because while the newer wood of the pedestal soaked up the stain quickly and became very dark, the table top didn't.  It's got clearly defined grain striations, and to look at it in person, it's a color very similar to maple syrup.  I was worried how it would turn out, since I was going with such a dark color stain, but I absolutely love it!

I'm not nearly so thrilled with the chairs, though.  Like I said, they took on the consistency of the leavings of a bored beaver.  You can see on the seat the different texture and tone of the paint where it absorbed differently.  I am going to have to paint the chairs again, only this time I will use a can of pain and a brush instead of spray paint.  My brother warned me that spray paint was very thin.  What he should of told me was spray paint on pressboard covers about as well as a tissue bikini on a fat lady at the beach.  It's not *horrible*, but it's definitely not up to the standards that I was holding myself to.  They're passing fair, and will probably look just fine once I make some seat cushions or chair covers.  But I am just not very happy with the finish right now.  This whole project has been a definite learning experience.  I've never attempted to refinish furniture before, so I'm not letting it bother me too bad.  I knew something wouldn't turn out quite the way I hoped, and I'm just glad it was the cheapo pressboard chairs and not my Gramma's tabletop that I messed up on.

Tada!  First layer of varnish on.  I did this around 5 this afternoon after I sanded and painted the feet.  The feet have the same problem as the chairs:  pressboard.  So they look scruffy and uneven.  But again, not terrible, and shouldn't be a big problem to fix.

Second layer of varnish applied around 7 pm, after I finished painting some more chairs.

And finally, around 9 pm, all four chairs have been painted, the second layer of varnish is almost completely dry, and only a few spiders and flying things have been permanently affixed in my table top.  There are quite a few six and eight legged creatures adhering to the chair legs and bottoms as well.  Unfortunately, in spite of the sanding and dusting, the inevitable wait from dust to paint was enough time for creepy crawlies to come be curious.  Alas... they will be forever memorialized in enamel. ;-)

Over all, I am really tickled that it turned out so well.  I love love love the way the table top turned out.  It's gorgeous!  The pictures just really don't show off the way the stain and the natural wood blended.

I hope B likes them!  If he doesn't, he's going to have to be the one to do something about it.  Because I'm telling you, that was a lot more work than I anticipated.  My dad came down and chuckled at me on several occasions throughout the past week and a half.  "Lot a work ain't it, kid?" He'd shake his head and leave me to it.  There were several 12 hour days, a couple of 10 hour days, and a few 8 hour days.  I'm proud of it, though, and it only cost me a few cans of spray pain, a can of stain, a can of polyurethane, and two containers of stripper.  I have plenty enough stain and polyurethane left over for lots of future projects, too!

So, onward to the next order of business... doing something about those raggedy chairs.  I have two sets of dishes.  I got two sets because a setting for four just isn't always enough.  One set is black on the outside with a pretty blood red glaze on the eating surfaces, and the other is the same only a earthy taupe on the eating surfaces.  I have some really pretty crimson olefin yarn.  It's horrible for knitting with, because olefin is tufts of fiber twisted onto a central thread.  It's the stuff carpets are made with.  So, I am thinking I might use the spool of crimson olefin to weave some mats for the seats.  If I'm really ambitions, I might make some place mats, too, but we'll see.  I've never tried to weave much before.  I might also be able to do a spiral braid, like a rag rug.  I'll talk it over with Ms. Terri when I go visit her, and see if she has any suggestions.  She's a creative lady, and maybe she's got some ideas I haven't thought of yet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Once upon a time...

a long time ago, or so it seems, there were two young people.  These two young people had both recently moved to a strange and provincial place.  While one was familiar with the country, she just wasn't familiar with the particular breed of people found in this borough.  The other had lived mostly in a more bustling, urban environment, and so he was an equally uprooted transplant.  Out of place and out of their elements, the two became hesitant friends.  I say hesitant, but it was mostly due to an awkward shyness the two shared that put something of a hobble on the speed of their friendship.

The two were something like Heckle and Jeckle, I suppose.  Always nearby one another, cutting up and cracking jokes.  They had few secrets between them.  The few they had, well they had their reasons for them, and the other didn't pry.  They were comfortable with silence.  That, alone, would have made either one of them a rare friend:  to be able to sit and be silent without the silence becoming a presence of its own.  They each had their own unique and problematic families, childhoods, and experiences that gave them cause to treasure peaceful, undemanding silence.  They saw each other through botched relationships, failed friendships, ups, downs, and sideways that come along with high school.  He called her "My Diabolique".  Her temper was rather... legendary.  And he was "My B", or sometimes "My Teddy Bear", though they never once dated.  They claimed each other.  Comfortable and very happy to have found such a good friend in each other, they never once talked about anything more.  The girl just knew that she would never have a chance with him, and didn't want to risk losing him as a friend.  She felt privileged.  It never occurred to her to look for anything more from him.  Quite possibly he felt the same way.  Then, one day the girl, for she was the older of the two, graduated and went off to college.  This was before the time of nearly universal cell phone coverage or even affordable plans.  They neither one had computers, Myspace and Facebook had not yet been invented, and she rarely stayed still long enough to have a permanent address.  Besides, who would write?  And so time pulled them apart.

Partners changed, residences changed, chips fell and dominoes tumbled.  The Fates threw Diabolique into some dark pits, before letting her begin to climb back out.  The world can seem awfully huge when you're first venturing into it, and friends can be hard to find.  Chameleons and mirages that are colorful and constantly changing.  It's strange, sometimes, what the gods will do.  The girl was dating the brother of a high school friend.  The old friend lived in the town B was originally from.  While visiting her brother, she mentioned to Diabolique who she'd run into at college one day.  Diabolique was thrilled, and extracted many promises that her phone number would be passed on, email address, all those methods of communication that had been neglected or nonexistent several years before.  And so, the Fates put them together again, though rather unkindly.  Diabolique was living with her boyfriend.  He seemed good enough.  B was living in his old hometown, hours away, trying to work his way through school.  Again the dice fell, the thread was spun, and Diabolique's temper was brought to bear.  It resulted in a whirlwind drive in the middle of the night to load B and all his things up and cart him back home with her.  That went over quite well with her boyfriend... eventually.

And so the three of them lived.  B renting the downstairs, Diabolique and her boyfriend renting the upstairs, and the friendship resumed right where it left off.  The only thing different was having to fill each other in on the  missing pages of the story.  Those things that had happened in the in-between.  More failed friendships, more botched relationships, more heartaches, family problems, and ... well, more growing pains I suppose you could say.  Some people are harder to teach than others, and the gods know Diabolique has a thick skull.  B came home from work one night to find things far removed from civil between Diabolique and her boyfriend.  The boyfriend ended up being physically removed to a different part of the house by a very unhappy B.  It was the only time he ever asked her to leave someone she was dating, and he practically begged.  He told her it would wind up no good, that she'd be hurt.

Women can be stupid creatures, stubborn creatures, and determined creatures.  Diabolique was no exception.  She was stubborn.  Gods was she?  Eleven years.  That's how long it took her to finally get out.  She was able to see that B was right before then.  She tried to leave before then.  But, the gods are strange.  One thing after another prevented her escape.  Job prospects fell through, family members died on both sides of the relationship she was in, and she made a death bed promise.  That was the hardest to let go of.  A promise to a dying man who had never been anything but good to her to take care of his son.  But his son was not taking care of her in return.  The situation got worse... and worse... Through these years B was still there. Right across town.  They'd get together for breakfast, a movie, just a night hanging out.  He was having dark days as well, and they drifted.

One very dark day, he showed up on her door step distraught, barely articulate, and then he drove away.  She sat down and cried, because she was afraid that she would never see him again.  For nearly a year, it was like he walked off the face of the earth.  She continued to look for jobs, preferably out of state, but they never panned out.  She would get so close, only to have them cancel on her at the last minute.  Finally, she moved back in with her parents, because she couldn't afford to leave on her own, but she was damned if she was going to stay any longer caught in a downward spiral.  Not long after, her phone rings late one evening.  It's a number she doesn't recognize, and she almost doesn't answer it.


"Do you remember me?"
"OH MY GODS!  Do I remember you?!  What the *hell*!  Where are you? Where have you been? I've missed you!"

And so the Fates spin, and the thread grows longer.  She finds out he made it into the Army.  He'd gone infantry.  He'd almost been sent to a post much farther north, but they pulled his orders at the last minute.  It was about the same time that the job she was trying to get out of state had sent her a Dear John note.

She finds out that a good friend from high school lives less than an hour from his post, and is more than happy for the two of them to spend a weekend with her.  A friend neither had seen in a decade.

She finds out that he has orders to go to Afghanistan, scheduled to leave in slightly over six weeks.
Just a few days after her regularly scheduled four day weekend.

She thinks she might actually be sick.  Infantry.  Her Teddy Bear?  The sweet, non-violent, soft-spoken, quiet, lovable pacifist?  She was the volatile one, the hostile one, the fighter... le Diabolique.  Not him.

He almost didn't tell her he was deploying.  He almost disappeared again.  She told him she'd be at the post's main gate at 0800 on the Thursday before his departure, and he'd better be there to meet her, or she'd have the MP's drag him out of bed.  He argues.

It's too far.
I'm not worth the trip.
You don't need to waste your time on me.

Every sentence making her both more angry and more determined.  If there's anything he ought to know by now, Diabolique is stubborn.  And there's a reason he started calling her Diabolique in the first place.  She's got a temper.  And she's a little protective of who and what she loves.

"If you think for one single gods-be-damned second that you, my best friend, the best friend I've ever had, are not *worth* the trip, then you got another think coming, mister.  I'm coming down there, even if it's just to slap the shit out of you for saying that.  Your ass better be up, dressed, and at the gate by 0800, or I'm going to raise so much noise you'll have to come bail me out of jail.  The only real question is if it's going to be Wednesday morning or Thursday morning, because I'm putting in a leave request with my lieutenant before the night's out.  Are we clear?"

He did what he's nearly always done when she got angry at him for being down on himself.  He laughed at her.  But he had to concede.  It wasn't like he could stop her.  And so she went, and they had another time of catching up to do.  She told him she'd left her husband.  His reaction was immediate, and to her at least, completely unexpected.  He asked her to wait for him to come home from Afghanistan before "getting into another stupid relationship?"  Her mouth opened before her brain engaged, and she said she would.  She'd never been more afraid of anything in her life.  She was so afraid to mess this up.  She wasn't afraid of him, though, and wasn't afraid to trust him.  She'd always trusted him.  It wasn't even a question.  But the very best things, the things we want so much we'll never admit it even to ourselves, those are the things the gods dangle in front of us and then snatch away.  At least, that was her experience so far.

His orders got postponed, and he was able to make a trip back home to visit her and a few friends and family before he deployed.  They discussed things.  She'd been trying to enlist since about the same time he started trying.  They'd both begun dieting together, but male physiology being what it is, he lost the weight first.  She had finished college, though and was trying to enlist as an officer candidate.  Complications would ensue.  Fraternization, deployments, duty stations... Stubborn, both of them said naturally they'd find a way around it.   They weren't discussing the "m" word, by mutual consent.  That was just a great big negative.  The ink wasn't dry on her divorce decree, yet.  He'd been used, abused, and discarded enough.  He was getting ready to go to a war zone and didn't need the distraction.  She didn't want to be the distraction that took his head out of the game.  They'd figure something out.  They'd stayed friends for nearly 14 years, and through everything they'd never broken each other's trust, let each other down, or entirely given up.  "What's a year?" she said.  "I'm stubborn enough for both of us." she said.  "We'll figure it out." he said.

He was in the desert 30 days.

The "m" word they weren't discussing suddenly became a discussion.

"I think we should talk about working around these complications if you enlist, especially if you go officer.  I think I have a solution" he says.

She says "We've already discussed it and agreed we're not discussing it."

"If that's what we have to do for me to know you'll be there when I get home, then by God let's get hitched"

She told him no.   Twice.

"I'm not backing you into a corner like this."

"You're not backing me into a corner.  The way I see it I'm just plain stuck with you anyway.  This'll just make it legal."

"Just plain stuck, huh?  You're damn right you're stuck, so you don't have to rush into anything."

 "I'm not rushing into anything.  Damnit, I don't have much time, so just listen to me. I love you, Diabolique, and no army is going to keep me away from you."

They got married on his R & R.  The judge was in cowboy boots and faded blue jeans.  He didn't recite vows.  It was Casual Friday.  He only said "I've been marrying people for a long time, and all those words really don't mean a thing.  There's only one question that matters.  Do you love her?  Do you love him?  Will you continue to love each other?  Well all right then, kiss your bride, son."

It was rough around the edges, short, sweet, and perfect.  Fifteen days goes by awfully fast.  Four months is a long time not to hear someone's voice.  Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night, and she can't find the teddy bear he gave her before he left the first time.  She never sleeps without it.  She just can't.  She almost wonders if it's all been a dream.  But the teddy bear turns up, and her Teddy Bear will come home soon.  Then Once Upon a Time can start to become Happily Ever After if the Fates are kind, keep spinning, and Thanatos keeps her shears to herself.