Friday, May 6, 2022

A to Z Reflections


Please note that I didn't also grab the "winner" badge!

While I did get posts up for over half of the letters, I didn't do them all.

So let's look at the questions on the Official a-z blog post.....

One thing I learned is that I need a definite theme instead of just going with whatever pops into my head. And the letter J kicked my butt. Couldn't think of anything *good* to write about. That being said - I have a definite idea for next year and already have 12 good topics that just flew off my fingertips. Go figure.

And I noticed that April 2023 has 5 Sundays which only leaves 25 days to post....I'm sure the A to Z masterminds will figure that out! I vote for just leaving out the one letter you don't like the most.

I was bummed that I missed all three #AZChat events. I should have set a reminder on my phone.

I give many heartfelt kudos to the A to Z team, since this couldn't have been an easy job, visiting ALL the blogs and keeping things running smoothly. Applause!! And Anjela's graphics were excellent - I hope she stays on the team!

I had 1363 visits to my blog in the last 30 days - which I feel is quite impressive for me. I haven't checked my stats since like last August, so I don't really have a good grip on any growth. But I won't complain about numbers!

I'm not making excuses, but April turned into a crazy busy month for me, so while I did visit a lot of blogs from the Master Sign Up list, I didn't get to hit up very many during the actual month. The one thing that I did notice then - and I brought it up to the A to Z Team, is that some blogs required you to sign in using Facebook or Google in order to comment. Whole lotta nope! And some had no place to comment at all!

I might be biased, since I love my Blogger blog, but some blogs just weren't nice to look at or easy to navigate! And call me weird - why would you ~not~ want the date on your post??
I usually get sunrise pics of this tree, but this is a combination sunset / headlight shot!

I digress...

What needs to change? More info for us who have lost their clue.....! Maybe I missed it, but even after all of these years of doing the A to Z Challenge, I'm still not sure where to put the hashtag! Does it need to be in the blog title or just in the post? It looks like other people commented on the AtoZ blog post with their link for the day - should I have done that?

I won't leave my link of the FB page, since its a public page and there are nosy people in my family who would see my comment. They don't know I blog here (they do know about my Halloween blog and associated social media, tho) and I prefer to keep it that way! They're the type of people who just don't understand why I will write where anyone and their mother can read my business and would leave stupid comments. I know I could moderate or delete them - I just don't want to feel like I have to watch what I say when this is my 'safe space'.

What needs to stay the same? I never know how to answer this question. Keep the blog hop going! I'm sure there are tweaks & improvements that other people will suggest, but I'm happy with how things are.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Z is for Zombie on a Zebra


Today you're going to be treated to some of my fabulous artwork.  

Back in 2018, when my nephew and his bride were going to be adding to their family, we went to the baby shower that was held in Chicago.  

One of the fun activities they had was for guests to take a page from an alphabet coloring book and color so they could make it into a book for the baby. 

Since when my nephew was little, he couldn't say "Aunt Lisa" so he called me Zaza, so I had to take Z!


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

V is for VFW

Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!
This is one of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge.

Since my N post was a little about my time in the Navy - it's really no surprise that I am a member of my local Veterans of Foreign Wars.  

I joined my post in February 2018.  I don't know why I waited so long, since I got out of the Navy in 2000.  I guess it's because I always thought of the VFW and American Legion, etc to be all about drinking and Bingo, things I wasn't interested in.  But after talking to my brother who retired from the Air Force, I decided to look into some sort of veteran's organization.  I chose the VFW because they seemed to be more welcoming to women.  Other groups grouped female vets into their auxiliary with the spouses!  Aw hell no!  That's just asking for trouble, in my opinion.

I was welcomed right into my post and quickly became an officer (granted a very minor one that appears to be a title only), in charge of a scholarship committee and I work with the president of the auxiliary for one of the big VFW-wide programs for kids.  Oh, and as a hazard of being one of the "younger" folk - I'm in charge of social media and our website. 
This was a fun event - the 3 of us rounded out what the VFW is, in my opinion.
Scott (in red) was in Vietnam and had some awesome stories to tell. 
Jim (in white) is an officer currently serving overseas.
then me.  I was in Operation Southern Watch, which falls under the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and have the Southwest Asia Service Medal due to my quality time in the Gulf.  

It's sometimes tough jumping between being wife / mom / grandma /search & rescue team member / VFW member since they're all so different.  I sometimes have to take some deep breaths and focus on what I need to be doing to get into the correct mindset for which hat I'm going to be wearing. 

But I wouldn't trade anything!  There's something about the patriotism that has always touched part of my soul, back even before I enlisted in the Navy.  And our meetings, which are full of tradition and honor, seem to be soothing, in a weird type of way.  Maybe it's just me, but I always leave there feeling some sort of way that's hard to explain! 


Saturday, April 23, 2022

T is for Travel

Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!
This is one of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge.

Travel.  Love it!

The Spouse & I try to take some sort of vacation every year.  Most years we stay here in Michigan, since it's a big place and there's a lot to see.  But we have been other places. 

I love to go places with the Spouse.  We "together" well.

We've made countless trips to Arkansas, since he's from there - and his mom and sister live in Hot Springs.  I actually love that place!  Besides the amazing Buckstaff Bathhouse, they have such fun events like the Bathtub Races and World's Shortest St. Patricks Day Parade. 

We've been to Virginia Beach for a reunion with some people from one of the ships I was stationed on - and that meant sightseeing along the way.  We've been up thru New England and learned that New Hampshire is absolutely beautiful and you definitely need more than 1/2 day in Salem, Massachusetts. 

My nephew and his family live in Chicago, so we've been there a few times.  I went on a girls' trip with Mom & the sisters & a few nieces to Nashville.  

I've gone on a road trip to Texas with one girl I was stationed with on my first ship to meet up with a third.  In fact, I'm doing that again at the end of May!

Not long after I met him, he asked if I wanted to go with him on a trip he'd already had planned - to Alaska!  I'd only known him for a few months, so I'm glad he didn't end up being a murderer or anything since I jumped on that chance!  

In 2005, we went on a Carnival Cruise to Grand Cayman & Cozumel.  This is the trip we got engaged on. 

In 2007, we did another Carnival Cruise to the Bahama, St. Thomas & St. Martin. 

For our honeymoon in 2006, the Spouse had it planned out to drive across Ontario (we have 2 Canadian border crossings within 45 minutes of our house) and we checked into our hotel on the 19th floor just in time to watch the fireworks over Niagara Falls.  
photo from niagarafallstourism.com

This trip somewhat started a long Canadian weekend tradition, since on our 5th anniversary, we went back to Niagara Falls, since we didn't go to the Skylon Tower the first time we were there. We had dinner there, then went on to Toronto. 
Dinner with Wayne!

For our 10th anniversary - we took a tiny, rickety ferry across the Detroit River to a podunk little town on the Canadian side.  We stayed at a very nice B&B, and then went to Chatham-Kent to a riding stable so he could get on a horse for the 3rd time! 
We missed out on our 15th anniversary (2021) since the borders hadn't opened back up yet - so we did the next closest thing - Michigan's U.P.!  
Arch Rock on Mackinaw Island

And also, since the Spawn was part of a competitive dance team for many years - she and I took a few trips to Nationals.   In 2014 they were in Sandusky, OH, in 2016 we went to Myrtle Beach & Charleston, SC and 2018 found us in Orlando, FL.  For that we flew into Atlanta and rented a car, so we could visit the town my Dad grew up in, stop by Naval Station Kings Bay where my first ship was stationed, and also visit the park which is what's left of where I went to bootcamp. 
2018

My ultimate bucket list is to visit all 50 states.  I've got slightly over half visited so far. 



Friday, April 22, 2022

S is for Search & Rescue

Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!

This is just one of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge.

So back in February 2018, Sis1 asked if I wanted to go with her to an informational meeting about a new search & rescue team that the sheriff's department in her county was starting up.  I said I'd go along to keep her company.  It sounded pretty interesting, especially when the lieutenant doing the presentation said that they would probably even consider taking people who lived in neighboring counties....  So I decided to apply, too.  I figured the worst they could do would say no!

But they didn't.  And that's how I became one of the original members of Lapeer County Search & Rescue.

So we're NASAR (National Association for Search & Rescue) certified "professional volunteers" and everyone first is trained as part of the ground unit and then specializing in K9s or equines is optional.  Everyone is at least an amateur radio technician - I personally am a general class operator (my call sign is this blog's URL) and a volunteer examiner.  

We don't just stay in Lapeer County, we're also acknowledged by the Michigan Professional Search & Rescue Council as being available to deploy statewide.  In fact, a lot of us may be driving 4 hours to northern Michigan this weekend to assist another team in a search for a missing person.  We're just waiting to hear more info on that. 

I could go on and on about all the training that I've done in the past 4 years, especially since I somehow got nominated to be the equine division team lead - which means I have even more courses to take than Sis1!   Interesting that the equine team lead is the only one without their own horse!!  
Our K9s aren't the only ones who have to be certified - while we mainly use the horses for PR events, they will be equine SARTECH III certified, which is very similar to what a police horse would go thru. 

I may be biased, but our team is awesome.  Right now we have about 25 people and everyone has their own strengths in different areas, which makes for a well-rounded team. 

We do a lot of public relations and most of the events are pretty fun.  We've helped with traffic control for a 5K race, we've patrolled the parking lot at the Eastern Michigan state fair on horseback a few times.  I mentioned the First Responders Easter Egg hunt in a previous post, we were recently at the Spring Expo, which is for local businesses to promote themselves.  All sorts of fun things!  

We work a lot with other teams from around the state - training together and assisting each other with searches, which adds to networking and extended friendships.  

So that's a little bit about my SAR family!


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

P is for Procrastination! (and Happy Belated Easter)

Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!
This is one of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge. 

I confess that I'm not doing too well on this challenge so far, but I do fully intend on getting all of the posts I've missed so far up & running soon!   I blame "fatigue"  since I have a health issue that apparently causes it - but I had a check up Monday and got some new meds that will hopefully help with that. 

I even missed writing a Happy Easter post!   Which, by the way was fun. 
Kisses, the Easter Equine

Saturday, I had volunteered to work at a local "first responders egg-stravaganza" with my search & rescue team.  We did one the weekend before that was pretty lame - there was literally a ladder fire truck, an ambulance, a FD pumper truck, my SAR team with 4 K9s and the highlight was a med unit helicopter that everyone got to see land and take off.  But there were tons of people there for the egg hunt and to see the Easter bunny. 

This event was super cool.  It was the same idea as the weekend before - times 100!  There were probably 12 fire trucks of all shapes & sizes that you could sit in the cab.  4 police cars, the sheriff's dive team had their trailer and gear there.  An ambulance that you could go in the back, the med unit helicopter again,   Luckily, just seeing all the vehicles was enough for the grandson - so we could pass on the mayhem known as the egg hunt.  
Sparky the Fire Dog
I have the cutest video of him running across the field, yelling "hel-cop, hel-cop!"

At the end of the event when they fired it up to take off, all the fire trucks had their sirens going - it was awesome. 
Spawn & both grand-spawn coming out of "Black Betty"

We went over to my sister's house after the Egg hunt and we had Easter dinner with various family member, then we colored eggs and played some games while having adult beverages.  Then some of us spent the night and the next morning, the Spouse made breakfast and then we had our own egg hunt.  Little Man apparently had a good grasp on what was going on, since as soon as we opened the back door to go look, he saw an egg out in the yard and yelled "yellow!!" and ran towards it.  Too bad it was so cold and windy, or else we would have hid them multiple times, but this year we just did it once. 
Chaos can be so cute!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

N is for US Navy


Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!
This is one of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge.
I did a whole A to Z challenge on sea stories in 2015 - so if you want to see more - check it out!

When I was in high school, I had planned on graduating, then buying a horse and taking it to college with me, since I'd been accepted at a university that had an equestrian studies program.  I was content with my decision.  Then one day, I was walking down the hallway at school and an unsuspecting Navy recruiter stepped out of the counselor's office.  My steps slowed as I locked eyes with him.  I sure wish I could remember that conversation, but when I went home that night, I told my parents I wanted to join the Navy.  They were surprised but very supportive.  

I was originally supposed to leave for bootcamp within a month of graduation (right at the beginning of Desert Storm, yay!) but I don't know what the heck the recruiter used for BMI standards, but at less than 140 lbs, and 5'8' he said I was overweight...??? So my ship date was pushed back to October, then they gave my school away and I had to wait until March 1992 to finally go to bootcamp. 
Bootcamp graduation

After bootcamp I was supposed to go to school to become a cryptologic technician, maintenance, but I soon learned that electronics were NOT my thing. 
Next stop was the USS Canopus, AS34.  
a submarine tender
I started out in deck department, spending quality time with a needle gun and/or paint brush.  Then I weasled my way into the post office. 
The Canopus was decommissioned in November 1994.  My next command was slightly bigger...
USS Abraham Lincoln CVN72
I got there within the first 6 months after women started being stationed on carriers. 
This was seriously the best command.  I loved it. 
It was cool that I got to give my parents the opportunity to take a week long cruise with me. 
They flew out to Pearl Harbor and got to ride back to Alameda CA on the Lincoln.  
Mom still talks about it.  She even had the souvenir VCR tape made into a DVD so she can still watch it. 
NavSta was my last command.  It was pretty much like a 9 to 5 job. 

Part of my "I love me" wall. 
I reenlisted between the rudders of the Lincoln while she was in drydock (obviously!!). 
 Wish I could have gotten pictures, but it was amazing!

Just a couple months before I got out. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

L is for Love

Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!

This is just one of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge.

It just occurred to me that I have never explained the title of my blog.  

It's pretty simple actually - Love is our last name!  
For realz. 
So that makes it pretty easy to figure out that where we live would be the Love Shaque. 

I met the guy who became the Spouse on Yahoo Personals, back when that was a thing, in 2001.  He actually only lived the next city over from me - about 15 minutes away. 

I had been living in Washington State - I was stationed in Everett the last couple years I was in the Navy.  I had been married, but the now-ex decided (among many other things...and I think it also irked him that I outranked him, too) his drinking buddies were more fun than the responsibility of a wife & kid and when he told me that his cowboy hat meant more to him than I did.....  I told him I hope it keeps him warm at night and filed for divorce.   It was final shortly after my enlistment was up so I packed up the Spawn who was 2 at the time and moved back home to Michigan. 

It was almost 2 years when I was getting lonely and since I really didn't go any place to meet people, I went online.  The day that I met the eventual Spouse in person, he had come over to my apartment and found me barefoot & no makeup, chasing a naked Spawn, trying to get her dressed after a bath.  He said he knew right then that he was going to marry me.
This is in our living room right now. 
The little googly-eyed figures on the shelf were actually on our wedding cake.  I had them custom made by an artist I found on eBay.  I sent her pics of us, including the 2 cats & dog, and details about what we'd be wearing.  I absolutely loved what she came up with! 

Six months after I met him, he asked if I wanted to join him on a vacation he'd already had planned - to Alaska!  That was an awesome trip.  We went in July.  I realized years later that the picture we have of his first time on a horse was 4 years to the day before our wedding! 
Our official engagement picture

We had gone on a cruise with a group of friends when he proposed.  This was on an excursion we took while in Cozumel - we rode back to some caves and saw a native show by firelight, then we had dinner & margaritas back at the ranch house. This was his second time on a horse because of me.  I was given "Holxux" which supposedly means "Damn Horse" who had a bit more spice and was fun to ride.  I'd let him loose to gallop along the trail and when I got to a curve, I stopped and looked back to see the Spouse trotting up, looking like a pro, and that's when he popped the question!  I almost fell out of the saddle, leaning over to hug him.  

Because he is a wise man and knew I wouldn't want an ordinary diamond ring, he basically let me loose in a jewelry store on the cruise liner to pick out my own ring.  I have since then sported a beautiful blue tanzanite stone on my left hand. 
One of my favorite pics of us. 
At our reception, my brother who had just retired from the Air Force thought it would be funny to handcuff us together.  So this is how we went around and greeted our guests. 

And with a name like Love... it was super easy to find decorations for the wedding!

I always tell the Spouse that he's stuck with me forever because I have a tattoo around my ankle of a vine of roses that also says "love" in it.  

I don't think that'll be a problem!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

K is for Kick

Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!

This is the eleventh of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge.

Have you heard this yet?
Def Leppard's newest song
Kick
It's pretty awesome. 



Monday, April 11, 2022

I is for Inclement Weather

Hi and welcome to my contribution to the 2022 April A to Z Blogging Challenge!
This is the ninth of many random things that just pop into my head that I'll be writing about for this challenge.

Inclement weather.

In other words (using artistic license here) - I really like storms!  
Pretty sure I got that from my Dad - he always liked to sit out on the front porch when it stormed and since I was Daddy's Girl - I was always out with him. 

While photos never do justice to nature, I still have some awesome pics. 
Sunset over the park at the end of my street. 
When the Spawn & I went to Orlando in 2018 with her dance team for Nationals, we stopped by BlueJacket Park, which is all that's left of the base where I went to bootcamp.  
This is when I was reminded of the afternoon summer thunderstorms.
Some beautiful cells!
This is from 2016, I was actually driving - appropriately - to the National Weather Service office where the Spouse was playing radio at Field Day.

FYI - according to the Amateur Radio Relay League - Field Day is ham radio's open house. Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio's science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio.
Art
Also at the NWS office - that's the Detroit/Pontiac doppler radar dome.

In fact - I have NWS Skywarn training tomorrow night - I like to hear the rundown of severe weather in SE Michigan for the previous year and then watch the videos on how tornados develop, etc. 

Yay!