Saturday, December 30, 2006

Digital cameras

Good lord are there a lot of digital cameras out there! I finally bought my own. I've been "borrowing" ones, but now I have my own. Hooray! I'm loving it. There are so many out there to choose from. I didn't have a ton to spend, so I was limited, but I got a really good one. I was trying to decide between the Casio Elixim and one of the Canon PowerShot ELPHs. Decided to go with the Canon. I love that it fits in my pocket.

Here's a sample of one of my first shots. Went to Terra's last night to do some beading. Jenny wants to learn wirework...but she was too busy making fabulous earrings. Next time. So I did some wirework. Worked on clasps for one of my favourite necklaces. Poor Lily (Terra's dog) didn't like me hammering on my mini anvil! :)

April is back tonight! Hooray! :) Tomorrow we're doing a little New Year's celebration at her house...she wanted to have at least one party there before she moves out of that house. Should be fun. Going to have to track down my tin. Didn't get a chance to do it last year, but my "future" from the previous year...yea right!!!! Didn't turn out exactly like it was "supposed" to. We'll see for this year...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Stir fried Brussels Sprouts!

Yup, I did actually enjoy them! :) Ok, so you chop up the Brussels sprouts, or as I did pull all the leaves off, stir fry them with onions, garlic, slices of fresh garlic and an obscene amount of butter ...and they're actually good! :) Wow, for the first time ever I enjoyed Brussels sprouts. Yummy.

Back home in Bend now. There was snow over Mt Hood so it was sloooooooow going. People didn't need to be going quite as slow as they were, but that's ok. It said traction tires or chains required (not to be carrying them, but to be using them), but I don't think that was at all necessary. I was just fine with my all-season tires. I have chains...but I didn't want to stop and put them on. It was fine. Kitties were happy to see me. Now they're outside to run around some. I have pics, but those will have to wait. Kai is so big now, and constantly on the go. Spitting image of Randal and our dad. It was nice to spend time with Oma Lilo too.

And thus ends another Christmas...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, hope you're having a great holiday...whichever one it is. Or, if you celebrate none of the December holidays...hope you're having a good day! :) Have I mentioned I love Christmas? Despite everything, it's still my favourite holiday/time of year. As long as people just relax and stop putting so much pressure on themselves... Christmas is about giving and dammit act like it!!! :P

Had Syl and Spiro over for Christmas dinner last night and then did some of our present opening. Randal, Jen and Kai couldn't join us so we're doing our big family holiday/resent opening today instead of last night. Very weird for us...but we're managing. I think it's amazing, Sylvia has spent more Christmases with my family since 1986 than I have!!! When I was in London and couldn't make it back for Christmas, and the one or two that I've missed since I've been back west, Sylvia still came here every Christmas eve. She has not missed one since 1986. No wonder my parent's consider her another one of their children. I always thought that the amazing friends I had were the norm. But as I get older and meet more people, I realize that it's actually unique. I have friends that I still love and adore (the feeling is mutual) that I have known since I was in elementary and high school. Friends are family.

Anyway, this morning mom and I went downtown to the Hyatt hotel to look at their gingerbread display. It's like the Sunriver ones. They were amazing! Then we went to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver to look at their Christmas Trees. It's a fundraiser for the BC Children's Hospital, so business "buy" a tree and decorate it. Some were just fabulous and very creative! Others were more traditional but beautiful. Now it's cooking time. I've got to go make some stuffin' muffins (see the recipe from my Thanksgiving post). I'm also making Brussels sprouts. I HATE them...but I've been told it's cause I just haven't had well cooked ones. No boiling of Brussels sprouts! I'm going to stir fry them with garlic and...something, I forget what. We'll see if it changes my mind...

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Skiing at Whistler

Merry Christmas Eve! It was fabulous, went skiing at Whistler yesterday with my parents. I haven't been there in a couple years, so I'd forgotten how great it is! Don't get me wrong, I really like Mt Bachelor, but Whistler is... Whistler!!! :) They have a new chair, the Symphony Express, which opens up a whole bowl that previously you had to hike to. Had to wake up at 5:15 in order to drive up there for 8:30. It was an amazing day. 6 inches of new snow overnight, and barely anyone on the hill. I really thought that since it was the Saturday before Christmas it would be packed. I've been on Whistler and had lines of an hour or so. We nearly walked on all day!

It was kinda foggy in places, which is bad for both my dad and me. We get motion sickness, or something in the fog and flat night. Makes us very nauseous. But we found clear spots, and it cleared up a bit towards the end of the day. Even with the fog though, it was GREAT!!! I love skiing and I love that mountain. We skied a full day, 8:30-almost 4:00. And a 2 hour drive each way. Boy was I tired last night. Again, worth it though.

Then last night I helped my dad make his yearly yule logs. Well, I helped him make the butter cream. Man, is that a complicated business! The sugar and water has to boil down, reach 242 degrees, the eggs must be beaten for 8 minutes straight, then add the sugar syrup (at 242 degrees), beat it until it's room temperature, then add the huge amount of butter :) and beat until smooth. Then you add cocoa and Kahlua...then frost the cake part. But boy do they look yummy!

Anyway, today I have one or two last gifts to get, then tonight it's our usual Christmas Eve dinner, carol sing and then opening of the presents. Tomorrow is our big immediate family gathering, Tuesday is our extended family gathering and then it's back to Bend!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Home to Vancouver for Christmas

Vancouver BC, not Washington. I'm off early tomorrow morning to Vancouver to spend Christmas with my family. I'm really looking forward to it this year. My grandmother, who has not been to Vancouver since '97 is going to be there. She's my last surviving grandparent, and who knows how much longer she'll be with us. So I'm really glad to be able to spend time with her. This last year has really shown me how important family is.

I'm not sure how to get home though. In the past I've usually gone over Hood to Portland and then just I-5 home. But the last couple times I've gone up 97 to Yakima, then across to Ellensburg (which holds a special place in my heart) and then across the Snoqualmie Pass to connect with I-5 just north-ish of Seattle. That way you miss all of Portland and most of the Olympia-Seattle traffic. Still have to contend with the Seattle-Everett traffic, but it cuts it down on how much I have to struggle through.

However, it's a narrower highway, and it's a crap-shoot with the weather. And since I don't have my studs on...I just don't know. It's a bit more in mileage, but I think it saves time overall. I've got plenty of books on CD though. Besides, then I get to make my FAVOURITE stop at the Thorp Fruit and Antique Mall just north of Ellensburg. I love stopping there. I always pick up something, usually these fabulous soup mixes they have. Yumm!!!

I don't know what I love more, the Wapato Stuffed Pepper Soup or the Thorpelini Tortellini Soup. Then there are salsas, jellies (like cilantro lime pepper jelly!), salad dressings and pickles... YUM!!! Let me know if you want me to pick up any for you! :)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Peru, day 16 (Sept 24): Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu was the reason we'd all come this far, and this was the day we were going to visit the site. Very exciting. I don't know what it is about Machu Picchu. It's not as old as other places I've been and seen. The Mayan ruins I saw in Belize at Lamanai are way over 2000 years old...Machu Picchu is only 566 years old. And it was only inhabited for about 90 years. Lamanai was inhabited as early as the 16th century BC and had continuing occupation until the 17th century AD. Now that's a long time! Lamanai was fascinating to me, and I loved it...but what is the mystique of Machu Picchu. 'Cause there is something about it. It's an interesting phenomenon, why one archaeological site gains more importance than another.

Anyway, we were all set! Got our tickets the night before for the first round of buses up to the top. You can climb up, but that takes 1-2 hours. And after 5 days of hiking...I was ok with taking the bus. We wanted to be up there for the sunrise. So we woke up at 4:30, had breakfast, hiked up into the center of town and stood in line for the buses. And they started coming. Man, it's quite the business!!!! They have a couple hundred buses that run constantly up and down. Here you can see the road that switchbacks all the way up. This was taken up near the Sun Gate.

The buses coming into the park entrance at the top. Look at that line of buses. Just one after another...

There are far too many pictures for me to put them all here. I'll just include a small sampling. If you want to see all, or just more of our Machu Picchu pictures, look at my Peru gallery. Machu Picchu is about 3/4 of the way to the bottom. Here is my mom and I just inside the entrance. Where we are standing was part of the residential section in the "Popular District." Machhu Picchu has three sectors: the Sacred District, the Popular District, and the District of the Priests and the Nobility (royalty zone). I have a map of the site in my gallery.
Agricultural terraces. It's amazing to think that the people really worked these terraces. They're incredibly steep... and there's a HUGE drop-off! :)
That peak that I'm looking at is Wyna Picchu (or Huayna Picchu, I've seen it spelled both ways). About 1/2 way up it is the "Temple of the Moon." You can climb that mountain, it takes about 1 1/2 hours round trip. But it's dangerous. A couple people every year die climbing it. The trail is just VERY narrow and it's windy. I really really wanted to climb it, but no one would go with me, and I wasn't comfortable going by myself. Besides, mom really didn't want me to go. So I had to console myself with just looking at it.

There were llamas wandering around all over the site. They grunt! I didn't actually touch it, 'cause I was a little worried about being bitten. It was great to see them up there, where they would have been when the city was occupied. Isn't that little baby so cute?

A view down the back side. That valley is the one we'd walked up the day before. Can you see the llamas grazing and resting?
Here I am up at one of the higher points in Machu Picchu. By this time it was in the 90's. Hot enough to strip down. Besides, that made itching my bug bites easier! :)
Chinchilla!!! I didn't realize they were so big! I've only ever Mom and I spotted it from waaaay up at the guard hut. We then figured out how to get to above them, since the row of houses they were living in was blocked off. There were two chinchillas hoping around this one "house". They're so cute! And they're eaten's not just guinea pigs! Raised like chickens. I didn't try chinchilla. Guinea pig was bad enough.
Mom taking a break over near the agricultural area. You can see the tree behind her that is in the central square.
This young man is one of quite a few who "chase" the buses down from Machu Picchu. He runs alongside waving and calling goodbye in Quechua. About 3/4 of the way down the bus stops, he gets on, calls goodbye to us again in English and a couple other languages, then goes around for tips. I'm telling ya, he deserved those tips!!! he worked really hard.

Here we are walking back up into Aguas Calientes to catch the train back to Cuzco. Our hotel was that yellow one way down at the end. It was very nice...especially after the tents! :)

We took the train back to Cuzco, arriving at about 6:00 pm. We went our separate ways for dinner, so mom and I went to this little restaurant I'd heard about from Olaf, the guy on my bike trip. It was a small local restaurant where we paid 6 sol, about 2 dollars, for a full three course meal. Soup, main entree and desert. Oh, and a Pisco too and tea. Other places we'd been paying 20 Sol for just the entree. It was a nice change, just me and mom. Then we spent some time returning the flashlight and headlamp that my mom had bought in Cuzco neither of which worked once we were out on our trek. As I was waiting for her outside one of the shops, I saw something that made my jaw drop!

In Peru, once evening comes and the stores close, sometimes food vendors set up shop in the doorway alcoves of the closed stores. So across the street from me is a very busy one where I've seen both locals and tourists eating. It's just a little hot-dog cart-type thing. The guy is cutting up raw meat, but evidently his knife was not sharp enough. So he steps out, walks over to the curb, bends down, AND SHARPENS THE KNIFE ON THE STREET!!!!! Then he goes back, DOESN'T wipe it off, and continues cutting up the meat. EWWWWWWWW! Those streets are not clean. Those things you just have to not think about too much.

Then it was off to bed. We had another early morning flight back to Lima.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Validity Committee

I think every office should have a validity committee. LOL.

So here's my muse for the day: why are teenagers, girls more so, SO mean to each other? I watch them here at the library every day after school...and I wonder what it is that is going through their heads. You could not PAY me to be a teen again! They're such fascinating creatures, and I feel such empathy for them. They're amazing! But they can be incredibly vicious to each other. What purpose, psychologically, does it serve? Is it necessary? Does it create us to be the adults we are? Can it be avoided?

For those who don't know, when I was a teen I was pretty deep into religion. Even there, the girls were very catty and mean to each other. So I don't think that's the angle. Maybe it is just part of what we as humans have to grow through. All I know is I'm glad I'm an adult!!! Sheesh. I think they could probably still make me cry! But then I'd just make them cry! :) I am the Bitch Midget. (that's what they called me once)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fabulous Dame Deviant

Saturday I'd helped out at the roller derby championship bout. April's team wasn't playing, but she was skating for one of the other teams, Moulin Bruise, because they had some skaters out with injuries. And here she is in full dress!

Doesn't she look fabulous???? :) The best part is, she knit those leggings! I'm constantly amazed at her talent. And she skated as well as she looked. I can't wait to be out there.

But I'm not quite ready. So instead I worked the merchandise table with Kati, another fresh meat. We had our own fun. Sold a ton of stuff too! Jen walked right in front us as the picture was being taken. Hee hee. not sure I look sick...but I was! Oh yea, and I forgot my favourite travel mug there with my tea in it. Hopefully I can get it back. :(

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas is coming

I can't believe how fast time goes by. I'm leaving for Vancouver for Christmas next week. Ulp! So not ready. Need to find someone to check in on the kitties.... anyone? :) Well, I'm feeling better, but still not 100%. I did not get out of bed on Sunday, except to lay on the couch and play on my laptop. Slept for three hours, when I finally stopped puking my guts out. Stomach flu's suck!!! Took Monday off too, since I was still weak. Today I', feeling much better. Have skating practice tonight...we'll see how that goes. Not sure I'm up to it, but I'll still go.

One of my favourite mystery writers FINALLY came out with another in her series (Heidi, take note!). Kidnapped: An Irene Kelley mystery by Jan Burke. Hooray! Think I'll start it tonight. See, this is always the problem!!! I have about 30 books at home waiting to be read, but I keep seeing new ones I like and bringing them home.

If you're looking for a good, funny Christmas read, you have to read The Stupidest Angel: A heartwarming tale of Christmas terror by Christopher Moore. All his books are great. Recently listened to A Dirty Job and it's fabulous too!

I did take the opportunity yesterday to decorate my house for Christmas. Not much, just my little 8 inch tree, and a couple things around the house...but I like it. Christmas is my favourite time of year!!! Not for the religious aspects, but for family, love, giving...I love it! I'm a sentimental mushball at heart, no matter how much of a bitch I appear at times! :P

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pisco Sours

Eventful weekend! Started by helping Jennifer B move some stuff out of her old office in preparation of moving into her new one on Sunday. Then took my "little brother" to the Holiday Parade on Saturday, which he loved. He's never seen a parade, except on TV. We had a lot of fun. For the first time the library was not represented, which was sad. Next year! After taking him home I went to help set up for the roller derby bout. That took about 3 hours, then ran home, changed and headed back. Me and Kati, another fresh meat, were in charge of the merchandise table. It was a lot of fun, we had a great time. It was hard to see the bout, so we wound up standing on our chairs to see the ring. And me having my skates on made that....interesting! :)

I'dnot been feeling 100% since early Friday, but it really came to a head late Saturday. I tried to go out after the bout...but only made it 1/2 an hour or so. If that. I barely made it home in time ... evidently I've picked up the stomach flu that's been going around the library. Sigh. I had plans for today, but basically have not gotten out of bed at all. I don't mind being sick when you have to stay home, but still feel...ok. This, not so fun! :)

Not that anything alcoholic sounds even vaguely appealing right now, I did promise someone that I'd post the recipe for Pisco Sours, the national drink of Peru. Interestingly enough, both Chile and Peru claim Pisco Sour as their national drink. It is the subject of heated debates, media coverage and national pride. Peru and Chile continue to fight even now. The roots of pisco itself reach back to the 1500s and stem from colonial rule. The Spaniards brought the grape to the region from Europe, but the King of Spain banned wine in the 17th Century, forcing Peruvians to concoct a different kind of alcohol from the grape. So there are two versions, this is the Peruvian one, obviously. Pisco is a regional brandy made of Quebranta or Muscat grapes.

Pisco Sour

3 parts Pisco
1 part lime or lemon (depending on taste)
1.5 parts sugar
1 egg white
dash of Angostura
10 smashed ice cubes

Mix ingredients in a mixer for 2 minutes. Fill glasses and add dash of cinnamon on top.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Peru, day 15 (Sept 23)

This was the last day of our trek. We were going to cross over the Urubamba River in this cable car, drive about 20 minutes to the trail into Aguas Calientes and then hike for about 3-4 hours. Is was so nice and warm down in the valley after the mountains. We woke up really early to try and be first in line for the cable car. Everyone coming from this direction HAS to cross over the river this way, including all our luggage. The cicadas were already singing, even early in the morning. They were so loud the previous evening that you had to cover your ears!!! It was crazy loud. They started up in the morning again...and then we managed to catch one to look at. And here it is:

He was a big sucker! They're pretty amazing. We packed our lunch, since we were going to be walking during lunch, then headed down to the river. The cable car is quite a bit above the river, and is really old. Creaking and looked quite precarious. We came over the ridge and this is what you see:

Then you look down and see two crosses at the bottom of the ravine. Great! Some locals were crossing with groceries and other staples before us.

We were really lucky. Just as we were heading towards the cable car another HUGE group of hikers was coming down behind us. There were about 40 people in that group, and we knew that it would be along wait if we got behind them. We literally ran to get there ahead of them. Here we are waiting in line for our turn on the cable car.
Here's mom and I crossing.

And closer....

We all finally made it across. We then had to sit around and wait for our truck. Finally it arrived, we all piled in and drove for the Peruvian 20 minutes...which really means about 40 minutes, to where we started our hike for the day. We started at the point where the train from Cuzco arrives in the valley. We would be following the train tracks into Aguas Calientes. There are evidently no roads into town, just the train or walking. Here we are starting out. Can you see the sign I'm pointing to? It says "Last Chance EXIT"
We walked for about 40 minutes then mom looked up and spotted Machu Picchu! There it is, up behind me and mom.

The hike was long and very hot. There were also quite a few of those stupid nasty flies out biting us. On our lunch break we decided to take pictures of our bites. Here is my lower leg.
After stopping briefly for lunch we walked on and on and on and on and on and on!!! Eventually the Cuzco train came up behind us. We stopped to wave at them. The Urubamba River was to our right, and we saw some beautiful sights. There were these huge white boulders in the river, that had been sculpted by the water to look like these amazing statues.
Here we are, about 3 miles from Aguas Calientes. By this time we were really all feeling it. We were ready to be done. That's me and Kim sitting down, Toni on the right, and Anne on the left. Waiting for the rest to catch up...

We finally arrived in Aguas Calientes. I gotta tell ya, when we first glimpsed the town down the valley we almost cried. It still seemed so far away, but we eventually got there. The first thing we did, before we even checked into our hotel, was to go to a restaurant and have a beer. Man, I'm not sure a beer has EVER tasted so good!!!! :) But we all really really stank, so we checked into our hotel and all showered. Man, that felt amazing too. This is a view from our hotel room up towards the town center. Machu Picchu is on top of the mountain that you can see on the right. Our hotel was literally RIGHT below Machu Picchu. It was a beautiful town, and such a great feeling to be there.

Here's another pic of my leg showing some more of my bites. This may look bad, but it doesn't look as bad as it really was! My leg was on fire! It was hot and tight both to touch and the way it felt to me. It actually hurt. I think I had a mild fever because of the bites, like what happens if you have too many mosquito bites. Man, it hurt!

After spending some time wandering around town, we all had a nice dinner together. After, mom and I spent some more time wandering around looking at the town at night. We also stopped in at an Internet cafe to let everyone know we were alive and kicking.

But it was an early night, since we were all totally bushed and we needed to get up really early to get up to Machu Picchu. There are so many people that go there every day that you have to buy your bus ticket up beforehand. We purchased tickets for the first round of buses at 5:30-ish. So we were all off to bed. I don't sleep well, but I slept really well in Peru, especially this night!
'Cause tomorrow was Machu Picchu...the whole reason we'd come so far. I was really excited!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Peru, day 14 (Sept 22)

Day 14 in Peru, our last day in the mountains. Ahead of us we had a full day of descending, descending, descending! We were going to come down from the mountains, following the valleys until we reached the Urubamba River where we would spend the night before hiking into Aguas Calientes. After a VERY cold night we woke up to ice on our tent. Wilbur warned us that we would be descending into the high jungle and it would be hot...but it was very cold in the morning. So we were all about layers. I was extremely cold that night, and barely slept. My cough was also at it's worst. In retrospect, I think it was edema, my lungs filling a little bit and the cough that you get at higher altitudes. Luckily just the beginning. That night there was also a fabulous lightning storm (without the thunder). I really wanted to stay out and watch it, but with three different layers on I was still much too cold.

Here is a view in the morning back up towards where we came from. What a beautiful sky!!!!

Breakfast that day was nice and hot, thank god! Quinoa mash, bean milk and these fried thingies. I know, it doesn't sound that good...but it was great! :) It really was quite amazing how much water we all drank, and how much food we consumed and continued to lose weight. Or at least I did.

After we'd cleared everything up, we posed for a nice group shot. I had the hat that April made for me and everyone loved it so much that a couple of them want her to make them one. Nice work really is a nice hat! :)
And then Rudolph ripped his pants! :) He'd bought this pair really cheep...and now you see why! He fixed it with duct tape. Duct tape is very handy, you know.
Here is our outhouse. They didn't set this up every time, just twice that I can remember. Only when there really was nothing else to hide behind. Gotta tell ya, it was the most amazing view to squat there doing whatever looking our over this fabulous Andean valley. Simply stunning.

Mom and I starting out on our last morning high in the Andes. Our path lies right behind the two of us. Down, down, down.

Here we are starting to come into the jungle. The vegetation was completely different the lower we went. Lots of vines, Birds of Paradise, orchids...and the humidity!!! Whooboy! At this point we haven't completely stripped down, but we're down one layer.
After about 3 1/2 hours we came to this sacred mineral spring. The locals believe that it has magical powers and can help heal. We were encouraged to "wash" ourselves with the water. Here's mom dunking her head. It felt was also warm, which was a really nice addition.

Here's a good shot showing the thick vegetation, and the fog that was created by the cold air coming down into the hot valleys. This was the first time we all really felt like we were in a jungle. Not quite like on the other side in the Amazon basin...but vastly different than where we'd just come from.
Wilbur taking a break. By this point it was about 1:00 we'd been hiking since about 7:30. No breaks...and no food. This was the other day where the times and distances were WAAAAAAY off!!!! I really think Wilbur thought we'd be going faster than we were, and that by this point we'd be at the lunch area. We were no where near it! We passed some locals, and we gathered from what they said that where we were headed was another 3 hours. The horses with the food had gone on ahead, so we had nothing. Smarter ones of us had bars and snacks every day, just in case...but it was a tense day. Poor Wilbur, he really heard about it this day!
Also by this point the trail was very difficult. Technical and very slippery. Tons of mud and streams in the trail. Almost everyone slipped at least once, some two or three times. My pants were filthy!!!! I really thought that after so much descending my knees and legs would be sore, but I was feeling really good. I think I may have been in that "beyond hungry" stage so wasn't feeling the hunger pangs etc. Either way, I felt fine. I'd stripped down to a tank and shorts... it was 97 degrees!!! We went from freezing to 97 degrees in one day. We were walking through the dense jungle, when all of a sudden...we hear "Gobble, gobble, gobble" we stopped, looked around, then it came again, "gobble, gobble, gobble." Such an odd sound to hear in the jungle. You expect parrots, other birds...but not a turkey! We look down into the small valley to our left and there was a very small farm, complete with an old lady and man sitting rocking on their porch.
Finally we reached our lunch spot. It was about 3:30 and by the time lunch was ready it was after 4:00. And there were so many of those nasty little biting black flies that we all had to put our clothes back on! I had almost no bites up until this afternoon. And by the next day my legs were horribly bitten. Lunch was good though. Then we had to wait for the truck to come.

Here the horses would turn back. We were to take this truck about 20 minutes to the town of Saint Teresa, right on the Urubamba River, which we had to cross to get the trail to Aguas Calientes. Here's the truck. Jammed in like sardines.
While it was a fun ride...the 20 minutes were WAY off. After a 50 minute ride we finally came to Saint Teresa where we camped at a soccer field just outside a local school. The cable car that we would use to cross the river was right there, so we were hoping to be the first ones in line.

We had seen no one except for us for the last five days, so it was very weird to be around other people. But we were closer to Machu Picchu, the whole reason we'd all come so far. It was getting exciting...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Librarians save the world!!!

:) Watched The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines tonight with some other librarians. Hee hee, what fun! If you haven't seen any of them, you can still check out this sequel several times this week. Now, before you watch, you have to realize it's SUPPOSED to be funny!!!! It's tongue in cheek and totally silly. However, we do really save the world! ;P Noah Wylie plays globe-trotting librarian, Flynn Carter, protector of humanity's greatest secrets. Hilarious. And totally "cheesy" in the best way possible. Watch it.

Saturday took my "little brother" out to the Sunriver Resort's Traditions gingerbread houses on display that were entered in their annual competition. Man, they're pretty amazing. I mean, some of them are truly superb and amazing works of art. If you've never seen them, you should go, and if you have kids for sure take them. It's free. You can also decorate your own gingerbread cookie. They also had a "Build-a-Bear" workshop, so I paid to let him make one. He decided to make it for his sister...but I think once he'd finished he really wanted to keep it for himself. We had a lot of fun though. Wish we'd been able to stay and look at the tree lighting, but we had to get back.

Today went to roller derby practice again. Had bad shin cramps again today. It's weird, I didn't really have any Tuesday, but today I do again? I don't get it. I did see my endocrinologist on Thursday for my usual 6-month check-up, and she did say that my potassium is really low. My condition and meds make that a chronic problem for me...and low potassium increases your chances of getting cramps. I think I really need to work on that. They hurt so friggin' much!!!!! It was fun though. Really enjoying the "fresh meat" ladies. They're a lot of fun.

Tomorrow we have our Accountability session in Sunriver...which means I need to get there really really early! Hopefully I can sleep tonight. Been sleeping very poorly the last couple weeks. Ugh. Wish I could learn to turn my head off...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is being Maximus a good thing?

I took the "What Action Hero Would You Be" quiz, and here are my results. I had to do a "tie-breaker" 'cause I'm very close to 3: Maximus, Captain Jack Sparrow and El Zorro. I chose family over rum...

You scored as Maximus. After his family was murdered by the evil
emperor Commodus, the great Roman general Maximus went into
hiding to avoid Commodus's assassins. He became a gladiator,
hoping to dominate the colosseum in order to one day get the chance
of killing Commodus. Maximus is valiant, courageous, and dedicated.
He wants nothing more than the chance to avenge his family, but
his temper often gets the better of him.

Captain Jack Sparrow




El Zorro


William Wallace


Neo, the "One"


Batman, the Dark Knight


Lara Croft


The Amazing Spider-Man


Indiana Jones


The Terminator


James Bond, Agent 007


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

And as for what Goddess I am...

You Are Artemis!

Brave, and a natural born leader.
You're willing to fight for what you believe in...
And willing to make tough decisions.
Don't forget - the people around you have ideas too!

I can live with that! :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Love my new skates!

Got my new skates for roller derby last night and man! Wow, they're fast! :) I love them, they're great. Make all the difference in the world. Only problem is I didn't have toe stops. They didn't com in on time, so I had to skate without. I learned how to do a t-stop very quickly last night. Now I'm just waiting for my helmet (and toe stops). Only fell down a couple times last night...but I have bruises in odd places. Gave myself quite a nice one on my shin. Not nearly as beautiful as April's though! And yes, if you feel you have to, I'll let you poke it! :) You just have to ask first...

The hard part now is picking a name. I've got a big list...but it's a decision you have to really think about. It sticks with you, and it needs to describe you. We'll see what we come up with for me.

I can't wait 'til Cathy's back at work so I can get back into a regular swim schedule. I've been missing the water. Oh well. Off to do story time, then I'm taking the rest of the day off, in lieu of working Saturday. Hope you're all staying warm in this frigid weather. I actually woke up last night and put on my housecoat, llama socks and long johns. The cats crawled under the covers to sleep too! :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Peru, day 13 (Sept 21)

This was the one day I felt like the elevation had affected me, but only in the morning. I didn't sleep well the previous night (too cold and a nasty cough!) so woke up feeling a Just before breakfast I started feeling nauseous and I couldn't even stay in the meal tent. I had to walk around breathing deeply to stop myself from throwing up. Ok, if you have a sensitive stomach, STOP READING NOW!!!! :)

I take daily medications, so I'd already taken them with some hot coca tea. I wandered around trying to stop the nausea, but eventually lost that battle. As I was throwing up I noticed the most beautiful flower hanging over the nearby stream. Here comes the icky part....I HAVE to take my I had to look through what I'd thrown up to find them. Then wash them and take them again. Ugh. I don't know how I did it...except I had to! Seen Maria Full of Grace? Yea, kinda like that...but easier. Someone finally gave me a gravol, and that helped. Within in hour I was feeling great! Here's that flower I saw (I went and got the camera after and took a picture). It doesn't look as amazing in the picture as it did in real life...but the colours were so vibrant and the reflection of the sky and mountains in the water...well, it almost made puking worth it. Almost.

Here's mom in our tent packing up our stuff. The early morning started off foggy, as usual, but cleared up as we were finishing eating. Or at least, some people were finishing eating. I knew it was a mistake to not eat, since today was our big climb...but I just could not keep anything down. I had plenty of power bars and electrolytes with me.

Here's a view of the valley we stayed in. The clouds are covering the beautiful glacier right above us. Today we were going to ascend to 16,000 feet (about 5,000 meters)! I was scared. As were most people. That's high, and some of the members of our group were already suffering. But I was also excited. This was going to be a great accomplishment. The blue tent in the foreground is the cook tent, the large brown one is the meal tent and then of course all the rest of our tents. The smaller blue tent in the back is the "bad one" that mom and I got out of the way the first night out! :) You can also see the horses in the background.

One thing we learned very quickly is that at this altitude the air is COLD and it hurts to breath it in. It was suggested to us to put our bandannas over our mouths and breath that. It helps keep the air warmer, and also helps you with your O2 and CO2 levels (not sure that's actually true, but we did as we were told!). It did help, but after a while it just felt too claustrophobic to walk with the bandanna over my mouth, so I pulled it down. That's Roberto off to our right. He was about 45 years old, but looked 70! But man, could he hike!!! He was very funny. Spoke almost no English, but communicated very well with hand gestures. He was always telling us to go a different trail than Wilbur...Roberto is Wilbur's uncle. Sometimes his trails were better ... sometimes not! :)

Now you can see the glacier! It was fabulous! It looked so close, like you could reach out and touch it. Of course, the reality is that it was far away...but look at it! That's mom. She struggled, but made it. I was amazed, but I was out front with only a couple others. Mom was farther back with the rest of the pack.

We hiked for about 4 hours and then stopped for lunch. At that point we were still about 1,000 feet from the summit of the pass. After lunch we continued on our way. Up this high the vegetation was...odd. Very few trees, and those that were there were twisted and really dark. There also started to be a lot of moss. The air was full of moisture and the fog seemed to be here to stay.

Most of the day I hiked with Clasina, Jean, Maureen, Carol and Toni with the rest of the group much farther behind. We just fell into this fabulous rhythm...not thinking, just placing one foot in front of the other. It is amazing how difficult everything is, even just walking, when you're up this high. Even the porters, native Peruvians were huffing and puffing. Made us feel better. We finally reached the summit...or what we thought was the summit. But it in fact turned out to be one of three summits! The first group had been here awhile when the other group caught up. Ken, Kim and Anne had been riding most of the day. Kim and Anne were really really sick. We knew they were...but just not HOW sick. So here is everyone taking a break.

After that first peak we went up and down for the next two hours crossing over the other two summits. Here we are descending into the first high valley after the first peak. We passed several lakes. They were beautiful and pristine, and looked bloody cold! :) These pictures really don't show how beautiful it was. Take my word for it, it was amazing.

Since we didn't talk much this day, I had a lot of time to think. And reflect. This was one of those days that...was hopefully life-changing. I was able to think about the pain in my life, what I wanted out of life and how I was going to get there. I can't explain it, but this day changed me in some ways.

Here I am at 16,000 feet. The trail actually only went to about 15,850. I looked up and there was a cairn up on a ridge about 200 feet above us. I was I scrambled all the way up, took the rock I'd brought with me from Bend and put it on the cairn. I put all my pain and loss into it...and then put it away. Then I sat there and cried for a couple minutes. Sigh. It was good though. I can't always retain that feeling of freedom, but if I close my eyes and think... I can get back there. Have I said sigh? :)

Then something terrifying happened! Really truly. It still makes my heart beat faster to think about it. Kim was very sick, and had been riding all day. We were coming up to one of the summits ... I think it was the last one... and her horse stumbled! He fell to his knees, almost rolled over, and threw Kim off. Now, if this was flat land that would be one thing. This was on the side of a very steep mountain with huge drop-offs close by! It was terrifying! I was impressed with the horse handler. He went straight for Kim and tried to break her fall. Thank all that is holy, is was in a spot that was grassy with these grass hillocks. 100 feet back and she would have been thrown in a rock section! Man, it was scary. Kim handled it well...but we all knew she was just in shock. That lasted until we got into Aguas Calientes and then it caught up to her, and she lost I for a few minutes. It was really scary. Needless to say, she walked for a long time after that. So did Ken. The poor horse felt really bad, you could tell. He tried very hard to stay on his feet, but just couldn't

Here is that later group after passing the last summit. Standing from left to right is: Anne, Carla waving, Ken and Rudy. Kneeling are Kim and my mom. As you can see, the fog stayed with us most of the day.

However, it cleared up for about 3 minutes...just enough time to get this picture.

After crossing over the three summits, we started descending very steeply. It was tricky, technical terrain. Again, I was amazed at how well I was doing, how good I felt! Having eaten nothing for breakfast, and feeling as rough as I had, I thought I was going to hit the wall. i never did. In fact, I was consistently in the first pack...and wasn't pushing myself. We came down, down, down and eventually camped at about 14,000 feet. It was again, a pretty high campsite, but we couldn't go any farther. We camped right next to an old abandoned farm. Pretty cool. Literally and figuratively. The next day was going to be a long day of descending down to the valley...