Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Out of my Orbit

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

My 14 year old daughter has been visiting for the last two weeks. Since she’s been here she’s been busy writing short stories. She writes like someone far older…and far more twisted. One day I encouraged her to put up a blog with her stories on it and 20 minutes later she had published her first story.

You can check out her writing here at Auroraphobia’s Senseless Ranting. Auroraphobia is the “fear of the Northern Lights.” She actually has hemaphobia “fear of blood”, not auroraphobia, but you would never know it from her writing. [Her hemaphobia is attributable to seeing me almost bleed to death when she was about three, poor kid. I hope she gets over it.]

Aside from her visit I’ve been walking around with an unshakable sense that I’m doing something wrong, but don’t know what it is. I’ve felt this before, but never this clearly or for this long. The feeling comes and goes, but is altogether too prevalent for comfort.

One bright spot is that someone gave my husband two free plane tickets to Costa Rica. So we are going hiking in the rain forest sometime soon (I can’t wait to be in the mountains). Now we just need a pet sitter for 5 days. Anybody feel like house-sitting for our eight cats and one very cowed dog?

And finally, I have a game to share. It totally takes me back to my 9th grade Earth Sciences class wherein we spent the whole year calculating planetary orbits and making fun of our poor geeky brilliant teacher. I warn you though, it gets hard fast when you have to contend with more than one planet and orbiting moons. Makes you feel sorry for the sun. Play Orbitrunner. Hope you enjoy it.

Summer in Maine

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Here are some photos from my trip to Maine. The Maine coast reminds me, at times, of the Oregon coast (I think it’s the light), except Maine is nothing but inlets. The area I visited is around Deer Isle, Blue Hill and Penobscot. Hope you enjoy my pix.

The Penobscot River. This photo was taken with my cell phone from underneath the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

I took this flower shot in the garden of Stonington printmaker Siri Beckman, who is a family friend.

This is a well pump house. I liked the all the wild flowers around it.

This shot is of a pebble beach in Cape Rosier in Brooksville. The tide was just turning when we were there.

This flower shot is from the garden of the Turtle Gallery in Deer Isle. Just after we left the gallery we found a large turtle in the road, my sister picked it up and helped it cross the road.

This is the cemetery where my sister walks her lovely sweet dog. I love walking in old New England cemeteries (just don’t bury me in one).

This is a work by artist Susan Chase, who is the sister of the renowned choreographer Alison Chase (the mother of Pilobolus). Susan has several works being shown at the Turtle Gallery in Deer Isle.

This shot was taken as we were leaving Deer Isle and going back to the mainland. I think it looks southwest at the East Penobscot Bay.

This is another flower shot taken in Siri Beckman’s garden. I love photographing flowers.

This photo was taken along the Stonington waterfront on Deer Isle.

A Few Good Signs

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

For some reason I saw a whole bunch of funny and interesting signs while I was in Maine. I didn’t always have my camera batteries charged so I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked. But below are some highlights.

Last I checked dogs couldn’t read, but the sign is cute.

This Exit sign was at Fort Knox in Bucksport, Maine. The fort is pretty much a rabbit warren, so signs are needed to show you how to get out of the building. But we found it confusing that this sign was posted on a garbage can. My sister tried exiting through the can itself, but was sorely disappointed when she found that the can actually had garbage in it.

If I’d been driving this day I would have flown my freak flag and I would have, gasp, “parked ugly”!

This was my favorite sign, I found it in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Among the signs I didn’t get photos of were: a sign posted on top of a hill that simply said “ditch” (there was no ditch) and a sign at Fort Knox saying “don’t climb on walls” (my daughter climbed the wall behind the sign).

You Stink and I Don’t Love You!

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Well, I like the weather here. I can say that.

Being in the States for 2 weeks did not fix my attitude. It did make me aware of how small-minded and self-centered the average American is. It did make me painfully aware of how high gas prices are there. It did remind me that cold weather sucks.

But it made me know that I need to go home, back to the States, back to a place where people pick up their fucking garbage!

I’m sorry if this sounds small-minded of me. But if you can’t respect the earth enough to pick up your fricking garbage then I really have trouble respecting you and I strongly suspect that you don’t respect yourself either.

I run. I’ve run 4 times a week for 19 years. I don’t run far, or fast. But I run where ever I am, mostly regardless of weather. So in Maine I marked out some distances for myself so I would know how far I was running.

While staying at Mom’s house I ran on dirt roads with just a few summer houses on them. I saw no garbage on the sides of the road during my runs. One day I saw a squished garter snake that had been run over. And I saw a lot of acorns that had fallen in the road. If I kicked them while I was running they would spin wildly around in the road which was pretty.

While staying at my sister’s house I would run on the “main” road through town. But given how dinky and out of the way her town is, well, this road has only about one car going by every 5 minutes. It’s paved and hilly and largely shaded, so it’s nice running. [I’d forgotten how much I love running uphill…] So one day I decided to count the number of pieces of garbage I saw in the ditches on either side of this road.

The answer is 4. I saw 4 pieces of garbage over a 1½ mile stretch of road. There were 2 soda cans which had clearly been chucked into the bushes. There was an empty brake fluid bottle that might have been tossed deliberately or could have blown from the back of one of the ever-present pick-up trucks that go by there. And the 4th item was a lamp cord in the middle of the road, which obviously just fell from a truck and wasn’t deliberate litter.

So last night, after I got home from the States, husbandito and I went to walk the dog. By the time I had told him my garbage-counting story we had passed more garbage in the street than I could possibly count.


Land of Plenty

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

I’m struck by how much extra there is here in the States. There are yard sales all over here (with the Mainer accent they are called “yahd” sales). And each time I see one I’m struck by how much stuff is being sold for next to nothing. People here simply have more than they need. Most of them do not realize this, but it becomes clear when you see what they are getting rid of and how cheaply they are willing to part with it.

This is different from Mexico where lots of people don’t have what they need. My yard sale experience in Mexico is that they come in 2 flavors:
– First you have the normal Mexican yard sale where items are being sold well past their prime, but prices are high. A pair of beat-to-shit old ugly shoes for $10 USD, used DVDs, complete with scratches, for $5 USD, an 8-track tape player for $15 USD, etc. It seems that a yard sale is seen first as a chance to make money. Getting rid of things you don’t need seems to be secondary.

– The second type of yard sale in Mexico is the “ex-pat who didn’t make in Mexico” yard sale. These are usually great sales because the ex-pat came to Mexico thinking they would love it. They buy a new living room set from Liverpool and they fill an apartment with nice new things. They often adopt a pet. And then one day they realize that Cancun is not what they thought it would be. They decide to leave and they liquidate everything as fast a possible and high tail it back to the States or wherever… I love these sales. But each time I hear of an ex-pat who is moving back without taking their pet(s) I get furious (I’ll save that rant for another day).

Here in New England the yard sales are not just full of good cheap stuff, they are full of interesting antiques. I keep seeing nifty chairs and couches that I wish I could buy and fix up. But the last thing I need is more stuff in Mexico that I have to haul back to the U.S. So I’m waiting until we move back to the U.S. to indulge in buying things I don’t need…

Back in the USA

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

I’m here in the U.S. (in Maine) for 2 weeks. We shall see what effect it has on my state of mind. So far it’s been nice to see family. But my husband and I have some very troubling things unfolding in Mexico right now (related to his job), and it’s hard for me to not be there in case things go (more) wrong. So I’m divided, I feel I should be home in Cancun but I need this vacation. I guess what will happen will happen. And I promise to fill you all in on what I’m talking about when the crap has come unstuck from the fan…

My sister took me to a 4th of July party, it was the first time I’d celebrated that holiday in 5 years. The culture here is pretty interesting and as a result the party was full of educated, well-traveled, book-reading, left-leaning, smart people, I had a great time.

People here are suffering and complaining about the heat. Of course I’m cold. I’m walking around in a warm pile jacket that I sometimes wear in the winter in Cancun. And I have to wear socks for most of the day to keep my toes from turning blue and falling off. But apparently fans are selling out quickly here, people are pining for air conditioning, it’s hot and I’m the one who’s crazy…

My daughter is elsewhere in the state at the moment, she’s visiting her dad’s extended family at their summer house. She’ll be heading up to visit us in a few days. So I’m really looking forward to that. She and I have all kinds of plans to hang around and do nothing together. It will be good.

A Trip to Tijuana for my Daughter

Monday, May 12th, 2008

My daughter’s school is really something. Today the kids flew from Denver, CO to San Diego, CA, then they took a van across the border into Mexico. Her 8th grade class is headed to Tijuana for a week.

They will be volunteering at, and also staying at, an orphanage there. My daughter says that they will, among other things, help build a wall. The concept of a bunch of rich American kids going to Mexico to work illegally as construction workers just cracks me up.

I’m sure the trip will be great, it’s a whole new experience for all of them. I’m glad to see the school pushing the kids this way. And I’m very glad for my daughter to see somewhere in Mexico besides the Yucatan, even though by all reports Tijuana is pretty skanky.

The school told my daughter that she wasn’t allowed to spike her hair with colored gel in case her colors could be mistaken for gang colors. What a thing to worry about.

They also told the kids that this trip was about total immersion, which means they weren’t allowed to bring cell phones. So no contact for a week…I will spend a lot of time this week wondering how things are going.

Yummy Art

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

The last couple of days in Colorado with my daughter were great. I took her to the new wing of the Denver Art Museum on Saturday. The new wing was designed by Daniel Libeskind and it was a thrill to set foot in this amazing building.

We went first to a temporary Impressionism exhibit in Libeskind’s building. My daughter was raised looking at pictures of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and could identify the work of Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Seurat and Degas when she was 5 years old. So this exhibit was a treat for her.

After that we decided to visit the Contemporary Art galleries, also in the new wing. I felt like a million bucks when I saw how happily my daughter flitted from one piece of art to another. She got up close to each piece to study materials and brush strokes, she talked to me about the meaning and power of each work and sometimes she sat on the floor to look at certain pieces from a different angle. She was so excited about the pieces she was seeing that it just filled me with pride. I’m not always sure I’m a good parent, but when I see her that informed and that excited about art I figure that I must have done something right somewhere along the way.

Winter Wonderland

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

There’s snow on the ground, SNOW! I mean S-N-O-W! I can’t remember the last time I saw snow. I’m telling people that it’s been 3 years since I last had to deal with that stuff, but I don’t actually remember, it could be 4 years or more. But the interesting thing is that snow is not freaking me out the way I thought it would, in fact, I kind of like it.

The first couple of days I was here in Colorado I was freezing every minute. On Tuesday I had to take 3 hot showers just to warm up enough to not shiver constantly (and YES I was wearing proper clothing). I was about to go buy some electric socks. But then on Wednesday morning it was snowing when I woke up. I lay in bed, cozy and warm, and watched these fat flakes fall out of the sky. And it was OK.

I’ve had a few moments of being chilly since then, but I’m no longer deeply cold. People here are telling me that I just needed a couple of days for my blood to thicken. Don’t like the sound of that! I’m just grateful that I’m not shivering anymore.

Post from Colorado

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Just a quick post from Colorado. First off, I’m staying in a home which has no furry creatures in it, and it’s very weird. There should be cats at least. I always feel this way when I travel, the lack of critters screws with my head.

Speaking of critters, I’ve seen zero street dogs since coming here, but I have seen dozens and dozens of people walking and playing with their dogs in parks. I almost never see people walking their dogs in Cancun. Today I also saw a number of dogs that were hanging with their owners at outdoor cafes, that is another thing you never see in Cancun.

Since arriving in the good ‘ole U.S.A. I have been eating nothing but ethnic food. In Cancun I eat Mexican food and occasionally Chinese food when we go out and not much else. But here I’ve got my pick of food from all over. Today we ate at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant (they don’t give you forks, you eat with your hands). Tomorrow we will get Thai food. And one of the best things about eating here is that there are so many vegetarian choices in the restaurants. The only reason I eat meat at all is to make it simpler to eat in restaurants that don’t know how to feed vegetarians. So I’m enjoying being able to get good healthy vegetarian food here.

The only big bummer here is the stupid weather. People here are all excited because winter is lifting and it’s getting warm in that wet, freezing ass cold, Colorado kind of way, in other words it’s not warm but people here are so burned out on winter that they think it is. I’m freezing here. I slept under 2 huge quilts, with the heat on, and wore my sweatpants to bed. What is that? Why do I suffer from the cold so much? I’ve always been like this, even when I lived up here in the frigid north and was supposedly used to this weather I was constantly cold.

The good news is that my kid is doing really well here. She’s become a bike mechanic, and has decided she loves acting, she’s working out a lot, and her manners have improved. She’s doing well in school, especially in math. She’s taken to reading Scientific American every month and is now saying she wants to be a physicist. She complains that her dad is too attentive to what she’s up to, but if that’s her only real complaint then it ain’t much of one. She and I are having a nice time together. Today we bought some painting supplies so we can make some art together, that should be fun.

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