You might not expect this, but I love me some Christmas. Not the awful consumery, commercial part that makes baby Jesus cry – but the family, friends, traditions and sparkly bits of December.
Growing up in the snowy mountains, the tree hunting expedition was one of my very favorite traditions. Despite my highly-mobile, apartment-renting, vagabond lifestyle, I can’t shake the urge to decorate a tree which leads to the following list of unconventional greenery:
(See explanation here of why I don’t just go cut down a tree in the woods or buy one from a lot).
Minimalist but heartfelt. Very easy clean up.
‘Twas the year of my Fantastic Zip Tie Christmas Bush.
Beautiful and festive.
And really a 2-Dimensional bouquet of sticks in a bucket.
I traveled all December, so no tree for me.
Traveling cheer at El Paseo bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Celebrating a very Navajo Christmas with cousin in front of the fireplace at the Navajo Room in Boise, Idaho.
Kristaf and I set out on an urban tree hunt in Sitka. It was very barely illegal as we harvested our wee spruce from beside a not-our-property chain-link fence where it eventually would have been cut down anyway.
Nestled snugly in a flowerpot.
Looking deceptively handsome despite its razor-sharp spruce spines which left us scratched and bleeding after our decorating party.
I broke down and went to the tree lot as I was passing by one recent afternoon. I asked for a tiny pine, but they didn’t have any less than five feet tall. They did have a pile of branches with a free sign. Hmmmm.
I am the MacGyver of holiday foliage.
Happy Christmas, everyone.
Don’t be alarmed, everyone. I’m not suddenly full of brains and energy and gumption to entertain.
I am, however, excited by WordPress’s news that I can use my email to create posts, so let’s see if this works:
The walk to Pop’s cabin (and the only exercise I performed while in Idaho).
The WordPress people also told me I can share videos with you. Like this one…which you should have already watched, but here it is just in case you missed it.
Comb Your Beard (at Night)
Here’s hoping this works!
One of the nicest things about buying an enormous computer with one terabyte of space is that, if you’re me, you can add every photo, music, art and writing file you own, and you will not even begin to fill up the big beast’s memory.
You can then sit back and watch its preloaded photo program (iphoto) organize your files by date. It is awfully sweet. You can then entertain* and frighten** yourself with exercises like, you know, looking up this week in history***.
This week in 2004, I was saying goodbye to my friends, school and host family in Guadalajara, Mexico and striking out on a bus & backpack trip of Mexico and Guatemala.
Goodbye, armed guards protecting the school entrance.
Hello, awful packing skills. I’m glad I have improved upon something in recent years.
(I have photos thanks to tech-savvy friends Estaci & Eveena.)
This week in 2005, I was still spurning technology and shooting pictures on film…until Christmas.
This week in 2006, I was in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho drinking beers and kicking ass at Stevie Wonder karaoke duets with two of my dear, lifelong chums.
Hello, Lauren and Garrett!
This week in 2007, I visited Omze n’ Thrillz and roamed the bars of Moscow, Idaho.
Omie & I pretend to be cool
I display my sportsmanship
Thrillahamm probably cheating
This week in 2008, I was Christmas tree scheming in the Sitka cabin. I was also tan and sassy after my first trip to the Hawaiian Islands (Kauai).
I miss you, Vitamin D.
This week in 2009, I explored a Grand ole Canyon in the American Southwest!
Mr. Holden makes photos.
I make airplane noises.
This week this year, I am in Sitka, and I took some pictures of my new Christmas shrub. In the continuing tradition of my Fantastic Zip Tie Christmas Bush, it is unconventional but festive.
But more on that tomorrow. For now I have very important photo-based cultural anthropology research to complete.
*If you like to reminisce.
**If you are gun-shy about mortality.
***History = the few years I have owned a digital camera.
arizona, cactus, christmas lights, colorado river, desert, frog rock, ice, laughlin, life, market, nevada, photography, random, red rocks, road trip, rocks, sedona, snow, southwest, sun, tlaquepaque, travel, travelogue, water, writing
Sunrise over the Colorado
Behold, a cactus
Not southern Idaho. Arizona. No really.
That’s more like it. Sedona. Oooooooooh.
Festival o’ lights at the Tlaquepaque (which is nothing like Tlaquepaque in Guadalajara)
And it is cold – freezing in fact as illustrated by this non-flowing fountain
A snow storm in predicted for this area at the beginning of next week, so the plan is to see as much as possible and get the hell east. Everyone keeps talking about this big canyon that’s somewhere around here, so maybe I’ll check that out too.
I was thumbing through some old digital photographs and ran across these ghosts of Boise Halloween past (2008):
With my cousins, Wonderwoman and Billy Ray Cyrus
This costume was fun, though my bottle top did frequently get clotheslined on doorways, and I eventually had to ditch my patchwork dress because of the shoddy construction. I can’t wait to see my costumes (Yes plural: one for Friday, one for Saturday) all pulled together this year. Happy Hallowiener everyone!
Last month I took a trip that some might call blow-your-mind-fantastical. It was quick (one week) and consisted of my greatest friend Megan The Gnome and I tooling the entire island of Ireland. “Whoa, fun!” you say, and I concur. It was also very very expensive.
Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, Ireland – New friends
It didn’t start that way. Gnome found tickets round trip from Boise, Idaho to Dublin, Ireland for $571.60. That’s pretty phenomenal – especially considering my ONE WAY flight from Sitka, Alaska to Boise cost $358.20. The return flight (Spokane, WA – Sitka) was an extravagent 20,000 airline miles (12,500 miles is normal).
A session at Murty Rabbit’s in Galway
Don’t worry about busting out your calculator yet. I’ll sum the numbers for you in a minute.
Lodging costs were nominal as Megan paid for most of them with the agreement we would settle up later. I paid a reasonable $105.66 for the week.
The superb Sandrock Holiday Hostel on Ireland’s northern shore.
In flight booze was free on the international flight, so my airborn booze costs were purely Alaska Airlines – $20.
Gnomes drink airplane Heinekin from teacups.
Euro socket/wattage adapter – $39.99, and it did not work at all. Stupid airport salesman.
Um. There was a Pan-Celtic festival in Donegal city.
Tour of the Guinness factory in Dublin – $17.16 which was completely worth it, especially considering a pint was included (and that the average cost of a pint equates to about $7 or $8 US.
View from the bar atop the Guinness factory.
Foreign transaction fees weren’t bad for my credit card ($2.56), but two ATM withdrawals on my debit card cost $10 in fees.
Beer on the riverside – Spanish Arch, Galway.
$10 in Skype credits to call home, and $26.81 in souveniers didn’t seem too outrageous, nor did $40.09 for food & booze.
Crossroads Inn at Malin Head. Thank you, barman Paul.
My ATM withdrawals totalled $395.22 and probably split 60% drink, 30% food and 10% souveniers. A little steep, but all in all a pretty thrifty adventure at $1,597.29.
Irish coffee is still called “Irish Coffee” in Ireland. It’s just more expensive.
But wait … there’s more.
Sooooo I tried to research how my iphone would work across the atlantic, but I couldn’t find much for straight answers. I knew better than to make phone calls, but I figured the wireless internet smart phone capabilities were created to make my life easier, and I thought of all the times travelling when a wee map or a Google search could have really improved a situation. They did, in fact, make life a little easier – until I got my monthly bill. $409.41. Awesome.
Dancing on a dart board; The Reel Inn, Donegal town.
So for anyone out there wondering about using an AT&T iphone in Europe, yeah … just don’t. Unless the second you land, you go to: SETTINGS>GENERAL>NETWORK>DATA ROAMING (SLIDE TO OFF). It’s almost as buried as the international usage information on the AT&T website: http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/international/roaming/iphone-travel-tips.jsp. My phone automatically searched for emails and voicemails, running up a steady bill. The kilobytes I used to send one picture by email cost about $20. Imagine if they billed monthly Internet that way. Fucking robber barons.
But whatever – I learned something, and that brings my trip total to $2006.70.
Oh. And then this happened.
Fuck you, Focus.
That is a Focus from Hertz rental cars. In a land of roundabouts, right-side steering wheels, left-side-of-the-road driving, fast ass driving and 2-lane highways the size of my front porch, this is not uncommon. Plus I needn’t have worried – one of the perks of renting with my Alaska Airlines/Bank of America Visa credit card was complimentary auto rental insurance. Right?
Notice the yellow line is on the shoulder, white line in the middle.
Oh wait. Also buried on a website (http://usa.visa.com/personal/cards/benefits/bft_dmg_waiver_personal.html) in small print in a section called “Who is NOT covered” was this little cat turd: “Losses from rental transactions which originated in Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland.” So yeah, having declined coverage (since I thought it was covered with my card), I was fully responsible for the damage. But I mean, come on. It’s a fiberglass pop-together fender of a Ford Focus. How much could that really cost to replace?
Can you find the highway direction signs?
Um – exactly $3,277.03 apparently. Fuckinggoddamncocksuckingsonofabitchassbastards. For that price, I’m pretty certain I could have flown back with the parts, completed the labor, then drove the fucker around for another week, and still had some money to spare. I will never rent from Hertz again. Ever. Assholes.
So my one-week Ireland trip culminated at a grand total of:
Cliffs of Moher
There are three ways I’ve come up with to justify the excessive money pillaged from me.
1. My job covers food and housing. If I had been renting and paying bills for the last 5 or 6 months, I wouldn’t have that money anyway.
2. This is the first winter I’ve worked full time/overtime fairly consistently, so that money wasn’t very accustomed to my bank account and was longing for escape.
3. It was worth it – the old pubs, the accents, the castles and beer. I learned a couple lessons, but given the choice, I’d do it again. I would not trade the good memories for the couple thousand I lost.
Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway, N Ireland
Sitting on the city walls of Derry, N Ireland
Near Amsterdam, Netherlands – flower fields from above
This is the real circle of life, Simba.
Her Ring = herring, and that’s but one of the joyous discoveries of the fish-addled mind.
Seriously – this herring shit has been popping off for two weeks, and it is time for it to be over. NOW! Over 200 40′ container vans have left my (and Cat’s) loading dock in the past two weeks, and I don’t have the energy to tell you about the energy it takes to make that happen.
Mostly I’m getting very tired of working when it’s dark and boring outside. Irish coffees help, but when it comes down to it – the bars aren’t open at 6 a.m. when I get off work. That should be criminal. That’s night shift discrimination.
Instead I just have to sit at home in my skivvies at 7 a.m., drinking beer and web logging. That’s what this discrimination has done to me – made me one degree from a chomo.
Listen up though – things are happening. Like a rushed drunkard at the urinal, herring season is having a hard time cutting it off, but I sense it may happen part way through my night shift tonight (maybe 10 p.m.?). I don’t exactly know how I’m going to readust to the daytime, but I think it might go like this: wake up, drink, pass out, wake up at a daylight hour.
Then I have some errands (hour massage, hour leg shaving, hour of long overdue rubber boot knockin’) and some work tasks to complete within a few days.
I’m going back to IREEEELAND! Yes that’s right. Megan-the-Gnome-Jerome-Granny-Gasbag-Otto-MAO and I will be hitting the hinterlands with a furious thirst and jigging trousers soundly fastened. We will be circumnavigating the isle in a proven pimpousine – the VW Fox:
Not only is The Fox fine, she is also equipped with a wonky-side steering wheel meaning the stick shift will be operated with my left hand while I’m driving on the wrong side of the road in the wrong side of the car.
Tonight whilst shipping fish, I booked The Fox and a night’s accomodations in Dublin. After that we’re thinking Donegal, Galway, Dingle Peninsula and Kilkenny. It’ll be a quickie – 7 days with much beer and little sleep, but I am excited. Mostly when I see pictures like this:
After that joyride, it’s cousin’s birthday (observed) in Boise town, and I am looking forward to some unseasonable warmness, drunken bike rides, slumber parties and general debauchery with Anito, Mainard and anyone else who feels lively.
That means night shift to day shift switch; +9 hour zone swing to Ireland; -8 hour zone return to Boise; then back to work processing the herring frozen samples at the beginning of May. See you there!
I never thought I’d write these words non-fictionally, but tomorrow is my last class in an 8-week session of pilates. It’s time to decide if I want to sign up for another round at $18 per class.
Pilates is one of those things I never completely wrote off but never really expected to try – like sex with a transvestite or glo-stick rave dancing on E.
At a young and nimble age, I remember reading a yoga book from my mom’s bookshelf. The author was a dark-haired bearded fellow who would have blended easily into a crowd of Bee-Gees if not for his propensity to full-body Spandex leotards.
In the early chapters, a series of captioned photos outlined the proper procedure for inserting a thick cotton string into one’s nostril, snorting the string through the sinuses and into the throat, then hocking it into the mouth. The goal was to hold on to both sides of the string and move it back and forth in a sawing sort of motion. I thought this might make sense when I was older, but it doesn’t. What could be accomplished by flossing one’s sinuses. Are there bits of food that would break loose that are otherwise trapped and causing me throat decay?
The leotarded BeeGee proceeded to contort himself into positions ranging from those that looked vaguely relaxing to those I wasn’t sure a child my age should see (the latter usually including his Spandex bulger very near his face). Cat poses – performed on hands and knees with back hunching and dropping between Angry Cat and Peaceful Cat – were considered beginner while the poses near the end of the book were alarming. Flip book style, the author performed an impossible seizing sort of yoga dance.
I tried some things I saw in the book, but when I couldn’t perform any Cirque du Soleil stretches, I lost interest. I would occasionally bring the book off the shelf to educate a friend on the basics of sinus cleansing, but I figured my yoga days were over.
Last fall, I spent two weeks sleeping on the ground on the island of Kaua’i. In the six months prior, I’d had my first introduction to debilitating back pain in the form of recurring muscle spasms and, consequently, my first trip to a chiropractor and my first electrode pulser treatment.
What’s really shitty about that grade of back pain is that all you can do is lie there perpetually uncomfortable. It’s hard to believe that just yesterday you were doing such rigorous activities as standing, walking, crossing your legs or sitting down on the toilet (and without crying even!).
Thus it was with some trepidation I faced my third day on Kaua’i after my third night on a thin sleeping pad on rooty terrain. I felt some ominous muscle twinges above my right butt cheek and commented on them over morning coffee on the beach. One of the girls in our camp asked if I’d ever tried pilates.
“What kind of organic tofu granola fruit do you take me for?” I asked pushing aside my breakfast of organic granola with starfruit and scrambled pesto tofu and eyeing her over my mug of fair trade coffee, flavored with raw unbleached sugar.
A fellow Alaska fish worker, she’d also had bouts with back seizures – hers debilitating her every three months or so – until she began pilates. Pilates exercises focus on strengthening your lower abdominal and lower back muscles. Unfortunately – the very severe German Josef Pilates bestowed upon it a kind of weenie name more suited to an Italian dessert than the sweaty nature of muscle building using one’s own body weight.
With a constant supply off booze and beach lying, my back hardly noticed the root wad sleeping conditions past day 3. A month later, and two days before flying from Sitka to Idaho, however, my back muscles angrily asserted their power. If lying on the floor uncomfortably is shitty, sitting in airplane and airport seats for 12 collective hours makes it look like a hot oil massage from a legion of sexy masseurs.
That spasm was at the end of December, and I started pilates in January. I’m not completely convinced, but I haven’t had a floor-bound episode to date and my flexibility is returning. Some moves are awkward; some make it really difficult not to accidental fart and some I don’t have the strength for yet, so I shake like a palsy case to complete one repetition.
I’m still a little uncomfortable when people find out I can’t meet them at the bar at 7 because I have pilates class. I’d much rather call it physical therapy or even strength stretching.
Oh well. The classes are popular and fill up fast. As for my street cred, I guess I shouldn’t worry what my peers think of my new age stretchercise as long as I still have ample time for sinus flossing in my Spandex bodysuit on the weekends.
Like prune juice through the digestive tract, the holidays passed too quickly.
I made some semi-craftique photo gifts.
I made elaborate Christmas cookies with my friends.
I froze my beans off watching some sort of twinkle-lighted trucks on parade.
D, T, N, V n me
I made a mess and got presents!
I got drunk at Seatac. Special deals on top shelf tequila with an upgraded beer size. Oh yes.
I did not lose my luggage in Spokane.
I stole my first smooch of 2009.
I pugsat Lola and Langston.
And I remembered the hardest part of living in Alaska is that my cousin/best friend doesn’t.
To everyone else who made my trip to the lower 48 so frenetic but fantastic – thank you. I miss living near enough to road trip visit. Thus I propose a resolution for all you: visit majestic Alaska in the year 2009 (specifically SE AK, Baranof Island, Burough of Sitka).
Cheers and happy damn 2009!