No Skype for you!

IMG_0227I’ve said before that we’re more fortunate than earlier military wives because we have technology that allows us a great deal of contact undreamed of by previous generations.

The only downside to these miraculous twenty-first century gizmos is the disappointment when they don’t work.

With the time difference and my sailor’s long work days, our Skype time throughout the summer was 9:00-ish every morning. I started each day energized by the knowledge that my sailor was okay and he could sleep soundly with my angelic tones ringing in his ears. It was win win–when it worked.

Towards the end of the summer, Skype suddenly stopped working so well. More often than not we were unable to make the connection when we tried to call. I almost cried on Labour Day when he emailed to say he was too tired to keep trying to Skype and he was going to bed. School started the next day so that would be our last chance to speak until the following weekend.

Weirdly, it’s almost better now that we can’t even try because I’m at work before 9:00. Knowing he was there, a world away but in my moment, trying unsuccessfully to link up with me was devastating. It soured the rest of my day. Now I’m working again, I know there’s no chance of a connection during the morning rush so it’s not so raw when another day passes without speaking to him.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results then my sailor and I are on the spectrum. We tried to Skype about fifty times this weekend (hmm-fifty shades of frustration?) The closest we got was a session of instant messaging. (Not nearly as satisfying as the instant massaging sessions we enjoyed parked at the beach in his Mustang when were first dating, but better than nothing.)

How did our mutual disappointment affect us? My sailor was his usual calm, collected self while I was a hot mess by Sunday afternoon.

Going Bananas!

006I went for a jog today and it was hard! With the trip home for the reunion, I haven’t been in about a week. Apparently, it takes a body (well my body anyway) less than a week to revert to its original slovenly couch potato state if it’s not exercised regularly.

It didn’t help that I was running under the noon sun. I’d planned to get out earlier, right after my 9:00 Skype conversation with my Sailor, but Skype wasn’t working. It took almost two hours, a couple dozen aborted connections and several computer re-boots before we finally connected, By that time it was way past his bedtime so we only talked for about ten minutes after all that.

Rather than postpone my run until early evening when it would be cooler (translation: find an excuse not to go later and put it off for yet another day), I foolishly went plodding through the scorching heat and it was miserable.

Afterwards, as it was still too early for wine, I decided to unwind by baking. What’s more relaxing?

My boy loves banana bread, and instead of buying it like I usually do, I made a beautiful golden loaf. Commercial banana bread is filled with preservatives and artificial ingredients, right? Mine is made with fresh churned butter, free range eggs from happy chickens and a mother’s enduring love.

Me: (proudly serving a warm slice with a frosty glass of milk) How is it?

Him: (taking a miniscule bite) Meh.

Me: What??? You love banana bread!

Him: I love STARBUCKS’ banana bread. This kind not so much. It has big chunks of banana in it.

(Anyone know if ducks eat banana bread because I’ve got a loaf looking for a new home.)

Yesterday wasn’t much better. I knocked over a plant on the deck, smashing the ceramic pot and then dropped an open box of crackers on the newly-swept kitchen floor, discovering there’s a limit to the amount of Ritz crumbs a Chihuahua can consume at one sitting.

Can I just shut myself in my house and hibernate until my Sailor gets home?

Five Signs it Was a Good Reunion

007The big high school reunion was Saturday. I had a hoot! I connected with people I haven’t seen in years, made some new Facebook friends and got a chance to wear a pretty dress and high heels.

For anyone else with an upcoming high school reunion, I’ve compiled the top five indications of a great event.

5. You tell everyone they haven’t changed a bit and by the end of evening you realize it’s true. We’re all a little older and dumpier, but everyone still has that special spark that makes him or her unique. After a few hours and a glass or three of the questionable house white, you see their inner teenager emerge.

4. One of the cute boys you were way too shy to talk to back in the day says he’s sorry he never dated you in high school. Yess! My mom always said it would happen and it’s better late than never–I’ve finally bloomed!

3. You can’t wait to Skype your sailor about the reunion. Even while you’re there, you’re making a mental list of everything you want to tell him so he can share the experience secondhand.

2. You get home so late you hear this: “You were supposed to be back hours ago! Why didn’t you answer your phone? I left four messages and texted you. This behaviour is unacceptable!” In a weird circle of life way, it’s your son telling you off for missing curfew, not your dad.

1. You decide you want to move back to your hometown. The people are so friendly and you’ve known most them since you were six years old. You have history in this place! Your roots are here! The feeling is so strong you start looking at MLS house listings and telling the boy how wonderful the local schools are. You’re not sure what kind of job your sailor will be able to get in this isolated spot, but he’s so talented it’ll sort itself out. You’ll happily give up work to be a housewife. The feeling lasts until you get stuck in the ferry line up and realize why you left in the first place.

Skype is Terrific . . . Unless You’re a Dog

007Penny recognizes my sailor’s voice during our daily Skype sessions, but dogs (at least this one) can’t distinguish a 2-D image on a computer screen as a real 3-D human face. Her giant ears perk up when my sailor calls her name and asks her how she’s been, what she’s been up to and if she misses him. (Yes, we talk to her as if she’s a little furry person.) But she looks for him out the window, not on the screen less than a foot in front of her pointy snout.

Dogs are olfactory creatures. Maybe if she could access my sailor’s powerful pheromones over the internet she’d recognize him and enjoy their regular Skype interactions.

Smell-o-rama is accessible at certain high-class tourist venues, so why not on home computers?

At the Jorvic Viking Centre in York, England we were treated to the scents of a Viking village. The sweet perfume of apples at the farmer’s market and the cozy fragrance of a wood fire on an autumn afternoon brought Viking village life delightfully alive for us.

Unfortunately, the stink of an open latrine (complete with a huge hairy Viking grunting behind a half-wall partition) provided an intimate vision of the daily Viking experience we could have done without.

(At this point, I should probably apologize to every postal worker who handled the scratch and sniff latrine postcards I mailed to everyone I knew in Canada and the UK.)

In the absence of smell-o-rama, I may have to put an item of my sailor’s intimate apparel on the keyboard to give the dog the ultimate bonding experience the next time he Skypes.

But Enough About You . . . Let’s Talk About Me Some More

IMG_0206A month into the Afghanistan deployment, we’ve finally co-ordinated our schedules so we can Skype daily. (Woo hoo!)

My sailor is better at technical stuff like this than I am. He tells me we’re separated by eleven and a half time zones. (Yes, apparently time zones come in halves as well as wholes–who knew?) What this means to us is that he has just returned to his tiny room after the working day and I am enjoying my first coffee of the morning when we chat.

I can’t convey how excited I was the first time his ruggedly handsome face appeared on my screen. (I tingle to think how thrilling it will be to see him in the flesh in seven or eight months if a computer image is this rousing!)

A few sessions in and I’m still delighted to talk to him as evidenced by my big goofy grin when the connection is made. However, I might have to disable the small box in the corner of my screen that shows what he sees at his end. I’m not used to watching myself while I hold a conversation and I’m fascinated by my image.

I constantly play with my hair, arranging it and poking at it. This morning I got up extra early so I’d have time to slap on some make-up and slip into a pretty summer dress, but I’m still not happy with my hair. Certainly I need a trim, maybe high lights, possibly a straightening treatment.

“You can’t keep your eyes off yourself,” my sailor comments as I tuck an errant curl back into place. “You’re turning into a narcissist!”

“I don’t know about that.”

I’m not a narcissist, but after weeks of being a selfless, single mom it is nice to talk about me for a change.

A Sailor in the Desert

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The dark side of that debonair uniform and the collection of medals my sailor sports across his chest is a single word: Afghanistan.

Sailors are supposed to serve aboard ships and live in pretty seaside towns. Nowhere in that vision is a journey to a desert on the other side of the world. He assures me that he will be safe, working at a quiet job in an office that is, above all, safe. (He repeats that word like a mantra every time I question him about his upcoming deployment–safe, safe, safe.)

I understand the mission is being scaled back and he won’t be involved in a combat role, but I also recall the list of fallen Canadians that scrolls across the TV screen every Remembrance Day and I worry.

I am outraged when I read stories of women being abused or killed and little girls denied an education because of their gender and I think, someone needs to step up and protect these vulnerable people, but my resolve weakens when it is my husband who will be in danger.

We will have SKYPE and email for private communication and Facebook for more public updates. I’m able to access news reports twenty-four hours a day, learning about the situation there in live time.

I don’t know if that makes it easier or more difficult. Wives left behind when their husbands went to earlier wars didn’t have reports of every battle, every casualty. Did they worry less because the news wasn’t so immediate?