its just me, free flowing

it might not make sense, but this is life

late night 12-12-12
hello thoughts. after sitting, typing, editing all day, the last thing i should be doing now is typing more. but this is for me, not my instructors, not my career, not for my masters degree in communication. just me. just me. the title of my journal when i started it, oh so many years ago (2003) and remains, 'it's just me, free flowing'. there hasn't been much free flowing recently. i haven't really made time for my own thoughts. not tonight. you see, tonight is a rarity. a real rarity. here is why:

today after finishing my final papers, i was no longer stressed and restless about school. normally on wednesday nights i am in class until 9:40pm. tonight was the first wedesday night free all semester. what was I to do? i 'made' dinner. i baked a batch of celebratory brownies, i popped a bag of popcorn and put hotsauce on it, and i finished my dinner with a beer. having digested enough, i hopped on my beach cruiser and travelled the two blocks to play ultimate. i play every monday night, so it was slightly a different crowd on this windy night. the wind got the best of many of my throws, bumping my ego down a notch from my better than normal game on monday. here is when my night gets good:

it is 11:20 on wednedsay night in Pacific Beach, California. it is dark, the smell of the sea, the stiff breeze at my back, i realize that i dont want to go home. there is no need. i am FREE. so i ride my bike, silently on the boardwalk lit by street lamps every 50 feet. PB is abnormally quiet, it is finals week, all of us students are hunkered down studying for tests, writing papers or finishing up lab write-ups. so i ride, a sparce amount of people are out, a guy and a girl are having a serious conversation sitting on the breakwall. i hear the guy on the corner playing silent night on his saxophone, he has talent, i wish i had money to give. it is difficult to embrace Christmas in southern california. then again, my mind starts thinking. I really am free for the last time in my life. for tonight i have no strings attached. in less than two months I will be Mrs. Karen Kutkiewicz, i will be married and have a husband. The rest of my life is booked. This is not a bad thing at all. My schedule is chock-a-block full until march of next year. so this is it. this is Karen Love. cruising on the boardwalk, praying, thanking God for this wonderful life, the beautiful scenery, the ability to run, the amazing man in my life, the wonderful Barabbas Road Church, the magnificent ocean, and this life that has joys new every morning. 

i was content, so i turned around and came home, full of peace. The aroma of evergreen trees is so fragrant, i rode my bike by the Christmas tree stand and inhaled the air that will always remind me of home, my child hood home of the Evergreen state. my life will never be the same again and I am so glad I got the opportunity to write it down, to remember 12-12-12.

be blessed

-it was much darker than this stock picture shows, but the beauty remains-

Glories of Calvary
Lord, You’re calling me to come 
And behold the wondrous cross 
To explore the depths of grace 
That came to me at such a cost 
Where Your boundless love 
Conquered my boundless sin 
And mercy’s arms were opened wide 

My heart is filled with a thousand songs 
Proclaiming the glories of Calvary 
With every breath, Lord how I long 
To sing of Jesus who died for me 
Lord, take me deeper 
Into the glories of Calvary 

Sinners find eternal joy 
In the triumph of Your wounds 
By our Savior’s crimson flow 
Holy wrath has been removed 
And Your saints below 
Join with your saints above 
Rejoicing in the Risen Lamb 

Words and music by Steve & Vikki Cook 
© 2003 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)

San Diego inport
It is so great having Todd home, well both of us home together.  So many adventures!  So many adventures that I dont even have time to blog.  I will try to be better. Let's start with the now and maybe look back every now and then.  Last weekend we enjoyed the OysterFest downtown after a sloppy surf session. The OysterFest had great music like SplitFinger and Iration, where we sat in the sunshine on the lawn and enjoyed some expensive oysters and beer.  The crowds were pretty big, Liz, John French, Todd and I enjoyed our time on the waterfront and the people watching.

Sunday is for Church and Barabbas Road where we had a BBQ after church to support the small team heading to Uganda later this summer.  We have a sister church there that we support, visit, etc.  I really like focusing our efforts on a concentrated area and people.  Pastor Matt preached on Mark 13 with the central proposition of it is not our job to change the culture of this world, it is to make disciples and awaken the dead. 

It was such a nice afternoon that I wanted to go hiking, and we took on Mount Woodson where we visited last month when we went horseback riding and could see from the Golf Course that we stopped at on the way home.  Unfortunately the hike was a paved road, should have opted for the longer hike on the dirt path, but the bouldering was fun and the view amazing!  We enjoyed a little picnic at the summit including a nice bottle of wine that Todd carried in the CamelBak.  Then he almost got bit by a Red Diamond Rattlesnake attempting to climb a rock and get a picture of the view.  It was close and one of the two animal warning signs we saw at the bottom of the trail.

Just one of the awesome San Diego weekends.  I love it here and can't wait to stay here for the next two years.

Be Blessed.

EPAC 2012
not much to report on my last patrol. 60 days. no drugs.  i will update with more specifics later (maybe). the highlight was our 7 rendevzous's with the Colombian Navy, 3 Coast Guard cutters, the Chilean Navy, and two Navy Frigates. Pavones was the highlight, staying at the Pavones Yoga Center with Jenni Tamminen, Jenn Proctor and the boys stayed down the hill Brian Coleman, "Duder Dave" Straky and Tim Fitzgerald. it was a needed respite. from an uneventful and frustrating patrol with the new operation.

and i am home now. with my wonderful salad that makes me so thankful i live in California, baby lettuce, tri-color bell peppers, cucumber, grape tomatoes, avocado, cottage & gorgonzola cheese and rasp walnut vinaigrette dressing.  my girls took me out on Friday, the day i got back. love them, Ana, Liz and Leanna. and church was so awesome this morning. how i missed the Body of Christ at Barabbas Road.  
My salvation does not rely on the strength, the quality, or the seriousness of my faith, but on the OBJECT of faith who is Christ!
Do not fear, only believe in Christ (Mark 5:36) 

be blessed

Cathy's Visit
castle dance
it has been great to have my friend Cathy visit from DC for the week. we go out to sea in a few days so it had been stressful getting everything prepared. but good thing this isnt my first rodeo. this is my 7th Eastern Pacific Deployment and my last before become a Coast Guard public affairs officer and going to Grad School in the fall.  so back to Cathy, she has been with me this week in my ups and downs with not getting accepted to UW grad school and had to reapply to the correct program (the difference between Masters of Communication (MA and PhD) and Masters of Communication Digital Media). i was upset at myself for making the mistake. thank you to my program manager and the nice girl Heather at the admissions office who helped me out. In that debaucle, i also applied to University of Georgia, not close to the water or mountains, so i dont know what i was thinking, but as a backup and the CG has a good arrangement with their program and it is two years. i was frustrated about that UW thing partially because i had gotten my hopes up a little, as well as Todd's. i thought it would be good to be near my family as i may be able to do my pay-back tour in Seattle and not have to move which would be fantastic. and for the first time, i was wanting to come back to Seattle, i have been everywhere and dont you want a person who grew up in a town to go learn about the world, come back and teach about the world? i think so. i was sad they didn't want me back. and i really wanted to be close to my brother and Caitlin.

this picture was so hard to take. this was done without a timer. but i love it! and our associated bikes.

last weekend rocked. the girls were inseparable. we, Cathy, Ana, Kara, and Liz cruised to brunch at Green Flash after much deliberation. we cruised down to the jetty and back as well and swooped up Leanna to come out with us to Cass St and had a slumber party and another great breakfast that i cooked for the girls at my house before church.  Cathy played soccer at recess after church. Pastor Matt's sermon was terrific, being intentional in our steps, toward the Kingdom. "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Eph 5:15-17. all of the sermons of Barabbas Road Church are available on Podcast or Vodcast here. We discussed the sermon and its application at Acts 2:42 small group on Thursday night after wine tasting in Temecula.

We went running in the morning around the bay and back around the beach to Kono's for coffee and breakfast and started our journey northeast to Temecula. we had 2 for 1 coupons, so we visited two wineries I hadn't been to: Falkner and Callaway. We had a great time exploring in the sunshine (as it was pouring the day before in the Beach).

yesterday we went whale watching on the Hornblower Adventure, 3.5 hour trip past the sea buoy seeking southbound whales spouts and then getting a little closer to them. we dropped Liz off at the airport enroute SFO and continued south to the dock. Kara was with us and her sister Lizzy who is visiting for the weekend from San Francisco. a straight swap. good fun on the bay, a little segway to my impending adventure. 

and we cooked a lot, especially when it was raining. but really enjoyed the sun coming out so we could have breakfast on the stoop. Todd and i loved the stoop before we had kitchen table. pancakes from scratch, coconut syrup, scrambled eggs with cheddar, sliced avocado, sauteed spinach and coffee. 

be blessed, CHBC and good Christian girlfriends are something to be cherished.

I got home a few days early from patrol due to our second and last Main Diesel Engine breaking. so we blasted home on turbines and moored up to start the repairs in homeport.  a few days later Todd arrived and we had a blast (see previous post) and he bought us tickets to Seattle to visit my family for Christmas.  actually he had bought them over a month before in hopes that MSC would approve his leave. this was a stretch since had only done training with them and hadn't even been out to sea with them yet, so granting leave seemed like a far out request.  we prepared ourselves to not see each other until May and i get back from my next deployment.  but God had different plans as his leave was approved! so we took off to Seattle for 4 days to see my family and celebrate Jesus' birthday and God incarnate.  

My mom picked us up from the airport and i proceeded to wrap presents and get ready for my brother Ben's party at his and Caitlin's house.  there would be a lot of his friends at the annual bash.  the night previous i made peppermint sticks (pretzel rods, chocolate rolled in candy cane pieces) and brought them to the party.  we also had white elephant and it was fun, Todd and i got a bunch of homemade jams! (but not enough room in our suitcases to bring most home).  we left the party at a decent hour since we had to be up early to drive to Crystal Mountain. the road was clear and the drive quick since we left at O-dark thirty and were some of the first to arrive at the mountain. we purchased our military discounted tickets and proceeded up the Gondola (new since my last time on the mountain and Todd sweet-talked them into letting us on for free).  it took us up to the top.  i was pretty nervous, actually.  Todd, i knew, was a very good skiier having grown up near the ski area and have ski enthusiast parents, even to this day. it is a huge part of his life and i felt like i had to be really good for him to love me.  even though i was sure of his love, and that if i was not a great skiier, he wouldn't love me less, but i didn't want to hold him back or for him to have to wait for me.

we were on our second run or so, zooming down a black diamond, the whole mountain to ourselves as it was Christmas Eve. i asked if we could stop and take a picture as it was so beautiful in the snow.  we had left the eternal sunshine of San Diego on the day prior. he stepped out of his skiis and reached for the camera.  instead of pulling out the camera, he pulled out a box with a diamond ring and asked me if i would MARRY HIM?  i said, of course, not looking at the ring, but looking in his eyes, the man i will spend the rest of my life with, unable to believe what was happening.  i was in shock, elated, in love, blissful, and all the great emotions that accompany skiing with the man who is beyond your dreams who wants to be your husband.  absolutely wonderful.  God is so great.  he blesses his children beyond belief.  we were by ourselves on the trail for about a half hour, so excited. then the sun came out, in December in Seattle, that was incredible as well, an anomoly. this nice lady took our picture. and did i say that i finally looked at the amazingly beautiful ring on my finger? perfect.  Todd did such a great job.  

then we made a few phone calls until we got too cold from laying on the snow in the middle of the desolate trail.  we went to the top of the mountain and had a champagne toast at the summit restaurant and some professional photographs taken as well. he planned it so well.  below is Todd, after proposing, the nervousness and anxiety finally over!  


we dont know when we are getting married or where, but that is the fun of it.  it was also great to get to introduce Todd as my fiance to my family and friends.

be blessed

back in San Diego!
so long since posting and i will just start with the most recent and then slowly back track. i have lots and lots of material to post about! major life changes.

i got home from our patrol on December 16th after 2+ months out to sea, over 10,000 nautical miles travelled, 2,000lbs cocaine seized, 1,400lbs disrupted, 500 laps ran around the ship, 140 new Shellbacks, 72 days at sea, dozens of small boat ops, 9 illegal traffickers detained, 6 days in Panama/Costa Rica, 2 swim calls, 1 book read (in Search for Captain Zero). so proud to be OPS of BOUTWELL, and praising God that we were home for Christmas.


so thankful for my friends in San Diego to greet me upon arrival back on American soil. after so many days at sea surrounded by 170 of the same people and no place for myself, i thought that i wanted to be alone. coming home to an empty house, the smell of stagnant air, and a broken heater was not inviting. Ana, being the great friend she is, offered to come over. she came with a beer and we went to enjoy sushi at our favorite Surfside Sushi a couple blocks away.

then Kristen flew into town so Leanna and i picked her up after the Sector San Diego Christmas party out in MIssion Valley. With Kara, my old roommate, we went out to our other favorite PB Ale House.  We met up with Liz as well and the girls (below) had breakfast at Kono's overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, and Crystal Pier all decorated for Christmas. But all this was leading up to picking up the love of my life Todd from the airport on Saturday.  he had been in New Jersey for 7 weeks going to school for his new job with MSC.  it was divine timing as i was out to sea so we could email everyday (multiple times really). 


Todd planned a welcome home party for me and after church at Barabbas Road.  It was the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, so we loaded up the boat at Shelter Island, embarked my girlfriends and took a ride into the sunset for the fireworks and to watch the parade. it was a gorgeous night and we were disappointed when we learned that the fireworks were cancelled. so instead, we made the long trek down to 32nd St. Navy Base to take a look at my ship's Christmas lights (we used the King's Post as the trunk for the Christmas Tree) and hoisted the Friendship lights.  the navy security boat thought we were terrorists, but we had to call the newly qualified Ensign OOD to turn on the Christmas lights, but not quickly enough as we were shooed away and didn't want to miss the parade.  we tried to anchor in the Bay, but it was over 30ft deep and lots of traffic, so it made it unsafe and impracticable.  a great Sunday night in the Bay, a terrific welcome home party that Todd arranged.


Above is us eating on the stoop as the house doesn't have a kitchen table.  breakfast of eggs, sauteed mushrooms, steamed spinach, and sometimes smoked salmon, cream cheese or bacon or sausage with coffee and orange juice is the stoop specialty.  love being home in San Diego.  

be blessed

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:20-21

underway again
back to sea on this beautiful Pacific Ocean. how life changes when you take in all the lines.  we departed from San Pedro, CA after completing our Helo Stan, onloading ammo and topping off our fuel tanks.  and now life is different.  i am fed 3 meals a day if i like, dont have the ability to cook, there is a new cappucino machine which will be the bain of my waistline.  but this is not my first rodeo, it is my 8th patrol and 6th down south to central/south america.  and i do truly enjoy it.  this time tho, i am leaving the one that i love back on shore.  i have never been in such a serious relationship and then gone out to sea.  it hurts my heart. but it will be better i think when Todd goes out to sea too.  it is hard when one of us is at home and the other out to sea.  it wont ever be easy, doing the job that we do, and the job that we love. 

so i pray everyday for strength.  even though the Lord has already given us strength. I am a Christian, i have the qualities that the Lord has given me as his Child.  so i have the strength, wisdom, etc.  i still pray that i lead well, stay focused and keep motivated. 

today is Sunday and the Sabbath.  i am trying to rest, read the word as much as i can and make prayer a priority. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. Psalm 30:4

be blessed

i have taken a break from blogging, not intentionally, just having so much fun and not enough time to sit down and get my thoughts on paper.  so as i leave for deployment soon, i will be updating more.  i will also try to fill in some blanks from this past summer.

this morning i skyped with Todd who is back in New York.  then i walked to the post office to drop off the boat keys and sent them back to Larry the owner up in Millbrae, CA.  it is a beautiful fall San Diego morning with breakfast at Konos and a Baja mocha.  such a great way to end an inport before going out to sea soon.

be blessed

BOUTWELL change of homeport ceremony
castle dance

(From LEFT: Rear Adm. Christopher C. Colvin, deputy commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, Capt. Joseph F. Hester, commanding officer, CGC Sherman, Capt. Matthew J. Gimple, commanding officer, CGC Boutwell, Lisa Gallinat, president, Navy League Pacific Southwest Region, Chaplain Daniel Owens, and Lt. Karen Love, operations officer, CGC Boutwell, stand at attention during a presentation of colors for the change of homeport ceremony aboard the Sherman at U.S. Naval Base San Diego, July 29, 2011. Also in attendance were Capt. Winton Smith, commanding officer, Naval Base San Diego, Mayor Ron Morrisson, National City, Calif., and members of the Southern California Chapter of the Navy League. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sondra-Kay Kneen-Rivera. )

SAN DIEGO - The Coast Guard Cutters Boutwell and Sherman officially changed homeport from Alameda, Calif., to San Diego during a ceremony at Naval base San Diego, July 29, 2011 at 10 a.m. Rear Adm. Christopher C. Colvin, deputy commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony. Also in attendance were Capt. Winton Smith, commanding officer, Naval Base San Diego, Mayor Ron Morrisson, National City, Calif., and members of the Southern California Navy League chapters.

During the ceremony, the Navy League adopted both cutters welcoming them to the long line of ships supported by the organization.

The Change of Homeport provides both the Boutwell and the Sherman, two 378-foot high endurance cutters to replace the recently decommissioned Coast Guard Cutter’s Hamilton and Chase, previously home ported in San Diego.  The Boutwell and Sherman will patrol from the South Pacific to the Bering Sea areas conducting law enforcement operations, counter drug operations, alien migrant interdiction operations, fisheries operations, living marine resource enforcement, homeland security, search and rescue and defense operations.The Boutwell and Sherman are both 378-foot high endurance cutters. Both cutters remain available for world-wide deployment, but will focus patrols on the South Pacific and Bearing Sea areas.



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