Here in 29 Palms, Marines wear desert digital camouflage, but over at Lejeune the Man will most likely be back in woodland digitals, so we pulled out his old uniforms to check them over before we pack them. There probably won't be enough time to do any mending when we get to North Carolina before he has to go back to work, so I figured I'd better fix all that needs fixing now. It's a good thing, too, because these are pretty screwed up.
1. Mending pile, 2. Pocket: broken elastic, 3. Pocket: opened casing, 4. Pocket: frayed elastic, 5. Pocket: trimmed elastic, 6. Pocket: elastic repaired, 7. Pocket-repair finished, 8. Boonie cover-before, 9. Boonie cover-after, 10. Butt patch, 11. Fixed butt patch, 12. Pen stain, 13. Broken bill
In 2002, while the Man was in boot camp, the Marine Corps was transitioning from the old tri-color cammies to the new digital (MARPAT) style. His platoon was one of the last to be issued the old tri-colors. We arrived at this base before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and before this base transitioned to all desert digies, so the Man only wore woodland digies for the few months between returning home from the war and the official last possible date to wear woodland cammies on base (only a few months total).
Wikipedia has an interesting article about MARPAT and another little bit of info here. The new cammies are better in many ways, but they also have a major drawback: the fabric isn't as durable, and wears through and frays a bit easier than the old tri-colors. On the other hand, it is easier to sew and repair. My sewing machine really didn't like sewing through the old cammies. (It complained a lot when I used a pair of his boot-camp issued trousers to make the Man's lunch bag a couple weeks ago.) Other advantages of course are the improved tactical nature of the fabric--it's much harder to see, it (supposedly) does not reflect non-visible light as well, so it (supposedly) doesn't show up as well on NVGs (night vision goggles). The cut is a little bit roomier, so it's easier to move in them, and they're cooler to wear. The pockets have been re-arranged a bit so that they're easier to reach when in full gear. The front chest pockets are angled now so that a Marine can reach them fairly easily with a flak vest on, and the lower front pockets, which were impossible to reach before, have been moved to the upper arms instead.
But do you know the very best thing about the new cammies? They're permanent press! Yes, folks, my evenings are no longer spent starching and pressing perfect creases and unruly cargo pockets. Now I can throw them in the dryer and leave them there if I want to, or--gasp--leave them in a laundry basket all night, and the Man can still wear wear them in the morning. Does anyone know who invented permanent press? I think I'd like to send them a love letter.
I haven't packed a single thing in several days, so I need to put the bon-bons away and get back to work in that department. We have only a month to go!
You only truly realize how much you own when you are getting ready to move. Ever since we found out about our PCS (that's permanent change of station, for you civilians) we've been frantically running around the house looking for every shred of unloved junk to give away or throw away before we have to move it.
We discovered a lot of junk. And a lot of "good stuff"--that terrible trap of a phrase--that we just don't need or want anymore. But what to do with it? Ebay it? Well, I could, but I just don't have the time for it right now. I could take it all to the thrift store, but honestly, I don't have time to take it to the good one right now either, since it's in the next town. And throwing it all away just seems wrong. Which leaves... Freecycle!
I write a quick description of the items I want to unload, send them to my local online freecycle group, and people come get the stuff! It's working out really well! We've managed to give away nearly all of our unloved stuff, including our electric piano, which went to our local theater. Woo!
We've lived here in Twentynine Palms since 2002. We rented our first place here together after the Man and I were married, and we've had two babies at the Naval Hospital on Base. Most Marines come to affectionately (or not) know the place as "Two-Nine" or else "the Stumps." To be honest, the Man is among the few "few and proud" who actually like this base.
After Boot Camp and School of Infantry, the Man was assigned to the "Wolfpack" 3dLAR, or 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. He served his entire first enlistment with them, and deployed to Iraq during the initial months of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Here's a brief time-line of that deployment, courtesy of Wikipedia. He was part of "A" Company:
In late January through February 2003, the Battalion, with the exception of Company C (on unit deployment in Okinawa), deployed with the 1st Marine Division to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. [...] On March 21, 3d LAR Battalion and its attachments crossed into Iraq with the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, attacking into the Rumaylah oil fields. The Wolfpack, along with 1st LAR Battalion, led the Division’s lightning attack north, passing through Task Force Tarawa 56 hours after attacking into Iraq, crossing the Euphrates, and continuing to attack north along Highway 1. From the afternoon of March 24 until April 1, the Battalion was attached to Regimental Combat Team 5.
On March 31, the Battalion attacked north as part of Regimental Combat Team 5 and secured the northern portion of Hantush Airfield. On 10 April, the Battalion was tasked to provide a headquarters and two companies to Task Force Tripoli. This ad-hoc task force, composed of elements of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions, as well as G/2/23 and TOW plt, 1st Tank Battalion, and commanded by the assistant Division commander, continued to attack north towards Tikrit. [The Man went with the "Tripoli" group, north.] The remainder of Task Force Wolfpack, Companies B, E, and approximately half of H&S Company, as well as the Rear Command Post element, remained outside Baghdad conducting stabilization operations while attached to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.
In its advance north towards Tikrit, the element of the Battalion attached to Task Force Tripoli made national headlines in the town of Samarra on April 13 when members of Company D rescued 7 American servicemen who had been taken prisoner earlier in the conflict. The rescued prisoners included two Army helicopter pilots and Shoshanna Johnson, a soldier from the same unit as Jessica Lynch. An image from this moment is captured in the “Operation Iraqi Freedom” mural on a building in 29 Palms. The Battalion reformed in Ad Diwaniyah on April 21. By mid-June, the entire Battalion had redeployed to Twenty-nine Palms, with the last elements of the Division following in September. The Battalion suffered two non-combat deaths, no killed in action, and nine wounded in action during this deployment. (From Wikipedia).
Compared to deployments now averaging 8-10 months for Marines, and sometimes much longer for Soldiers, his deployment was a very short one, just barely over four months.
Although we'll be leaving Two-Nine the place in August, we're ironically heading to 2/9 the unit. 2/9, or 2nd Battalion 9th Marines, will be the Man's new unit aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Even more ironically, 2/9 the unit is scheduled to come back to train in Two-Nine the place next summer at the school where the Man is teaching right now, the Urban Warfare Training Center (aka Mojave Viper).:
The base is currently home to the largest military training area in the nation, and consequently, the largest training program. The program known as Mojave Viper has become the model of pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment training. The majority of units in the Marine Corps will undergo a month at Mojave Viper before deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan. Live fire exercises, artillery, tank, and close air support training are used for training. In addition to the sprawling "Combat Town," a two-acre fabricated Middle Eastern village, complete with a mosque, native role-players, an "IED Alley," and other immersive touches. (From Wikipedia.)
I suspect that with a veteran Mojave Viper instructor in their midst, 2/9 will be well prepared for the intensive 10-day course.
Here's a brief history of the new unit, from Wikipedia:
The 2nd Battalion 9th Marines (2/9) is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Formed during World War I, the unit played an instrumental role in the defeat of the Japanese forces in the Battles of Guam and Iwo Jima during the World War II. The battalion distinguished itself in the defense of Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War, and later participated in an ill fated invasion of Koh Tang Island in Southeast Asia, with the intention of rescuing the crew of the SS Mayaguez. During Operation Desert Storm, the battalion served as the lead battalion for the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF).
2/9 also participated in various humanitarian missions. The battalion helped evacuate Americans from Northern China during the Chinese Civil War and in various occasions participated in providing relief to the victims of typhoons. In 1992, the battalion participated in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.
2nd Battalion 9th Marines served until September 2, 1994, when it was deactivated to make room for one of three light armor reconnaissance battalions. It was part of the 9th Marine Regiment and the 3rd Marine Division.
According to Headquarters Marine Corps the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines will once again be activated on July 13, 2007 and will replace the 13th Anti-Terriosm Battalion (ATBN).
You can read the entire article at Wikipedia over here: 2nd Battalion 9th Marines.
On Monday, totally out of the blue, the Man got a call that he needed to go to IPAC (not to be confused with IPECAC, which has approximately the same effect on people) to pick something up. Well, it turns out that the "something" are new orders.
Folks, we're off to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in August! Things are going to be a little busy around here, so I'm going to shut down my shop for the rest of the summer. I'll still be around, but I've got to get packing, get through deadline, and get a zillion other things done in the next month and a half.
We're looking forward to the change of scenery. Whee!
Until I married, I never carried a purse. I can't remember if I even owned one. I had a small wallet, only a few keys on my key ring, and chapstick. They all fit into the pockets of my jeans. But then I started carrying a checkbook, and I knew that my purse free days were numbered.
I only had a few requirements, but I guess I'm a bit demanding, because I never found a purse that had it all.
A purse should be:
Secure. This should go without saying. I should be able to put my valuables into my purse, and not worry that they're going to fall out. A zipper pocket is a bonus.
Small. I still long for those wallet-only days, but until then, I'll take a purse that feels like a wallet. It should be small, and not get in my (or anyone else's) way, but still have room for a wallet, check book, keys, business cards, and maybe a sippy cup.
Convenient. Because if it's not, I won't use it. When I'm paying for my groceries, I want to be able to get into my purse without taking it off my shoulder. That means no hard-to-manage clasps or flaps, and a long enough strap that I can actually see into it while it's still on my shoulder. Conversely, the strap should be short enough that the purse rides next to my ribcage, and not on my hip. I hate that.
Anything after that is all gravy. Cute would be nice, and maybe something other than black.
Enter the perfect purse.
I spent a good part of the weekend designing, drafting, and sewing this purse.
The result is pretty dang close to perfect.
The body of the purse is a mid-weight cotton twill. I really like the feel of it, and it comes in such beautiful colors. I've been using it a lot for baby shoes lately, too. It's really durable, and ages gracefully.
The poppies are just appliquéd motifs cut from the lining fabric. (I really love poppies. They're so easy to grow, they re-seed themselves
like crazy, and for a few days each, they explode into the most vivid
colors imaginable in nature.) I straight stitched around the edge first, trimmed the fabric very close to my stitching line, then satin stitched around the edge again. The next time I do this I'll use something like steam-a-seam fusible web, too, but I was too impatient to wait
for my order to arrive for this go around. I
think a fusible of some sort is important here, for durability, especially. If this purse ever rubbed up against something, it's possible that the fabric of the appliqué could tear away.
After the appliqués were in place I ironed fusible fleece to the back of each body piece (two sides and gusset). I only discovered this stuff a couple months ago, but I really like it. It gives nice body, but it's still flexible.
The lining uses the same pattern pieces as the body, plus a zippered pocket, which is big enough for wallet, check book, etcetera. I used a vintage zipper from my Baba's stash. Inside is a magnetic clasp which closes the whole purse and keeps everything else secure.
I did both appliqués and all of the top stitching with taupe thread, and I think it looks very chic. At least I think it does. I'm not very good at the whole style thing. But I like it, and that's what counts right?
This purse is actually already packaged up and in the mail to my mom. Today is her birthday.
To be honest, it took quite a lot of self restraint to keep from ripping it out of the box to keep for myself. I guess that means I'll be sewing another one.
Lest you think I've been slacking of for the last few days, let me tell you what I've been doing over at the magazine this week.
Monday, our server administrators, Tom and Joe McDonald of Vpop Technologies, our webmaster, Oliver Del Signore, and I put on the steam to launch the first of several blogs on the BHM website. The project had been languishing for several weeks, until my dad (he's my boss, too) emailed me and said, 'Get it online STAT, I want to write my first post Friday.' And by golly, we did.
While Joe and Tom wrote code to integrate the design of blog into the website, Oliver fine tuned the look, fixed all sorts of formatting stuff, and who knows what else (he's amazing... I have no idea what he did, really.... a whole lot), and held my hand through a crash course on the server. In all, I did hardly any of the work, even though I worked all week. My main job was to get familiar with WordPress (we chose WordPress for several good reasons... 1) it's free, 2) it's open source, 3) it can do anything, if you can figure it out...which we will.... someday) so that I could become the blog administrator.
After a zillion test posts, a domain move (which, thanks to Oliver, I did all by myself!), a major conceptual change, and a few bugs, we launched Dave Duffy Blogging on Friday with my dad's very first weblog post.
Congratulations, Dad, and welcome to the blogging world!
Miss O and I have been watching this little family of quail grow up in our back yard. They spend most of the afternoon in our back yard, and sleep across the street in the neighbor's tree.
I believe these are Gambel's Quail. Mama has five little chicks, and although I didn't manage to capture him, Papa quail spends quite a lot of time with his little family, too.
Here she is in the front yard. The quality isn't so good, because I took the picture from inside my dirty window. I assure you she was not more than 10 feet from me.
Here she is in our back yard teaching her babies how to find yummies.
I love this one especially, plus I managed to get all five babies in the frame. They're so well camouflaged, that you can barely see them at all.
And here they are behind our fence, off to explore the desert.
Recently the Man remarked that his lunch cooler was too small. He wanted a single bag that would keep his lunch cold and have enough room to haul a couple other things he needs daily: a dry pair of socks, sunscreen, and a few other small necessities. I seized upon this as an opportunity to put my skills to the test.
We poked around in my fabric, but he decided nothing I had was worthy of a Marine in the field, so he gave me a decommissioned pair of cammie trousers to use.
I've built an exhaustive photo tutorial, so you can see just how I did it. Enjoy!
There are two hidden layers of Insul-Brite poly/mylar fabric for insulation, and the lining is water-proof PUL (polyurethane laminate) fabric. There is a layer of Timtex interfacing in the bottom only, since this will be carrying quite a bit of weight. There are no inside pockets, but there are two outside pockets. They're the original cargo pockets from the pants which have been repositioned. Enjoy the tutorial, and if you make one, please send me a picture!
Edited 21 June to add:
The Man has been using his new bag for a while now, and initial results are in: The bag works as well as his old (too small) cooler. He has to use two ice packs, but it does keep his food cold enough to eat at 2 pm, even when outdoors or in the car all day in 100-plus degree weather. I call that success!