28 February 2010

Viva Chile!

I left my heart in Chile.
I know this is true because it broke this morning when I heard the news of the quake.

Please pray for:

Familia Fonseca Flores...

...for the missionaries of Hechos 29, who live among the poorest of the poor...

...for the youth that we worked with...

...for the congregation of Iglesia del Pacto Evangelico Betesda...

...and especially for the Troncoso family, who Osvaldo (second from the right) still hasn't heard from.
This photo was taken at Osvaldo's niece, Sofia's, baptism four years ago at Iglesia Betesda.

All of these people live in Concepcion and Talcahuano, the hardest-hit cities in Chile.

26 February 2010

Friday Photo Shoot-Out: What's Going On With That

So first I ran out of memory on my computer.
And then I shelled out a hundred dollars to order a new memory card.
And then I realized that I have to shell out close to that amount again to buy an external hard drive to back up all my current memory.
So I need to wait until my next paycheck to do that.
And THEN I can put in the new memory and take more photos and upload them to my computer with its fancy schmancy memory-eating photo editing software so I can post for the Friday Photo Shoot-Out again.
...in between having a full time job, a new kitten, and a husband.

I really miss shooting every week, and I hope I can get all this done soon so I can get back in the gang! But there's your explanation on what's going on with the MTFPSO.


RIP Sparky 2006-2010

Atop our washing machine, in the warmest part of the apartment, sits an empty glass fish tank.

After a very long and attitude-filled life, my fish, Sparky Fishnik Lambert Cheshire, died yesterday. He was three and a half.

Well, we assume it was yesterday. It could have been sometime Wednesday night. All I do know was that I tried to feed Sparky on Wednesday--a task becoming more and more impossible due to the fact that, by all indications, he was quickly becoming blind and therefore couldn't find his food no matter what I did--and then placed his glass tank on top of the washing machine so he would stay warm. (He was, after all, a tropical fish, and therefore did not jive with his new Alaskan climate.) Yesterday, when Kip opened the door to the laundry room, he came out and stared at me.
"What?" I asked.
"I think Sparky met his Maker," he replied.

I stared at him.
He stared at me.
Tillamook whined in protest that he wasn't being petted.

"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, he's just kind of floating around the bottom, not moving."
"Well, he always does that, he sleeps down there. Go poke him or something."
Ting, ting, Kip tapped on the glass. "Uh, not like this," he glanced toward the washing machine, "Do you want to see the body or do you just want me to get rid of him?"
I looked at the ground, trying not to: a) get upset, b) feel ridiculous for getting upset over the loss of an invertebrate, and c) get upset for feeling ridiculous for getting upset over the loss of an invertebrate. "Well, can you put him in a Tupperware container or something and we can put him in the Channel?" I said quietly.

And that is how Sparky got a full burial at sea.

To some, this would seem absolutely ridiculous. But, as anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile knows, Sparky was no ordinary fish. I bought him the summer after my freshman year of college while I stayed at my parents' new house in Maryland and didn't have any friends since we had lived in New Hampshire for the past seven years and all my friends were therefore there. No friends? I thought at the time, No problem! I'll buy one! So I went to the pet store and bought a companion. And quite the companion he was--Sparky had an attitude! When he was feeling neglected, he would pick up the pebbles at the bottom of his tank and spit them on the side, making little ping! ping! noises until I came to make sure he wouldn't accidentally break his habitat. He jumped out of his tank to get his food when he saw it coming, and I have literally seen him throw a bad look at a TSA officer who frisked him when I took him on the plane with me from Chicago to Alaska. He was better travelled than a majority of the human population, having visited or lived in Maryland, New Hampshire, Chicago, Seattle, and Alaska, where we laid him to rest in the rapidly advancing tides of the Gastineau Channel.

After walking about a half a mile to the water since the tide was out, Kip and I placed Sparky's Tupperware coffin on the sand and each said a few words. "Although I didn't know him for as long as you, I knew he was a good fish," said Kip. I nodded meaningfully. "He was always willing to lend a pebble to a friend in need...." I tried to stifle a giggle by making it sound like a sniffle, for Sparky's sake, "...and his heart was too big for his tank." Kip finished his brief eulogy and looked at me, to which I responded by reading the liturgy for burial at sea while Kip opened the container and commended Sparky to the depths. We both tried (unsuccessfully) not to snicker as we realized that the tide had advanced roughly a foot during our little funeral, thereby soaking our shoes. And trapping our funeral procession. Instantly regretting my choice of wearing clogs, I jumped back toward (semi-) dry land, and we made our way back to the car.
"You know," said Kip as we walked on the beach, "we should have put his body on a little plank and floated it out into the water before lighting it on fire."
"Like the Vikings!" I replied, "And it could have been a cedar plank, since he was a fish!" I snickered, feeling just a little sheepish for having performed such a meaningful service for a fish. But I also felt better having taken a moment to acknowledge the life of a being who survived with me through two boyfriends, five roommates, three years of college, a pastoral internship, two road trips, and about two-thirds of the container of Beta Bites I bought along with him (Really, do they need to make the bottles so big? The fish only eat four a day!!!). I held Kip's hand as we drove home to our one surviving pet, whom I lectured about the benefits of living for at least the next decade. And somewhere in the vast sea of eternity, Sparky is throwing pebbles to get attention.


25 February 2010

Curling: The New Wondersport

Best Weekend Ever, as had by Kip and Cindy:
-slept in
-played with the cat
-sauntered over to The Hangar for lunch, where we watched the Swedish men's curling team beat the snot out of Great Britain and thereby totally fell in love with the sport (No offense, Great Britain. The Cheshires still love you, it was just a good match). We even ordered some grasshopper pie so we could watch the match for a bit longer.
-read a book in bed in the afternoon, simply because I could, while Kip took a nap, simply because he could. It was good until I realized, when needing to visit the Little Ladies' Room, that I was blocked in on one side by a sleeping husband and on the other by a sleeping cat. Panic ensued.
-watched "The Hangover" while Kip watched his online master's class
-woke up this morning and had the Fruity Pebbles that have been on my mind since Tuesday night
-took approximately 45 minutes to find the song that was stuck in Kip's head when he woke up (verdict: Rihanna's "Live Your Life", we heard it in "The Hangover" last night). This led to a further Googling of "Chris Brown's punishment" because we jointly decided, for the millionth time, that Chris Brown is indeed an idiot for beating Rihanna. And that the video for "Live Your Life" is absolutely ridiculous. You can't talk about living on the streets and act all tough when the vamp from the "Numa, Numa" song is playing in the background. You just can't.

And now we're going grocery shopping.

Also, my new celebrity fascination (not crush, just fascination) is Johnny Weir. He's just fabulous.

24 February 2010

I'm Totally Lame...

I cried the first time I saw this commercial.
Okay, let's not lie, I cry every time I see this commercial.

22 February 2010

Let the Sun Shine!

I like to think of life in Southeast Alaska as a sort of love affair between Juneauites and Nature. And we really do play the part--when times are good (i.e. sunny), we sweep away the obligations of daily life and dive with gusto into Nature, forgetting anything and everything else besides it. When times are bad (i.e. rainy), we react as scorn lovers do, ignoring Nature and giving it the silent treatment while paying unnatural amounts of attention to other, trivial things, like hobbies.

Over the past few days, and after a very dark winter, it's seemed like Nature has come to us, scuffing the floor with its feet, looking at the ground as it says, "Sorry about all that lack of sunshine, will this make up for it?" as it holds out a big box full of cloudless days and sunshine galore. And we take Nature back, forgetting all its faults until the next time we haven't seen the sun in weeks.

It. Has. Been. GLORIOUS!
It's not just sunny outside, it's SUNNY!
As in, I-have-been-sitting-on-the-floor-in-the-sunshine-because-it's-the-warmest-place-in-the-house, sunny.
As in, the-cat-has-been-squinting-at-the-windows-because-it's-so-sunny, resplendent.
As in, we-have-been-squinting-at-the-cat-because-the-reflection-off-his-white-fur-is-too-bright, magnificent.
The light radiating from Heaven compares to this!
(okay, maybe that was too far, but you get the idea)

And as soon as I get out of working in the windowless concrete box that we call the mall, I will be enjoying it.

16 February 2010

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Week:

1. Finding a cute outfit to wear today. It's becoming harder and harder to do. Don't you just hate that mid-season fashion lag?
2. How clean our apartment was by the time Kip's parents came to visit. Kip is my hero!
3. Confirmation on Saturday. It was marvelous! I felt so epic and Church History-y.
4. My husband, who brought home the following after I had the world's worst day at work:
trashy celebrity magazines
sour cream & onion pringles
jolly ranchers
the makings for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
assorted fruit juice smoothies
organic chocolate ice cream (he truly knows the way to my heart)
5. Buying the fabric/accessories to make Alethea's bridesmaids' gifts. Shh, it's a secret! But it's Greek and awesome!
6. The fact that the last thing I said to Kip last night before we fell asleep was: "::Yawn:: Can we play Settlers of Catan over the weekend? I really want to."
7. Watching the Olympics. I'm such a geek for international community.
8. The smoothies we continue to make with our Magic Bullet.
Best. Investment. Ever
9. Finally getting to talk to my parents on the phone after three weeks.
10. Trying, with the elder Cheshires, to figure out how to teach Tillamook how to scratch on the scratching post we bought him instead of everything else.

15 February 2010

Tillamook's Favorite Toy, or, Playing Is Serious Business, Mmk?

So, Tillamook has a new game. He loves foam golf balls. He also, evidently, loves acting like a dog.

It started almost as soon as we brought him home--Kip's mom had given us some cat toys in our Christmas stockings in a preemptive strike of kitty gift-giving. We set them out on the floor, waiting for Tillamook to pick a favorite. The orange mouse with a bell at the end? Nope, too tacky, he decided. The fish on a string at the end of a pole? Too dainty, as he destroyed it within minutes (it now hangs, eyeless and pole-less, from our refrigerator door. I like to imagine it waving a little white flag of truce). The seemingly uninteresting foam golf balls? Jackpot!

He loved them from the start, particularly the blue one, which we have found in the following places:
1. Floating in Tillamook's water dish
2. In between the couch cushions
3. In pretty much every corner of the house
4. In our bed, under the covers
5. Wedged between my corner desk and the radiator
6. Sitting on top of Tillamook's food
7. In his litter box

That's not to say, however, that Tillamook doesn't have a hard and fast color preference--second in line to the throne of Tillamook's Favorite Toy is the pink ball, which we have found him carrying around in his mouth with the look on his face saying, "What? I'm masculine enough to carry around a pink ball. It matches my nose, mmk?" His playtime with the foam golf balls has even matured from a self sufficient bout of throwing them across the room with his paw, retrieving them, returning back to the throwing site, and repeating the process to a full-fledged game of catch with us humans as the throwing device. I suppose it's less exhausting that way, only having to do the catching.

Nevertheless, he thinks he is a dog.

As I type this entry sitting on the couch with my laptop, the pink ball has just dropped from the top of the couch down to my perch. Tillamook waits on the top, staring at the ball. I pause for a moment to rub his nose. He moves his head away, giving me a look eerily reminiscent of a human teenager and raising his nonexistent eyebrows as if to say, "Playing is serious business. There's a time for nose rubbing and it is not now."
"Sorry!" I say, as I grab the ball and chuck it across the living room, hitting the front of the stove in the kitchen. It bounces down the hall and Tillamook takes off, an intrepid hunter of pink prey. In seconds, he is back, dropping the ball into my outstretched hand and waiting for the next chase. I take a bit too long trying to finish typing a sentence and he bats at the ball in my hand. How inconvenient, my life. Time to go play...ahem, with all due seriousness, of course.

09 February 2010

Urgent Update!!!

Urgent Update on Life with Tillamook the Kitten:

Before starting to clean the litter box, Kip just turned on "Rock the Casbah", because it sounds just like "Lock the Cat Box" to the untrained ear.

I love my life.

08 February 2010

Mark Your Calendars...

...on February 18th, at 2pm Eastern Standard Time, my good blogger friend, Barry, will be done with chemo!!!!!!

I posted over a year ago about his saddening diagnosis of esophageal cancer, and ever since then, we have all been following his progress (as told in typically witty Barry style). But on the 18th, he will finally be done with chemo and he will ring the bell in the lobby of Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto in celebration--and the rest of the blogging community will join him!

I'm going shopping for a bell and I've marked it on my calendar--will you do the same? As Barry said in a recent post about the bell, "[Ring it] not just for me, but for everyone who has ever struggled against impossible odds and won. Let's declare victory on behalf of us all and let the world know it!"

Read Barry's inspiring post about ringing the bell at Princess Margaret Hospital here, and be sure to check out his blog, An Explorer's View of Life.

07 February 2010

An Update on My Life in Photos

So lately I've been feeling a ton of this:

(Kip took this photo a few months ago when I was so tired I feel asleep on the couch. He pushed me off, but I slept through it so he gave me a pillow, a blanket, and a blackmail photo. It still applies today.)

And mega tons of this:

(Not my current computer, but the feeling is the same due to the fact that I have so many fabulous photos stored on my computer that there's not enough memory left to upload any new ones. Hence no Friday Photo Shoot Outs. Or fun. I have to buy some more memory, which I am trying to avoid like the plague because I've never had to do it before. Incidentally, Alethea took this photo during winter Finals Week our Junior year of college, and my occasional attitude towards technology hasn't changed since then.)

And I've been missing this pretty lady (and my glasses):

(Speaking of Alethea, I talked on the phone with her for two hours the other day. And the only reason we hung up is because her battery was about to die. I also miss my glasses, which I lost and therefore had to replace with a pair that won't be shipped to Juneau for another couple days, so I've been perpetually squinting at things due to the aforementioned constant sleepiness.)

And really missing this face and everything attached to it:

(I also talked to Kasey for several hours. It's a good thing we both have AT&T.)

Which Basically Boils Down to Missing This:

(I love Alaska, but sometimes I just really miss traffic and sunlight and Superdawg and people who get my theological queries and jokes.)

...And that's why I haven't been posting lately.

02 February 2010

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things that Made Me Smile This Week:
1. Tillamook....who is currently glaring at me because I supposedly rubbed his nose when he didn't want it rubbed. The nerve!
2. Finding a really cute book of crocheted animals at JoAnns. I'm going to send it to a friend who's stuck in Seattle with pregnancy complications, but not before I make the elephant from the book.
3. Making aforementioned elephant's ear and realizing that it kind of looked like a potsticker, then coming up with an ingenious idea for a craft to sell--crocheted "potstickers" in a Chinese take out box. Cute? Maybe not so much? Langsea Dibley has some crocheted "cupcakes" and she loves them, so maybe "potstickers" will be a hit with the under five set too.
4. Finally cleaning the back window of the Jeep. It was so beautiful that I became a slight driving hazard because I was staring out of it far too often.
5. Plugging in my iPod and not talking to anyone at work for the entire day while we did inventory.
6. Kip bringing me lunch at work during one of his days off
7. Finding my new favorite book, "Timeless Simplicity", on sale at the bookstore. You should read it. It's great.
8. Warm-ish weather that sort of reminds me of spring
9. Finding an add in the paper for people who want to become Pampered Chef sellers. I'm seriously considering it, if only for the discount on baking stones. I have secretly wanted the bread pan stone for about eight years now.
10. The SmartWool socks that Kip got me for Christmas. I'm still jazzed about them.