Friday, 30 August 2013

Kicked off this huge Labor Day weekend with the Dog Days of Summer 5k this morning! I was under 25:00 so I was pretty dang happy!

Then tonight I've got a bunch for girlfriends coming to the office to make the Oreo truffles for tomorrow's huge Labor Day Bash.

I should also mention that last night was insanely hectic damage control as the Garrison issued another base wide "uniform posture change", in other words, back into the battle rattle until further notice. Only this time, the evening start time for battle rattle is at 6pm, directly in the middle of the Labor Day party! The band can't play in their gear and people won't come to the event if they have to wear their Kevlar so I spent two frantic hours last night calling all 12 of our event partners and I miraculously got all of the them to agree to an earlier start. Then I went out and re-papered the base with an updated flyer, emailed all 30 volunteers and begged them to come an hour earlier, and called the radio station to promote the new start time.

Fingers crossed we pull this off tomorrow!

Me with my "Dog Days of Summer" Finishers shirt! Should 
have taken a photo of the back, it's way cooler than the front...
doesn't change the fact that's neon yellow though! :-/

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Incredible to think our replacements have started their Red Cross briefings today! Saturday they move to the Conus Replacement Center at Ft Bliss to start their week of military training before heading over here. Two weeks to the day... :-)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Just managed to get hundreds of Krispe Kremes shipped from Dubai to Afghanistan for the Labor Day event next weekend!!

Also, found out that Major Eden, the combat stress dog, will be traveling the day of our party, so instead I managed to get a few of the non-attack, military working dogs to make an appearance and mingle with the crowd!

Check out the flyer, so excited! Now if I could just get the insurgents to take the night off!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Vets came over to the Red Cross office to have a Despicable Me movie marathon with pizza... and because Zeko needs 24 hour care...they brought him along! :-)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I seem to be a regular at the hospital these last few nights! Two night ago there was an enormous Medevac mission leaving for Germany. There had been an extremely destructive suicide bombing down South on Saturday which resulted in a large influx of critically wounded into our hospital here on Bagram. After being stabilized at the Join Theater Hospital, 19 litters left for Germany on Sunday night. I went over to provide manpower, carrying the gurneys from the hospital and loading the patients onto the bus that would drive them to the flight line where they would be loaded on the plane. 6 of those patients were considered CKATs - on life support.

Then last night I got word from my Vet friends that they would be pulling all nighters with Zeko, a working dog who had been shot through his back. You can actually see the entry and exit wounds once his hair had been shaved. Zeko is the sweetest (most drugged up) dog and I've been over at the Vet clinic the last two nights to keep both him (and the Vets) company overnight.

And to top everything off we have been indefinitely ordered back into our battle rattle at night, which means all my late night escapades are done lugging around my 40 extra pounds of protective gear!

T-minus 3.5 weeks....I won't miss the gear, but nights like those are irreplaceable and incomparable...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A little impromptu water ballon fight with the Vets! Sadly there are no pictures of the catapault they made out of physical therapy stretch bands and a towel! We are playing on the backside of the Joint Theater Hospital, just outside their office.

I much prefer this incoming to the real deal ;-)

My team!

Team #2!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

4 weeks to the day until we return to the States. It's absolutely unbelievable. I'm pretty sure yesterday was August 1st and tomorrow may very well be Labor Day. It seems the nearer the end draws the faster the time goes... and the more we have to plan!

The Lemon-aid stand continues to generate lots of publicity for the Red Cross. We have been invited by Combat Stress to set up the Lemon-aid stand for a two-day Volleyball tournament next weekend, the 24th and 25th.  We have also been invited by the USO to set up the stand at the next Bagram's Got Talent Show on September 7th.  I am also in the midst of the whirl-wind prep for our Labor Day event which with any luck will be reminiscent of our 300 person Memorial Day bash.

In the meantime, I thought I would leave you with a funny story... this morning was our bi-weekly radio spot on the Armed Forces Network. I had arrived to the studio early and the host and I were enjoying ourselves before the show, singing to the music he was playing. In an unfortunate turn of events, it turned out the microphone I was sitting in front of had been turned on....while we were singing... and I ended serenading Stacey's Mom to the entire Middle East.

When our show started, the host opened with, "And that was Stacey's Mom by Fountains of Wayne, featuring our very own Michelle Risinger" ... ;-)

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Happy Sunday everyone!

Yesterday was our "Cake and a Puppy" engagement event at the Red Cross and it was a huge success! The intent was to provide the community out here with a few creature comforts and a bit of an escape from the daily routine of dank Bhuts, communal showers and 40 pounds of protective gear. So we invited over Major Eden, the beautiful Red Lab Combat Stress dog and together with a team of 10 volunteers, put together an enormous spread of homemade desserts. I spent most of the night Friday baking cakes in an easy bake oven using boxed cake mix and powered eggs. We baked muffins and cinnamon raisin bread, we had homemade fudge shipped courtesy of my wonderful mother. We had trays of girl scout cookies, plus we set up the Lemon-aid Stand and served traditional and pink Lemonade (thank you to those who donated!), Flavor-Ice Popsicles and water.

Everything was set up on the front deck of our building and I confess I was alarmed when I woke up at 4pm, before the event, and saw what appeared to be storm clouds off in the distance. But the weather held off until the end of the event making for an exciting finale, as an electrical storm rolled in with lightening streaking across the sky every few seconds. But with music playing and the smell of cake in the air, we had close to 100 visitors stop by to play with major Eden for almost two hours. It was the perfect escape to what has undeniably been a challenging month!

Yea Desserts!

So pleased with the turnout!

Not sure if you can tell but I am "knighting" my team member with a spatula.

 Major Eden posing for a photo in the background

The Vet team and I

This is the Armed Forces Network Radio Broadcaster who I do the bi-weekly radio show with!

Major Eden, her handler and I taking a break

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The fates seems to be conspiring against Zumba...

Tonight was the last night of Ramadan and there were rumors to be ready for an attack. I woke up early again to go to Zumba. When I got to the office, loaded down in my battle rattle about 15 mins before the class started, I ran into our team leader who was on her way out. She looked surprised to see me and asked if I had gotten her text. I replied no, my phone was out of credit so I hadn't been checking it, but it hadn't occurred to me you can still receive calls and texts without credit. Her text read "Stay INSIDE tonight!!!! Come late to work."  Great. There goes Zumba again :-/

Apparently the intel was so great about an imminent attack that in addition to our Red Cross staff, several camps went on lockdown last night including the hospital.

We waited somewhat on edge during the the supposed timeframe, but when the timeframe came and went everyone relaxed. My coworker left his shift and from that point on it was myself and three transient soldiers that preferred to crash in the Red Cross canteen than at the passenger (PAX) terminal.

Then around 1:30am I was working at the computer when the "Incoming alarm" went off. Normally this alarm typically does not sound. What we normally hear are the rocket impacts and then the "IDF impact" alarm goes off. The actual "Incoming" alarm I confess is quite jarring and does wonders to get your heart rate up. On this particular night the omniscient voice backed by the alarm began grating 'Incoming, Incoming, Incoming" as I looked out the window and heard a rocket hit.  It hit close enough that I got up from my desk and moved into the hallway with the transient soldiers when the second rocket hit and you could feel the impact in your chest.

Fortunately tonight was just the two rockets and the "all clear" alarm sounded maybe a half an hour later.

Still though... I am pleased that Ramadan has ended. That was enough fun for one holiday!!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Quite a night out here. Woke up early to go to Zumba to find that we were in a blackout. Fortunately, the power was only down about 15 mins. Then I went to the office to drop off my stuff before heading over to the class. Just a minute before leaving the office for class we took incoming so close that is sounded like something fell off a truck just outside our window. That began a series of incoming that totaled almost a dozen and we knew something hit close because there was a fire truck and ambulance that pulled up maybe 25 meters from the office. The incoming orderal lasted about 30-40 mins (no Zumba for me!) and maybe 10 mins after the all clear alarm sounded we went into another blackout which made for relative chaos at the office as everyone was trying to call in for accountability and we has no phones and no internet! Just another day ;-)

Friday, 2 August 2013

For those who have asked about, or who have heard the news today, the answer is yes, we are also taking stricter security measures and precautions in this last week of Ramadan.

As I understand it, the last week of Ramadan is the most holy time, when Mohammed experienced his greatest number of visions and when the greatest number of alms are to be paid. As a result of the stronger desire to offer acts of sacrifice, we are, as such, prepared for more radical interpretations of this religious teaching.