30 December 2009

Head towards the light…. (a.k.a. Mexico, Part 1)

I was determined to leave Alaska during the holiday break this year, having not left the state on a ‘vacation’ for a couple of years.  The choices were either to head back to New England to see family and friends (always a good option, though maybe not the best one in the middle of December), or head to warmer climes.  Ben conceded that it is indeed freaking dark here in the winter.  Very dark.  As such, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to head south, head towards the sun, head towards the light.  So for just  over 2 weeks we soaked it up in Mexico, traveling from Mexico City to Oaxaca City, then down to the Pacific coast to play in the ocean for a bit. 

 mexco 001  There are very few pictures of me through this entire trip.  I am the one with the camera, and the one with a love of taking pictures.  Therefore, there are a fair number of pictures of Ben looking at things, or trying to do something while I snap away.  Here’s one from our bathroom, as we were both trying to pack at 10:00PM the night before leaving.

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I really wanted to go into Mexico City.  I began to regret that desire a little as we flew over the largest city in the world – the rosy smog blanketed everything as far as you could see, and it was thick.  But I had reserved us a room in the neighborhood of La Condesa, at the Red Tree House.  What a **great** place!!!  Aside from having a killer headache from the altitude, I really enjoyed our brief time in Mexico City.  We ambled about that evening (Wed, Dec 9th), getting lost and watching people walking their dogs, repairing furniture, going about their business.  In the morning we walked up a ways to the metro station and took the subway to the bus station to catch a bus south to Oaxaca City.

mexco 015   Taking pictures on the way out of Mexico City.  I really didn’t do it justice.  One of my favorite things about flying over the city was just how colorful it was.  A sprawling mass of city, but with a veritable rainbow of color everywhere you looked. 

The bus to Oaxaca took 6 hours.  We watched Transformers, the first one, in spanish.  It is really quite terrible, but much better than the second one.   Then there was some sappy movie with John Cusak that I couldn’t hear well enough to make out the plot from my haggard and rusty understanding of Spanish.  We were watching some spectacular battles from Prince Caspian as we pulled into the bus station, around 6PM, in Oaxaca City.

We found a really nice place to stay, Las Mariposas, a bit north and west of the Zocalo, or central plaza.  No matter that we were a ways off of the central plaza – there was another park just up from us with a carnival in town, and parades with full horn sections and amazingly loud firecrackers everywhere at all times.  No, seriously.  Always.  And everywhere.  I’m not exaggerating. (much)

Anyways, these folks know how to fiesta!  Lots of celebration, lots of Catholic masses, lots of small children dressed up.  Dec 12th was the festival for the Virgin Guadalupe – a major deal.  On the bus ride down we had seen streams of people walking and biking along the highway on pilgrimage to Mexico City for Guadalupe.

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On one day we took a local bus about 30 minutes out of town to a village where life largely revolves around weaving.  Most houses have looms in them, and there are fantastic rugs and a myriad of other woven products made and sold there.  We walked around town for awhile, noting how very quite it  seemed.  Wicked hot, we popped in somewhere for a drink and talked for quite some time with three (fairly drunk) boys who informed us that due to it being Guadalupe Day, most people were at home or somewhere preparing for the major fiesta to be held that night.  They were pretty adamant that Ben was a dead ringer for James Hetfield – right, of Metallica.  Sweet. 

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Maybe if he had the leather pants, and was a bit more in touch with his rockstar side…

mexco 071 mexco 074The amazing and elaborate nativity scene at our hotel…

Below are all pictures of the Zocalo – with the big cathedral and just heaps of people strolling about in the cool evening (Oaxaca is still high enough in the mountains that I would put on a long-sleeved shirt after the sun set).  Parades, fireworks, large paper-mache puppets were marched down the streets all the time.  It was really festive, really energetic. 

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29 November 2009

Amigos, Perros, Playas, y Nieve

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The weather has been beautiful and blustery this month, with some spectacular sunsets!  The other night I took the dogs to the beach for a walk and the waves coming in were perfect – a handful of folks were out surfing on the point.

In land-based news, ski season is upon us! Yeah!  It was great to get out for early-season skiing, even if it was on an inch of snow over the frozen reservoir. 

Katie, Blaine & I headed up there the weekend before Thanksgiving:

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There wasn’t enough snow on Bridge Creek to ski up it, so we de-skied and walked up aways.

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I have so many of these ridiculous self-portraits. 

Thanksgiving!  I love Thanksgiving.  Ben graciously gave in to my love of cooking and eating and friends and family and we hosted Tday again this year at the house.  We got up at 9AM and cooked and cooked and cooked, cleaned a little, cooked some more.  Oh, and Ben decided he needed to hem two pairs of his pants. 

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Mike took a little while waking up….

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Megan and Steve were wonderful company, along with Steve, Susie, Charlie, Debbie, Elias, and Mikey.  And, of course, Kaya, Pemba, and LE.  I took precious few pictures, but enjoyed the day and the evening thoroughly.  Many thanks and deep appreciation.

We’re heading to Mexico next week, after a week of work, hopefully some more skiing, and trip-prep.  Then a weekend in Anchorage for work, a couple of days in Seattle, then SOUTH! 

Hasta pronto, mis amigos.

04 November 2009

Visiting Winter.

October was a really long month.  I don’t mean to say that it was a bad month, indeed just the opposite!  I was able to travel to Seattle and to Kodiak, Alaska – both for work.  Though I have developed a strong fear of the small planes that get me out of Homer, I still love to be on the go – I love airports and the entire feeling of traveling and transit.  However, at the end of it all (especially having just come off of Cross Country season with State on October 2) I was tired.  Tired and looking out my office window at bluebird skies and crisp fall-winter transition days.  Too beautiful for idle contemplation – I made reservations for a US Forest Service cabin in the Chugach Mountains, at the Crescent Lake Saddle Cabin.  Ben, me, Kaya, and Pemba headed out on Saturday morning….after Ben did some last-minute excavating.

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I manage to always get a lot of pictures of Ben walking in front of me, generally with dogs. 

october09 056So I have to take pictures of myself every now and again…just to show I Was There!

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Kaya and Pemba enjoying a small shrub-toy outside of the cabin

october09 066Ben, playing with my new-ish stove.   The giant flames terrify me.  Must.Be.Calm.  Ben is very assured that we will not burn down the sweet cabin, but I’m not always so sure.   He’s generally correct, and the stove is a *much* faster way than the woodstove to get hot coffee in the morning .

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The woodstove, however, keeps us warm.  And Pemba warm.  Which is very important.  This small little black dog may not be the toughest, not that Ben hasn’t tried to harden her throughout life.  Come to find out she’s VERY restless if she only has a cold hard floor, not  her couch to sleep on….

And below is a small sampling of my photo shoots.  The weather was incredible – some snow on Sunday morning, blue skies, frosty crisp air.  The mountains were snow-covered, rocks starkly outlined by their white counterparts…I was often struck still by the beauty & immensity.  Sometimes I think one can get too wrapped up in their own personal world.  However, when push comes to shove, there is so much more out there – more sorrow, more beauty, more depth and brilliance than one individual can truly pull all in and grasp.  Which is fabulous – it’s all out there, the exquisite and the sorrowful, to lend and learn wisdom, experience, compassion, etc etc etc etc…..

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Happy Winter, everyone!  May you embrace and enjoy the still cold beauty of it, in whatever way you experience this life.

22 September 2009

A Quick August Re-cap

I'll be brief on August ... on the 3rd, the Homer High School Cross Country Running Team began practice.  With me as head coach ... naively embarking upon a second job that has taken a phenomenal amount of time & brain-space.  Ben has been incredibly patient in listening to me talk about 17 high school students waaaaay more than anyone should have to listen to.  That being said, it's been a fun adventure, we have Regions this weekend, States next weekend, and another season has come and gone.  8 Weeks, I can hardly complain.

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August is the Gibson Family month.  Ben's sister and family come to Homer for the month, along with other sisters, neices/nephews, aunts/uncles, family friends, etc etc.  While Sam and the kids (the England-family) were staying at the house, Ben, Kaya, Shaemus, Pemba, and I stayed at Charlie, Debbie, and Elias' (aunt, uncle, & cousin) cabin-by-the-sea.

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This is the only real picture I took during our tenure at the cabin.  I was sitting on the bed at the time, so all at once you can get a sense of how lovely and sweet and small this space was.  The beach was just outside the window, and Shaemus fully enjoyed sitting on the top of the hill, watching the people and crows and other dogs meandering below. 

Also in August, Ben & Josiah tried their hands at set-netting.  There is a personal use fishery in Kachemak Bay for silver salmon.  The openings are 48 hours, and you hang a gill net that you hope fishes will swim into.  More or less, this is the idea.

septupload 005 The net, with a buoy at each end and floats along the length.

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A few salmon were caught, although I'm not entirely sure it would classify as the "bloodbath" that I was assured would ensue....

Next time, next time...

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To wrap August up, Chris came down before heading back south to Maine to pick up Shaemus and visit.  Coincidentally, he arrived for my birthday!  We loaded up the boat with dogs, Blaine, Katie, Ben, Chris, & I, food and beer, and headed across the Bay to the head of Tutka Bay for some first-class bushwacking up a beautiful valley.

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The boys tried to lend a hand to Katie for a river-crossing..

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Rainforest-y, wet, sunny, thorny Across The Bay.  Loved It.

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