31 July 2009

Love Story, Part 2

It really was a dream come true. My friend, Jenn Harbaugh, and I had had a fascination with the Revolutionary War ever since we saw Heath Ledger and his luscious blonde hair in The Patriot in eighth grade, and so the sign on the Camp Carpenter staff bulletin board reading "Staff Hunt American Heroes Sign Up" was an open invitation to escape to the world of Polonaise gowns and tri-corner hats once more. Last week I had been Molly Pitcher, the courageous Revolutionary who regularly brought water to the soldiers on the battlefield but who, when her husband was hit, dropped her buckets and took up a cannon post instead. Unfortunately, elementary school-aged Cub Scouts couldn't tell the difference between Molly Pitcher and Felicity, the Revolutionary War-era American Girl doll that their sisters no doubt played with, when they found me hiding on the trail and questioned me as to my identity. I was doomed to pick a less interesting historical character. With a sigh on behalf of historical creativity everywhere, I picked up the pencil hanging next to the sheet and wrote "Martha Washington" next to my name on the staff list.

I scanned the list before turning away to see what other American heroes were being portrayed by the camp staff during our weekly event. Let's see....Davy Crockett....Captain America...Eleanor Roosevelt....George Washing...ton.....oh, no. I read the line again. George Washington. Who had decided to be George Washington? Would they think that I had decided to portray Martha Washington because I had some ulterior motive? I didn't! She was just the only Colonial-era woman that the kids would recognize! What was I going to do? I ran through a list of likely colonial women that I could play. I couldn't just be another person, seeing as I'd spent my first week's break making the costume. Molly Pitcher's out. Betsy Ross? No, they'll just guess Martha Washington, that's what happened last week. Abigail Adams? No, they'll just think I'm...Martha Washington. Ugh, that's the only choice. I guess I have to deal with it. I hope it's someone agreeable at least...I ran my finger parallel across the paper, looking to see who my fictional husband would be.
Daniel "Kip" Cheshire.
Who on earth was that?

Later that night, at the daily flag-lowering ceremony, I stood in line with my Staff Den waiting for the rest of the camp attendees to show up. I leaned to my left, beckoning to my bunkmate, Joanna. "Psst! Joanna!" She turned to me, "What?"
"Who's Kip Cheshire?"
"Who? Why?"
"We're signed up to be the Washingtons on the staff hunt and I want to know who it is or it'll be awkward."
"You're Martha Washington?"
"You're Martha Washington?" It was a different voice this time. Joanna's Staff Den leader had turned around and had joined our conversation. It was Mystery Man from the Jeep a few weeks ago. My knees knocked together and all the blood I never knew I had rushed to my face, "Uhh.....yeah. But don't think that I did it on purpose or anything, I just couldn't think of anyone else the kids would know. I was Molly Pitcher last week..."
"That's the one who took over her husband's canon position, right?"
My face became even more red, "Um, yeah." I scuffed the dirt with the toe of my sneaker. "The kids didn't know that." I glued my eyes to the ground below. I'd learned earlier that week that looking Mystery Jeep Man in the eyes wasn't a good idea; I blushed too much.
"Well that's cool," he turned back to his spot as the Camp Director took his spot next to the flagpole, looking slightly awkward. I was mortified. Of all the people at camp to be in a fictional, historical relationship with, it was the one person that I wanted to be in a non-fictional relationship with.


Later that week during the staff hunt, I was signing a card for a pack of campers with "M. Washington" when one of them piped up, "Oh! We almost forgot!" The campers looked around at each other, nodding in agreement and excitement. "Your husband said to say 'Hi' and that he wants dinner on the table by five." They giggled, obviously proud of themselves at passing along such a salacious and personal message. I blushed. "Oh? Well, tell him I said 'hi' back," I mumbled as I finished signing their card with a flourish and a smile that I couldn't contain. "Okay!" they all started to run back down the trail they'd come, one of them shouting, "I think I see Captain America! Get him!!!!" I sighed, trying to wipe the grin off my face before one of the other staffers saw right through me.

27 July 2009

RIP Tyler Edwin Carlisle

When I returned to New Hampshire two years ago for a pastoral internship at First Congregational Church of Manchester, I had no idea where I would live. My parents had moved out of the state, my sister and brother-in-law were moving to Maryland only a month after I would arrive, and living with any of my high school friends would have just been asking too much. One afternoon, my mother had an inspired idea--why not live with the Carlisles? Lucia and Tyler Carlisle were outstanding members of the church--active in church leadership and activities, and present on every Sunday in the third pew from the front on the right side of the aisle. Mrs. Merritt, Lucia's late mother, had been the "Church Lady" par excellence--not the Dana-Carvey-on-SNL type, but the real kind, who wore hats to church and who was an adopted grandmother to everyone, dishing out equal amounts of hugs during coffee hour and stern words of rebuke if she found out that grades were slipping in school or attitudes towards parents needed adjustment. It was the perfect solution to our problem, and it worked out beautifully!

Lucia, Tyler, and their 15-year-old son, Tyler William, took me in like a daughter and sister, respectively. Lucia and I cooked and cleaned up after meals together, gossiping about the day and asking and dispensing advice as if we'd lived together for years. Tyler William and I took to posting notes ("'Ello, guvnor. Have a jolly good day!") on our shared bathroom mirror and teasing each other like siblings. Tyler Edwin, the patriarch of the family, quickly became yet another father figure, interrogating my then-boyfriend as to his intentions and making sure I came home at a decent time each night. The family watched me preach my first sermon, took me to their lakehouse a few times, and welcomed me into their home and hearts without question. They are as dear to me as any family members, and that is why I've been sitting in a daze ever since I received the news this afternoon that the elder Tyler passed away last Thursday. It wasn't entirely unexpected--Tyler had been fighting a battle against COPD for years, and was rarely seen without his portable oxygen tank. His health had been deteriorating in the past few months, and it was all but unspoken that although "Mr. and Mrs. Tyler Carlisle and Tyler William" had RSVPd to the wedding, only two of the three Carlisles would be present that day.

It's funny, though. Even as I type this, I can hear Tyler behind me, "Oh, stop making all that fuss about me, you go and have yourself a great time! Lucia would love to see you, and we all think about you often...." I often find it difficult to know how to feel at the passing of a loved one--sad for my loss? Happy for their gain? I think this time, I'll choose to rejoice in the life of a man who lived so fully--who loved his meals piping hot and with extra salt on the side, who took uninhibited joy in the family's miniature poodle, Curly, who was a Korean War veteran, who was and is so proud of all his son has already accomplished, who was an actor, an engineer, a Nascar fan, a fantastic father (and father figure!), a deacon, and who is now--I have no doubt--taking a long walk around heaven, free of the oxygen cords he was embarassed to step on in the house. He's finally made it Home, and that is something for which we should rejoice.

26 July 2009

Love Story, Part 1

It smelled just like camp. Which made sense, because it was. But this camp was different--whereas all the other scout camps I'd been to were day trips, maybe even overnight once or twice, this trip was for a few months. This camp was my first ever summer job. And this camp smelled like freedom and an earned paycheck in addition to firewood and pine needles. Camp Carpenter Cub World. My dad, a professional in the Boy Scouts, wouldn't let me work at the Boy Scout camp because the campers were too close in age to me and my 16 year-old hormones. A younger Cup Scout camp, however, was safe.

And so I found myself lifting duffel bags filled with t-shirts and bug spray out of the back of our station wagon in the summer of 2003. I had just picked up the last of my luggage when I heard the familiar grind of tires on gravel and a straining standard transmission coming up the hill behind me. I turned around, eager to see just who was gunning it up the hill toward Staff Site as the sound got louder. And louder. And louder. Whoever it was wasn't coming up the steep hill cautiously, they were putting the pedal to the metal, whether from excitement or necessity due to an aging car, I had no idea. I was just about to shrug and walk toward my cabin when a green Jeep Wrangler bounced into view and bounded to the top of the hill, coming to a dusty stop at the foot of the Quartermaster's Cabin. I stopped, hands around my duffle bag, and stared at the man behind the wheel.

He was pale, with dark brown hair and even darker brown eyes. From his seated position, he still looked tall. The build of a soccer player was obvious under his t-shirt. The car idled, music blaring from the stereo, and I saw him bouncing up and down in the driver's seat, a mischievous grin on his face as he looked toward the cabin on the top of yet another steep incline. Another staffer stood outside the cabin door, waving at the driver with a matching grin that practically screamed, "I'M UP TO NO GOOD AND I'M LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!" The man in the car smiled again, crossed himself, shifted the Jeep into gear with a flourish, and gunned it up the incline toward the cabin, leaving a cloud of dust and a flurry of wood chips in its wake. Finally coming to a stop on the incline, the Jeep sagged against the parking brake, exhausted at its exertions. The driver jumped out of the car, high five-ing his friend with a hearty, "Hey, brother, how's it goin?" and they "embraced" each other in that sort of man-hug that resembles a sumo match more than a show of affection before they jumped into the cabin, greeting the other guys inside.
I still stood at the back of my parents' car. Still holding my duffel bag. My mouth was hanging open, with a single word on my lips, "Wow." I was just forming thoughts of who this dashing Man of Mystery could be when my mom sauntered past, holding a milk crate full of bed sheets. "At least he crossed himself first," she said with a sneer of parental disapproval. As she headed toward the girls' cabin, I still stood behind the car. Still holding my duffel bag. Still staring at the Jeep and its now absent driver. Still marveling.

...To be Continued...

24 July 2009

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Reflections

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the Friday Photo Shoot-Out, a project begun to get bloggers into their communities and showing them off to each other by posting photos on a common theme every Friday. I figure there's no better way to get to know my new home of Juneau, Alaska--and I've loved shooting photos there with my trusty cameraphone--but due to a family medical emergency and travel for my upcoming wedding, I've been trotting across the Western hemisphere this week!

This week's theme--reflections, suggested by Audrey (thanks, Audrey, that was a great idea!)--was really fun! I actually have a lot of reflection photos in my computer already, and since I was jet setting this week, I decided to include them to round out my post.

Oxford, England--A tower reflects off the water in the fountain in Tom Quad, the quad in the middle of Christ Church College at Oxford University. And, I must pay dues to one Miss Sammi Phillips, who actually took this picture while hanging out with me and showing me the ropes in jolly old England while I was at Oxford last summer getting the academic guts scared out of me by people with multiple PhDs.

Cochabamba, Bolivia--This city in Bolivia is home to the largest statue of Christ, affectionately called the Christo, in the world (even bigger than the one in Rio de Janeiro!). My mission team and I were playing with the kids at the foot of Christ, so to speak, when Mike, a fellow team member, said "Cindy, don't move!" Thinking there was a huge Bolivian bug on me, I froze in fear, only to realize later that he was taking this picture. In his words, "You can definitely see Christ in Cindy". Thanks, Mike.

Talcahuano, Chile--Different mission trip, different year, different people. We escaped to a nature preserve one afternoon and climbed a bluff to watch the sunset. It was totally worth the bug bites to get about a million pictures of the sun reflecting off the Pacific. And, I saw the green flash!

Lihue, Hawaii--I thought the fan reflecting in the spoon at breakfast on our last day in Hawaii was pretty cool. The orange in the lower left corner was tasty, too.

Lihue, Hawaii--The Church is supposed to be a reflection of Christ on earth, right? This church in Lihue really was--the head of the hospitality committee asked all the visitors to stand so that the locals could give each of them a lei to welcome them to worship in their church. It felt like something the Early Church would have done :)

Juneau, Alaska--This is for you, Gordon! I shot this photo on my phone from Kip's balcony overlooking the Gastineau Channel right before I left for Hawaii. I love the way the ships and the barge (with all our trash, lovely) reflect off the channel waters.

22 July 2009

Hospital Smells and More Traveling

I think it is my sentence in life to be a periodic globe trotter. And I love it.

I'm back from Hawaii, and when I say "back", I don't mean at home in Juneau. I am currently sprawled out on Kip's bed...in his parents' house in Seattle. Call me lovesick, but I prefer sleeping in his room to sleeping in the guest room--all the pictures and sports trophies and historical regalia and the slightly ridiculous amount of rosaries from every corner of the globe that are tucked in every nook and cranny make me feel closer to him while we're apart for three out of four weeks before our wedding. Now it's down to 16 days, and I get to see him in nine. At the moment, I am in Seattle but tomorrow night I'm leaving for New Hampshire to help my mom with the final planning for the wedding.

If I were a character in Harry Potter, my hand on the Weasley's clock would be perpetually stuck at "Traveling".

When I arrived on Kauai a week ago, Mrs. Cheshire picked me up and we went straight from the airport to the hospital (with the convertible top down, of course...it is Hawaii after all and we are not ones to ignore that fact just because of a stint in the hospital). As we walked down the sterile hallway I was hit with the realization that the smells of salt from the Pacific Ocean and ripening pineapples hanging outside weren't strong enough to permeate the hospital's whitewashed walls and I was left with nothing but The Hospital Smell. You know that smell--the one that is a curious mix of iodine, processed food, and bodily fluids. The one that is present in every hospital in the world, from Chicago to Cochabamba, or at least all the ones I've been in. The one that makes me simultaneously nauseous and reminiscent.
Or maybe I'm nauseous because I'm reminiscent. I sat in a room with that smell one November years ago, crocheting like mad to finish the blanket I'd promised my Grampa for Christmas but which I had to finish soon because he was the one lying in the bed and we all knew Christmas would be too late. But then again maybe The Hospital Smell shouldn't make me nauseous. After all, that smell was also present in the operating room where my new niece Alli was delivered by C-section almost a month ago. I had crocheted around that time, too, but this time it was a delicate yellow blanket for the beginning of a long, happy life, not the end.

So it's a tied game for me and the hospital smell. Or at least it was last week as I trudged down the scrubbed white floor in my flip flops, crochetless this time, and with that darn smell hovering again. We walked to the room at the end of the hall, and Mrs. Cheshire opened the door with a soft "Aloha!" Mr. Cheshire looked down from the Discovery Channel show he was watching about battleships, "Well hey! How was the flight?" I gave him a hug and put down my carry-on. Only two days before, he'd been in the ICU with a prognosis of ten days there and five more in the regular ward. Now, he was already in the regular ward and staring down his release, which came the next day along with firm instructions to take it very, very easy and to see a cardiologist back home in Seattle.

Hospital Smell: 1
Cindy: 2
I like the way this game is turning out!

After a few days of medically-mandated relaxation and one more trip back to the emergency room to check on a blood clot, the Cheshires and I are back on the Mainland and I'm not even bothering to unpack before the next leg of travel. Sorry for anyone who likes to see my Friday Photo Shoot-Outs of Alaska, this week it'll be the Globetrotter Edition, with photos from Hawaii, Seattle, Boston, and New Hampshire. Oh well, bon voyage!

18 July 2009

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Yard Ornaments

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the Friday Photo Shoot-Out, a project started to get bloggers into their communities and showing them off to each other via photos posted in a common theme every Friday.

I figure there is no better way to get to know my new hometown of Juneau, Alaska--and I've loved taking photos of my gorgeous new home--but this week I am in Lihue, Hawaii on the island of Kauai helping my soon-to-be in-laws after a family medical emergency. My trusty cameraphone made the trip with me and I was able to get a few shots in on this week's theme: Yard Ornaments...

I saw very few yard ornaments proper, but was able to spot this statue of a Hawaiian queen whose name I can't pronounce. I learned after just a few minutes in Hawaii that locals have a much better alternative to yard ornaments...

...nature itself! The vistas and views on Kauai are so incredible that adding ornaments to it is not only superfluous, but completely unnecessary. This sprawling canyon is known as "the Grand Canyon of the West Coast" and is home to some of the most famous scenes from Jurassic Park, according to Mr. and Mrs. Cheshire

The most yard ornament-y type object I saw were the signs along roadways and scenic cliffs warning tourists not to climb over the fences and go hiking. Personally, this one in particular made me want to hop the fence even more, but I figured that the Cheshire family already had one too many hospital visits for the trip.

Nature's leftovers, like this spent coconut husk, adorned the backyard beach of the hotel.

Palm trees served as the main yard ornament of the hotel where the Cheshires stayed.

This huge tree was the main yard ornament at the Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where Mr. Cheshire was well taken care of.

Who needs a yard when you can have a beach?

On second thought, who needs a beach when you can have THIS?

And there we have it--yard ornaments in Lihue, Hawaii on the island of Kauai. Next week: reflections on a global scale--I'm traveling between Hawaii, Seattle, and New England but I figured why stop there? I have photos from Bolivia, Chile, England, Alaska, and all the places I'll actually be next week lined up. Until then, aloha!

17 July 2009


So, apparently Cheshire Cats have nine lives too! Mr. Cheshire was released from ICU far earlier than expected, and from the hospital altogether late yesterday. He's been relaxing at the hotel (I got a horrendous burn from sitting with him beside the pool all today...I know, it's tough to be me) and the three of us are flying back to Seattle on Sunday, where I'll stay and help out until I fly to New Hampshire for the wedding. He's tired and will take awhile to fully recover, but his spirits are up and I'm happy to help in any way that I can.

Thanks everyone for your prayers and good wishes! Mahalo!

14 July 2009

Adventures Never Cease

"So, you wanna go to Hawaii?" Kip leaned against the bedpost as he took off his boots. I rolled over, groggy at best, my vision blurred from an interrupted sleep. It was a normal enough Sunday morning--he had just gotten off from work (at 6:00 am) and was stopping at my apartment to wake me up so we could go to church before I dropped him off at his apartment on my way to work. Well, it was normal except for the proposal to go on a seemingly romantic pre-wedding honeymoon. Odd.
"Huh?" I rubbed my eyes, thoughts of lei-laden elopement running through my head.
"I take it you didn't check your email...." he didn't look happy about our potential tropical vacation.
"No, what's going on?"

And that is how I found out about a little thing called pulmonary embolism. Kip's dad had taken his mom on a trip to Hawaii for her birthday. They had hit the beach earlier that day in the hopes of going snorkeling, but when Mr. Cheshire started feeling less than peachy, they realized that something was wrong. The long and short of it stands thus: they found out that he has multiple blood clots in his lung. Blood clots are bad. He is in the hospital. I am flying to Hawaii tomorrow morning to give Mrs. Cheshire some moral support and generally help out any way that I can.

I mean, I've always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I'd rather there had not been a family emergency to do it! Either way, I'll keep posting--although probably rarely--and will try my best to find some Hawaiian yard ornaments for the Friday Photo Shoot Out.

Aloha, Alaska! I'm flying from the 49th to the 50th state!

10 July 2009

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Texture

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the Friday Photo Shoot-Out, a project started to get bloggers out into their communities and showing them off to each other through photos. Since the sad demise of my camera, I've been shooting on my camera phone, but that doesn't mean the photos can't still tell a great story! I figure there's no better way to get to know my new home of Juneau, Alaska, so here we go!

Many thanks to Linda from Canada for this week's topic, texture. I must admit, I was worried I wouldn't find anything to add, but I find myself with a prolific amount of shots for this week!

Ah, the Juneau-Douglas bridge. The smooth sun slips over jagged mountains each night (very late at night, mind you!) and reflects over the rippled Gastineau Channel.

The cross that I bought at the market in Cochabamba, Bolivia hangs in the entryway of my apartment. It feels more and more like home every time I hang something like this in it!

It really is starting to feel like home, not least because a guest of our wedding bought and sent me and Kip the duvet cover we registered for! It's beautiful and feels heavenly!

Oh yes, it's real. One of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence was put on display on a cruise ship in Juneau for the holiday weekend. In exchange for an officer to guard it, the owner brought it by the Police Department and let any officers and their families come to see it. Its historical value was incredible, but it also worked with this week's theme perfectly--it's printed on a cotton-paper blend that has the most unusual texture!

It was nice enough this weekend to hang my laundry outside my apartment! That fact, and all the texture-full pictures it created made me smile.

The pegboard outside my door helps my apartment start to feel like home, with my favorite jeans (that I wore in Bolivia and Oxford!), my favorite pair of warm fuzzy socks, a lovely kitchen towel, and the sign that my aunt sent me because, as she says, "That's my niece's mantra!"

Kip was really excited about having a sunny day with a low tide as we hiked from his apartment on Douglas Island to my apartment in downtown Juneau.

I liked the texture on this little trash hut. Yes, trash hut. They're for the people who aren't naughty and keep their trash cans in bear-safe areas, unlike yours truly.

Kip's future wedding ring (the one he'll wear while he's on duty--he has a different one for when he's not at work that the priest will bless at the wedding) is smooth and makes me smile :)
Only 28 days left!!!

We don't necessarily garden in Southeast Alaska, we just sort of contain the rainforest into pretty looking clumps.

And here we have the most texture-laden photo of Juneau in existence: the smoothness of the far away mountains with their still-snowy peaks, the intricacy of the city below, the water that's just a bit choppy, the dry ground of a low tide, and the prickly Sitka spruce, Alaska's state tree!

The texture on these little flowers was so neat to me!

Jazz, Kip's roommate's cat, is one of the softest things in Juneau. She doesn't seem to realize this, however, as she always bites. She's not very nice...until she wants you to give her some catnip, that is.

The Governor's Mansion (the home in theory but not practice to our governor...maybe you've heard of her, Sarah Palin?) is smooth as silk in the afternoon light.

The sun has overtaken the City Museum in this photo, but I couldn't resist still putting it up; the texture on the totem pole in front of the building is incredible! It's so intricate that curators take the pole down every year to clean it with tiny little brushes--it's the only way to get into the intricate carvings on this native piece of art.

The cobbled pathway, the trees in bloom, the marble pillars, the cloth flags, and the brick Old City Hall all added up to a little bit too much texture for me!

Fuzzy wuzzy wasn't very fuzzy, was he? This bear statue, which sits in front of the Old City Hall, is surrounded by texture of all sorts. I bet he doesn't go through people's trash...

08 July 2009

The Oft' Put-Off Conclusion to The Trash Cans at the Bottom of the Stairs

Due to a busy 3rd and 4th of July, work schedules, and a particularly finicky Internet connection, the conclusion of the Epic Tale of the Trash Cans at the Bottom of the Stairs has been sadly put off...until now:

When we last left off, a particularly ominous banging sound had erupted from the bottom of my apartment stairs, the location at which the smelly trash I had asked Kip to take out (against his wishes) lay. I crept toward the door, terrified at what I knew I would see. After flipping on the outside light, I saw a very large, very dark, very hairy-looking shadow making its way up the staircase. It climbed up one stair, then the next. I stood behind the front window, not moving, and also unable to see anything except the shadow my new visitor was casting. From where I stood, it didn't look like a good kind of shadow, and I didn't think it was detached from its owner like Peter Pan's. The shadow stopped its progress, and with a hefty bit of effort, it...disappeared.

Seriously? Bears in Alaska can Apparate?

I poked my head out of the door, convinced that I would meet my doom, and was shocked to see not a great hairy bear waiting to eat me, but my trash bag in my back neighbor's yard...levitating in thin air. I guess it's a good thing I bought the Force-Flex trash bags, I thought to myself; the bag seemed to be intact, if floating. I cocked my head, contemplating the situation. My surreal thoughts didn't last long, as the bag moved aside to reveal a brown snout and very confused looking bear, my trash bag hanging from its teeth.

It looked at me, confused.
I looked at it, confused.
"Oy!" I yelled in its direction and slammed my door a couple times to make some noise.
It looked at me, bemused.
I looked at it, still confused.

Obviously deciding that it should take advantage of this opportunity for dinner and a show, the bear flopped down on its bum and started tearing into my trash bag.

So much for the Force-Flex.
Their TV ads of rhino herds being trapped in the woven plastic are lies, lies!

I closed my door, flashbacks from last summer and Kip's rant against people who leave food in their cars and the doors unlocked playing through my head. Oh yes, we have smart bears in Juneau. They've figured out how to open car doors to get to their free food. I marveled for a moment of the sheer laziness of the animals. Honestly, how lazy can you be? It's not like they need to chase a gazelle across the Serengeti to earn a meal; all they have to do is haul their behinds to the nearest berry-laden bush and go to town. Then again, I probably shouldn't have expected much more from an animal that sleeps four months out of the year.

Still, Kip's rant terrified me at this particular moment in time. If bears can open car doors, which aren't necessarily the easiest doors to open, my flimsy little apartment door wouldn't be a problem. What if the bear is discerning and wants more gourmet fare? What if my flimsy little trash bag-full didn't feed his appetite? It knows that there's a human behind that door now, and where there are humans, there is more food. I placed an unsuccessful call to police dispatch and, unhappy with the dispatcher's instructions to "wait for it to go away and pick up the trash in the morning", called my new best friend, Ofc. Cryderman.

It pays to be engaged to a cop, people. He has copper friends who can come scare bears away with the city-issued shotgun every squad car is equipped with.

When he finally finished laughing, Cryderman made his way over to my apartment, announcing his location on the radio: "Paul 23 city, I'll be out across from the high school looking for a bear". No sooner had the radio static stopped than my phone buzzed on the coffee table. Kip had heard the radio traffic and was no doubt calling to see if I'd been mauled or not...or at least to hear me say that he was right. I missed the call in my attempts to make sure that the bear was still there and not attacking Cryderman or my back door. How convenient.

In the end, noble Ofc. Cryderman scared away the bear, I did a walk of shame the next afternoon to pick up my spent trash (how the bear found anything appetizing in there is beyond me), I admitted to Kip about eighty times that he was right, and I now fully appreciate the wonder that is my garbage disposal--bears can't possibly be interested in a trash bag full of empty Cheerios boxes and dryer lint, right?

03 July 2009

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Celebrate Life!

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the Friday Photo-Shoot Out, a project designed to get bloggers into their communities and showing them off to each other. This week's theme is "Celebrate Life!"

These first few photos admittedly aren't taken in Juneau, but in North East, Maryland. I'm sure this technicality will be overlooked, as they are the epitome of celebrating life; they're the first few pictures of my brand spanking new niece, Alli!

Mama Becky and Little Alli. She may have the surname of Hanson, but she's a Lambert through and through with that annoyed face.

My brother-in-law, Scott, with Alli on their porch at camp. Scott is the Council Program Director for the Del-Mar-Va Boy Scout Council, which means he gets to live and work at their scout reservation. Alli will be raised amongst hundreds and hundreds of boys. Good luck there, Scott!

Truth be told, if the Shoot-Out community wants a true picture of Juneau celebrating life, they would have to wait until Sunday. July 3rd and 4th are the two most exciting days here in Juneau. The city comes alive with celebrations! Alas, I must post before the celebrations begin, so I tried thinking of different ways that Juneaunians celebrate life. Well, one of the main ways is by celebrating wildlife:
...alive or dead, really. The combination of humans and wildlife often clashes in ways good and bad, as pictured above and below. This little bear was hit by a car and Kip was assigned to the call. It is not, however, the bear that paid me a visit last night (part 2 of the post coming soon!).

These Dungeness Crabs (or Dungies as they're sometimes called) are still alive, but not for long! They're the tastiest of all seafood in my opinion and are a true part of Juneau life.

No post on celebrating (wild)life could be complete without Sparky, my faithful beta. Three years and still kicking!

There's more than just wildlife to celebrate in Juneau. It also happens to have the best playground I've ever seen, complete with a castle, perfect for celebrating life in a most childlike manner.
Kip likes the monkey bars. I prefer the slides.

The Hatchery by the Gastineau Channel has a wonderful little petting zoo so people can experience the wildlife of the channel without stepping into the freezing waters.

The best part of Juneau life is how it connects the sea with celebration--here, Kip's parents, he and I had a cookout on the beach after a day of fishing. The salmon was incredible!!! It was a true celebration.

One of my all-time favorite pictures of Kip celebrating life, taken at the rocks outside the Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux.

The Trash Cans at the Bottom of the Stairs, Part 1

"Hey, could you take the trash out on the way to the car?" Kip turned around in his policeman's uniform and raised an eyebrow at me as if I were asking him to paint his toenails before work.
"What day do they come to take the trash?" he asked.
He looked up, scanning a calendar only visible to him that was apparently hanging somewhere in midair between the doorway and the fridge. Thursday. I thought as I gazed at him, willing him to hear my thoughts, It's Thursday today, there's nearly a week left. His lips moved silently, counting back days. It's Thurrrrrsday..."That's a lot of time" he concluded, as if he had heard me (hey, the soul mate thing is a possibility, right?) "And something got into the trash earlier this week."
"Really? I was wondering why it looked like someone yakked on my back stairs" It was true. I was actually sort of repulsed by the bits of food under the stairs and had sworn to either sweep it out or pray for a good heavy rain...whichever came first. The thought that it hadn't been a rogue technicolor yawn from a drunken (and very, very lost) tourist, but some manner of trash thief in the night had never occurred to me.
"Yeah, I picked it up for you"
Aww, I thought.
He didn't respond. Apparently the mind-reading was temporary.

"Oh, it was probably a raccoon!" I stuffed the garbage bag into his hand and pushed him toward the door. He plodded down the stairs leading to my house-top apartment and tossed the bag into one of the cans that neatly line the back of the owners' shed. I poked my head out of the door, "I love you!" He smiled up at me, "I love you too! See you tomorrow!", and bounced down the driveway toward his car and off to work protecting the citizens of Juneau. I closed the door and headed for the recliner, where an evening's worth of crocheting was waiting for me.

As I looped the yarn around the hook, I thought about my new place of residence, how everyone I've met in this little town knows the people who own the home that contains my apartment. One of my coworkers informed me today that her friend used to rent the place, and that the windows would steam up every time they made Top Ramen.

Note to self: crack a window when cooking dorm staples.

It really is a great place to live--it's in downtown Juneau, which means that I can bike or walk to just about anything I need and that I'm closely surrounded by neighbors for better or worse (better being a sense of community and the possibility of someday needing a cup of sugar; worse being the fact that the people behind me have a particularly loud dog who whined for about three hours a few nights ago when they accidentally locked it out of the house). I had just finished my crocheting and was heading to bed a few hours later when I heard a loud BaaaaDUNdundundundun.

Oh, it's just the Chalmers taking out their trash, I thought as I stepped through the doorway to my bedroom. My foot had barely hit the hardwood when another thought ran into my mind like a sputtering junior editor into a busy press room yelling "Stop the presses!!!!" I froze in the doorway...But they're still on vacation in Australia...

As if on cue in a suspense film, the sound below repeated itself. I crept to the front door and turned on the stairway light as the sound became more and more persistent and then stopped altogether as a very large, very dark shadow cast itself over the stairs and started moving toward the door.

Did I forget to mention that there was something different about the trash cans at the bottom of the stairs? They're different that most of the other trash cans in downtown Juneau...

...they're not bear-safe.

To be Continued...

01 July 2009

Summer, Or Cindy Rambles on Regarding How Her Heart Is Split Between Several Continents

Juneau is not a summer kind of town. There are no sprinklers in lawns, no inner tubes on display at Wal Mart. The swimsuit selection at all the stores is absolutely abysmal. In fact, when I unpacked my things in May, the only "winter" clothes I put into storage were the absolute heaviest ones--I still have several sweaters and all my wool socks out and ready to be used when necessary. And trust me, sometimes it's necessary.

As much as I annually complain about the pressing heat of summer, I do miss it. I miss linen clothes and dressing in the lightest shades possible so the Sun skips me by in its hot survey of the Earth's surface, "Tree....house....oh look, a person wearing black! I'll warm them up!" ::I scamper away undetected in my white blouse and yellow skirt:: Even more than summer, I've been missing places lately...

I miss England terribly, the one place where I felt absolutely and terrifyingly at home academically, where I walked on the same cobblestones as C.S. Lewis and cried when I heard Tom bell in the quad at Christ Church College. I learned how to mimick an English accent almost without error, got used to un-air conditioned spaces, and fell in love with alternate spellings like "favourite" that make US spelling look like chicken scratch. Tessa's lovely, lovely post today about Pimm's and lemonade during a day by the sea made me even more nostalgic for my time at Oxford, where I, too, found the sweet nectar that is Pimm's and lemonade on a hot day. Honeymoon, speed up! I can't wait to see England again!
Joel was right when he called me an Anglophile at the end of the year.

In a more heart-wrenching way than I miss England, I miss Chicago. And I never thought I'd say that. Or at least, I thought I'd say it in a few years or maybe in the middle of January in Juneau when I hadn't seen the Sun in three months. But not in July! Not only two months after graduation! I miss lazy, hot afternoons on the greenspace putting off doing homework and listening to a Swede play the guitar while adoring freshmen sunned nearby, stars in their eyes because the idea of North Park being so Swedish was still exotic to them. I miss listening to Mari complain about Ibsen (notice the book in the center of the photo) and talk about how much she loves Latin America. I almost *almost* miss worrying about juries with Taryn, as we were doing in the right hand corner when this photo was taken. Almost.

But for now I have Juneau, which is admittedly not so very terrible after all. I drove the Jeep home from work this afternoon and it almost felt like home with a pile of books in the passenger seat and Dave Matthews grooving to me on the radio. Then again, the pictures of England and Chicago on my refrigerator help, too.