From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Should Post Pictures of My Baby Grand

I gave fifty dollars for this little baby grand, and I have lovingly restored it!

I got the photo a little dark, it doesn't show the shiny. 
 I worked hard to make it shiny!

Oh How True!

 "Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose."

C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Retirement is not an option, it is the beginning of the end.

T. Boone Pickens


Monday, May 27, 2013

I Will Always Be Jealous of One Person, or My Tribute to My Soldier

I had always thought no one could write as well as I could about my husband, no one could sing his praises louder, sweeter, or more accurately.  I was wrong, when Randy's boss nominated  him for Contracting Officer's Representative in his position with the State Department in Iraq, I lost my first place standing.  When I read the words of admiration and acknowledgment used by the very intelligent and accomplished man who wrote the story of my husband's performance with the State Department for his first six months in Iraq, I cried.  So as Memorial Day comes to a close, I am making a little tribute to my Soldier, who is the great love of my life and possesses my heart, but first.... pictures....

As bad as I hate to admit it, couldn't have said it better myself!

Randy LeCompte deserves the recognition of the Contracting Officer’s Representative of the Year award for his extraordinary and successful efforts to manage the implementation of the Department of Defense (DoD) Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) IV contract on behalf of the State Department at 11 sites throughout Iraq.  This is arguably the most complex contracting activity ever undertaken by State and involved unprecedented coordination between State and DoD.  As our “Super COR,” Randy worked tirelessly to manage the transition from expiring contracts (LOGCAP III and the separate OMNIBUS contract) to LOGCAP IV in the midst of the largest military-to-civilian transition since the Marshall Plan.  The success of this contract implementation was critical to the overall success of the transition.  It is a testament to Randy’s dedication and skill that US Mission Iraq began 2012 with the contractor KBR successfully supporting over 16,000 personnel with no major service shortfalls. 

The State Department portions of the LOGCAP IV contract has an estimated annual value of over $200 million/year, making it one of the largest dollar value contracts in the Department.   More importantly for the purposes of this nomination, it is also arguably the most complex contract any State COR has to manage, since it is an omnibus contract covering roughly 50 service areas at 11 State-Department-managed sites throughout Iraq.  The contract includes operations and maintenance at 10 sites, food preparation and storage at all 11, management of fuel supplies, water production, vehicle operation and maintenance, trucking, sanitation, laundry, and in many instances significant construction projects.  It also includes morale, welfare and recreation and mortuary affairs activities.

To add to Randy’s challenges, LOGCAP is a Department of Defense contract written to meet U.S. military requirements and incorporating standards which are in many cases inappropriate for an overseas diplomatic mission.  Randy fully engaged with senior State and Defense contracting officials in the US, Kuwait and Iraq.  Because LOGCAP is a DoD contract primarily intended to support military forces with a military budget, successful management from the State perspective often meant redefining scopes of work to functional effectively, and at less cost, for diplomatic operations. 

During the summer of 2011 Randy worked extensively on the Performance Work Statement (PWS) and all substantiating documents for LOGCAP IV.  Rock Island (RI) (Army Sustainment Command) was DoD’s contracting authority transitioning from the LOGCAP III contract to LOGCAP IV.  The contracting team in RI had to be convinced, led, and swayed to change the contract from a purely military contract (with the standards/authorities associated with it) to incorporate the requirements of diplomatic and civilian support.  Randy communicated with Rock Island via marathon telephone conferences that went well into the night and via numerous emails and had to work very closely with dozens of “local” Embassy program managers / experts such as the RSO, GSO, and FAC to make sure that all the details and support were covered.  Randy was instrumental in drafting waivers for the LOGCAP IV contracts that clearly, accurately, and concisely defined deliverables, timelines, and performance requirements. For example, he drafted and submitted food and bottled water waivers so as to promote DoS local sourcing initiatives.

As a final challenge, contract transition occurred at perhaps the worst possible time, during the crescendo of transition activities as US Forces Iraq closed dozens of bases and left Iraq, turning over many sites to State Department management.  The people we depended upon to make the State “stand up” work were often the same people frenziedly closing bases and shipping military equipment out of Iraq. 

Because LOGCAP is a DoD contract, our CORs must meet DoD training standards but our future site CORs typically had not taken the required training.  When Randy arrived, we had no organized effort to meet this challenge.  Randy fully engaged to identify requirements, work through problems with on-line DoD training materials and served as the proctor for contracting officer representative training by the Defense Acquisition University and provided direct DoD contracting oversight training to 29 different DoS contract CORs within Mission Iraq located around the country.  He traveled extensively within Iraq to personally conduct training for State CORs at individual sites.  As a result, we met the DoD standards in time to transition all sites.  Once the contract was implemented, Randy excelled at his “regular” “Super COR” management duties, including the tracking of training completed, monitoring the performance of audits completed, identifying COR replacements, and providing ongoing report to NEA and others.

Conducting the LOGCAP transition during the overall military-to-civilian transition was always going to be a major challenge.  It became far more daunting when the LOGCAP IV award went to protest, delaying site implementation indefinitely.  Randy worked extremely productively with our dozens of on-site DoD contract managers and State COR colleagues plus the incumbent contractor on plans to maintain two existing contracts until the protest was resolved.  In some cases that meant transitioning our sites from the expired OMNIBUS contract to the LOGCAP III contractor before later transitioning to LOGCAP IV.  This situation presented an enormously complex set of challenges which Randy addressed admirably.  He never hesitated to take the initiative, or to challenge DoD colleagues or our contractor when he identified areas for service improvement or cost reduction. 

Randy consistently took the initiative to preclude any contracting oversight gaps during the transition period. For example, when a management COR was not available at the Erbil Diplomatic Support Center (EDSC), he was appointed and performed the duties of the only EDSC site COR while continuing to perform his Mission Iraq duties until Management, Facility and GSO representatives arrived on site. Randy worked closely with our contracting officers in AQM to ensure that the supplies and services vital to logistics support and maintenance operations in Iraq were acquired in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

Randy went much, much further and took on duties far above what we might have reasonably expected.  Randy would routinely review site construction project estimates and material requisition to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of UGG funds.  Specifically, through contracting oversight he identified $1.5 million in various charges being submitted by the contractor that thanks to his extraordinary efforts, were denied.  Additionally, he developed and presented multiple action memos to the management counselor which resulted in him taking the requisite contract actions which in the end saved the USG $16.2 million during the last 3 month period of LOGCAP III.

Having successfully represented the Embassy as “customer” during the initial hectic transition period, we then asked Randy to turn his attention to supporting the USG “Glide Path” strategy to reduce the USG footprint in Iraq by roughly 25% over the next two years.  Randy used his expertise concerning all aspects of the LOGCAP contract to prepare and document a series of recommendations to reduce LOGCAP staffing starting in 2012.  His practical recommendations are tied to the strategic reductions in the Glide Path plan, including cuts in employees, other contractor staffing, and site reductions. 

It is a reflection of our enormous confidence in Randy’s skills that we did not limit his activities to LOGCAP.  Rather, we made him the lead to manage contractor-related initiatives for the entire Glide Path project.  Randy coordinated with contracting officers and their representatives for all the major State Department contracts in Iraq, helping shape directives from the Front Office and Management to these officials as we plan to reduce services and staffing throughout the mission. 

During the past year, Randy LeCompte lived one of those rare periods of professional life where all of one’s cumulative professional experience and expertise are called upon and tested to achieve what seems to be the near-impossible. His superb performance was even more remarkable, given that he served in one of the most difficult, demanding and dangerous Foreign Service postings of all, in Baghdad, Iraq.

For his extraordinary dedication, drive and skill, Randy LeCompte richly deserves recognition as the Department of State’s Contracting Officer’s Representative of the Year.

By the way, he did win the award! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Then There Are the "Other" Mothers...

Not everyone enjoys the blessings of growing up under a loving and God centered mother.  There are those among us who as children survive only by the grace of God.  I am writing a book, and the following chapter represents what God can do with a broken childhood to fashion a Warrior Soldier.

Chapter 5

“Children’s talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.”  Maya Angelou

 He stood in the middle of the street, completely immobile, unable for some time to move.  There he struggled to stop the words from entering his consciousness which he had just heard from his mother’s lips.  Whatever small trespass he had committed was a lost thought, already he had no memory of it.   Her words were so cruel, that for the rest of his life, though he would never recall what he had done that day, or any detail concerning the incident, 
her words would remain seared on his heart and mind.

 Those words she had shouted would sometimes threaten at the edges of his mind at the most unexpected times, usually when he was relaxing, and especially when he observed young families of Soldiers.  He had been innocently playing some childhood game, being the child he was, and so seldom allowed to be.  She had come running from the house in a rage over something he had done or not done, and at the end of her chastisement, she assaulted his child’s heart and dealt a wound that would never quite heal.

The weapon with which he combated such wounds of childhood, and now in adulthood utilized whenever threatened, was work.  Always when he worked hard at anything, the demons of his childhood, and more importantly in adulthood, all negative life experiences, were held at bay.  Work had always done that for him; been a rock and a high place of safety from the disregard of his feelings and the needs that went unmet by his warring parents.   He was only five years old when he stood in the street paralyzed that day, but those words would become by God’s grace, an empowering strength as the years went by.  God is like that in His love, and we are purified in the fires of adversity, "like gold." 

On that day however, the purity of his child’s heart accepted somewhere in his subconscious, the words as being legitimate.   Years later he would have accepted the raging accusations of his commanding general as an accurate assessment of him as well.  Except that this woman who he had only recently pledged himself to in marriage, sat beside him and said, “wait, that isn’t the way it is, I have been there every battle assembly, down the hall in the FRG office, and those things never happened."  Never had he been so grateful for her thoughts, and as she talked with him he too rejected the accusing words.   His mathematician’s mind, and his bent toward the scientific method of thought and reasoning took over, along with his own personal honesty Then as he reconsidered all the rhetoric of the dressing down he had received, logic verified that Dianne's assessment was true.  In this realization, years of devotion to the Army, and the honesty of his pledge to the cadet code of honor at West Point, a painful realization began.  The betrayal which was just beginning, would unfold, and would threaten all he was, all he had achieved, and his very life.  He had  always taken to heart criticism from a superior, and just as in childhood embraced its' validity.  The events that would be a long and painful journey for both of them. The road would teach him that no matter how noble the philosophy, the principles, or how many speeches were made by leadership proclaiming the sacred duty to uphold these ideals, the Army had very dark side.  Corruption was eating away like a cancer at the organization he had so long given his life to.  As the black clouds of the approaching storm formed, the years of emotional abuse from his childhood would rise to the forefront of his thinking and bring a tenacity in him to face the whirlwinds.  Those same burdens he had lived under would begin also to heal.  Though the experience would threaten all he was and had become, in time it would sharpen his leadership capabilities like close hand to hand combat teaches a Soldier the skills of war .

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tribute to the Mothers of Our Warriors

To the Unknown Mother

There is a young man upon whose countenance I have never looked,
Only knowing him from his written words and images placed on Facebook.

So easily a mind filled with wisdom, courage, and honor is seen.
In my admiration of this young Soldier the lines I long to read between.

I find etched in millions of pixels which come from a virtual space,
The qualities of leadership humanity longs to follow in this life's race.

In my ponderings I often wonder of the woman who gave him birth.
For surely it is from her that he learned much that makes up his worth.

I realize his father too was a strong and disciplined man who played a part,
Still always I know well it is a mother who most stamps a man's heart.

 What words and dialogue did she use to shape his mind and his soul,
Ensuring as God's Word promises, from truth he will not depart when he is old?

As she held his tiny child's hand while he learned to walk and to talk,
How was it she fashioned a yearning for integrity in the midst of the world's squawk?

In her visage and life deeds what did he view that so inspired and fashioned,
A fearless warrior heart, filled also with tender love and compassion?

Among all of the creations and designs from the world and existence of womankind,
None stands so eternal as the skill which creates the man who becomes defined.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just Tap is the Name of This Talented Dance Troupe from Washington D.C.

This dance troupe really lifted my spirits and put a smile on my face.
While visiting Washington D.C., I was able to enjoy The Smithsonian Castle Garden Day Event. It was such a beautiful and delightful event. My husband had just told me that it would be another year before I could join him in the Middle East where he is serving. My heart was so heavy as I prepared to go back to Texas. It was several hours before I could catch my flight when he dropped me off at the airport, and he gave me a metro pass so that I could leave my bag at the USO, and go into Washington to tour and take photos. I had no idea The Smithsonian Castle was having their Garden Day. I had such a wonderful time at this event. I have beautiful photos! This video of the tap group Just Tap is what for me was the high light of whole thing. They performed giving an historical look at the art of tap dancing, and as they smiled and danced to the music, my heart left the dark place it was in, and I found myself in the light of total joy. I highly recommend visiting their web site, Google Quynn Johnson or Just Tap if you want to feel great today! This art form is for everyone... We are certainly talking happy feet here! I know there isn't a person in this world, who when no one was looking, hasn't let their feet do the talking at least once!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Behaved Very Badly Today

I behaved badly today, very badly... and the worse part was, I did not regret it, so I was in real trouble with the Lord.  I called her a, right out loud in public.  I have never in my life done that... but it was the last straw, and a situation where I knew I was going to mistreated before I went in the office.  I have had many difficulties in that office.

 I need to give you a little background of where I have been in my personal life in the last ten days.  I found out it will be another year before I will live with my husband again. It has already been four years since he deployed with the United States Army, spent two years in the Middle East with that organization, and then went to work with the State Department in the same country.  No woman ever loved a man as much as I love him.  Yet I know he is the man for the job.   

I am newly diagnosed with diabetes just this week, (that explains a lot about why I have been feeling so badly.)  Even with double my blood pressure medication, I have been running 180 over 100,... not good, it usually runs 110 over 70.  One of our credit card numbers was stolen, and it was so stressful to straighten that out.   I had to postpone my hand surgery because of the diabetes.  I really need that done, I am sustaining nerve damage, and my hands are very important to me.  Not to mention, I can no longer tear open a ketchup package, not that I can have ketchup any more.  I have to have plastic joints put in to replace those eaten away by the inflammation of Ankylosing Spondylitis, plus steel cables to replace the stretched out ligaments and tendons, carpel tunnel repair, and a cyst drained.  Periodically I am spiking a temp of about 100, and I have no explanation for that.  I had a wreck and I am without a vehicle, and someone came on our property while I was out of town and stole things, and I think they took my dog, and that was why it took her 12 days to get back home. She isn't in good shape. I still haven't gotten the bath tub that the John Moore company installed, installed properly, nor the sink installed, (by the way, there is no John Moore.)  I have already paid for this.  They really messed up the expensive bath tub and tub surround I bought and paid for.  I stepped on a rose bush branch I had trimmed yesterday while I was barefoot taking out the trash, and I needed to have three thorns dug out of my left foot.  They have been bombing the country my husband is in non stop... many are dead, and many are injured; this is a tremendous stress to me.

I had to arrange for a ride to the doctor's office when it was convenient for my friend to provide it, and so at about 4:30 I arrived at my physician's, which advertizes  its' hours as being 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.  I needed to get my blood sugar tested and a medication change for the blood pressure, diabetic medication, and the three thorns dug out of the bottom of my foot.  That was when the trouble began with the office manager.  I always have problems from this office manager, and I am a laid back kind of person.  I know you all know the type of woman I am speaking of.  She is in charge of a small empire, and she knows it.

When I arrived the waiting room was empty and I spoke to the woman at the desk.  I asked if the doctor was still there, she replied yes.  I told her I wanted to see the doctor, and she asked me why.  I told her about the blood sugar problems and and the thorns.  She asked me what the blood sugars were.  I told her 301 fasting this morning and 190 at 1:00 pm after lunch.  She wrote the numbers down on a sticky note and disappeared with the announcement, "just a moment please."  

I went and sat down, because just getting ready, and then to the appointment had exhausted me.  The prim short haired woman with glasses who is the office manager called me to the window.  She repeated the questions about the blood sugar.  I repeated the answers.  She then asked me why I didn't come earlier, and I explained the car situation.  She then said, "Well, why didn't you not call us at 1:00 pm?"  That was when she made my day... and I messed up...  I asked her, "Why, were you going to send an ambulance for me?"  She said, "No, we would have gotten your chart out and had it ready when you got here."  I restrained myself from asking, "Don't you have them in alphabetical order?"  She told me the doctor had someplace he was going today and had to be out of the office on time.  I told her I would go to the emergency room.  She then began insisting no, I would be seen, and the Grand Empress pushed the button opening the door, and granted me access to her Wizard.

When I saw the doctor I insisted on telling him what had happened.  He really didn't want to hear it, but I insisted.  I screamed like a little girl, and bawled like a child when he used the 10 gauge needle to dig out the thorns out of the bottom of my foot, probably in revenge for my calling his office manager a ""  I apologized to the doctor for keeping him when he had somewhere he was going.  He told me he wasn't going anywhere but to the hospital to make rounds, and then home.  Ah ha!  I despise lying, really despise it!

When I went to leave the office manager checked me out.  When she did, she asked me what my blood sugar was.  I told her they didn't tell me, which was the truth.  That was none of her business, and I had no intention of telling her my blood sugar, of course she would have access to that alphabetical order my chart is kept in as soon as I walked out the door.  However, I didn't intend for her to know from me, as I said, it was none of  her business. Then the doctor's nurse popped her head around the corner, and said, "it was 190."  I like the office nurse very much.  Her husband had worked at the 75th with my husband.  It was then I realized the office manager had thought I was lying about my blood sugar to get in to see the doctor.  People who lie often make the assumption that other people lie.

When my husband called tonight I told him my pitiful story of  ill treatment, and he laughed at me... laughed at me... I love that cajun so, he has the ability to laugh things into submission, and make them seem so less stressful than they were at the time.  Then, as is our custom each night, he began reading our daily devotion.  We do two, Our Daily Bread, and one from Oswald Chambers' book, My Utmost for His Highest.  It was that second one that got me...  You should read it, you can find it at this link:

I have asked for forgiveness of my Father... and I really do dread asking forgiveness of the office manager... but, my utmost for His highest demands it...  In the light of the world tonight, I do not have any real problems.

Out of the Wreck I Rise

God does not keep His child immune from trouble; He promises, “I will be with him in trouble . . .” (Psalm 91:15).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Saw Sad Eyes


I Saw the Sad Eyes 

I saw the sad eyes of women who had been betrayed,

By those who from honor should never have strayed.

They could not have known what would come to them,
      Integrity was pledged and they believed without a whim.

In a dark hour their faith and loyalty was shattered. 
Their lives, without regard, left broken and tattered.

Time seemed strangled and unable their injuries to mend.

To go on with life seemed to have nowhere to begin.

Then in chorus the sad eyes look around in panic and pain,
In a moment they knew other eyes revealed the same stain.

 Hearts united and power and change came with more ease,      
 The weakest were lifted first by the women from their knees.

Words and tears were shared and brought balm to their soul wounds.

Slowly in unity they overcame, and the living of lives resumed.

 I saw the sad eyes of women who had been betrayed. 
By those who from honor should  never have strayed.