The Rehders in Cuba

March 2, 2011

I’m going to blame my negligence in updating my blog on the perpetual Ground Hog Day in which I live.  One day runs into the next with the same cloudless blue sky overhead and  passing the same obese iguana on my way to work.  I know I sound like I’m complaining but I’m really not.  If there are days to repeat over and over again, these are definitely some of the ones I would choose.  My point is more to explain away my dereliction in updating you all on my Air Force adventures.  But recently there was an event that warranted note.  My parents made the long trek from cold and, depending on the day, rainy, sleety, or snowy Illinois, all the way down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

The trip was inspired and rationalized by many discussions about what a rare opportunity it would be to visit Cuba, even if it means visiting the portion of Cuba controversially claimed by the United States.  Cuba is Cuba and, dang it, I wanted my parents to see it.  And so they came, beginning with a 2am drive to Chicago and ending with a 3 hour flight on a plane smaller than my mom’s claustrophobia would prefer.  They came and they saw Cuba.  They saw the ocean:


They saw me SCUBA diving which necessitated taking a picture that makes it appear that the level of difficulty of SCUBA diving is on par with that of curing cancer or bringing about world peace:

They got to go on a boat ride around Guantanamo Bay, though we used my mom’s lap as a storage area and my dad rode in the blue bucket:

They got to see my house and spent as much time as possible soaking in the island life on the back patio:

We spent a lot of time looking for sea shells and other such things and as a result, Illinois has a lot more coral in it than can geologically be explained.

And probably the highlight for my dad and me (though not mom, she walked 2 miles around the track) was playing soccer together.  It had been a while and I think we’re both better than ever…probably…okay, maybe we’ve both slowed down a step or two but dang it, we had fun:

So that’s their trip in a nutshell and a few pictures.  I have no doubt that I will be receiving a flood of requests to visit within seconds of posting this but unfortunately, my time at GTMO quickly draws to a close.  Upcoming tour dates include stops in Virginia (see you there E!), Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, North Carolina and ultimately Texas.  Tickets are going fast so shop early.  Hope to see you all soon!


Since We Last Spoke

November 8, 2010


Honestly, not a whole lot has happened.  The Office of Military Commissions did send someone to jail which was kind of a big deal but that was over a week ago so I’m going to focus on, well…yesterday.  Yesterday was a big day for me because it was the first time since arriving at GTMO, oh, and definitely the first time in my life, that I had an iguana run straight at me.  One of the biggest iguanas I’ve seen so far….

chased two smaller iquanas straight at me.  It was terrifying.  And some of you may be asking the same question my dad did, are they really that fast?  The answer is yes.  Those puppies can move!  Sure it’s an awkward wobbly run but somehow that only makes it more terrifying.  I don’t know what happens when an iguana catches up with you but I’m sure whatever it is, is nightmarish. 

Before the iguana helped me do a startlingly good impression of Road Runner, I did manage to take a few pictures.  There’s a slightly beaten up lighthouse and a kind of boat graveyard on one part of the coast that’s fun to walk through.  I did learn today that you can get a key to the lighthouse and there’s a museum inside.  Yet another thing to do if anyone is brave enough to visit so close to communism.  Here’s a few of the pics:

Here’s a picture of my office and several of the other folks that I work with more indirectly.  It’s a fun group and I’m certain this is one of the few times I’ll have an office picture with the ocean in the background:

This week is the Marine Corps Ball which I’m lucky enough to be attending (I have to say that, I’m on a naval base) and in not too long I’ll be getting off island for a bit.  Can you believe it’s been 6 months since Kurt left?  I feel like I haven’t seen him in years.  So there will be crying and turkey eating and everything else that goes with a Thanksgiving/return from deployment trip.  And I’m excited to come home for even just a few days because so much has happened since I left.  I think nearly everyone in my family has had a life changing event.  I only have two cousins and one got married and one had a baby.  I have two brothers and one got engaged and the other sent his daughter off to college.  I only have one best friend and she bought a house.  I only have one Kia and it’s been to the shop 3 times since I left.  Honestly, I leave for 2 months…

But an old friend posted a very old picture on Facebook that made me laugh outloud which almost compensates for missing all those life changing events.  I’m just going to sit back and let you guys soak this one up.  Oh, and I’m not the only one in this picture that is now an Air Force JAG.  Seriously, who would have thought?

That leaves you with enough to think about for today.  I know it blows my mind.

The Grand Forks Firecracker Run and So Much More

July 4, 2010

Today I ran the Grand Forks YMCA Firecracker 10k.  There are a couple goals I try to keep in mind everytime I run a road race.  Not being last is one.  Not a tough goal but it’s important to have attainable goals.  Also, as part of my goals I have a list of people I’d like to beat or at least pass at some point.  This list includes girls in tiny running outfits I wouldn’t dare step out in public in, bigger girls in the same outfits who shouldn’t have stepped out in public (are capris so uncomfortable that it’s worth subjecting all of us to watching you pick your shorts out from between your legs every couple of minutes?), beefy looking guys who spend so much time in the weightroom they’ve lost all traces of a social life, and finally, happy couples (how dare they?). 

Today was a day of mixed results.  I passed a few happy couples, including one I paced with for a lot of the race and then pass in the last half mile.  I had several of the tiny outfit girls pass me but also took down a couple of my own.  There was one group of bigger, tiny outfit girls that had jostled their way to the beginning of the pack before race time and subsequently had too much of a jump on me and I never did catch them.  I also passed a couple athletic looking guys and managed to not be the last one in.  Mission accomplished. 

Besides unfairly stereotyping road race participants, I’ve been up to so much more.  Starting chronologically, several weeks ago I had my first (not counting the expertly managed garage sales of my childhood) yard sale.  It turned out to be more of a porch sale but a success none-the-less.  I made nearly $100 and unloaded a lot of things I was not interested in trying to move in the all too near future.  My next door neighbors may have been my best customers so some of the stuff didn’t go too far but I really don’t care so long as it’s no longer my problem.  Here’s what a porch sale looks like at 104 4th Ave. S.:

As with any good sale, advertisement is key.  Don’t worry, I didn’t get another cat.  That was just my first customer of the day.  Though after he scaled the tree, he lost interest.  Apparently he did not need a pair of used Asics or a broken microwave.

My next logical summer adventure was meeting my best friend at the headwaters of the Mississippi at the northern most tip of Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park.  No, Elizabeth and I did not come up with meeting there as some sort of symbolic gesture capturing the roots of our friendship along the banks of the Mississippi in the Quad Cities.  Though that does sound kind of like us.  Instead it was really convenience more than anything else.  She was coming up to see me, I wanted to do something other than sit in Grand Forks for 4 days and the Mississippi just happens to start it’s journey towards our childhood stomping grounds just 2 hours east of Grand Forks.  So we met, we camped, we hiked, we got ticks, we got sunburned and were generally very outdoorsey.  We even waded across the Mississippi.  Elizabeth fell once but that was that little girl’s fault.  She had no respect for slippery rock decorum.  I didn’t capture the fall in pictures but did get some of the other highlights:

On our way back to Grand Forks we swung through Bemidji because I love Elizabeth way too much to let her get this close to Paul Bunyon and not pose brazenly in front of him. 

And as with most things, Elizabeth was the one brave enough to ask the tough question when signing Paul’s giant guest book:

I rounded out the month by going on an incentive flight on a KC-135.  For those of you who didn’t immediately google Grand Forks AFB’s mission when you heard I was coming here, our mission is mid-air refuelings which enhances the Air Force’s Global Reach and Global Power which is an integral part of making us the most powerful air force in the world.  No biggie.  The KC-135 Stratotanker accomplishes this mission daily.  The day of our ridealong they were refueling F-15s on a training mission over Mountain Home AFB in Idaho.  We got to lay in the back with the boom operator.  The boom operator, as the name implies, lowers the boom to the plane that is being refueled.  If the other plane approaches too quickly or can’t maintain the appropriate distance and speed, the boom operator will disconnect to avoid accidents.  I’m not sure any of that made sense so how about some pictures to supplement my rambling.  This first picture is of the boom hanging from the belly of the KC-135 tanker we’re on:

Then one of the F-15s approaches:

Then, if everything goes according to plan, the F-15 will hook up and begin to receive fuel:

Then off he goes about his Air Force mission, refueled thanks to Air Mobility Command and Grand Forks AFB.  You’re very welcome, sir:

And just to prove I was actually there:

So that’s about it for the summer so far.  It’s been busy and suddenly very hot in Grand Forks but so far I’m surviving.  I did have a couple traumatic trips to the hair salon but I’m recovered from that for the most part.  Curry Comb here I come!  I’m also coaching a soccer team of U16 girls and have quite a few weekend tournaments.  As if having Kurt a million miles away wasn’t enough torture for the summer.  But they’re starting to get it.

If you’re at all interested in reading my latest attempt at journalism and some really boring AF law to boot, here’s a link for ya:   

As always, my door is open up here in Grand Forks, sometimes quite literally as it is right now, and I promise I’ll even wash the sheets.

North Dakota Warm

February 7, 2010

I know, I know…I’m so delinquent!  But in order to be a good JAG, I’ve had to sacrificed this blog…oh yeah, and I’ve been watching a lot of Charmed.  I’m not proud of it but it’s true and if this blog is about nothing else, it’s truth…

Anyway…As I sit an ponder why it is that everytime I want a team to win the Super Bowl, they don’t, I also decided it was time to update.  So lest anyone think I’m still learning taxes down in Fargo, here’s a quick glimpse of what’s been happening since then.  First, I passed the IRS tax test.  I’m a certified tax preparer…don’t even ask.  Trust me, you’re much better off with Taxslayer.  Second, Christmas came and went, fast.  I was shocked and overjoyed to see my favorite Notre Dame fan on my parents’ porch Christmas morning.  And I think it’s safe to say that Kurt was thrilled to find that this year’s theme coincided well with his personality.  Behold, Wild Wild West Christmas:

 Also, I’ve had a lot of graduations and milestones these last few years (law school, passing the bar, COT, JASOC, etc.) but I think I made my parents the most proud on Christmas Day 2009…. 

 Did it require gunning down my grandma and opa with a nerf gun?  Yes.  Did it take 2 tie breakers with a gifted competitor (aka my cousin, Emily)?  Of course.  Will I treasure my Wild Wild West Competition Winner plaque forever?  Absolutely.  It’s already displayed proudly in my office…at home.  I don’t want to intimidate legal assistance clients.

Third, I completed TDAC (Trial and Defense Advocacy Course) down at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery.  This of course meant being back at Maxwell almost exactly a year from when I first started COT.  It sent a weird chill down my spine but simultaneously I felt reassured knowing I had survived one full year in the Air Force.  19 more to go!  Kurt had a couple friends from law school who were about to start COT so we had them over for dinner (edible thanks to Sally John’s fabulous vodka pasta recipe) the night before TD0.  What I would have given for a couple of COT survivors’ brains to pick the night before I started.  The get on a plane, get on a bus, walk around a corner and get screamed at thing isn’t an ideal way to start your Air Force career.

Alright, so I survived three weeks down in Montgomery, fit in a docketing conference while I was there, and then came home to play some serious catch up.  My office endured a full acquittal during my absence and everyone was beat.  It was a long busy fall and the beginning of the year has taken off with a similar pace.  The tax center is up and running, 2 court martials scheduled for the next 2 months and an annual awards banquet under our belts have kept us more than busy.  Speaking of the annual awards banquet, check us out!

Our own Marie Aubrey was a nominee for Civilian of the Year and don’t be fooled by the picture, she was much happier to be there than it appears.  Also, I got to wear my mess dress again which any milage I can get out of that bad boy makes me feel better about the money I spent on it.  I did have to buy captians shoulder boards at $45 for the pair but I’m hoping I get to use them more than once too.  I also really broke in my mess dress by cleaning off a couple of inches of snow from my car while wearing it.  I would say mess dress goes with pretty much any occassion except snow removal.

And finally, the last update I have is to announce that I have embraced a couple of truly North Dakota winter activities over the last few weeks.  Last weekend I went curling for the first time.  I was told I was both “a natural” and “graceful.”  Hey, stop laughing!  I swear people said that.  We did have a casualty though…a fellow JAG broke his wrist while attempting to walk on ice – it’s hard folks.  This weekend I attended the 97 KYCK Cardboard Sled Races just a few short blocks from my apartment.  I actually knew the winner too!  Here’s the winning monster truck, a sled shaped like an outhouse (why not?) and the aftermath:

So I think that about covers it.  I’m sure I’ve missed something but having covered curling and Wild Wild West Christmas, I just can’t imagine there’s much else left.  I’ll leave you with an image I see every morning and every night.  I’ve grown to accept and even appreciate it.  My apartment’s warm, my cats love me (not enough to refrain from knocking over my plants but enough), and I learned today that I can figure out to do when I blow a fuse (panicking and screaming, “I’m missing the half time show, I’m missing the half time show,” is not it) – right now that’s all I ask for.  Thanks for tuning in.

The Almost After and So Much More

August 23, 2009

So to answer my mother’s question, no, I have not “given up” on my blog.  The last few months have been, as most of you know, interesting.  And I chose that word carefully.  There have been ups and downs.  Hills, valleys, sunshine, rain, the gamut.  What I’m left knowing is that everything is going to be ok.  One way or another.

And at this point you’re probably all thinking, spare us the melodrama Anna, show us the pictures of your apartment.  I am at your service.  We’ll start upstairs this time because the least has changed there.  What was once a guest bedroom is, for now, an arts and crafts room:

Spare bedroom

Boring, I know.  Bring on the scrapbooking jokes.  I plan on getting a new bed pretty soon and when that happens, my old bed will go in here for visitors.  Though I feel it must be said, I have been very lucky to have as many visitors as I have so far.  Elizabeth drove all the way up from Des Moines alone and my parents have been up, my mom doing the trip twice.  Not to out-do Elizabeth but she drove the whole way from the Quad Cities alone…that’s slightly longer.  The reason my mom came up the second time was to pin me on as a captain.  Yes, after continuing to draw breath for 6 months I got the obligitory JAG promotion to captain.  It’s great because we get paid more, we get salutes from a handful more people, etc.  It’s terrifying because now people expect us to know what we’re doing which I can safely say, 75% of the time I’m still only making a somewhat educated guess.  So here’s a picture of Lt Col Harding and my mom pinning on the captain’s bars.  Please don’t ask why I’m making that face, if I knew I would have avoided making it.

Promotion Ceremony

So back to the apartment.  The only other new thing upstairs is the curtains in the study which honestly, is so not worth a picture.  So let’s move downstairs.  First, try not to fall over the cats.

cats stairs

Quick question, is the look on Jonesie’s face a little too similar to the look on my face during the promotion ceremony?  No?  Good answer.

The living room has probably seen the most dramatic change.  For one, there’s furniture.  And lamps.  And art. 

Living room

And from there, into the dining room:

dining room

On to the kitchen:


A lot of changes in all of those three rooms so I’ll just give you a minute to flip back and forth between the before pictures in the old post and these.  Awed?  Good, then the basement is going to blow you away:



Don’t worry, although you can’t see all of the 4th Ave. Drinking Team label anymore, everytime I walk down into that basement, I’m reminded of my roots.  Once you move in, being a part of that team is in your soul.  A few bins of holiday decorations covering the lower portion won’t change that.  Nothing can change that.

Moving on something closely related to being on a drinking team, it’s the basement bathroom.  Still mostly gross but usable on very limited emergency type occasions:

basement bathroom

And now back upstairs.  On the way up, make sure to take note of the cats’ new water and food dishes.  They’re extatic.


All that remains is the great outdoors.  In the next couple months I’ll post anew with the changing weather but today was absolutely perfect and if you don’t mind, please just think of Grand Forks as such.  Somehow, pretending winter won’t ever come makes each day a little better.






To the left you can see the air conditioning unit that I have not yet had to turn on.  Yes, that is a hint of pride you detect.

Alright, so that’s it.  Those are the digs currently.  What else has been going on with me?  So sweet of you to ask.  Well, tomorrow at 8am I’ll hop a plane out of Grand Forks and head down to Scott AFB, which is in southern Illinois down by St. Louis.  Hopefully while there I will learn a great deal about 18th AF’s philosophies on military justice and more importantly, see some of my family.  It’s sad when I’m close because I’m only 6 hours away.  So I’ll be at Scott all week and then after a quick jaunt to Maxwell AFB in Alabama, I’ll be back home in Grand Forks.  That’s right folks, Grand Forks is my home.  I haven’t been there much this last month which the cats have been more than a little irritated with me about.  And unfortunately September isn’t looking that much better between recruiting in the Twin Cities, a wedding in St. Paul, and my 5 year college reunion in Northfield, MN, my weekends are pretty full.  But at least they’re full with things I’m going to really enjoy and heck, maybe even see some of you! 

And as my parting gift to every last one of you, I give you the Peddle Pub:

Peddle Pub

It’s exactly as it sounds.