Still sick (diagnosis: minor sinus infection) but I'm trusting to a pocket full of
non-prescriptions to get me through the workday. Though I'm not sure why I seem to
be so convinced they'll do me good from there in my pocket, as I've only actually
ingested a single Sudafed Sinus caplet.
Pause. Swallow. Make that two
Sudafed Sinus caplets.
By my usual standards, I've been indulging in
an orgy of drug use; when I woke up at 2AM, I actually got up and took a
second dose of Nyquil, it being over six hours since the first dose. Yep,
I'm a wild woman when I'm sick. Don't get between me and my Nyquil.
don't imagine anyone else is particularly enjoying my presence at work either, as
I've been blowing my nose all day. (I was going to get slightly more graphic here,
but in the interest of having anyone ever come back to read this page, I'll spare
the details. Anyway, you've all been there.)
Last night I was trying
to rewrite Tommy Sands' powerful song, There Were Roses to fit the
situation in Israel, while simultaneously chatting to a couple of people from my
List. I figured the Irish didn't need the song any more as they finally, after
three hundred years, seemed to have things under control. Regrettably, I was
informed by the British gentleman in the chat that the number of attacks and
beatings in Northern Ireland has risen dramatically, and that bombs are expected
any day. (Which is still more "under control" than the pitiful state of things in
Israel, na'theless.) My first thought is that I hope Egret and T2, outside Dublin,
won't be affected. My second, though, is not from Tommy Makem but from another
peace warrior, Pete Seeger:
"When will they ever learn? When will
they ever learn?"
Here's the entry I wrote earlier. I did end up coming home from work early, but
not until I'd gone to three meetings and finished everything I'd planned to do
today. I have a fever, so some of the surmises below are probably wrong. There
will probably be one more entry later today.
came home sick. more later -- I wrote an entry at lunch but the web access was
down and I mailed it home but apparently external email is down too.
I sprouted about three new gray hairs yesterday, when Mom told me that my former
babysittee, is engaged to be married. (Side note: she also told me that she's
still consistently exercising three days a week and has lost 17 pounds. She even
ergs. Go Mom!) (Other side note: I think my cubemate at work is about the age of
Former Babysittee. Make that four new gray hairs.)
called FB's parents to get the full scoop. Their house down the block was a refuge
in my own stormy adolescence. She was matron of honor at my wedding (in company
with the maid of honor and man of honor, my other two attendants) and he made the
rehearsal memorable by providing live harmonica blues. I really ought to give them
noms... uh, Harpman and Lo J.
I'm not really all that close to FB and
his younger brother FB2 these days, because I moved away to college when they were
about 8 and 5, but they've turned out well, still recognizably the same people
they were as small boys, and I like to keep up on their major events. Also, though
I fall about in the middle between Harpman and Lo J and their kids, Lo J has a
brother a year older than I am. We were in several classes together and were also
good friends throughout high school and after, until he married spectacularly
badly. And I mean spectacularly: it's a long story but she's now under house
arrest. He was lucky enough not to be given any time; apparently the judge thought
being married to her (and they still are) was its own punishment. So I was a bit
anxious about FB's choice of a wife.
From what Lo J says, though,
he's emulated his other uncle, the one whose wife is a wonderful person who
respects her husband's family as well as her own (FB's fiancˇe and the uncle's
wife even have the same first name). They met online but are not rushing into
anything. They'll have lived together for over a year by the time of the ceremony.
She's comfortable with his family, he likes hers, and though he's always been
extremely reserved, FB is visibly (at least to his mother) happy around her. So,
good; he's a nice kid (well, not a kid now) and I wish him and his family all the
happiness they deserve.
But I still feel old now.
this the little boy I carried?
Is this the little girl at play?
remember growing older,
When did they?
Today was a rowing sort of day. We got out to the lake a bit before six to meet
AussieCoach, who had very kindly offered to do a video-and-critique session, just
for us. After spending some time being filmed, we practiced "formation flying",
probably much to the amusement of anyone watching. We hope to get someone to stand
on the bridge and take a picture of us, close together, in our spiffy pretty
boats. Ideally, I'd like to make that into a poster with and appropriate poem by
Robert Frost -- the one that ends "Together, wing to wing and oar to oar". (With
all the spelling correct, unlike the poster I bought that incorporates a section
of Tennyson's Ulysses.) Of course, if we wear our flag-inspired unis and
use our flag-painted oars, I may have to Photoshop the design a bit so viewers
aren't blinded. Or donate it to a first-grade art class. ("Children, today we're
learning about primary colors.")
We came home and did a few chores,
including putting a new battery in my truck, then met AussieCoach at one of our
favorite brewpubs to review the video. He had a digital videocam hooked up to a
laptop -- very slick. There were plenty of things I need to improve, of course.
(Rowing consists of trying to perform a single sequence of motions, absolutely
perfectly, hundreds of times in a row -- there are ALWAYS things to improve.) But
the thing was, I didn't look half-bad overall. Not only have I rarely viewed
videos of myself rowing without embarrassment, I've rarely seen myself on video or
TV for any reason without cringing. But this wasn't bad. In fact, AussieCoach had
even somehow chosen an angle in which my potbelly some hidden by my elbows or the
boat at all times. Maybe he needs to rethink his day job -- lots of brides would
pay well for that sort of service.
After that, we went to a Volvo
dealership, because Rudder's Cherokee is nearing its last gasp and he wanted to
check out their new convertibles, and ran into Stinky (arguably the best rower on
our lake) and the future Mrs. Stinky (also a rower, which is how they met).
Unfortunately, we didn't run into any useful salespeople because the dealership
was closed, so we consoled ourselves by going across the street (they call that
area the Motor Mile for a reason) and looking at Jaguars instead. Of course,
Rudder *would* like the rabidly expensive XK8 best, which puts a damper on that
idea, but we also both liked the S-class cars, which are cool-looking in a bulbous
and quirky sort of way, and whose sticker price resembles the downpayment on a
nice house, rather than the whole house.
This morning: a planned lazy day, and yes it's sad that we have to plan them.
Once in a very rare while we stay in bed all day; we didn't quite make it to that
level, but we did stay in bed until nearly two, which feels like all day when
you're used to getting out of bed at four, ante meridian. We slept for something
like twelve hours, so obviously we needed to. Both Rudder and I have been having
trouble sleeping for the last few months. Part of the problem is that even in a
king-sized bed (ah, our wonderful big bed) once one of us started tossing and
rolling it wakes the other one, but there's more to it than that. Discussing how
well we'd slept in Alaska, we hypothesized the problem might be because we keep
the house at about 80 degrees at night (which is still cooler than our usual low
temp outside). We've turned the AC down a bit, the last couple of nights, and have
slept through until nearly alarm-time without either of us waking up once. Sleep
We'd bought munchies and grapes last night,
so with that, books, and of course each other, we were well supplies for a lovely
lazy horizontal morning. Since then I've gone to the bead store and the library,
gotten the oil changed on the Civic and found out my truck apparently needs a new
battery, but that ice relaxed feeling is still with me. Next stop: beer and
On my round of errands, I overheard something that left me
bemused. I still can't decide if this is the best thing I've heard in a long while
or the silliest. Mother to small sons, leaving library: "Now we've had two
After reading an old entry of Kiwi
Maria's, I started thinking about how I'd describe myself in ways that
actually meant something. Anyone who'd read much of this diary knows I am small
and smart, that I am more verbally than visually oriented, and that I like to row
and fly and travel. All of those things have strongly influenced me, but none of
them really get to the core of who I am. (Except maybe the "verbal" one. Words are
crucial to me.)
In some ways I am old-fashioned, but not in the sense
generally meant. I think most people who use that phrase hark back to either the
1950s or the Victorian era, two periods I would not have wanted to live in.
Possibly as a result of my schooling in Philadelphia and the resultant emphasis on
the American Revolutionary period, I would be far more at home in the Age of
Reason. I am not by nature either a specialist or a postmodernist; the appeal of
the former and the jargon of the latter just confuse me. I am not particularly up
on pop culture, but do have a level of traditional cultural literacy greater than
most of the people I meet. (Translation: I know my Bible reasonably well and have
at least heard of most of the English and American works of great literature.) I
wouldn't be considered literate by an educated man of that period as I don't know
Greek, Latin, or most of the great authors in either language. On the other hand,
Thos. Jefferson couldn't drive a car or program a computer, so I don't feel my
shortcomings as a crippling blow to my sense of self worth.
I am a
bit of an elitist, and have no problems with the idea of judging humans, but I do
so on their behavior and refuse to believe anyone should be considered lesser due
to gender, age, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or appearance (including
physical disabilities); in this I'm not old-fashioned at all. I find more
enjoyment speaking to people of average intelligence who make use of their brains
cells for more than stopping the flow of wind from ear to ear than to more
naturally gifted people who accept everything they're told and who are too lazy to
I like attention and the surest way to piss me off is to
ignore me. I'm not afraid to look like a fool, though it would be nice to do so a
little less often. There are some other things I am afraid of, but I refuse to let
them stop me from doing something, if I think I would enjoy it or if it's the
honorable thing to do. That's led me to do everything from skydiving to leaving a
note on the windshield of a car I'd scraped. (I was 22, with a brand-new driver's
license, and didn't have my own insurance because I was about to move out of
state. I didn't want it to go on my parents' insurance -- it was their car -- for
fear of sending up their rates. I still have the note the guy sent me in pleased
shock, after I'd sent him the check to get his car fixed.)
I have a
sense of integrity that I try to live up to, and a sense of humor more than
slightly on the raunchy side. I have little body modesty and no compunctions about
talking about sex, but only in the abstract. I do have enough desire for privacy
that I rarely talk more than obliquely about actually having any.
used to like summer, but probably mostly because of school vacation. I don't like
it now I live in a climate with too damned much of it. I do enjoy all four seasons
in moderation, but I'm more of a winter person, in predilection as well as in
coloring. I like sweaters and soups and chili and hearth fires, sleeping in a cool
room and snuggling, and being indoors watching a storm outside. I like wind and I
like snow. (Except driving in it!) Of the four ancient elements I am emphatically
a water person.
I don't consider reading a hobby; it's just what I do
when I'm awake. I used to read mostly F&SF and children's literature (especially
fantasy) but now I probably read more mystery than SF, and more nonfiction than
either. I still read children's books a lot because I think good children's books
touch essential truths in a way that often only great adult books manage. Their
meanings are much less cloaked, and more in tune with my unconvoluted mind.
Learning more, always, is very important to me, but I learn at least as much from
fiction as from nonfiction. I retain more by reading than by listening, but have a
very good memory for lyrics and verses, as well as printed words. There are
several books from which I could probably finish a sentence read from anywhere in
the book, or at least tell which episode it came from. If I didn't have to be
polite to other people, I would sing whenever I was moving. As it is, I mostly
restrict it to my own house and car, and to whistling when walking outside.
People sometimes think I'm smarter or stupider than I am because I
speak up when I don't understand, and sometimes figure things out by talking
through them, instead of figuring and then speaking. People have told me I'm
detail-oriented, but that only holds true with words. Rudder once said if he had
to describe me in a word, it would be "free-spirited". It's one of the nicest
things he's ever said, but I'm not sure I always live up to it. My mother once
wrote me that I'm "more open to new experiences that anyone she's ever met", and I
think that's the truest thing anyone has said of me. (Which may mean I
underestimate her perceptiveness. Hmm.)
My ambition is to live my
whole life, not just half of it. I want to be one of those people who always has
someone home behind their eyes, who is a little larger than life. Who walks alone
when necessary and who leads or follows only when the crowd happens to be going in
the direction she chooses.
The funny thing is, this is probably the
most starkly honest entry I've written, but I'm not sure it will make sense to
anyone but me. There's still more to say -- I would pity a person who could be
fully described in only a few paragraphs -- but I'll stop here, because I'd also
rather not be fully, completely described. I want to believe there's still more
to learn and grow into and discover.
What more do you need to know?
Today's dilemma: new boat good, heat
bad. I've been thinking about going down to 2 rows/week and spending the other day
on a long erg piece to maintain endurance, until it cools down a few degrees. But
that would leave my pretty boat on the rack an extra day. (wrings hangs) What to
do, what to do??
Regular readers of this space may remember that I hinted around last week of
something exciting about to
|Name: Sunrise||Name: Sunset|
|Arrived on: July 25, 2002||Arrived on: July 25, 2002|
|Weight: 29 lbs||Weight: 29 lbs|
|Length: 25'3"||Length: 24'6"|
|Birthmarks: "Sunrise" on starboard side near bow. Rudder's name on deck inside splashguard.||Birthmarks: "Sunset" on starboard side near bow. Dichroic's name on deck inside splashguard.|
OK, the birth announcement may not be an entirely appropriate format. For one thing, parents rarely sell off one child to fund the birth of another. Also, those weight and length numbers would make for a fairly nasty birthing experience.
I couldn't write before about the new boats because Rudder wanted to spring it as a surprise on T2 and
Egret by sending them a picture of our new matching "fleet". Unfortunately, someone seems to have leaked the news ahead -- T2 told me he was "wondering why he hadn't heard anything yet". Oh well.
I should also mention the twins' littermate: She-Hulk and another rower ordered a double from the same
maker, Hudson. It's also very pretty, a sunny yellow with a white stripe coming to points on top.
I was still in training and couldn't leave early yesterday, or I'd have been out of here to go unload the boats. I'd been needing to stay late and get work done after class all week, but there was no way in hell I was staying after five with a new boat literally with my name on it in the boatyard. I tore out of here precisely at five and hauled ass down the freeway to the boatyard, letting Gordon Bok's Schooners supply proper mood music all the way. (It's really mostly about sailing, but the love for boats is in every note on the CD. Jenn, you need a copy.) Got there a little before six. Fortunately Rudder's work was calm enough that he was able to peel out and unload the boats, along with one owner of the double (She-Hulk is out of town and Not Happy about missing the boats' delivery) and Hardcore. My very kind husband did all the preliminary rigging for me, working outdoors in an Arizona July. Luckily, yesterday was relatively cool (only about 104!) but it was still hot enough that the truck driver who delivered the boats burned his hand touching
the aluminum rigger. When I got there someone told me the guys had just gone out in the double so I tore down to the water at top speed to grab a few photos. By the time they got back from their quick spin and I'd taken about fifteen photos of the boats alone and together, and I'd run down to the water about three more times
(less literally than the first time), I was dripping sweat inside the long pants I'd worn for work. Rudder had been there for four hours by then so we headed off to our favorite brewpub, conveniently only about 10 minutes from the lake, to grab some food. We sat outside under a mister because at least the air was moving; it's an old dairy that doesn't have A/C. It was late for us by then, and so hot I was starting to flip out until Rudder got me to put ice on the back of my neck, which helped a surprising amount. We kept it to one shared beer, since we'd be back out
on the lake in too few hours.
After christening the boats with the obligatory champagne, we spent this morning's practice in rowing a little, finetuning the rigging, rowing a little to test it, lather, rinse, repeat. The paint job is based on the Arizona flag. We've got oars and unisuits to match, so we'll be hard to miss at regattas. There are a few subtle differences, because Rudder's boat is a midweight and mine is a lightweight, but unless you look at the names they're hard to tell apart at a glance. I'm going to have star decals made, and put the Big Dipper and the North Star on mine -- because it seems appropriate for a boat named Sunset, and as an echo of the Alaska flag. Not only did I love Alaska, I'm hoping the evocation of the memory will keep me a little cooler as I row in our muggy monsoon mornings. There's a star in the middle of our AZ-flag oar blades so I'll match the color to that. Sweet, sweet boats -- smooth and
fast and very very pretty.
Last time I
wrote on love and borders, I talked about eros. This time, I'm addressing
I have these ideas for a couple of slash stories that have been floating around my
head (or somewhere) for a while now and I'm not sure what to do with them. I don't
generally have much urge to write fiction, but that's primarily due to no talent
for plotting, not a major challenge in this case. Both stories would certainly be
NC-17, so the uh, climax of the plot is somewhat pre-determined. One is
Holmes/Watson; I didn't even know there were others with that pairing until href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com">Mechaieh (a Sherlockian) managing not to
tell me I was just being stupid, suggested I try a quick web search. Turns out
there are entire sites on the theme. The other, which first occurred to me during
a chat with Natalie pairs up Robert
Heinlein's Lazarus Long and Andrew Jackson Libby, quite possibly not a pair that
have been written about before (at least, I couldn't turn up anything in another
quick search). Though I can't really claim any great perception in spotting the
homoerotic comment there, since Lib says as much in Number of the Beast.
Anyway, I don't want to post it here. Too many people whose opinions
on the subject I'm not sure I even want to know, know about this diary. (Though
ironically, the two members of my family I think I've mentioned it to probably
wouldn't mind.) So if I ever have time to write up either story, what do I do with
them? And how easy is it to keep the author's identity from being obvious? I don't
care about inviolable secrecy but would rather not be a bright shining beacon to a
simple search. It might be nice if there were some reasonably anonymous way to get
I must not be all that worried, or I wouldn't
be writing this entry. Maybe I'm just easily embarrassed.
Not sure I'll have time to update later so I'll do it now.
href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com">Mechaieh's visit went well, if you
couldn't tell from previous comments. It was a bit on the sedate side, though,
partly because she's still recovering, more because I suddenly started feeling
unwell on Saturday afternoon and was still lethargic on Sunday, and partly because
my life really is that sedate.
Above, I had originally typed the
words "previous comments" as "pervious comments", which reminds me. On Sunday
after dinner, we were hanging out in the pool (It was actually cool enough to do
so. Yes, it is possible to be too hot to stay in a pool.) and I went to get out
some of our floats. We have several of those pool noodles: long, flexible foam
tubes that have enough floatation to support a person, but not so much as to keep
your body out of the water. They're 4 or 5 feet long and maybe 4 inches in
diameter. M (who had never seen one)said, "Oh, don't bother, we don't need those."
Half an hour later, most of which we'd spent perched on those noodles in one
posture or another, I commented to Rudder, "Boy, she really seems to like those
noodles." Mechaieh responded, "Well, I've never done a pool noodle before." Pause,
while Dichroic thinks "Ouch." and Mechaieh realizes what she's said. "Uh, you can
put that line in your diary if you want."
This week at work I've got
training all week, but still have to get all my regular work done. It's one of
those times when you just suck it up, and keep reminding yourself that a) it's
temporary and b) you get paid for overtime.
I've switched my gym workout around a bit, for several reasons. There are lots of
debates about whether weight lifting really helps rowers at all, but as Rudder
points out, doing something different helps keep us from getting so bored we drop
the whole thing. Also, weights can help develop the muscles opposite those we use
in rowing, which helps support the others and prevent overuse injuries (and, of
course, it looks better if they're evenly developed). First and foremost, even
small changes help keep me from getting burned out -- just doing a triceps
kickback one day and skipping my vertical rows can make me feel all rebellious for
breaking the routine. (This tells you how mundane my life can be. Though as href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com">Mechaieh pointed out the other day,
what's routine for one person can be completely exotic for another.) The other
factors are that I keep reading that one weight set, done properly, can have as
much effect as two or three, and that fall is our head race season -- we race
5000m instead of 1000m, so endurance is much more of a factor.
today I did some strength exercises on the erg first, that being the only thing
that is definitely rowing-specific. I need to fit in more distance whenever I
have time, so I did 2K to warm up instead of my usual 1k, then set the resistance
to its highest level and did 10 maximum-pressure strokes, rested, did 10 max-
pressure with legs only, rested, 10 max-pressure with arms and back, rested, and
another 10 max-pressure full strokes. (My source for this is an article at the href="http://home.hia.no/~stephens/rowing.htm">Rowing Training site.) After
that instead of my usual 3 sets of 12-10-8 reps, with increasing weights, I did 1
set of 20 reps on each exercise, trying to use the heaviest weight I could manage
20 reps of, and tried to concentrate on opposing muscles -- pulldowns and military
presses and vertical rows, biceps and triceps, and some abs and lower back stuff
for good measure, then my usual long stretching session.
advantage to only doing only one set of each thing is that even with the added erg
meters I got to work early, a definite plus because this is going to be a killer
week, what with training and all my regular work to get done.
Up at the property today, to clear out more of the low branches of the pines and
junipers. We didn't make Mechaieh
wield a saw, though; seems a bit much to ask of a guest. Unfortunately right as
we were heading out to drop off the second load at the brush pit, I started
feeling twinges of Unhappy Gut and spent the next two hours in the lodge, near
it's facilities, to my embarrassment. *sigh* The gracious and debonair host,
that's me. Fortunately she's a fairly undemanding guest, and Rudder is used to me
and my crotchets.
I did try to atone when we got home (I was feeling
a bit better after the two hours' drive) with beer-steamed shrimp, corn on the
cob, asparagus, and tomato-and-bread salad. Grapes for desert just to set the seal
So I was reading Elphaba and Byrne today, for some reason both struck me as being
all existentialist (in an interesting way, rather than the regrettable "I'm deeper
and more angsty than you" way you so often see) though I doubt either writer would
agree with that assessment. At any rate, it got me thinking that my life feels so
flurried these days that I rarely stop to do that sort of pondering. Then I
realized that no matter how much time and energy I had, I wouldn't be
existentialist because my mind just doesn't work that way. I think I'm a throwback
to older ways of thought; the Jefferson / Adams correspondence is in my to-buy
cart at Amazon, and for some time I've had a sneaking suspicion that I'd probably
like William James (though brother Henry is a bit slow-moving for me), but Sartre?
Probably never. Ditto Nietzsche (though at least I can almost spell him -- I only
missed one letter on my initial try).
If I ever have the time, I'll
think about that. It won't be in the next week or so, though.
that, in most ways I understand how my mind works better than I understand how my
body works. I don't know whether that's related to the fact that my mind in fact
works better than my body does. (Not strictly true: the body is stellar in terms
of health, just not so great at performance). What I mean by that is that I would
have no compunctions about taking classes at a top university, but would never be
/ have been able to be on any of their sports teams. Even after all my hours on
the water, I would be able to get to a higher level in trivia competitions, if
they had such an infrastructure, than I ever will at rowing races. (None of which
is to say that my mind isn't also considerably muddled most of the time.) This
reflection, of how I still really don't understand my body in many ways, is
brought on because I have gained about 3-4 pounds since the end of May and my
jeans are uncomfortably tight, and I have no idea why. I don't know if I've been
training less hard because of the heat, eating more, or what. It doesn't feel like
I've done anything different. I tend to gain and lose that much weight
periodically (No, not on a monthly schedule. I do understand that cycle.) for no
discernible reason; I hope it never gets more extreme, because if I suddenly
gained lots of weight I'd have no idea how to get rid of it.
Looking at what I've written, I see that it could be paraphrased as "mind is
obsolete, body is weak and undisciplined". That doesn't leave much. Perhaps I need
to redo my textual analysis here.
Question for the day: when the boss tells you you'll probably need to work some
overtime next week, is "No shit" an inappropriate answer?
quickly change it to, "Uh, I mean, I had already surmised that."
Mmmmm....Thai food for lunch. I'm stuffed.
Though I always regret
going to buffets, because I never eat enough to justify it. Too bad more places
don't have, say, a cheaper rate if you take a smaller plate and only go back once.
I suppose it would be too hard to verify.
No workout today; I decided
more sleep was more important. That also had something to do with being woken up
by my steak from the night before at 3AM. I keep thinking it's a good idea to eat
large hunks of protein ("large" in this case meaning about half an 8-oz filet)
occasionally, but I'm not convinced my body actually absorbs many nutrients from
beef, so maybe not. I'd eat more fish if more of it were like the salmon we had
in Seward, but now I fear I'm spoiled.
And yes, this is exactly the
sort of boring food topic I said I hate to discuss, but at least I'm not
inflicting it on anyone in conversation.
Back to work. Nothing to say
and too much to do to extend my lunch hour any further.
sign lady's stupid saying of the week is "Nothing big ever came from being small."
WTF?? Napoleon and I strongly object to that one.
Good God, I'm tired. Too much to do and apparently a side-effect of
being in my thirties means the days are much shorter than they used to be. In
addition to the three documents I'm working on (one late, two due next week) and
the customer delivery I'm putting together, I'm supposed to read "the first 91
pages" on another document for some training I start on Monday. That's not
including the other 5 things I should be working on. Then outside of work, I am in
urgent need of a food-shopping trip as well as a bit of sprucing up before
Mechaieh's visit, plus the 98 other things I need to do there. (Please note her
visit is not a chore; it's the payoff for getting chores done. The only thing I'll
have to do that wouldn't be done otherwise is to make the guestroom bed, and I
think I can handle the added strain of that.) (But I may take a leaf from my in-
laws' books and do the shopping right before dinner and right after figuring out
what I want to cook.)
Also, I need to submit my resume to apply for
some in-house training, only I just realized that was another casualty of the
dratted hard-disk crash. And most of the work I need to do needs input from other
people, who can't help me much because they're either out of the office or working
balls to the wall. (Where did that expression come from
Another reason I'm tired is that this morning I rowed in the
double with Stinky. He went easy on me, but the fact remains that Stinky won
Nationals a couple years ago in the lightweight doubles -- that is, exactly the
boat we were in today, except for having a guy in the other seat instead of me. In
other words, I had a lot to live up to. As you might guess, he's way better and
stronger than I am and his version of a light paddle is more like half pressure
for me. But it was ungodly hot (not again, still) and neither of us felt like
working all that hard, so we just did some power tens and twenties and drills. We
were both dripping with sweat afterward, due mostly to the temperature, but I
enjoyed the row and I think he did too. Rowing alone can get old and it's nice to
switch into a boat with someone else occasionally.
Sad ... listen to
me, complaining about having a well-paid job that challenges me and the chance to
go out in a double with one of the best rowers in the area. *wrench* (forcible
attitude adjustment) Yesterday I read a href="http://tygerchild.diaryland.com/question210.html">diary entry addressing
the question, What if you were given a chance to return to any previous point in
your life and change a decision you made, but you will lose everything that has
happened to you since then. Is there a time you would return to?" Hell no, not me.
Any major changes before meeting Rudder would have resulted in not meeting him (it
was a fairly chancy sort of thing). Since then, there haven't *been* many things
I'd want to change .... except a few minor improvements that aren't worth losing
the life I've lived. I could decide not to move to AZ, but that could have ended
me in Cincinnati or Wichita, or someplace flat and without rowing. (I'm glad to
have lived here, just ready for a change.) There are a couple of job decisions
where I'd have like to get a do-over, but that could lose me friends I'm glad to
have made and experience I'm glad to have acquired. ANd there isn't really
anything else in my life that's so fucked up it can't be made right starting from
here. Now, if I could keep the memories, live them over, and just correct a few
small mistakes along the way, that I would do. I'm a lucky
Funny, as I typed that last sentence, I started hearing an echo
in my head; in the movie about Benjamin Franklin's life that they show in Franklin
Court in Philadelphia (my favorite historical attraction there), Franklin says
almost exactly the same thing. I believe it's taken from his actual writings. Not
only am I a lucky girl, I'm in good company.
Literary craving: After
listening to the audiotape version of Joseph Ellis' brilliantly analyzed
Founding Brothers, I'm jonesing for a transcription of the letters
Jefferson and Adams exchanged in the last 13 years of their lives. Fortunately,
Amazon carries one, along with Ellis' bios of both men. I put them in the shopping
cart I've always got on the boil there .... but I promised myself not to buy any
books this month. Is there a literary equivalent of methadone?
I don't know how Arts and Letters Daily
finds all the articles they link, but the digest is not only worth reading but is
an answer to anyone who still believes that the Internet is ringing the nine
strokes of the death-bell for good writing. (Not that there's not plenty of crap
out there too.) (Not that anyone who actually spends any time on the net -- and
who cares -- doesn't already know there's good stuff out there. I just wanted to
sneak in that Nine Tailors reference for fun.)
I am getting
very excited about upcoming events whose details I am not at liberty to divulge. I
promise, though, that early next week I will Reveal All. No, I'm not pregnant. Why
is that the first thing everyone thinks of?
I just finished reading
an absolutely wonderful Harry Potter fanfic, href="http://www.schnoogle.com/authorLinks/A_J_Hall/Lust_Over_Pendle/">Lust Over
Pendle. There are some things I just don't get. I mean, as a reader, I've
entirely happy to have things like this to fill in the long grey period until
Rowling gets her attention away from those blasted movies (and her new husband,
one supposes) and back to the serious work of finishing Book 5. But what is the
payback for the writer? Clearly there's some satisfaction in providing comeuppance
for Harry (he appears to have annoyed her) and in rehabilitating some of the
characters who got a bad rap. But this thing is book length, or nearly. There was
clearly an enormous effort involved in writing it. So why not just write a new
book? The plotting is entirely original. The characters have the same names as
those in the books, but some have developed in entirely unsuspected directions
while others appeared to briefly to have a personality in the canonical books --
so in essence she's created entirely new characters. That is, in addition to those
who really areentirely new. I suppose it's just the fun of working
within the Potterverse, the same lure that brings us all those short story
collections in which various authors set stories in one universe. And this one is
a hell of a lot better than, say, most of the Sherlock Holmes sequels out there
(excepting Laurie R. Kings -- I like Mary Russell) or the odd book by Martin
Gardiner in which Dorothy leaves Oz for a brief visit to New York. Anyway, go
read it. Or wait a bit, if you like carrying books on your Palm Pilot; I've
converted the files to .prc and am going to send them to the author. (Note to href="http://eilatan.net/adventures">Natalie: Thanks. That Makedoc program
worked like a, er, Charm. I'll send you pie.)
I keep forgetting to write this entry, but it's one I don't want to post from
work. If you're male, feel free to tune out now -- you may be a swine in your
personal habits, but in general, you're not my problem. Go hang out in the Someone
Else's Problem field over there (makes vague gesture indicating
OK, the lodge is tyled and it's just us double-X types now,
right? Good, because I have something to say, and it's about public restrooms. We
travel a lot, and drive a lot, so I've used a lot of them. And then there's work,
and restaurants, and libraries and such.
Ladies ... Women ... Female
People .... just sit down on the fucking seat, OK? You are not going to catch
loathly diseases through the skin of your ass, unless you get way more intimate
with the fixture than I want to think about. Really, I promise you, it will be all
right. Use toilet paper or those weird slippery seat liners if it makes you feel
better -- though I've never quite figured out how porous paper is supposed to
block marauding germs. Why do I care? Because I might use that seat after you.
When you hover over it, you spray little droplets, and many of you appear to be
too inconsiderate to wipe off your own bodily fluids. While I really don't worry
about catching strange virulent diseases (trench-slit, would that be?), sitting in
someone else's piss is just disgusting. If your aim is that bad or you must hover
that high, then clean the fuck up after yourselves. Or (and this is the easy
solution) just sit on the damned seat. That's what it's there for.
you're that worried about diseases, wash your hands well with soap afterward.
Lather well, like a doctor. Unless your immune system system is already
compromised, this will kep you healthy, even if you open the door with your very
own fingers immediately afterward.
Oh, and don't use that anti-
bacterial soap, either. More resistent bacteria are not things we need in this
That is all.
Later note: Please disregard the next couple of paragraphs, about Weetabix.
They're not at all appropriate today. I'm going to give my cats an extra hug
Again, if you haven't seen my Alaska pictures, they're
href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/akpics.html">here. I'll probably post that
tomorrow too, since some people only seem to read this on
We went to see Men in Black II today. Great cinema it's
not, funny it is. It's definitely a sequel in that you have to see the first movie
to get the background, but it departs from the usual pattern by not being any
worse than the first one. It's fluff, but the effects are spectacular and the
jokes are funny.
Other than that it's been mostly a chore-and-errand
day. Amazing how being off from work can make even household chores more pleasant.
One thing about "work": it's aptly named.
Oh, yes, and we went to the
CHeesecake Factory for dinne. It was much beter than I expected. The variety of
food on the menu is very wide, from Cajun to French to Jamaican to down-home, and
my meal tasted wonderful -- Vietnamese rice-paper rolls and Jamaican black -pepper
shrimp. Rudder's meat loaf was OK but nothing special. It wasn't good enough that
I'd put up with the hour-plus waits they get at peak times, but no food is worth
that. I'll be back....just at an off time.
we went up to assess the damage to the property. Thanksfully there wasn't any;
even the new treelings we'd planted are fine. Most of the href="http://az82.com">Airpark is undamaged, but there are a few people who
face the heartbreaking chore of cleaning out the rubble of a house that's burned
to the foundations. There are bands of burned trees all the way from west of Heber
to Show Low (for scale, that drive takes most of an hour). To balance it, in the
usual way of life, there are houses and hangars going up that were untouched by
smoke, and I am very pleased to report that the burned areas are already being
reseeded. Apparently the hurry is to give the seeds a chance to take root before
the monsoon rains wash them away.
The astonishing thing about the
fire is how spotty it was; there will be a damaged area next to an intact area
next to a destroyed area, all along the main road. Close to the Airpark, in some
of the area hit hardest by the Chediski part of the fire, there are living trees
surrounding houses rendered to rubble, and intact houses surrounded by burnt trees
(no bets on smoke damage though).
The fire has given everyone more
impetus to clear out the underbrush and low-hanging branches. Next week we'll drag
Mechaieh out there as we take another
couple truckloads to the dump, but I've already informed her she isn't expected to
wield an axe or a hacksaw. Someone has to provide the conversation, after
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/anchorage.jpg" border = 0>
from Earthquake Park
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/cloudy_mts.jpg" border = 0>
the Richardson Highway looking east, I think.
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/exit_glacier.jpg" border = 0>
Glacier, near Seward.
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/flowers_sky.jpg" border = 0>
wildflowers all over on the southern half of our trip.
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/seward_mts.jpg" border = 0>
This is from
near our hotel at Seward.
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/sod_house.jpg" border = 0>
Native Heritage Center, at Anchorage -- most of the native cultures used sod
houses, for their good insulation.
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/stream.jpg" border = 0>
On the Richardson
"http://riseagain.net/dichroic/images/ted_shooting.jpg" border = 0>
I saw Ted
in this pose and made him do it again so I could snap the
After my earlier weather rant, I came across this. It's from
href="http://www.fbofw.com">Elly Patterson, an extremely sane ans sensaible
woman even if she does live in two dimensions and have ink for blood "Now we're
into July. It's hot, humid and all fans are sold. People now have something to add
to their list of complaints. Canadians complain about sports and the weather -
what a luxury. Others have too many things to cry about and say little. We're
lucky to live here." The rest of it is href="http://www.fbofw.com/char_pgs/elly_letter.html">here. Those of us a bit
below Canada on the map tend to complain about lots of other things too, but the
In even more surprising news about fictional
characters, check href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=573&e=3&cid=573&u=/nm/20020
712/od_nm/sesamestreet_dc_1">this story out. I don't know whether or not it's
necessary in the US, not having the figures handy, but those numbers for South
Africa -- that 1 in 9 people has AIDS -- suggest it's not too extreme a move for
there. With luck, it will ensure that the children there (those who survive) will
grow up with more sense than their current generation of leaders. Maybe that means
we do need to do the same here. I wonder if Sesame Street hasn't had more effect
than anyone realizes already, though there are always so many other factors at
work that it would be difficult to study. For example, Sesame Street was a pioneer
for colorblind casting from the beginning. Now, I was a first generation
Muppethead (the show started when I was 3) and my attitudes are substantially
different than my parents'. On matters like race and gender they have been since
before I can remember, and I don't know where else that could have come from, so
early. And it's not just me. I will never deny we have far to go on race issues,
but it is clear that the changes over the past 30 years or so have been dramatic.
I don't have numbers for this, either, but all you need to do is go walk around in
a crowd and note the number of mixed-race couples. They used to be very rare, not
all that long ago. Even in about 1983, when I was in high school rumor had it a
black boy and white girl were asked not to go to the prom together. I fervently
hope that doesn't happen any more. (Twenty years before that, they wouldn't have
been "asked". These days it's same-sex couples who have those problems. I hope to
see the same sort of progress, though preferably a faster rate of change.) Mixed-
race adoptions are common, TV shows about black people are targeted to everyone
(Bill Cosby gets a lot of credit there), most sports fans don't pay much attention
to who is of what race. (There is always the not-occasional-enough troglodytish
exception to all of this, of course.) Maybe Sesame Street will have some impact on
attitudes toward AIDS.
I do want to talk about weather again, but no
rant this time. You've seen a sun shower? Yesterday, on my way home, I drove
through a sun-dust-storm. The storm was blowing in from the mountains to the east,
while the sun was shining in the west, and I was driving due south. As a result,
the dust clouds coming in form my left were glowing as if they were lit
from inside. They were golden instead of beige. I couldn't watch too closely
because it was rush hour and the storm wind stirring them up kept trying to push
me into the next lane, but it was very beautiful in an eerie way, The effect only
lasted a few minutes. No rain yet, though.
Good God, it was stupidly hot this morning. And by "stupidly hot" I mean that
anyone who would row in it is stupid. There were actually quite a few other boats
out on the water, so I'm not the only stupid one. Of course there are plenty of
people who don't mind heat, or so they keep telling me. I find it difficult to
It was around 90 degrees out, with humidity probably around 40% -- not steambath
levels, but enough to be annoying. Now, I know there are plenty of places where
that get up into the 90s, with 90% humidity, where summer is the prime athletic
season. Remember, though, most rowers are out at dawn, in the coolest part of the
day. 88 degrees was the low here today. Out of curiosity, I looked up the
low temps in Philadelphia, Boston, and DC, three cities full of rowers that are
known for their steamy summers, and they all have lows in the upper 60s/low 70s.
Even my old stomping ground, Houston, where morning rows could feel unpleasantly
sticky, has average lows around 75.
Interestingly, weather.com claims Tempe, where our lake is, also has average lows
around 75 for July and August. I don't know where they got that number --
predicted lows for the next ten days range from 83 to 95, and that's about normal.
(I believe the Houston average, because that's siilar to the temperatures they
have predicted now.)
You're whinging again.
Yes, I know. I defend my right to whine in the
face of a completely unreasonable climate.
*Sigh* So how long are we stuck hearing this?
The rest of July, all of August, and half of September, or at least until
we get a front that allows the words "unseasonably cool" and "Arizona" to be
mentioned in the same breath. Speaking of breath, don't hold yours.
wishing luck to the local crews heading off to Sacramento to race in Regionals. At
least they should have the advantage if it's hot there.
If you're scrolling back to look at previous entries (I often do more than one a
day), ignore the previous page. It's just there to provide links to Diaryland-only
In a way, I'm being a hypocite on my Montgomery list. I
keep talking about how I believ in not imposing one's own beliefs on others, yet I
sneakily try to do exactly that. In my own defense, I am not trying to undermine
the faith of even the most fundamentalist menber of that list; what I'm trying to
do is get them not to assume that everyone they speak to -- especially everyone
who has strong morals -- must necessarily share their beliefs. I want them to
realize that other paths may have something to teach, and that looking and
learning doesn't have to jeopardize their own faith. That if their beliefs are
right, they do not need to be protected by the walls of narrow minds.
Now, these are well-meaning, good-hearted people, and most of them
probably already believe that last sentence intellectually. I'm not talking to
bigots here or I wouldn't waste my time. It's just those automatic assumptions
that "we like each other so we're all good Christians here" that I want to
I wouldn't presume to tell them that all faiths are equal
or that they're all paths to the same end. I'm sorry (no I'm not), but some
religious beliefs are plain stupid, and some are even plainer evil. (Jim Jones.
Aleister Crowley. Torquemada.) If you're going to stake your soul (yet another
dubious assumption) you had better have more than an inkling that you're right. Or
at least close enough to right. And anyone who believes that all faiths are equal
paths to Infinite Truth just hasn't studied many of them. Shiva, Buddha, and
Jahweh have more differneces than similarities.
On the other hand, it
is true that another path may have something to teach you, if you will listen.
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva have something to say about death and rebirth that should
resound in the ears of any follower of the three-in-one. The Humanists (to whom I
think I am going to make a donation) have a creed that should make sense to anyone
living on this planet, even if you're only here temporarily.
the point with my sisters-in-LMM-fandom, we are not all alike, and it's not safe
to assume we are. We are alike some ways, and different other ways, and that's the
good thing about us human types.
Sorry, I'm getting all heavy again.
Maybe it's because I've somehow gained a couple of pounds. I'll stop now.
Working at home for a little bit this morning, because my remote access to work
stuff still isn't working right and I need to be here while the support guy talks
me through it. Unfortunately, I'm supposed to call him at 8, and it's now only
7:20 and there isn't that much I can do meanwhile.
The monsoon season
has set in here, but no rain yet. Instead we get dust storms, which are
thunderstorms with dust blowing in the strong winds but no rain. My first year
here I took a picture of the approach of a dust storm; it had such a defined edge
and was so beige and opaque that it looks like I have my thumb over the
I miss Alaska. I want to go back. I want to move there, though
I'm not sure how I'd survive the winter. I wan't to move somewhere, at
least. I have itchy feet and would be happiest moving to a new place every two to
four years. And I am so, so tired of heat. If Rudder were to keel over tomorrow
I'd be out of here within a week, up to Flagstaff, Portland (either one),
Anchorage, Juneau, or somewhere not too urban and much cooler. I'm more interested
in being with Rudder wherever he is than in going off without him, so I just keep
hoping I can persuade him to move one of these years. He likes not only the
sunshine here, but also his job, so he's more tied down than I am. (I like my job,
but as a contractor I can't stay more than 2 years anyhow.)
place to live would be on an acre or ten, so that there are neighbors nearby but
not always in view. They would be neighborly neighbors, not necessarily best
friends but pleasant to talk to. Close friends would be not too far away. The
house would be rambling, with lots of natural materials: wood and stone and maybe
some earth (rammed, I mean), with comfortable seating to read in the library and
to talk in the family room. The family room seating would focus on a fireplace;
there would be a TV but it wouldn't be the centerpiece of the room. Sounds system,
phone and network jacks throughout. A kitchen with plenty of cupboard and counter
space, and room for at least a couple extra people to hang out. Bedrooms for us
and a visting friend or three. The climate would be warm but not obscenely hot in
summer, and cold enough to have snow in winter. It would rain sometimes, but not
all the time -- Flagstaff is just about perfect. There would be challenging and
well-paid jobs, interesting shops, and good restaurants not too far away, so it
would probably be just outside a small city or big town -- this is where our
property on the Rim falls short, and why we don't live there now. It doesn't seem
like too much to ask for.
I think I invented a fun game
href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/nowaldo.html">yesterday by accident. If
you were a painting (or a painter's whole oeuvre), who would you be? What if we
expand to visual arts in general? Throw in songs or books, too, what the hell. I'd
consider setting up a quiz, but I don't know how. Also, on reflection I don't
really like the idea of shoehorning the vast spread of human personality into a
few choices. I may set up a survey, so it can be open-ended.
fun way to play would be to decide what paintings your friends would be. After
all, you know far more about yourself (I hope!) and it's hard to find one painting
to symbolize all those facets. It's easier to do for other people, though whether
they'd agree with your choices is another matter.
So let's see ... If
anyone's wondering, the reason I didn't suggest href="http://www.eilatan.net/adventures">Natalieeee as a Rubens yesterday is
that the word that comes to mind for her is not so much "voluptuous" (a mere
physical description) as "incisive". Durer? No, too dour and colorless. And href="http://caerula.diaryland.com">Caerula? Maybe that guy that does the big
comic panels (what's his name?) -- something to reflect her knowledge of and
immersion in pop culture (see her bio entry), but Andy Warhol is definitely not
right. And with a dash of van Gogh, too, for more shaded color and swirling
complexity. I suspect lots of people are compilations like that. href="http://genibee.diaryland.com">Geni should be easy, definitely an Italian
master, but here again I'm too ignorant to say which one. My brother might be a
(I do hope nobody is offended by this -- after all, these are all
considered great art.)
And come to think of it, not everyone is
great art. After all, the above and those mentioned yesterday are all people I
like. Fabio is a paint-by-numbers on velvet. Your least favorite politician may be
graffiti. But that isn't always a bad thing either. Ronnie Gilbert (of the
Weavers) is a Grandma Moses -- this is a compliment to her vitality and solid
roots, not an insult to her complexity. I used to work with a real Norman
Rockwell (named Norm, too), completely genuine.
So, who are you? Are
you a painting at all or some other form?
I'm beginning to appreciate the woman in the next building who posts all the
stupid affirmations. Yes, they're always stupid, but they do get me thinking.
(Though I doubt that's her intent.) Today's saying clearly owes a debt to one I
love, from Auntie Mame: "Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches
are starving to death!" Now, that one I can sink my teeth into (sorry). But
today's UnThought of the Day doesn't have nearly the implcations of endless
choice: "Life is a great big canvas. Throw as much paint onto it as you
Well, yeah, if you want your life to turn out like something by
Jackson Pollock. I suspect quite a few of us don't, though certainly we all have
Pollock-y days. And Calder days, too, where everything is just barely balanced and
one more weight would upset the whole thing. But overall, some of us shape our
lives as we want, while some do fling random paint. href="http://mechaieh.diaryland.com">Mechaieh, who has always struck me as
living a very carefully constructed life, would be a Monet -- all the colors make
shimmering sense when you look at them together. Some lives are murky and muddy,
like Goya (or maybe I don't mean Goya; Sister Wendy I'm not). It's tempting to
call SwooP a Titian and Baf a
Cassatt, but those are just superficial -- I don't know either artist (or either
person) well enough to know if that works on other levels. Though I suspect href="http://weetabix.diaryland.com">Weeabix may really be a Rubens, but
again, I'm speaking from ignorance. I've definitely met a few Dalis, which can be
kind of scary in a real person.
I'm not sure what my 'painting'
would be like, but I think it would be representational, have colors ranging from
rich jewel tones to iced pastels, and lots of fine detail and visual jokes to
search for. I realize I've just described myself as a Where's Waldo picture. Maybe
instead I could be that painting -- who's it by? I know it's very famous -- that
shows a room whose walls and ceiling are hung thick with other framed paintings.
In fact, I seem to remember seeing a parody on the original, where are the
paintings have somethiung odd about them. That would be me. Sister Wendy?
I may have to revise my opinion of
href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/010309_67.html">modern poetry. I think it's changing -- moving away from deliberate obscurity and moving on to
observation of the everyday, to picking out the sacred encapsulated in the
mundane. And that may be a sentence as obscure as many I deride, because I
understand what I mean in a visual way rather than in words. Several poems I've read lately remind me of a halogen spot highlighting one painting on a crowded gallery wall, or maybe I need even a more mundane image -- like taking special noice of the intense hyper-red color of a particular cherry in a fruit salad, or the perfectly polished shape of a pebble on a beach full of pebbles, any one of which may be as beautiful as another.
This is all because I clicked over to Rattle to look for a poem of Mousepoet's. I'm fairly certain which is his, but if you're not sure of his real name, it's more fun to look for it. I
won't post any of the poems here in case of copyright issues, but I particularly
liked the ones there by Kay Puttney Gantt and Michael P. McManus -- href="http://www.rattle.com/rattle16/16index.html">click over and take a look at them.
Though I still think a lot of poets would be better if they'd pay as much attention to their words as to their images.
The Alaska Trip: the lists
mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, taiga, tundra, fjords, oceans
bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, some kind of little shrew or vole that looked
like a fluffy cat's tail, bald eagle, puffin, mew gull, common murre, Dall
porpoise, sea otter, salmon, Stellar sea lion -- we didn't really get close-up
views of any of the larger critters, though. Oh, and mosquitoes.
Anchorage, pop 225000, Seward, pop 3000 in winter. Lots of restaurants and live
music in Anchorage, plus the Saturday Market -- music, crafts (the good stuff, not
the icky kitschy kind), food. Seward is right on the ocean, and apparently a big
favorite with RVers, but downtown had a nice funky look. We also went through lots
of towns whose population is under three digits, and there are plenty of people
living in AK in places with no roads, and there are still the 'Caribou Clatters'
radio announcements for those with no other means of communication.
Most striking difference:
Cool wet weather -- wearing jackets in July. And it never did get all-the-way dark
Annoying things about traveling (off the plane):
People at hotels who think that because it's light out, it's OK to make noise late
at night. Vast quantities of people on bus tours. Realizing too late we missed
something cool because we didn't do enough research to find out about it in
Annoying things about traveling (on the plane):
Screaming children (not babies -- I don't like that noise either, but you can't
reasonably expect a baby not to cry). Loud adults. People who kick the back of
your seat. Fat people who don't pay attention to the fact that they're taking up
half your seat. Oh, and Alaska Airlines has nice planes but icky food. And for
some weird reason they served a tract -- well, a little slip with a Psalm verse --
with our lunch on the way home.
Funniest thing overheard:
(in strong Southern accents, while looking at a globe)"Hey, Ma, did you know
there's all of Canada between here and the rest of the US?" "Now you know I'm as
stupid about geography as you are." "Well, it is -- I thought Alaska was just
kinda stuck on top of the US, but Canada's in there."
Rudder and I have this one tiny problem kayaking: when they put us in a double
kayak on these sorts of trips, we keep getting far ahead of everyone else, even
the guides (because they were in single boats). Even with Rudder still not
entirely better, we'd have to paddle for about a minute then stop and wait for the
rest of them. I attribute it partly to him not having a light paddle in his
repertoire and part to our timing as rowers; we paddle together and most people
don't, or at least not as consistently.
Best restaurants we ate at:
Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage, Resurrection Roadhouse in Seward.
Alaskan Amber, Glacier Brewhouse Scottish, and a doppelbock from Girdwood or
somewhere. All good.
Things I want to do next time:
Seen glaciers calving, gotten up into the Arctic circle, visited Barrow and Juneau
(that's probably two trips -- they're a loooong way apart. Also, more rafting and
kayaking and flightseeing.
Could be better:
Denali, if the weather had cooperated. Wrangell-St. Elias, if we'd been able to
get further in.
Rudder puking his guts up and being queasy or otherwise uncomfortable for the next
Better than expected:
Anchorage, rafting, kayaking, the hotel in Seward, the salmon bake at Fox
If I did it again I would:
Do more research before talking to the travel agent. (Or get a better one - we
used an agent to plan our Austraia/NZ trip a while back and she gave us far more
info and choices. But we gave her more lead time.) Make sure the boat tour went by
tidewater glaciers. Stay at smaller hotels or B&Bs instead of lodges aimed at the
Will we really do it again?
I hope so. Great place.
The trip to Alaska ran to 10 pages in my trip journal
(paper), and I don't really feel like transcribing all of that, so I'll just pass
on the gestalt here.
Trip Summary: Flew to Anchorage 6/28. Stayed at
the Voyager -- not bad, though undergoing renovation. Spent one full day there:
wandered through the Saturday Market, took a trolley to the Native Heritage
Center, another trolley tour through town, saw one movie with the Northern Lights
put to music that put me to sleep and a better one about the state in general that
I think started out as IMAX. Had a good Thai Chicken pizza and excellent beer at
the Glacier Brewhouse. Drove up to Denali. Stopped at Talkeetna to get on a plane
and flightsee Mt. McKinley (aka Denali), got only a glimpse of the mountain in the
clouds, but did get to land on a glacier. Stayed at the Princess Lodge (owned by
the Princess cruise line). Not overimpressed with Princess hotels; the hotel part
is OK, not the sort of luxury they'd like you to think they have, but the food is
definitely mediocre. Also, too damn many tour buses coming in and out. Went on a
bus for a wildlife tour through Denali, in weather not conducive to spectacular
shots of the mountains. Went rafting that evening and had a blast -- it was
chilly, but they had us in very good drysuits. We also found that the bar and
grill and the salmon bake place across the road from our hotel were both far
better than any of the hotel restaurants. Drove up to Fairbanks, where we stayed
in the Wilderness Lodge, another place on the tour bus route. Ate at the hotel
restaurant, where Rudder's steak tasted funny (cue ominous music). Went to
Alaskaland, which despite the kitschy name had a good little aviation museum and a
wonderful presentation on the Gold Rush, as well as less stellar attractions --
house museums and shops and a beached paddleboats.
The next morning
we'd have liked to tour the NOAA satellite tracking station, but they were too
busy with a satellite launch. We drove down to Copper Center, by Wrangell-St.
Elias National Park (the largest NP). We stayed at another Princess Lodge. After
another mediocre dinner, Rudder began feeling a bit off, which eventually
culminated in his being violently ill at 3AM (loudly, too, though he'd
considerately closed the bathroom door). Instead of the long dirt-road drive into
the park we'd planned, we drove just the first part of it -- paved road to
Chitina, then a few miles of dirt for some more views. I drove, actually; he was
only somehwat there, but decided he'd rather feel lousy out of doors than in a
hotel room. I ate at a historic roadhouse (food OK but a little bland and greasy)
and brought him back rice and toast. The next day, I drove us the six hours or so
to Seward, while Rudder looked pale and wan in the passenger seat. Usually he
drives because he likes to and I don't, for more than an hour or two. When we
finally got there, he napped (we were at the Windsong Lodge) while I drove into
town briefly. The we went to dinner at the Resurrection Roadhouse, which despite
being at our hotel was excellent -- 15 good beers on tap (plus Bud), a
winelist, and tasty food. Unfortunately I couldn't save my Pad Thai -- no
minifridge in the room. Good hotel, too. Next day Rudder was considerably better,
though still feeling inflated after eating anything much. We went on a
cruise/kayak trip -- out to Fox Island on one boat, kayaked around it for three
hours, had a very good salmon bake (salmon is usually too fishy for me, but this
wasn't at all, and was nicely grilled), and cruised back on another
This is just the bare bones of the trip, but it's already
getting long (now you see why it was 10 pages in the handwritten journal). I'll
end here for now, and post later or tomorrow with more highlights and experiences.
For more lyrical travel writing, go check out href="http://ziggym.diaryland.com">Egret, who's seeing Ireland the right way -
- by living in it.