Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Big Adjustment - Retired after 33 Years!

On August 14, 2010, the Air Force honored an airman who served 33 years. He served in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He joined in 1977, and on July 1, 2010, was officially retired from the Air Force.

"He" is my husband, Harold Von De Bur, Master Sergeant.

One of countless military men and women who served this country with honor, dedication, and integrity.

He is pictured on the right, receiving one of several certificates and letters commending his service, from Chaplain Howard Bell. A retirement ceremony is quite an event, and one that many of his fellow airmen attended. It is not common for someone to stay in for 33 years. Most retire when they hit 20 years, still a long time. It is rare for any one in civilian life to stay with one company this long!

No more long deployments, no more phone calls, "can you be at this Base by the 1st of the month?" He was in demand, asked for by name to backfill at other bases. No more weekends or week long UTAs. I like having him home all the time. He already misses his friends, and the routine.

It was where he knew what he was doing, and did it so well that many of the things he did were invisible to his bosses. He was exceptionally good at pre-empting issues early, before they became problems and needed the attention of his superiors. He was very diplomatic in stealing a minute or two from his commanders, who were juggling many things. He knew how to get things done, and was recognized for 100% accuracy in Mobility folders for airmen who were deploying, having stepped in as a Unit Deployment Manager.

Now he needs to find a job that will utilize these skills. We need to translate those skills into civilian/corporate speak and find a place that will appreciate and value his abilities. There's only one of him!

Congratulations MSgt. Harold Von De Bur, on an outstanding service career. Here's to the next adventure!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Storm Chaser...among other things

When I was younger, for various reasons, I decided I was NOT going to be a "housewife." This is not to say I thought housewives' were not valuable. They are probably the most valuable people in the world. They are also the least appreciated. From that perspective, as a young girl I decided it was not for me.

So I embarked on creating a life for me, defined by what I wanted to do, what I liked, and my own natural curiosity. Throw in a measure of "tomboy" and you get an unconventional life.

One of my fascinations has been earth sciences; volcanoes, earthquakes, rock hounding, and weather. In 1994-5, I trained with the National Weather Service to become a storm spotter; someone on the ground who reports back to the NWS live observations of a storm, before, during and after the event. This includes wind speed, hail size, rainfall amounts, and damage reports in severe storms. I started with just giving estimates, to having the equipment to give accurate, "measured" reports. I attend training each spring and even having the experience of 15 years plus, I still learn new things.

A couple years ago, I started attempting to capture my observations with a camera. I have occasionally captured lightning, but only so-so. Until this past weekend. On Sunday, my husband and I were driving around, "observing" the storms that devastated Milwaukee with 7+ inches of rain. There were funnel clouds sighted, and the potential for waterspouts. We drove 3 blocks to the lakefront (yeah, drove 3 blocks, but think about it - heavy rain was coming, along with high winds and hail? I wanted the protection of shelter nearby!) to watch the storm front pass through. No waterspouts. So we drove further north, closer to the storm, and after rescuing one of my petsitting clients (she accidently locked herself out of her home and I have a key) we headed to an open area. All the better to see funnel clouds, hail, and lightning.

Taking shots of lightning requires patience, patience, timing and pure dumb luck. All came together for me.

I got maybe two more "keepers" and then the lightning got too close. Once I snapped a pic, but the image seemed to bleed out of the camera into my hands, and that was way too close. It was just the after-image, but I took it as a hint to take cover. Shortly after, there was a loud crack of thunder and a bolt that seemed to strike right in front of the van. That's enough for me!
The foremost lesson in storm spotting/chasing that they teach, is to always be aware of where you are in relation to the storm, and to STAY SAFE! Translation: Better to live and chase another day, than to die and have your camera blow up in your hands when you're struck by lightning. Kind of spoils the picture if the memory card vaporizes.....
P.S. All images are copyrighted. Von De Bur-2010 Contact me if you'd like permission to use. Nominal compensation is appreciated. SkyWarn logo is copyrighted, contact them for permission to use - http://www.mke-skywarn.org

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Foiled again.....!

Sometimes things just don't go the way someone says they will. I feel like the little kid whose dad keeps promising him they will go fishing, and then dad keeps having to do other stuff. Harold was supposed to be coming home tonight.

He's not. His orders have been modified to include an additional 4 days. He may or may not be coming home on Monday.

I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The End is Near.......!

On 16 June, 2010, my husband will end his workday. It will be his last day serving his country in the military. Only 8 more days left in his 33 year career.

He, along with so many others, served and serves this country with such dedication and determination.

Thank you to every one of them, and to their families who stand right beside them, supporting them in this mission.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Five Months of Life....Trials & Tribulations

It has been a long time since I posted. Sorry about that, but sometimes LIFE grabs hold and decides to shake things up.

Last December I found out I had to have surgery, I couldn't put it off any longer. It was scheduled for Feb. 3. I had just over a month to stew about it, and stew I did. This surgery was similiar to the surgery my sister had. For those of you who don't know, my sister died from complications due to the surgery. Needless to say, I was very, very nervous about it. The day before the surgery, I was an absolute basket case. For the first time, I reached out to friends and family and asked for their prayers.

I have been known as the strong one, not much fazes me, and I usually tough things out pretty well. Not this time, I was so upset and scared, there, I said it, yes, scared, that my husband and I attended daily Mass on the day before, and I asked our Pastor to hear my Confession. He even graced me with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick; "the Catholic sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Last rites or Extreme Unction, is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness." Our church offers this sacrament every First Friday of the month at daily Mass, or in cases like mine, when needed. I am thankful we went to Mass, because later that day, the doctor called to tell us that my surgery had been moved up and, instead of being at the hospital by 10am, I now had to be there by 7am. There would be no chance to attend Mass the morning before the surgery, as we had planned.

Between that comfort, and the power of the prayers of my friends and family, on the day of surgery, I was very calm. I was not stressed out, even having to be there much earlier than originally scheduled. My husband was allowed to stay with me until they came to take me to the OR. During the pre-op stuff, I was able to say a complete Divine Mercy chaplet. Was I at peace? Yes. Was I sure of the outcome? No. Any surgery carries risks. My health was in the hands of God and my surgeon. Obviously, it was successful, and I am very happy to be here, to thank God, and my friends and family for their prayers. Never doubt the power of prayer!

The rest of the year has been tough. In March, I lost my Uncle Dean. He stood in for my dad during my wedding and danced with me for the Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dance. Uncle Dean was also my godfather, which is why I asked him to stand in. He had always been kind, quiet, reliable, and a constant in our lives. He was a brave man, serving his country with a great deal of honor, during the Korean War. He and my husband became friends, and Harold was one of his pall-bearers, an honor he gratefully accepted, even though he didn't feel he deserved it.

In April, Harold was asked to serve one more TDY at Scott AFB, for 60 days, taking him right up to the last day of his service. On 16 June, he will be retired from the Air Force, after serving 33 years. His official retirement ceremony will be in August.

He had been doing weeklong TDY's since January. In April, I flew out one weekend to attend the last Stripes Ball he would be able to go to, and we drove home on Sunday. He came home to pack up what he needed for two months, and on Monday, he left again. I keep reminding myself that its almost over, but I also know that he will miss it terribly. He loves the Air Force.

We found out during his first week away that Terri, my brother's wife, was going to lose her battle with breast cancer. This was devastating news. Terri has been fighting for 10 years, always positive, always seeming to beat the odds. The cancer had reared its ugly head again, right around the time my sister had died. This time it was in all new places. Her brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, bladder; every time they beat it back from one place, it attacked another. Through it all, she remained positive, and rarely missed a game her boys played in. This time was different. The doctors couldn't offer any more drugs/treatments or hope. On April 28th, the school came to their house, and presented her son his high school diploma, so she could see him graduate. Real diploma, and Adam wore his cap and gown. Then on May 2nd, she peacefully, quietly slipped away, at home, surrounded by her family. It was a cloudy morning, but while at Mass, I saw the gates of Heaven open for her; bright, beams of sunlight, streaming through the stained glass windows, and I just knew it was for her.

One last thought before I go. My dad passed away on November 2nd. My sister, on July 2nd, and now Terri, on May 2nd. Uncanny, and disturbing. Our little family, getting smaller and smaller, was starting to not like this date. My father-in-law commented that as long as we made it past the 2nd of every month, we were in good shape, right?

But a friend looked at it a different way. She doesn't believe in coincidences, there is purpose for every thing that happens. She told me that it was my dad's way of letting us know that he was there, taking care of my sister and now sister-in-law, not to worry, they were with him. What a comfort! So, instead of looking at that day with trepidation, I can look at it as a day to think about and remember them. (Thank you Laura!) By the way, November 2nd is All Souls Day. There are no coincidences......

Be well, and say a little prayer. I will, every day.