28 July 2011

If, when I get old, I lose my memory and people and places fade from my mind, I want one of the few memories I keep to be this one.

This afternoon, I played with Ainslie in our living room, tossing her in the air over and over again to hear her laugh. Up she'd go, screaming with joy, and just as her ascent reached its zenith, she'd look up at the world around her, past me to see what lay beyond, smiling at all of it in her new, higher and momentary perch on the air. I caught her and tossed her up again and again, until my arms were tired and I was out of breath, at which time simply stopping our fun seemed anticlimactic, so I wrapped her legs around my waist and put my arms behind her back and spun in place. Without missing a beat, Ainslie leaned back onto my arms and let her hands fly free, throwing her head back as well, closing her eyes and smiling a smile that I recognized from the times I've been completely in a moment, closing my eyes to try to remember it forever.

And I was completely blown away by this.

She was so beautiful there, that smile, trusting me to hold onto her, her arms stretched wide and her hair sticking straight up with the force of our spin. I got too dizzy and we both collapsed onto the floor looking at each other and giggling, out of breath from our fun. And she looked at me like I was exactly what she'd imagined me to be while she was waiting to be born, wondering who was connected to the heartbeat she constantly heard.

Even if Ainslie grows up to be the first female president or finds a cure for the common cold or invents the first biodegradable soda can, this is how I want to remember her when I'm old and gray.

16 July 2011

Ainslie + Tillamook = BFFs

Lately in our house it's been Ainslie and Tillamook, Tillamook and Ainslie taking on the world together.  It's almost like they were meant for each other (in a non-creepy, completely platonic way), except for that whole he's a cat thing.  It started pretty early in Ainslie's life--she'd see him and smile.  And then she started laughing whenever she saw him.  And then she wanted to pet him.  For awhile, he rebuffed her advances, but eventually he gave in to her charms (who could blame him, really?) and now they are the absolute best of friends.  I think it's because they find the same things utterly fascinating:

-They open kitchen cabinet doors and drawers together.
-They are fascinated with running water.
-They love balloons (although I suspect that Tillamook just likes popping them with his claws).
-They can't get enough of Ainslie's square mirror--Ainslie likes looking in it, and Tillamook likes chasing the light reflection it throws onto the wall.
-I had to cover the electrical outlets to keep Tillamook from electrocuting his whiskers before Ainslie got the idea from him and started poking at the outlet covers.
-They'll sit together for 15 minutes at a time while Ainslie turns the pages of our DVD binder, occasionally looking at each other as if to say "I don't get why the adults don't understand how incredibly amazing this sound is!"
-They both constantly crawl over to my basket of yarn and disturb its contents.
-They fight over Tillamook's toys (and by "fight" I mean that Ainslie waits until Tillamook isn't around, then swipes his foam ball, blue puff dangler toy and the orange fluffy mouse with the bell on its tail until I take them away and tell her that he doesn't want to share and yes, that's quite rude of him).
-They can't wait for me to open packages whenever we get them (I have a photo of the two of them climbing over a box from my mom, trying to see what's inside).

Tillamook has taken to sleeping in the corner of Ainslie's room or on her changing table (when I'm feeling gracious) during the day, and on more than one occasion, I've found him waiting outside her door after I put her to bed.  He sits on the side of the tub when she takes a bath.  And it's not just a one way street of affection--I kid you not, Ainslie has literally gone from screaming at the top of her lungs to laughing because Tillamook walked in the room, yawned, and stretched out on the floor.   And as if all this weren't enough, today I realized that, as she kept looking from him to me and babbling, she was really saying, "Gee-eee, Gee-eee", which I suspect is her "I can't make the 'T' or 'K' sounds" way of trying to say "Kitty".  

It's enough to warm your heart and turn you into a cat person, really.

11 July 2011

Juneau in 30 Days

A soundtrack for this post:

It's here.  Thirty days left until I leave Juneau.  
Do I want to talk about it?  No.  
Am I happy about it?  Yes and no.  
But let it be resolved that while I am still here I will make the best of it, I will enjoy it, and I will squeeze everything I can out of this fair city of ours before I kick the Juneau bucket in a month.  Because I absolutely refuse to look back on this experience and say, "I lived in Alaska for three-ish years and I didn't _________ ?!?!?!?"

My Alaska Bucket List:
  • Drive to the Glacier to pick up the International Year of Forests posters. 
  • Hike as much as possible.  Trails to include:  West Glacier Loop, Gastineau Meadows, Perseverance, finally summit Mount Roberts (for real this time) and possibly a chunk or all of Mount Juneau
  • Pick out a Tlingit paddle with Kip
  • Photograph, photograph, photograph! Especially make sure to shoot the mine ruins past Sandy Beach
  • Go camping
  • Actually see a whale breach--I've seen one spout, I've seen a fluke, but I've never seen one breach
  • Kayak at the Shrine 
  • Restaurants to make one last run to:  Tracy's Crab Shack, the Sandpiper, Empanada Dorada
  • Put together a box of Alaskan goodness for Ainslie when she gets older, so she can learn more about where she was born
  • Send smoked salmon to Dr. Zelle
  • Pick blueberries (THIS YEAR I WILL FIND THEM!!!!!!!!)
  • Walk the Airport Trail the whole way
  • Have matching kuspuks made for me and Ainslie
  • Swim in the glacier runoff (but only if we have a significant stretch of warm days)
  • Go gold panning with Sarah Morin
All of this in addition to normal moving type things and seeing friends as much as I can, etc.  It was actually kind of nice to sit for awhile and think of things I'd like to do in Alaska, because really....I've already done the vast majority of it.  If I had to sit and make a list of all the cool things I've done here that I wanted to, it would be much longer.  Regrets?  I only have one: I wish I'd been able to take Ainslie for a walk in Anchorage before we left in October; the trees on the trail by the university looked really neat, but it just wasn't possible.

09 July 2011

Snoopy Guests

Good gracious, I just spent a solid 45 minutes laughing so hard I cried at the comment threads on this article.  "When your friends come over, what's your panic object?" the author asks,  "The thing you hope they don't find, because it'll mean no end to merciless teasing?"  The responses are like Post Secret, only not secret or anonymous.  And the sheer amount of people who are terrorized by their cats cracks me up, because I live in mortal fear of anyone dropping by unannounced on the day that the cat box really really needs to be emptied (like today, so please give us 24 hours please).  

I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard.  That felt good.

08 July 2011

An Afternoon of Summer

The Downside:  When Kip isn't home from work by 3:30 am, I instinctively get nervous, wake up and stay up until he gets home.
The Upside:  all our dishes are clean now.  
The Down-Downside:  Ainslie doesn't care how many hours I'm up in the middle of the night, she still wakes up at 8 (or 9:30....or 10:30....okay maybe it's not all that consistent).  
The Up-Upside:  I found my blogging motivation somewhere between the sudsy water and the blinking time on the clock.  Yay!

Last night was glorious.  After a dreary morning in which literally everybody I know (or at least everybody whose number is still on my phone after The Great iPhone-Meets-Water Incident of 2011) had other plans and left me stranded, plan-less and itching for some interaction with anyone who can put together two-syllable words, the Sun decided to hang out with me.  I took Ainslie for a walk that was intended to be a lot longer than it was, but was none the less enjoyable for it--I ended up getting waylaid by several friends sitting out in their front yards with glasses of wine basking in the sunlight.  

I've just realized that, in Juneau, we all start to resemble cats when it's sunny; we don't necessarily do anything in the sunlight, we just lay in it, hoping to get warm.  Peculiar.

Ainslie and I ended up taking a nice long stroll through the Flats, stopping to look at our favorite houses and smelling our favorite gardens.  It was as if all the flowers in Juneau had been waiting for this one day to let their scents go, like they'd all been holding onto it in a big, flowery practical joke.  "Haha, the humans don't even notice that they don't smell us, just wait until the first warm day in weeks and then they'll realize what they've been missing!"

The entire town smelled like a potpourri satchel.  
It was awesome.

Then, in a moment of divine providence, one of the friends whose number I couldn't recover on my phone called and invited me to sit in the sun in her front yard (we're all cats, remember?) with her and her daughter and I gleefully accepted, practically running over to her house (and running into another friend on the way).  We sat the girls in the grass, Ainslie ate her first fistful of dirt, and I got a bit of a burn on my forearms.  It was nice to have an afternoon of summer.