A Sight I haven't Seen

Tomb of the Unknown Solider

Before Ash left we wanted to check out one of the monuments in Baghdad. This monument, dedicated to soldiers who have died without their remains being identified, is located adjacent to the Crossed Swords in the IZ.

From the sky this part is supposed to look like a helmet.

So Ashley is gone. But,surrounding his departure were countless festivities which the pictures below highlight.

T made one last dinner which was home made pizza. We got a projector and had a slide show of her Tokyo trip and then watched a movie on the big screen.
Hey, Mario, I'm makin 'apizza pie

Ash had gotten us kites to fly for some fun and we were down to the day before his departure and praying for some wind the next day so we could fly our kites before he left. I made sure to mention that our prayer had to be specific for a little wind, because if it was a windy day, there would most likely be a dust storm.

The next day, there was a perfect breeze and we flew our kites at lunch. Which was very fun! All these people were passing, ooo-ing and aaah-ing at our kites. It's an great activity you kind of forget about. We few them for about 20 minutes before my Barbie kite crashed and broke apart.

Here's Barbie flying!

So it was a great day for flying kites! But then the wind did not stop and the worst dust storm Baghdad has seen in 40 years blew in. By the evening when you walked outside you were covered with a film of dust, even on your eyelashes!!!!

This picture is the hallway of the 4th floor of an apartment building! The dust had drifted up to the penthouse suites.

The next morning it looked like snow. There was an inch of dust covering everything outside. This picture is the hallway outside my door, on the 4th floor, so just imagine what it looked like on the first floor!

The last 2 weeks have been a bit slow at work. One morning I spent making a tooth.

Our Chief of Staff had emergency dental work done at a military FOB, and to welcome her back, my boss wanted to do something special. I said, what about a card, and was immediately tasked to come up with something creative. I laughed out loud as I cut this tooth out of cardboard, that our whole office signed, thinking what a great job I have.

A startling wake up from the weekend

I was shaken awake this morning at the sound of a rocket exploding. Imagine being sounds asleep having your most amazing dream ever and someone shoots a firecracker off next to your ear. Your whole body lifts off the bed.
You would think I would've gotten up for the day, but after getting away from the window until the "all clear" sounded I crawled back into bed and easily drifted back to sleep. I was glad to know that I am still operating on "orange" or an elevated level of awareness, but I slept through calls from my siblings and nephew having the time of their life at Sonny's weekend bday party. (I was laughing out loud listening to the messages...but it was 4AM your time and didn't think you'd be awake for my return call sis)
You think being woken up by a rocket is scary?! You should see the new scarecrows! haha ha!

Yes...that is a little bit of grass you see there

You can see this little guy is not doing his job of keeping the birds away

Another weekend in Baghdad

Just finished a nice game of volley (Ashe went easy on me on the tennis courts).
It has been a nice little Friday. Slept in this morning after a late night luau. Got up and went to the pool with two friends. Liberty pool is one of the remaining camps in the IZ. It's the epitome of a private club house pool. This was Saddam's son Uday's pool house. There is a huge tension tent that gathers in three pinnacles covering a small portion of the pool area. There are two kiddie pools. A triple slide so you can have races! A 50 meter lap pool where a diving pool and high dive platform branches off out from under the shade into the sunshine. There is a fourth swimming pool with a 5 meter diving board, great for can openers and watermelons, under the diving board which is in the center of the pool the depth is probably 12 or 14 feet, my ears always pop when I swim to the bottom, and there is a steep incline to a 3 foot shallow end on each side of the pool.

We took the basketballs from Ash's Easter basket and played catch for a while. There is something about catch in the water, whether the pool or the beach, it is always so fun and everyone wants to play. After we were throwing the ball around, another friend joined in and soon the military guys were playing catch off the diving board with a football. (I would've gotten in that game, as I am a pro from Rohrersville, but the guys couldn't throw a football to save their lives and I wanted to save myself the embarrassment)

I went into the office for a few hours. Work was interrupted by IED in the Tigris. After work, I played a little tennis and am now off to watch The Big Lebowski with some friends.

to be continued....

We had organized a Lebowski party and made pitchers of White Russians. About 14 of us gathered in the common area of one of the apartment buildings and hooked up a projector and Bose speakers and threw down. It was a blast and a great start to the evening.

The movie was followed by a party at Mac's Place, the Marine Bar. I like going to the Marine Bar because they have games, pool, Foosball, always a dance floor, and this time: Rock Band. So, of course I tore up the base.
Saturday I went to the Czech Embassy for a Crystal show with the Protocol officer who took my place. It was nice to get out of the compound and see all my diplomatic corp friends, but with the increase in IED, I don't want to go out in the redzone any more than I have to. However I did purchase a nice piece of crystal, which may have been worth the risk! The crystal show is on display in a few more cities in Baghdad and I'll get it sometime next week. If I remember, I'll post a picture. It really is delovely.