Friday, September 22, 2006


I like to dive. I am not one of those "hard core" divers. I don't keep a dive log. I don't track my air usage. I dive with short body bording fins (I need to get some split fins soon). I keep loosing masks, so I have to borrow from friends. I get cold, so I don't like to dive for more than about 45 minutes.

BUT... diving is fun, it is something different to do. I prefer wreck dives. I like to imagine what the vessels were like before they were under the water, think about people walking on the crumbling, overgrown, decks, leaning over the rusted railings. Kwaj lagoon has lots of WWII wrecks. I will post a great link to the Scuba club website with some great info about the wrecks for those who are interested. Right now, it is way past my bedtime and I wanted to get these picutres posted and explained.

I am also not a big underwater photographer like so many Kwaj divers. I just like to chill, hang out and watch little critters or kinda meditate underwater. I have lots of friends to take GREAT underwater pictures. Often there are shots of other divers taken but no one has ever sent me pictures of me underwater. My dive buddy last week did!! AND video. It was fun to see ( is my form...?) So, now I get to prove that I do indeed dive.

First shot is me with the 2 new nurses on Island, Val and Marty (Dan is taking the picture) - CHEESE!!!! Then me checking depth, water temp etc... on the descent. Lastly me, cradling a huge spotted sea cucumber. There are TONS of sea cukes out here. You have your typical small to medium sized dark greenish black, some cool spikey orange ones - they're big, and this was the first smooth spotted cukes I'd seen. I gave him a little lovin' then put him back down to make his slow trek back to wherever he was headed.

My favorite thing to see underwater is a starfish. I don't know why but I love them and they're not really all that common around here, so whenever I see one it is always a special treat.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Surf day

My surf buddy, Drew, got back on island yesterday, so today we went surfing at one of the breaks we’ve named “Mushballs” it is the south tip of Bigej (pronounced BeeGee) Island. Luckily my bud is a boat captain and has a fairly flexible schedule (he just got back from a month long trip to and from Hawaii) so we are often the only ones off during the weekday to take advantage of the surf.

So, 9:15 am I get a call “Can you be ready and at the marina in 20?”
“Yep, I’m there”…. Ugh… I am tired but haven’t been in the water lately. 20 minutes to eat, brush teeth, throw on bathing suit, toss rashgaurd, booties and snacks into my surf backpack (which already contains: sunblock, lipblock, surfwax, and an extra leash) I also brought my iPod and new iPod speakers. READY! … only 9 minutes late.

So it was just the 2 of us on the break. NICE. When we dropped anchor (it is about a 20 minute power boat ride North up the East Reef) The tide was low and the waves small. After about 30 minutes though, there was more water over the obstacle course of coral heads and the waves were holding up about knee to chest high. The sets were a little far apart, the first wave being the best of them… then about an hour into it (after low tide) the swell picked up and we got some good rides. Overall it was a GREAT morning.

Sitting on my board with one other person on a break… and I just think… dang I am lucky. I also thought “I love surfing”. Now, since I am still a novice, there are plenty of days when I think “I HATE this, I wanna go in.” Those are the days where I can’t seem to catch anything and when I do I’m off balance, eat it and get worked in the surf. Or my weak arms are paddling against a current stronger than I am. You really learn to respect the ocean when you surf. I know that sounds like weird surf blabber but it really is true.

What I’ve learned about learning to surf is: go out… every chance you get. At first you suck. You get worked, you don’t know what the hell to do. Then you get your first good wave then your first pop-up then the first time it all comes together and it doesn’t feel like luck as much as everything coming together at the right time … then you get your first drop, your first turn…. Then you are hooked.

I lived in Hawaii for 2 years and surfed occasionally. I surfed with one of my best friends. She was really INTO surfing. She had the passion. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t have the passion. I just couldn’t feel it. Then I came out here, started going out everytime anyone went out, whenever I could. I remember the first day it “all came together”. I think of that day as one of the best surf days of my life. The day I realized the passion.

p.s. my back is much better. NO PROBLEMS. I can't say the same about my Right ankle that is now trashed from soccer!!!!

p.p.s. I also had a great massage this afternoon from a new lady on island who is a massage therapist. See, for all the abuse my body takes, I give back to it by trying to get all those knots out and work those sore muscles :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A view I havn't seen in a while

There has been no swell lately. Or if there is, the winds have been blowing it out.
Here is a veiw of the front of my surfboard. I have 4 surfboards boards. A 9'0", 8'6", 7'6" (my favorite board) and a 6'10" - the only one I have never taken out in the surf is the 6'10" but sometimes I use it to paddle around in the lagoon. Interestingly, that is the one I am currently fixing. It fell off my shelf (see picture below - it is the one NOT in a bag) and the fall crushed the back corner. I had to cut out that part and rebuild it. Now I just have to sand down the resin I added to fill the missing corner. My back injury (and maybe a little procrastination) has prevented me from fixing it yet.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My View Lately

Yep, this is the view from my bed....
OK… I know … but I did it lifting a SCUBA tank, no big wakeboarding jumps, surfing or anything exciting like that. My first real back injury. Not the “wake-up-in-the-morning-after-an-active-day-soreness” back pain. A real spasm, who knows really what happened as I didn’t want an Xray. I think I would be afraid to really know what my disc spaces look like.

I struggled through for a few days with ice, heat, ibuprofen before finally going to see one of the docs. It just wasn’t getting any better and would still occasionally spasm at work. So, the doc gave me some meds that helped. I am bummed though… I had to miss our first soccer game of the season, I haven’t been able to run, surf, wakeboard or dive for about a week now. I did go for a long walk the other day which was good but it just wasn’t the same. Now the back feels better but certain movements make my left hip sore. It is probably because of the body compensating for that injury. I have been trying to keep it stretched out and working my abs. Hopefully it will be all healed up in no time and I can hit the water again. Keep your fingers crossed!

Yeah, I know… I am getting too old for this :) The aging athlete body! Luckily there is a new massage therapist on island. I had my first session last Friday and am planning on going every 2 weeks until my back feels better than do my regular monthly maintenance massage!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Back to Blond

Yep, it was only 2 months but I missed my blond hair. So, I had it highlighted the other day, and I look like the old me. I think I prefer the blond, although it looks really pretty with the reddish color in it also (the dark brown had faded to red!)

Have been keeping busy surfing, sailing, wakeboarding. Oh, and I have also been on night shift again. 6 weeks! ARGH! I just finished and I am glad to say that tomorrow I will start back on days. This is also good becuase soccer season starts next week and all of our games are evening games.

I played pick up soccer last night for the first time in weeks. I had injured my foot surfing and was unable to wear a shoe on my Left Foot. It is still messed up but OK enough to put on running shoes and soccer cleats. So ran around for 2 hrs at soccer and woke up this morning feeling mostly paralyzed. Dang it... it is tough getting older! My back, hamstring and groin areas were all tight. I did manage to get them loosed up enough to spend a few hours wakeboarding though.

Today I was trying a new trick a 360 circle on the water. Sounds easy, but timing, weight placement etc. is key.... I don't know if you can imagine what it feels like when the boat is pulling you and you have to spin yourself and your board in a complete circle while travelling in a forward the middle of a turn your board suddenly "digs" into the water - effectivly stopping you, tossing you forward (or backward) think whiplash or major face plant. Today I face planted so hard that when my face hit the water my back arched, feet swung up and back behind me and the board hit my shoulderblade. Ouch. I got back into the boat after that one. Now it is a little sore.

Pictures: Playing dominos on Cherokee after major surf sessions (tough life), me surfing with some pretty bad form (I'm working on it!)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Random pictures

OK, I am at work and thought I would post some random pictures since I havn't posted in a long time. The pictures are pretty old (I still have blond hair), but it gives a sense of some of the stuff going on around here.

This is during our Mass Casualty Drill where we had to triage our patients in the hosptial waiting room. They called me in from home out of a dead sleep (nice hair). Unlike in the states, we actually have to come in and act out the whole mass casualty.

This picture is from the Rustman triathalon that I participated in. I didn't do the whole race, just the run portion as part of a team. It was fun, and next year I would like to do the whole thing!!!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Who has more fun?

Well, I did it... I decided to dye my hair. I figured it really wasn't really that big of a deal, although in some ways it seems like a big deal. You see, I am the only blond in a family of dark haired people. My blond has always set me apart and made me a little different, a little special maybe? So thinking about dying my hair brown was like giving up a defining difference in me. A security blanket. Part of my identity. But...I dyed my hair and I am still the same person.

I keep getting startled when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, or when my hair blows in front of my eyes. It is strange to see brown instead of blond.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Party Pix

Some more pictures of the party. I realized that I didn't get permission from my friends to post their pictures on my blog, so I've just added a few "group" pictures. I hope no one has any problems with these. I'll try to add some more of friends once I get their OK.

As you can see we ordered a nice sunset for the evening.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Goodbye Dawn

My friend PCS-ed last weekend so we had a big PCS party for her. Reggae was the theme and we had surf movies, jerk chicken, reggae music, rum punch and a bonfire. It was a fun party.

PCS is military speak for Permanent Change of Station or... Moved away. I like it b/c you can simply say "oh, they PCS-ed" you don't have to be specific about where they moved to etc. It is just they moved away from here. When I lived in the states I found it hard NOT to say PCS - most civilians have no idea what it means so I didn't use it... but i find it to be so "universal". I guess in the same way Y'all is.

Kwajalein is very transient. We are all on contracts, most of us signed 2 year contracts with this new company (when I was here with Raytheon was 1 year contracts). So, if you like Kwaj you stay - if you don't you leave after 1 or 2 years. We all get used to people leaving. It can be hard though... friendships here are deep and intense. You become friends quickly because you spend so much time together and most of us don't have family around- your friends become your family. I've noticed that Kwaj friends you always end up seeing them again. Kwaj people are like that... they visit each other, plan vacations togheter, their doors are always open to other kwaj people who are coming through town etc. It is a unique bond the Kwaj-bond. I'm going to miss my friend Dawn, but I know I will see her again soon.

Friday, June 02, 2006

bad blogger

Yes, I know I am a bad blogger. I get it from my friends and family who frequently tell me that my blog is boring and needs to get updated. Yes. I agree. I mean to but just havn't been good about actually getting it done. I truly believe there is a procrastinator gene. There has to be... certainly it is not a character flaw.

Well, the exciting thing that happened to me today :
backstory: I am sick. Woke up multiple times last night coughing... :( woke up this moring with sore throat and general body ache and head stuffiness. Also, todays plans were to go scuba diving with my good friend who is moving on Monday. You really can't dive when you're sick so I called to tell her that I would go out on the boat with them, but couldn't dive. Well, on our way to the coral head they were going to dive (and I would snorkel) we saw dolphins!!! Ah, my favorite! We have spinner dolphins around Kwaj.

There were probably 20+ dolphins in this pod!! So, we slowed our boat down and just circled and played with them. They seem to like sound/feel of the motor, they swam, jumped and spinned around our boat for a good 45 minutes finally we stopped to anchor and they left. If we had kept motoring I am sure they would have stayed around to play. It is so weird that dolphins really seem to have personality. They truly come to play with the boats. As we turned and changed direction, they followed us.... I got some great photos and some video. I will try to post the video (never tried it here before) and if not I will get some pictures up. It always seems so surreal. Just to image that these dolphins are not trained, no one is giving them commands... they just come and play. They have personality. They enjoy it. It makes you wonder about intelligence :)

I love this place!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Momma's Coming

Yay! My mom and her friend Ellen are coming to visit me next week. They are making the long trip from Long Island here. I think it is about a 13 hr flight to Hawaii and then appx 7 hrs from Hawaii to Kwajalein. Unfortunatly, they are only going to be here for a week.... but luckily I won't have to work while they are on-island so it will be concentrated visit time.

Also, I scored a house-sitting job! My boss is going off-island and offered me her place. It is a great house, great location - right on the lagoon with a patio outside :) That means it is prime sunset veiwing - the lagoon-side of the island faces due West. It is also nice because then we can comfortably cook meals, have guests over and relax in a home instead of a room or a rental trailer. The rental trailers are OK and furnished with the bare necessities, but not as homey.

I have lots of things planned! Hopefully they won't be too jet-lagged. I want them to experience certain things just so they have an idea of what my life is like. I want to get my mom on a surfboard. I don't think I'll put her in the waves just yet... but just to get the feel of what it is like to paddle on her belly!! Also, she doesn't SCUBA dive, but I thought it would be fun to don my SCUBA gear while she is snorkeling and let her breathe from my octopus - just to get the feel of what it is like to breathe underwater.... who knows maybe she'll pick up a new hobby. Although I don't know if there is really all that much SCUBA diving off Long Island, and if there is, I think it would be TOO COLD!

Speaking of being too cold...this weeknd I went on 3 dives (all in one day). The first dive was to a wreck at about 85 ft. It wasn't super deep, so we were able to stay in the water for quite a while... too long for me (60 minutes) the water temp was 82 degrees and I was so cold that I was shivering!!! It makes diving unpleasant for me when I am that cold. I had a 2mm farmer-Jane shorty wetsuit on with a 1 mm long sleeved rashguard and another 1 mm short sleeved rash guard on top of that!!! I need to get a thicker full-length wetsuit. I have also learned to take a thermos of coffee with me to warm me up after chilly dives.

Check out some great underwater photos on the KSC website.

So, the first dive was a deeper wreck dive, the second dive was shallow reef dive in the same area and we were looking for Manta Rays.... (we didn't see any). Then the third dive was with another set of friends where we dove "the wall" that is the Atoll drop-off. You go from beautiful coral reef with surge channels to a sheer coral "cliff" that drops down to a few thousand feet (whatever the depth of the ocean floor is around here). We saw a school of Barracuda, and I dropped in on a couple of white tip sharks hanging out in a little cave. I decided to leave them alone as they don't really like it when you corner them. We have a little understanding in that way. After diving (and generally lazing around the boat for a while) we saw a big bird pile so decided to put the lines out and see if we could catch any fish (my friends brought their fishing poles "just in case"). We didn't catch anything, so headed back to the marina tired, hungry, a little sunburnt and happy.

Ah, I can't wait to share all this with my mom and Ellen!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

All in a day's .... play

I work every other weekend, and am currently on night shift (one more shift until I'm back to days - yay!). Weekends and nights I don't get to leave the hospital as we are basically working with a skeleton crew of just 3 nurses. The hospital has to have at least 3 nurses there at all times. This means no lunch hour. This also means that I am indoors for 12 hours at a time.....Additionally, if I am working nights, I sleep most of the day and then go to work at 6pm. Ultimately, this means I can spend 3-4 days in a row where I am indoors the whole time.

Why am I telling you all this - well, when I am on nights and I have a few days off, I want to spend all of my time outside. The last few weekends I had off I was playing from the time I got up until the time I went to bed.....

Last weekend I got a call waking me "we got a boat up to Ninje can you grab your surfboard and make it here in 5 minutes?" . "Yep, uh, I'm still in bed... Give me 10, can you bring me a granola bar?". Up, brush teeth... Bathing suit, shorts, flip-flops, throw sunblock, chapstick and surfwax, rashguard and booties in bag... Pull down my surfboard and I am out the door. (no coffee... I hope they're not out of diet coke in the machine)

After a few hours of surfing, we got back to the marina at 12:30, settled out and I headed back to my room. A message on my machine from another friend said we were meeting at the marina 3:00pm to go scuba diving at Troy's Coral head. Great dive. This coral head is known for the number of sharks that hang out there. Mostly Grey Reef, White tip and Black tip sharks. Usually there are a few Dogtooth Tuna hanging out with all the pretty reef fish and ugly schools of fish (the ugly fish are the ones the sharks and dogtooth are interested in - they're usually not too interested in us bubblemakers.)

The dive is a quick one, about 30 minutes underwater. We're back at the Marina by 5pm. Just enough time and light to head down to Camp Hamilton Beach and do a couple of quick runs windsurfing. I am still learning, so an hour on the water windsurfing will exhaust my arms, shoulders and back. I am still not using the waist harness successfully enough to reduce the physical effort of keeping the sail up and in position against the wind.

After windsurfing, we're meeting at a friend's house for dinner. Dinners on Kwaj are often a potluck style and include a grill, and some tasty beverages. There's nothing like sitting outside having dinner with your friends after a long day of playing.

Not every weekend is like this. Sometimes, you will often find me zipping home, wet and salty from the ocean to rinse off throw on some dry clothes and a pair of cleats to JUST make it to my softball game. This is why I love Kwaj.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I found this "draft" that I never posted..... 1/27/06:
Last night was "guitar night" at my friend's JB and Kimm's house (the extra draw is little redheadded Quincy their 2 year old son). There were six of us and 4 guitars. All of us were verying levels of guitar playing and singing proficiency. Some of us struggle through songs, others pick it up easily after years of playing. I have been teaching myself for the last year or so ... sporatically at times, but lately I have the short nails and callouses to prove my renewed committment to the instrument.

I bought a 1980 Sigma guitar off someone who was moving from Hawaii to the Mainland. I think I paid $150 for it. Afterall, I didn't know if I would like it or more importantly stick with it. Last night's guitar brand seemed to be Takamine Guitars. They felt a lot nicer to play than my Sigma. I really want a new guitar. Do I need one? Nah.
Maybe someday.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

She's Cookin'

I like to cook. I love to eat. Growing up we all helped prepare meals. My parents were not meatloaf and casserole cooks, we didn’t have a scheduled menu like most families. As a single person with no family to cook for I really don’t know how they had the creativity and organization to cook unique meals every day. Some days it was vegetarian, some days Asian inspired stir-fry, soups, curries, occasionally we had red meat, mostly poultry or fish. My mom is Italian – need I say more? Chicken Piccata was one of my dad’s specialties.

I rarely cook for myself. To me, cooking alone is no fun. I enjoy a kitchen full of people helping to cut, stir, add flavoring, changing recipes, tasting, talking and creating.

BQ living does not lend itself to gourmet cooking. Especially when all you have is a refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot and blender. Some people do quite well, cooking all their meals in crock pots, George Foreman grills, rice cookers etc. I rarely have the time or inclination to cook in my room. I miss having a kitchen, and miss having people over to cook dinner. Luckily many of my friends here have housing with kitchens. Christmas Eve was spent this year at a friend’s house making homemade tamales, and Christmas Morning we had brunch at another friend’s house. I decided to bring a fruit pizza. I had never made or had one before, but suddenly the idea popped into my head. It was a huge success, and it looked beautiful! That just might become a standard potluck item for me. Kwaj gatherings are often “bring a dish to share” parties. (One of my other favorites is Spicy Thai Noodles – Quick, easy and tasty.) So, here is a picture of my fruit pizza. I tried to find the recipe I used on-line….but it has disappeared. Google fruit pizza and you’ll find plenty of recipes. Basically a cookie dough crust, cook it, cool it. Mix together cream cheese, whip cream (I used ½ fat cream cheese and fat free whip cream) a little vanilla, some lime juice and spread it on top of the cooled cookie, then start creating your top!

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Blogging" is now a verb

This is one of my favorite Blogs and I want to share it. Also I am testing out how to link things within the body of my posts. St.Ned's is a pseudonym for a real parish in the Bay Area.

The author writes this about herself: Yeah, I'm a church secretary. Given that the average image of the church secretary is someone with gray hair and a dramatically pilled acrylic cardigan who can't find her glasses because they're sitting on top of her head, this may seem like an odd career choice for someone in her 30s. I understand your confusion.

It's fun, I reccomend it....

Work and Play

Well, I was encouraged to post more often.... so I will try to do so. I usually wait for some pictures because I think that is what people are really more interested in, but we'll see how "news only" posts go :)

New Years was fairly mellow for me. I had to work both New Years Eve and New Years day. Most of us work 12 hour shifts at the hospital (only three nurses have the coveted position of five 8hr days - no weekends, no holidays). In Hawaii 36 hours/wk was considered full time. Here we work 7 shifts in a 2 week period and every other weekend - 84 hours a pay period (a week of 3 & a week of 4). It still surprises me how that one extra day really eats up our "free time". What stinks is out here EVERYONE wants to do the same things at the same time. Next month I start on night shift.... not my favorite because I am really unable to do anything! I try not to complain too much (just a little.... I don't want anyone to be mislead into thinking that I don't mind working nights!) So, I kinda say goodbye to my social life and friends for a month. The "re-emergence" from night shift is always met with "were you off-island?" or "I havn't seen you for a while - did you go somewhere". Yep, nights.

Softball season is starting up next week and I am on a team called Gecko Girls. It is a team full of fairly new/non-competitve players so this will be a learning year for the team. It is fun being on a winning team, but I also enjoy seeing other people have fun and get better at a sport they enjoy. There are a few of us that are fairly strong players, so hopefully it won't be too painful!

The winds are back so I have started windsurfing again. (too windy for surfing most of the time) There's a "beginners area" at Camp Hamilton Beach, and when you "graduate" you start windsurfing at North Point (uh, the northern point of Kwajalein). On my previous tour I had "graduated" to The Point but never really progressed much so for now I am still down at Camp Hamilton ....

Last weekend I took a SCUBA "tune-up" class from my friend who is a dive master. It has been 5-6 years since my last dive, so I thought it would be a good way to get back into the swing of things. A day of pool work and then a morning walk-in dive off Emon Beach. It was nice to get back underwater!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Christmas on Kwaj

A Kwaj tradition is the "Parade of Lights" where sailboats string lights up the mast and around the boat and sail back and forth in the lagoon. This year I helped decorate Cherokee for the Parade. We had close to 40 people on the boat, lots of yummy food, drink and Christmas music. Here are some of the "Cherokee Girls... past and present" plus Quincy (Kimm and Johnny's little guy). It was a fun night!