Apr. 19th, 2009 05:32 pm
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Loki just walked into my room as I was sitting at my computer with one of his toys in his mouth, dropped it politely at my chair and then looked up at me and meowed. My cat is so cute!
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So, in seven days, we drove around 1,250 miles. We started in Vegas and ended up in Vegas. Here's a partial list of places we visited:

Las Vegas, NV
Valley of Fire State Park, NV
Overton, NV
Fredonia, AZ
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, UT
Kanab, UT
Jacob Lake, AZ
Zion National Park, UT
Rockville, UT
Springdale, UT
Grafton, UT
Page, AZ
Navajo Indian Reservation
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Valle, AZ
Williams, AZ
Seligman, AZ
Hualapai Indian Reservation
Peach Springs, AZ
Truxton, AZ
Kingman, AZ
Oatman, AZ
Golden Shores, AZ
Needles, CA
Laughlin, NV
Bullhead City, NV
Lake Meade National Recreation Area, NV
Hoover Dam

The variety of landscapes that we saw is mindblowing to me. We saw basins of white earth dotted with scrub, and dunes of pink sand, and red rocky escarpments, grey lunar landscapes and vast tan valleys. We saw pine forests and sage brush pastures. We saw snowy mountains and windswept plateaus. And the differences were much more stark than the difference between the deciduous forests of the pacific coast and the coniferous forests of our mountains. Every corner we turned in our trip revealed a new and marvelous vista. The desert changed from moment to moment, and every ridge and mountain hemmed in a microcosm subtly different from those neighboring it. The plants changed, the rocks changed, the sand changed. Shadows changed deliciously with each degree of the sun's movement across the sky.

The natural history contained in the desert is astonishing. The lack of moisture and the reduced amount of plant life prevent erosion and riverbeds and windblown sand encourage erosion in such a perfect way to preserve and also expose parts of our world that existed billions of years ago.

Because life is so much sparser there, every living thing in the desert seemed so much more precious and individual to me, from the lizards and ravens and doves and vultures to the tiny flowers and beaver tail cactus and brushy little plants. Every tiny thing makes you marvel at life's ability to push on no matter the obstacle.

The desert is a place of great disparity of wealth, and that may be because the resources that the desert holds require great energy to harvest. The nutrients in the soil are nigh impossible for us to access, since we cannot digest the tough little plants, and the soil in many places is scoured to the bedrock by periodic windstorms. If you have a patch of soil that is stable and contains sufficient organic material to grow crop plants, a great investment in irrigation must be made. The desert's other resources (as far as I could tell on casual observation) include energy and minerals, both of which require a significant initial investment to procure, whether in the form of solar panels, wind farms, or vast mining operations.

The desert is dry. I know it seems like it would go without saying, but I was astonished by the dryness. The sun wrings the moisture from your body as sweat; the wind tears it straight from your skin; the air itself steals it from your oral and nasal tissues with each breath. I woke up every morning unable to swallow without a mouthful of water, my throat was so dry, and my skin has not yet recovered.


Apr. 11th, 2009 11:35 pm
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Hi, everyone!

I'm back from the desert and it was a fantastic trip. There's too much to tell now, so I will sum up. My feet are blackened and cracked on the bottom, and sunburned on the top. There's pink sand in everything. I saw some incredible things. I'm so glad I went, it was amazing. I'm also very glad to be home again.
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I had an extremely productive day.

Got up and went to the grocery store, bought my groceries, forgot a few things because I'm too stupid to make a shopping list, went home, put the food away, spent about an hour knitting on the couch watching my roomie play playstation, then got up and banged out my housework in about three hours. I cooked dinner (blackened snapper with green salad and baked potato), rode the bike for forty-five minutes, had desert (peanuts and dried blueberries), made my lunch for tomorrow, did dishes from dinner, and then watched TV and screwed up my knitting project and went crosseyed trying to find the mistake.

All in all, it was about as perfect as a Sunday can get.
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just wanted to remind everyone that there will be celebrations tonight in downtown Bellingham... refer to Facebook or my previous post on the subject. Hope to raise a glass with each of you.
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I just helped make and eat the most delicious beef pot pie I ever did have. I had two helpings it was so good and then really wanted a third but was much too full. Mike's advice was to hurt myself with food; a sound recommendation considering the quality of the pie, but I'm glad I didn't.

Yum, though. Very yum.
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So what is everyone doing for inauguration night? If you don't already have plans, why not join us in downtown Bellingham?

We'll be starting at The Grand at around six thirty to send off Bush and his cronies in style! Formal dress is encouraged for comedic purposes, but not required.

Hope to see everyone there!


Jan. 16th, 2009 12:17 am
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Went shopping last night, and it was less traumatic than usual.

I got sized for bras, which was frustrating. The lady measured my underbust and my bust, and then said, "this doesn't look right," and I asked, "why, whatcha got?" and she said, "38DDD or 38F." I sighed and said, "no, that's probably right.

Of course, they don't stock any bras my size in department stores, so I had to order them and they should be here sometime next week. I got four of them. I can't wait... I always buy bras too small because I can't be bothered to order them and usually by the time I bother shopping for bras at all there's been a disaster like a snapped underwire or some bizarre mammary accident.

I also got five new pair of panties (long overdue) and a skirt and a blouse. All for just under $200.00, which I think is pretty good for new clothes. The skirt is a size 14, but it doesn't really count because it's a Lane Bryant 14 and their sizes are pretty generous compared to other brands. The bummer is, somewhere in the next 10-20 pounds of weight loss I won't be able to shop there anymore, and damnit, I like their clothes and their staff is always excellent.

I'm actually more self-conscious now about my body than I was before I started losing weight, and the reason for this is simple: I'm melting. When you lose weight, you don't just shrink, you deflate. Eventually all your remaining fat kind of sloshes around in an outsized skin bag. So naked, I look kind of like a pile of semi-inflated inner tubes. There is hope; I've noticed that as my fat sloshes around there have been glimpses of the thighs and arms of my dreams... not long and lovely, sadly... no hope of changing my height or structure... but strong, hard and compact... muscled instead of flabby or twiggy. But we'll see.

As a side note, my body is doing all of this on it's own. I am not a part of the decision making process. I just exercise. I take no responsibility.
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In case anyone doesn't already have this:
Road Closures!

It says Iowa to Toledo... but from which direction? My work's near there!
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If anyone else needs me to make homemade sandbags and help bail out their basement, my phone's off. I can only struggle fruitlessly to rescue one basement a night.
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If you had to put together a conference or some kind of speaking engagement, what do you think it would be about? What is it that you have enough expertise to offer, or what do you want to tell the rest of the world most of all?
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Just in case anyone is wondering (few are, I'm sure) where I am, I'm cooped up in the house with a sinus infection and tonsilitis. I'm on a short course of antibiotics and should be better soon, but for now any low priority ventures out have been postponed. I will be leaving soon to shop for groceries. That's all I plan to do today.
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Kind of a shitty Christmas so far, so I'm going to write about the snow instead.

In Anchorage we had a fifth season, a sort of a mini-season, called breakup. It was in between winter and spring, and it was the time when the ice pack in the Bering Sea broke up... and when the snow started to melt in town. There was a constant dripping and sound of trickling water... the berms would start to melt from the inside (the outside having frozen rock hard from thawing and freezing cycles) and they would develop tunnels in them through which the meltwater would run; even though you couldn't see the water there, you could hear it everywhere you went.

It still got below freezing at night, so the snow would develop an ice crust over the top, sometimes as much as an inch thick. When it was at its thickest, a canny child with careful feet could slide across the top without breaking through to the half-melted snow below. It was a dangerous operation, as once your foot broke through, the ice around the hole could push the leg of your snowpants up and give you a hell of a gash.

It was this type of ice crust I expected to see this evening, but it seems that the forecast just keeps getting warmer as things move on and the freeze everyone at work was worried about today isn't materializing. Driving downtown was surreal today seeing the snow piled up in corners beside buildings. It provided an interesting point of contrast for my usual beloved downtown grey. It was not something you'd have seen in Anchorage... in Anchorage we had something called a snowdump. Plowed snow would be scooped up into dump trucks and hauled away to an enormous snowdump, like a landfill but much less stinky. Over the course of a winter the snowdump would get storeys high, and as a child I remember it being a year round feature of the landscape, ebbing in the summer but never completely melting. You'd peer through the car window and see if you could see cracks shining white through the cake of road sand. I remember one year someone told me that the snowdump had melted and I was astonished. They used to find dead bodies in the snowdump in the summer, people said.

The green of grass and the white of snow (which I anticipate we'll be seeing here soon enough) was not something we saw often in the spring... the grass had been so frozen and so compacted and so starved by the months of snow cover that by the time the snow melted, the lawns were soggy matted yellow affairs. New shoots greened the place up rather quickly, but the green lawns we will see poking through the snow here in the next day or two looked alien to me the first time I came to the northwest, and the intensity of the contrast still startles me whenever I have the opportunity to see it.

In fact, on trips here from Anchorage (well, to Seattle, really) SeaTac international and all the scrubby town surrounding it looked bizarre to me, as lush as a jungle to my senses, tuned as they were to a semi-arctic rhythm of life. The buildings seemed incomprehensibly tall (you have to finish all building projects in Anchorage before the permafrost returns, preventing the construction of really really tall buildings) and the people walking down the street seemed loud and offensively public to me.

Now that this is my home, I wonder if I go back to Alaska if it will seem as strange to me now as the Pacific Northwest did then, and yet somehow strangely familiar.

Oh god.

Dec. 23rd, 2008 07:41 am
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A huge chunk of dried blood, snot, and pus just came out of my sinuses, dropping into my mouf. Gross!
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Lesson to me: When your brother, who drives the EXACT SAME CAR YOU DO, cannot get out of the parking lot, the wise thing to do is not to say, "no problem, hop in!" and then get your ass stuck in a gas station parking lot and have your boss come rescue you.

I'm sick, exhausted and miserable. Swallowing hurts, and that's okay... I'm too tired to eat anyway.
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To help clear something up, what do you call the long hump of snow piled up in front of your driveway when the snowplow goes by?


Dec. 17th, 2008 05:37 pm
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"Well, it officially passed the snowball test. This snow is playable," I commented to a co-worker on a break today. This fact has made this particular snow slightly less offensive to me. Perhaps it is my childhood in Anchorage that made me such a fine judge of snow... I remember brilliantly the excitement felt at eighteen inches of fresh new snow on a winter morning, school cancelled, only to run outside as quickly as mom could bundle me up only to find that it was too cold, the flakes too small and dry, and any attempt to mash a snowball left us with handfuls of powdery ice. Eventually there came a point where we could tell what kind of snow it would be just by watching it fall... observing flake size, clumping, and relative buoyancy. I would tsk at neighbors with small yards ("can't make much of a snowman there."), and covetously stare at those lucky enough to have corner lots.

I no longer have the snowpants and gloves that are needed for playing in the snow, and that makes me a little sad tonight. I remember as a child seeing others make snowmen, and I made carefully sculpted snow-huskies with curling tails and pricked ears, and snow-deer lying in the yard, legs folded under them, with delicate muzzles and birch-twig antlers.

It is gorgeous in the alley tonight. All of the trees outlined with thick pads of snow, all the noise of the freeway muffled by it. Despite the moment of nausea I experienced on Lincoln when my wheels started to spin, this snow is okay in my book.

As long as we don't get any more!
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It is very very slippery out there. Everyone be careful.
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To anyone trying to get ahold of me (ha!):

Don't have my phone on me. Sorry. Drop me an e-mail instead.


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