29 September 2009

Ten Things Tuesday (9/29)

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week:
1. Two culinary victories in one day--wild rice risotto with cheese and red peppers, and slow cooker bread pudding!
2. Getting my new boots in the mail
3. Finally taking a full day to clean the apartment from top to bottom. It looks amazing!
4. The cashier at Safeway saying, "Thanks, Mrs. Cheshire!"
5. Getting to receive and order more cards at work
6. Two new sweaters!
7. Talking to Kasey for the first time in ages
8. Becky sending me a new photo of Alli, the cutest baby EVER
9. The Harry Potter marathon Kip and I are currently in the middle of
10. Kip's and my holiday plans....there's going to be some epic celebrating that I will blog about later

28 September 2009

Working in Town

After four months of working at the bookstore, I've found that the quality of life looks significantly brighter when working at the downtown location.

I am happier.
I am more productive.
I am inspired, mostly by the Gold Rush-era architecture, the non-florescent lighting, Sigur Ros playing in the background, and the copy of "The Professional Pastry Chef" that is constantly face-out on the bookshelf caddy-corner to the register.

I tend to think of Pixar movies. Last week it was "The Tale of Despereaux". This week it's "Ratatouille". Apparently the common thread is food and the French language. I lean against the empty counter and take a warm sip of the apple cider I bought from the coffee house down the road, staring out the open front door and thinking of what I'd like to make for dinner that night after I walk home. Hopefully the rain stops by then, but it's unlikely. It's a good thing I wore my blue and white polka dot galoshes on the walk up this morning.

A tourist in winter parka walks in the door, shaking the rain off their unnecessarily heavy outerwear. I stand back up and lean against the radiator on the back wall, warming myself against the cold wind coming in the "welcoming" open door.
"Hi there," says the tourist, who I know realize is Southern (thus the heavy coat)
"Can I help you find something?" I ask
"Yes, the tour guide said there was this book, somethin' about Alaska and fifty years. I don't remember the title or the author, but I know it had the flag on the cover..."

I force a smile as I surrender the warmth of my cider cup to the counter and lead the tourist over to the Alaska section. "Well, there are a lot of books on Alaskan history with the flag on the cover, but I'll see if we can't find what you're looking for..."

25 September 2009

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: My Favorite Place To _________

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the My Town Friday Photo Shoot-Out, a project begun to get bloggers out into their communities and showing them off to each other. I figure there is no better way to get to know my new home of Juneau, Alaska!

This week's theme, "My Favorite Place To _____" was chosen by me! Every week, we see the cultural and community highlights of each other's hometowns, but I wanted to see what everyone loves so much about their town---what makes it home. What makes it theirs.

Here's what makes my town my home:

My Favorite Place to Eat:

The Sandpiper Cafe!

You can see the Governor's Mansion from the front window

It's quaint, it's small, and it makes the best pancakes this side of the Rockies!

...it also makes some more exotic fare. Elk burgers anyone?

My Favorite Place to Find Simple Beauty:

...the cemetery down the street has such simple beauty. This grave marker attests to Alaskan Christianity's Eastern Orthodox traditions--note the extra wood pieces above and below the main cross point. These are the marks of the Orthodox cross.

My Favorite Places to Enjoy Juneau's Maritime Tradition:

Norway Point
...and Auke Bay

My Favorite Place to Marvel at Alaskan Beauty:

...the highway!

...and staring into the sideview mirror (while Kip drives, of course!)

My Favorite Place to Feel Autumnal:

My Favorite Place to Eat Seafood:

My Favorite Place to Feel Small:

...the top of Mt. Roberts

...it's also my favorite place to shoot way too many photos of the meadows.

In thinking about all my favorite places in Alaska and shooting them, often with Kip by my side, it also became even more obvious and clear to me that my favorite place in the entire world is...with him. And, to taunt you with one more of the wedding pictures that I can't seem to upload (I keep getting a page error...working on it), here's some pictoral proof.
Even in the midst of all our friends and family running around in celebration of us, we still stood in the middle of the dance floor at our wedding, giggling at the sheer joy of it all.
My Favorite Place to Be....Period.

23 September 2009

Nightmares Into Dreams for AIDS Orphans

I drop a book on the counter and David looks up to see me rubbing the side of my face.
"You okay?"
"Yeah. You know how sometimes you wake up in the morning and you realize you've been biting your cheek in the middle of the night because you had a nightmare or something and it really hurts?"
"Yeah, oh I love that feeling!"

I pause.
He can't be serious.

"You can't be serious. You love that feeling?" I ask, rubbing my cheek again.
"Well not biting my cheek, but I love nightmares. You never get to feel like that in real life!"

...he actually has a point! But those of us who don't have David's amazing outlook on nightmares need a way to deal with them. Tessa over at An Aerial Armadillo has utilized a unique way of dealing with nightmares--this artist/humanitarian redrew a nightmare her "grandboy", Henry, had into a dream! And, like the drawing shown above (which I won back in July!), she is giving it away to benefit Dr. Maithri's Swaziland project to help support AIDS orphans in that forgotten nation. This is one giveaway that will quite literally turn a nightmare into a dream, as Dr. Maithri's work with AIDS orphans turns the nightmare of their lives without food or clean water into a dream filled with hope.

Tessa's support of this project is beautiful, and she has asked the blogging community for their support as well. There are three ways you can help!
1. Surf on over to Tessa's post on nightmares and leave a comment on how to turn a recent nightmare of yours into a dream. Henry's mother will choose the best nightmare-turned-dream, and the winner will receive Tessa's redrawn nightmare painting as well as a donation to Dr. Maithri's project made in their name.
2. Donate to the project yourself by buying one of Tessa's limited edition Africa prints--all proceeds from the sale of these prints goes to Dr. Maithri's project to break the cycle of poverty and HIV infection.
3. If you can't buy one of these prints or donate directly to Dr. Maithri yourself, then share the information with people who potentially can! Check out Tessa's blog for information on how she is contributing to this project, and also take a look at Dr. Maithri's project webpage, Possible Dreams International.

As one who knows what it feels like to hold a dying child, thank you for even considering supporting this worthy cause. Ngiyabonga!

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week:
1. Working at the downtown store two days in a row
2. Seeing the colorful leaves around Juneau--and taking photos of them
3. Being asked to be Alli's Godmother
4. Getting the package that Mom sent with my long lost travel coffee mug and portable French press
5. Also finding a surprise loaf of banana bread in the aforementioned package
6. Receiving a letter in the mail from Lucia, the mother of the family I stayed with in New Hampshire during my summer internship a few years ago
7. Talking to my friend Josh for an hour on the phone--a welcome greeting from school and Chicago!
8. Kip's antics (Most current example: "Nobody wins with a head butt" in response to watching the final battle scene in 'The Patriot')
9. Getting to blow up MORE balloons at work(!!!)
10. Dressing up for the annual Police Banquet on Saturday

19 September 2009


The summer of '69 had love.
The summer of '09 had Fireweed.
...Given, I wasn't a twinkle in my dad's eye in the Summer of '69, but somehow I grant myself the creative license to make a connection like that.

Year-related cliches aside, this was the first summer in my life when I actually saw wildflowers....being wild! What a novel idea! Go figure that I had to move to Alaska to see it, but I have fallen aesthetically in love with Fireweed. Besides its stellar looks and gorgeous color, this is a plant with major chutzpah--it's named Fireweed because it's the first thing that grows after a wildfire. Now, I'm no member of the plant family, but I think that takes some cahones...or is the florally correct term "stamen"?

The plant is a vibrant fuscia when it's in bloom, but I think it's even more beautiful when it's gone to seed, like most of the photos below. I ran down the street in my pajamas to get these shots during a (ironically, rarely) sunny sunrise.

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Next Week's Theme Description!

Just in case there are any My Town Friday Photo Shoot-Outers in need of a better explanation for next week's theme, chosen by yours truly...here it is!

The theme, "My Favorite Place To ______" is of the fill-in-the-blank variety. Seriously. What is your favorite place to...grab a bite to eat? To rest? To run? To grocery shop? To throw things away? To splurge? To blog? To spend time with friends? To...basically do or experience anything?!? This is your chance to show the rest of the MTFPSO gang where all your favorite places in your town are!

I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's favorite places! See you in a week!


18 September 2009

*Updated* Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Domestic Animals

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the My Town Friday Photo Shoot Out, a project begun to get bloggers out into their communities and showing them off to each other. I figure there's no better way to get to know my new home of Juneau, Alaska!

This week's theme was Domestic Animals, suggested by Sandy at Flying WG!

Admittedly, this wasn't my strongest week with the MTFPSO. I'm blaming it half on the fact that I never grew up with any pets (except for a few doomed fish) and therefore don't notice them very often, and half on the fact that Juneau is relatively hydrogenous when it comes to domestic animals--there are some dogs and cats, but there's no room for more interesting domestic animals like sheep or emu or horses. So here's my attempt:

Attempt #1: Bears here are (obviously) wild, but this one has been domesticated in true Alaskan fashion. He hangs on the wall of the Mt. Roberts Tram restaurant, 1800 feet above the rest of Juneau. Some might think this a tasteful display of man versus nature, but I think it's sort of (pun alert!) grizzly. Get it? No? Too bad of a pun? Teehee.

I found a park named after some domestic animals that one sees more often in farm country--chickens! I have no idea what a nun has to do with them, however.

While I was lurking in some spent Fireweed bushes (post forthcoming), a woman walked by with her dog...

...and then a man...

...and then they eventually hung out and talked on the street, their K-9 companions making K-9y small talk while their owners did the same. I wonder what they were talking about:
"Gosh, I love these morning walks, don't you?"
"Eh, it's a little chilly for me"
"Oh you, just wait until October when it starts snowing..."

See you next week!

15 September 2009

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week:

1. Kip switching to day shift...finally! He hasn't slept during the night and worked during the day since June of last year!
2. Putting up wedding pictures on Facebook one night, and getting over 50 comments on them by the next morning.
3. Working at the downtown bookstore on Friday.
4. Finally and officially changing my last name! In the eyes of the government, I am totally married!
5. Finding avocados 10 for $10 at the local grocery store. I bought five.
6. Having Jake and Kristina Abbot over for a game night. We ate guacamole made with the aforementioned inexpensive avocados.
7. Getting a letter from Lucia with a picture of England on the front.
8. Getting a birth announcement for a different Lucia from the Dibleys
9. Being asked to contribute to the Woman's World Magazine blog
10. Fulfilling a lifelong dream---I got to walk around the bookstore on Saturday with a ginormous bundle of balloons in my hand, like Gonzo in the Muppet Movie! It was fabulous and I grinned for about five minutes straight.

14 September 2009

I'm Cheating On You.

Dear "Just Alaska",

It's true. I am cheating on you. I know what you're thinking and no, it's not you...it's me. I know I did this once before with that student blog for the University, and that worked out pretty well if I do recall but I graduated and something had to take its place! And besides, when the creator of Woman's World Magazine so sweetly commented on my post a few days ago, I couldn't resist. Imagine! The chance and the request to lend my voice to a chorus of women from across the world, simply writing about their daily thoughts and dreams and tales of womanhood! If I found a blog written by various states and provinces around the world, then I'd be all over that as well, but they have yet to come calling.

Don't worry, Just Alaska, you are still my first love and I will update you often. You will not see me any less than you usually do. But if I'm ever not around, feel free to visit me at the Woman's World Magazine blog. I'll be there, dreaming of the next time I can see you and the new template I treated you to in light of this event. You will be in my heart, no matter where my cursor lands.


11 September 2009

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Aged and Weathered

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the My Town Friday Photo Shoot-Out, a project started to get bloggers out into their communities and showing them off to each other. I figure there's no better way to get to know my new home of Juneau, Alaska!

I thought this theme would have been a piece of cake, but it was actually kind of difficult! Juneau is chock-full of aged and weathered things--driftwood, sea shanties, fishermen...but I had a hard time finding individual things to take pictures of. I was tempted to just take a photo of the entire city and post it. It is, afterall, a fishing town--not as much as Yakutat, perhaps, but fishing is still a big part of the economy. That, and I had a cold earlier in the week and it rained ridiculous amounts so going out to shoot with our brand new camera was a bad idea. In spite of this, I present you the following:

The Chapel at the Shrine of St. Therese, which I've included in earlier MTFPSOs before, is indeed aged (built in the 1920s) and weathered. The beach rocks that it was built with are fine, but the mortar between them is crumbling and it needs a huge overhaul. It's one of Kip's and y favorite places in Juneau, and we made a donation to the preservation of this building in lieu of a wedding favor to our guests. If you're interested in helping preserve this beautiful building, check out www.shrineofsttherese.com

The Box, our trusty mode of transportation, is 12 years old and showing it. Most cars in Juneau sport the "Juneau Body"--rusted! Blame it on living in a temperate rainforest.

...even the electrical signs aren't safe.

These plants must be aged, and the door's wood was more weathered-looking in real life.

The Fireweed that was once positively fuscia has now aged past its peak, waiting for winter snows to set in. It's a remnant of the beautiful summer we had.

Not a "my town" shot, but I still think some of you will appreciate it--a wedding photo! Austyn grabbed a weathered piece of wood and put our rings on this aging train track to take this photo. I'm going to follow up in the next few days with a post of wedding photos so friends who couldn't make it and friends in blogland who have been wanting to see them can do so!

Happy Birthday, Langsea!!!

She's too young to see it yet, but I still want to wish a very happy birthday to Miss Langsea Sophia Dibley, the oldest daughter of my two favorite Professors, Peter and Genevive Dibley.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Langsea!!!

One day old.

One year old.

Two years old, graciously letting Kip and me steal her French Fries at our wedding in August. Honestly, we probably ate more of her fries than we did of our own food!

08 September 2009

10 Things Tuesday

My high school band and orchestra teacher, Ms. Nick (I still can't bring myself to call her by her first name) has been keeping a charming little blog, Notes from a Not-So-International Life, ever since she moved to Germany and then Peru five years ago to teach internationally. She moved back to the States about a year ago, (and the blog title changed from "Notes from an International Life" to its current moniker), but she still keeps up the blog and I love it. Especially because she includes things like "10 Things Thursday", a post that she copied from a friend who posts ten things that made her smile during the week every Thursday. Well, I'm always looking for blog topics and I'm a sucker for days of the week-assigned posting, so I'm amending "10 Things Thursday" into "10 Things Tuesday" to give it and My Town Friday Photo Shoot Out some space. I hear they don't get along so well sometimes.

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Week:
1. Finally printing out wedding pictures and putting them in frames around the apartment
2. Getting a video of Alli doing some "tummy time" and trying to push herself up. She's 10 weeks old already!!!
3. Counting the till at work and having it come out spot on
4. Kip surprising me after work with a glass butter dish after my hour long debacle with Target.com and trying to get one shipped here to no avail. What a husband!!!
5. Working at the downtown bookstore and being able to walk home on a quiet afternoon
6. Getting really into the Friday Photo Shoot-Out this week
7. Kip being excited when he found one of the wedding photos in a frame around the apartment
8. Finally getting our marriage licenses in the mail so I can change my name
9. Being assigned the "taste this tea and tell me if it's good so we can order it" duty at work. They're called NovelTeas and each tea bag has a quote about books or by an author on it. My favorite: "Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it." -PJ Orourke
10. Talking to Kasey, Josh, and Matt all in the same week.

I don't deign to think that the ten things that made me smile this week is of any interest to anyone other than maybe my mom, but I'm hoping that posting it will inspire others to stop and think of what made them smile this week. We did a project in my Intro to Psychology class where we all had to make a list of 100 things that make us happy, and it was a transformative experience, so maybe this will be too! Plus, I'm going to start trying to pick one thing and write a longer narrative about it.

Make my list 11 long this week--#11. Writing the list. I'm such a geek.

07 September 2009

Belated Friday Photo Shoot-Out: Doors and Windows

Inspired by Barry's passion for his community, I've decided to take part in the My Town Friday Photo Shoot-Out, a project begun to get bloggers out into their communities and showing them off to each other. I figure there is no better way to get to know my new home of Juneau, Alaska!

This week's theme is Doors and Windows, chosen by Kerri in Canada over at Pop Rocks Culture.

Here in Juneau, I say, "Why have doors at all? Unless they're glass, they just keep out the beauty of the wilderness around us!" I say that until it starts raining, that is. Here, I found a natural pine tree window to a waterfall on Mt. Jumbo.

Even the bus stop structure windows give you a great view.

Harborview Elementary just down the street from us got a spiffing-up before the start of the school year last week. The brand new playground even looks fun in its reflection on the school's new windows.

If we ever decided to live in Juneau permanently, there are a few houses I would strongly consider living in. This is one.

Doors and windows galore show through a gap in the foliage on the Calhoun Street hill. This is the section of town called the Flats because it is comparatively flat to the rest of Juneau.

I decided this week that my personal step towards claiming Juneau as my own was not to take pictures of my home like a tourist, but to take pictures of tourists like it was my home. The windows on this vintage-looking bus caught my eye and my photo skills caught the eyes of the confused tourists within.

A totem pole and a window in the Governor's Mansion, which is still vacant, since the new Governor hates Juneau just as much as Sarah Palin did.

A window through the trees shows the hundreds of windows on one side of a cruise ship. You don't understand how gargantuan these things are until you're right up next to them. Remember all the fuss the Titanic made with its size? It's a bath toy compared to this behemoth, which is about five times longer than that ill-fated ship.

Because of all the rain (which miraculously stopped for a few days earlier this week), things in Juneau tend to get rusty--garage doors, cars, bikes.....people...

We, um, have fisherman here who are apparently very proud of being Alaskan. Their windows are comparatively boring. Personally, if I was going to make a giant building that was supposed to recreate the Alaskan flag, I would make the windows stars or moose or something equally patriotic.

I like the windows on the building in this shot (which also make it plausible for me to put it up here) but what I really love is the sign pointing any and all towards the Orthodox church in town.

This is part of St. Nicholas' Russian Orthodox Church. It's the only one (I'm aware of) in Juneau and it's a big tourist attraction. The windows are super neat...

...especially the little round ones on the top. Orthodoxy came to America through Alaska as the Russian immigrants who made the short leap across the Bering Strait brought their brand of the faith with them. It spread from Alaska on down, and there is even a small Orthodox seminary up in the Interior today.

I, however, made the trip in the opposite direction of Orthodoxy--I went from the Lower 48 on up to Alaska. But really, whether it's in Tuscon or Juneau, at the end of the day, home is really where your galoshes sit in front of the door.