Tuesday, December 13, 2011

60 Days and Counting!

Today marks the 60-day point on my countdown = just two months till I go to Peru for my Scientific Expedition.

Can you tell I’m excited?

My tasks for this month are as follows:

First – I have to gather all my gear together and make sure I have everything I need. I actually did that last night and am good to go. Surprisingly enough, it’s really not that much stuff. I will be taking a carry-on and a small day pack with me, and will actually have room left over. I figured that doing the carry-on thing instead of the luggage thing would be best. That way I don’t have to wait for my luggage, or worry about losing it or anything getting stolen out of it.

Second – I have to get all my prescriptions filled. I won’t have that much with me this time; just the anti-malaria pills and some anti-diarrhea pills incase I eat something that doesn’t agree with me. I’ll be taking care of that this weekend, I think.

Everything else is pretty much taken care of. February can’t get here soon enough...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

An Eventful Night

It all started out with a very uneventful day, and I was feeling very “unloved” and needy so was looking forward to spending an evening with just him and a movie. I had even picked up two cinamon rolls from the Great Harvest Bread Company for our dessert.

He had other plans, apparently. He came in from spending the day with his buddy, hopped in the shower to clean off, and then left again.

Once again, it was just me. I had watched enough TV, had read two books, and the girls had actually been snuggled enough so they had taken themselves off to the electric blanket for the night. I took their advice and went to bed early myself.

Only to be awoken a couple hours later by my house alarm! Let me tell you, when that thing goes off, it really goes off. It sounds like a 747 landing right there in your living room.

I thought at first it was it was him, coming home finally, but it just kept on going. So I went to investigate, and found the front door wide open. I very quickly shut the door and turned off the alarm, then set about trying to figure out how the door got open.

No worries - there was no intruder.

What I think happened is the wind blew it open. That is rather disturbing on several levels. First: the wind was really blowing! We’ve been having some freaky weather lately, with gusts of over 118 recorded – and last night was right on par. Second: apparently the locks on my door don’t work. Not sure what to do with that little tidbit of information.

I finally got everything straightened away enough to notice that he was still not home. I shot off a quick text asking if he was alright, then went back to bed.

Only to be awoken again several hours later – this time by 4 guys out in the road in front of my house. They were yelling and carrying on loud enough to wake the dead. At first, I was frightened, and almost called the police. They sounded very angry and were yelling things like “I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!” but then I realized they were just drunks. I even got to watch one of them run over to the neighbor’s house and pee all over their garage door.

Lucky me.

The funny thing about all this commotion is that Thing managed to sleep right thru it all. She was snoring, even.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

401k Fund Eligibility

Yesterday marked my 6-month anniversary here at GDM Architects.

Yay for employment!!!

I am now eligible for the company’s 401k plan, so have been filling out paperwork this morning. It’s not the best plan I’ve ever participated in, but it’s so much better than nothing.

I have elected to divert 3% of my paycheck into the fund at this time. It’s not much – just around $50 a paycheck – but again, it’s better than nothing. When (or if) I get a raise, I can up that accordingly.

One thing that’s very odd about this plan is that there is no computer access to the account – it’s all done via the phones. Surely they have a website I can log onto, somewhere. I just need to track that down. I am not a phone person.

Write for Rights

Each year, Amnesty International hosts a Global Write-a-thon to fight Human Rights Abuse all over the world. They provide you with everything you need: information on the cases highlighted that year, addresses to send them to, and sample letters to follow in case you get writers block.

Since I am such a letter-writer, I have always tried to join in. This week I will be busy writing for the following:

AZERBAIJAN - Youth activist detained after using Facebook
     Hours after posting a Facebook message calling for protests against the government, Jabbar Savalan told his family that he was being followed. The next evening, police brought him to a police station, where they "discovered" marijuana in his outer coat pocket. Questioning him without a lawyer for two days, police reportedly hit and intimidated him to make him sign a confession. Jabbar Savalan maintained that he does not use drugs and that the marijuana was planted on him. Authorities in Azerbaijan have a history of using trumped-up drug charges to jail those seen as critical of the government. Amnesty International believes the charges against Jabbar were fabricated, and considers him a prisoner of conscience.

IRAN - Youth leaders imprisoned for speaking out
     Behareh Hedayat and Majid Tavakkoli are serving long prison sentences for seeking greater freedom in Iran. Majid was arrested and reportedly beaten by authorities in December 2009, after addressing a university rally in Tehran. Behareh was arrested later that month and charged with several offenses, including "insulting the leader" and "insulting the president." The two student leaders last year issued a joint statement from prison, encouraging others to continue to push for change in Iran. In response, authorities extended each of their prison sentences by another six months.

CHINA - Nobel Peace Prize laureate imprisoned
     Liu Xiaobo, recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, remains imprisoned for seeking for political and legal reforms in China. Charged with "inciting subversion of state power," the prominent scholar and human rights defender was sentenced in December 2009 based on articles he'd written that criticized corruption, censorship and one-party rule. In the articles, he advocated developing a democratic multi-party political system. The court considered this to be "rumor mongering, slander and smear" that exceeded the limits of freedom of expression. The court also cited Charter 08, a proposal Liu co-founded that called for protection of universal human rights and democratic reform in China, as "slanderous" and an attempt to incite the subversion of the current regime. While in prison, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless, non-violent struggle for human rights in China. Amnesty International considers Liu Xiaobo to be a prisoner of conscience.

BAHRAIN - Teachers detained for supporting pro-reform efforts
     Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, former vice-president and president of the Bahrain Teachers' Association, were detained in March after their association reportedly supported a teachers' strike amid widescale pro-reform protests in Bahrain. Jalila (photo left) was reportedly held in solitary confinement and subjected to beatings for several days. She was released on bail in August, but Mahdi Abu Dheeb remains detained. Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi Abu Dheeb were sentenced by a military court in September 2011 to prison terms of 3 years and 10 years, respectively. They had been charged with a variety of offenses, including "inciting hatred towards the regime," "calling to overthrow and change the regime by force," "calling on parents not to send their children to school," and "calling on teachers to stop working and participate in strikes and demonstrations." Amnesty International believes they may have been arrested solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and association.

INDONESIA - Jailed for raising a flag
     Filep Karma is serving 15 years in prison for raising a flag. A prominent advocate for the rights of Indonesia's Papuan population, Filep Karma was arrested for taking part in a peaceful ceremony that included the raising of the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence. Filep Karma has experienced serious health problems in prison and has been beaten by guards. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience and calls on the Indonesian government to free Filep Karma and all other prisoners of conscience.

MEXICO - Indigenous women raped by soldiers
     For more than nine years, two women in Mexico have taken on military and government authorities to demand justice after they were raped by soldiers in 2002. Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo are Indigenous Me'phaa (Tlapaneca) women. Indigenous women in Mexico who are raped rarely file a complaint due to cultural, economic and social barriers. Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo have shown courage in reporting their ordeals and have followed up their cases in national and international courts. The women and their families have faced threats as their battle for justice continues.

CAMEROON - Imprisoned on charges of "homosexuality"
     Jean-Claude Roger Mbede is serving three years in prison on charges of "homosexuality," which is a criminal offense in the central African nation of Cameroon. Arrested in March 2011, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede is currently serving his sentence at Kondengui central prison in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, where he is at risk of physical attack and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Amnesty International considers Jean-Claude Roger Mbede to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely because of his perceived sexual orientation. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is endemic in Cameroon. Arrests, prosecutions and trials of LGBT people, or those perceived as such, occur on a regular basis.

ZIMBABWE - Human rights activists at risk
     The activists of the human rights organization Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) know the price of freedom. For organizing peaceful demonstrations to protest the worsening social, economic and political situation in Zimbabwe, WOZA members have been repeatedly harassed, intimidated, beaten and jailed by authorities. For years, government officials have misused the law to arbitrarily arrest and detain human rights activists and perceived critics of the President's political party. WOZA activists have been arrested multiple times, forced into Zimbabwe's notoriously filthy, over-crowded, and disease-ridden jails. Yet, they remain undaunted in their pursuit of dignity and justice.

NORTH KOREA - Families imprisoned for life
     Shin Sook-ja and her daughters are among the estimated 50,000 men, women and children currently held in Yodok political prison camp. Yodok is one of six known camps in North Korea in which some 200,000 political prisoners and their families are imprisoned. Inmates, including children, are tortured and forced to work in dangerous conditions. Many prisoners either die in detention or shortly after being released. Authorities sent Shin Sook-ja and her daughters to Yodok in 1987 after her husband requested political asylum in Denmark. It has been over 20 years since the husband received any information about his imprisoned family.

USA (Guantánamo) - Indefinite detention
     Shaker Aamer has been held without charge by US authorities for more than 8 years. A former UK resident, he was originally detained in Afghanistan in 2001, then transferred in 2002 to the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, where he remains. At Guantánamo he has protested against conditions at the camp, including by participating in hunger strikes. He has spent much of his time there in solitary confinement. Shaker Aamer has alleged that he was tortured in detention in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo. He has never been charged, tried or convicted of any criminal offense by US authorities. His wife and children live in South London, and the British government has asked for Shaker Aamer's return from Guantánamo.

USA - Facing execution in Missouri
     No physical evidence, alleged police coercion, prosecutorial misconduct, a ‘stacked’ jury. Reggie Clemons was sentenced to death in St. Louis as an accomplice in the 1991 murder of two young white women. Clemons has consistently maintained his innocence. His case illustrates many of the flaws in the U.S. death penalty system.

SRI LANKA - Student killed by security forces
     Ragihar Manoharan was one of five Tamil students killed by security forces in January 2006 in the city of Trincomalee. Authorities have failed to prosecute anyone for their murder. His case is emblematic of the thousands of people subjected to human rights violations and war crimes in Sri Lanka by government forces or their paramilitary agents. Ragihar's father, Dr. Manoharan, has campaigned for justice for his son, accompanying Amnesty International in pressing the United Nations to establish an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka.

USA - Juvenile life imprisonment without parole
     At age 16, Christi Cheramie was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She has now spent more than half of her life in a Louisiana prison. It is a violation of international law to sentence anyone to life in prison without parole who was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. Sentenced on charges of second-degree murder, Cheramie has been described by a prison warden as "a model inmate... worthy of a second chance in society." The US is the only country apart from Somalia to not ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the sentencing of juvenile offenders to life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

YEMEN - Death penalty following an unfair trial
     Fatima Hussein Badi is facing execution following an unfair trial. Fatima and her brother Abdullah were arrested in July 2000 for the murder of Fatima's husband. Police reportedly questioned Fatima for more than five hours without a lawyer present. When she refused to confess, Abdullah was brought to her with his face covered in blood. She was allegedly threatened with rape in the presence of Abdullah, who apparently confessed to the murder in order to save her from being raped. Fatima and Abdullah had no legal representation in trial hearings and were prevented from speaking in court. Abdullah was executed in 2005. Fatima remains at imminent risk of execution.

NIGERIA - Forced evictions of communities
     More than 200,000 people are at risk of forced eviction in Port Harcourt if Nigeria's authorities proceed with planned demolitions of all waterfront settlements without first implementing human rights safeguards. On 28 August 2009, the demolition of Njemanze informal waterfront settlement in Port Harcourt left thousands of men, women and children homeless. No prior, genuine consultation was carried out with residents. They received no adequate notice, compensation, alternative accommodation or legal remedies, although these are required by international human rights standards. Njemanze is one of more than 40 waterfront settlements in Port Harcourt slated for demolition, which state authorities claim is necessary for urban renewal. Residents of the affected communities were not consulted on the plans for redevelopment.

Temporary Insanity

I know, I know. I swore I would never have another roommate, ever again!

So what do I do? I agree to let him crash on my couch for a few weeks while he closes on his house.

The problem is “a few weeks” has somehow managed to turn in to “a couple of months” because of course closing on a house never goes as smoothly as one hopes.

It’s actually not too bad. He’s set up in the library on my futon, and has all his stuff packed into half of the garage.

But still… it’s somebody living in my house with me.

And then he goes and makes it that much worse. You’ll never in a million years guess what he did.

He got a dog.

He knew I didn’t want dogs in my house. We had talked about it earlier, and he agreed he should wait till he was into his own place.

That lasted barely a week.

She is a puppy, actually. A 9-week old silver Labrador named Daisy. She’s not potty trained or leash trained. She cries a lot and even howls when left alone. And she chews on everything.

Actually, it’s not all bad. She is adorable, and he keeps her in her kennel most of the time. He’s working on potty training her, and we’re both working on teacher her what she can chew on and what she can’t.

Update on Djuna

My little June Bug had a vet’s appointment Saturday. Since it is quite chilly outside, I fixed up her travel carrier with a hot water bottle that has a sheepskin cover on it. She loved that: it’s nice and warm AND fuzzy all at the same time. Almost makes up for having to go to the vet.


She is such a good little girl and has everybody over at The Pet Stop completely wrapped around her little fingers. They all love her, and keep commenting on how tiny she is. They can’t believe she’s not only all grown up (as in not a kitten) but is actually a grandmother!

The exam went well enough, with both good news and bad news as a result of it all.

The bad news:
     Her kidneys are not getting any better.

The good news:
     She’s not getting any worse, either.

The bad news:
     She has another infection. They had to keep her all day in order to get a urine sample, but I’m glad they did. I had no idea she was not feeling well again (and boy do I feel guilty about that) but now she’s back on antibiotics to fight it so all will be well again.

The good news:
     She’s gained weight! When she first came to live with me she weighed 5lbs 4oz. Now, almost 2.5 years later, she weighs 6lbs 3oz. That’s really good, and the vet was very happy about it.

So I guess our plan of attack is to continue with the weekly IV treatments, keep her eating wet foods and drinking as much water as possible, and take her in every 4 months to check her blood levels and urine.

My Second Cup of Tea

I received my second shipment from the Tea of the Month Club last night:
     4oz of Ceylon Balangoda Tea FP

The description on the package reads:
     The Balangoda estate is in one of the more beautiful corners of the planet. It is situated in the low-grown Ruhunu district and shares geography with the breathtaking Yala National Park. The park is comprised of wild brush, ocean beaches, jungles, rocky terrain, and numerous lakes and rivers. Because of the wide variety terrain, the park is home to animal life of all description, from leopards to Asian elephants, wild boar, crocodiles, painted storks, and of course the Sri Lanka Junglefowl. Although the Ruhunu district is perhaps better known for its parkland than tea acreage, the region produces some fabulous teas every bit as colorful and full of life as its wild inhabitants!
     This bold Ceylon Balangoda FP (Flowery Pekoe) Tea offers strength without bitterness, and a fine rich flavor. Strong enough for breakfast and takes milk and sugar well. Also a fine afternoon tea served plain. Use one teaspoon per cup and steep about 3 minutes in freshly boiled water.

I of course brewed myself a cup as soon as I got in the house and was very pleased with it. My niece came over to visit so I made her a cup, too. 

So far I’m thinking my little indulgence here is a wonderful thing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Numbers and Patterns

If you’re even half as fascinated with numbers and patterns as I am, I’m sure you noticed the passing of this momentous date: 11-11-11

But did you notice this one? 11-02-2011
Or how about this one? 11-22-11

Yes, November has truly been an interesting month…

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Craft Room Just Keeps Getting Better!

Have you tried out that new Groupon thing? Each day they send out an email highlighting that day’s special deal: anything from 75% off dinner at the Taproot to a two-for-one deal on carpet cleaning for your home. You can really get some good deals and not only are they easy to purchase, they’re even easier to use.

A while ago they had one for 50% off a Wall Mural from LTL Prints. I’m assuming that LTL stands for “Larger than Life” because their smallest mural was 4’ long by 9” wide. The photos to choose from were anything from cityscapes (New York, London, Paris, even Anchorage) to Landscapes (beach scenes, desert scenes, jungle scenes, tundra scenes) to just about anything you could think of.

Since I have been looking for something to decorate the wall in my Craft Room anyway, I went ahead and got one. It took a while to choose the perfect scene, but I finally did. I ended up with a picture of Denali and the surrounding area – and it looks just PERFECT up there on my wall!

A big thanks to Lorna and Rob for helping me install it. Even though it was easy enough, it was still a 5-foot long by 18-inches wide photo that required numerous attempts at getting it level.

Then, not two days later, Rob put together the last two cubbies to complete the storage line-up under the window! I now have 12 of them, each one a different arrangement of drawers, shelves, or slots. I must say, it looks so good now.

As an added bonus, I now have so much room to store supplies I just might have to go shopping for more!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Really Pissed Off Clown

It’s hard to believe that my niece is 23 years old. Of course, I still think of her as a little girl – but that’s what Aunties are for.

I remember one time I went out to Palmer. I was with my sister-by-choice, Lisa, and we were on our way up to the Matanuska River to do a float trip (quasi white water rafting). We stopped off at Noel’s house to visit and found little Katy, age 6, all dressed up in a clown outfit, of all things.

Talk about cute! Her mother had made the costume for her, all billowing legs & arms with bright colors and big buttons. She looked absolutely adorable, and was really enjoying being the center of attention.

Soon enough Lisa and I had to be off to start our adventure on time, so climbed back in to the truck and headed off down the road.

Apparently, Katy did not want us to leave just yet. In fact, she was downright MAD at us. She ran out to the front yard and started screaming bloody murder, jumping up and down and throwing her arms all over the place.

It was honestly the funniest thing I’d ever seen – and yet, at the same time, it was extremely disturbing.

There she was, on the side of the road where EVERYBODY in Palmer could see her – dressed up in a clown outfit – throwing one of her best-ever biggest temper tantrums.

Oh how I wish I’d had a video camera!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Expedition Update

First: I now have confirmation that my insurance will be reimbursing me at 100% for my inoculations. This is really good news as they are quite expensive and the doctor’s office required payment up-front. I’ll need to find out whom to expect a refund from: will it come from the doctor’s office or from my insurance? Not that it matters, really. It’s all money in the bank! But, I should like to know who to expect it from.

Second: I just made my final payment towards the expedition this morning. The Expedition Fund I set up was a huge success (thank you to all who donated) and helped defray almost half the cost. The rest of it came from my savings account which unfortunately has left me quite drained of emergency funds. But it’s totally worth it!

My next milestone will be at 60 days prior to leaving, which comes up in about a month. At that time, I will review all my gear to make sure I have everything I need and figure out how to pack it all. I will also get the prescription medication needed for the trip: the malaria pills, some antibiotics (in case I get a terrible case of traveler’s diarrhea) and some Xanex (to help me relax in the airplane).

Now that they have final payment from everybody planning to go on the expedition, I expect I’ll be getting a list of all my fellow volunteers soon. I can’t wait to see whose going! Typically I send a brief introductory email, just to say hello. Sometimes, I even get responses back.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who Doesn't Love Bugs?

Once again I find myself reading such a good book that just I have to tell everybody, in hopes that at least one of you out there will be "infected" by my enthusiasm enough to actually read it too.

This one is called Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles.

“As inventive and wide ranging and full of astonishing surprises as the vast insect world itself. Raffles takes us on a delirious journey” –the New York Times.

Here’s a quote:

They estimated that at any given time on any given day throughout the year, the air column rising from 50 to 14,000 feet above one square mile of Louisiana countryside contained an average of 25 million insects and perhaps as many as 36 million.

They found ladybugs at 6,000 feet during the daytime, striped cucumber beetles at 3,000 feet during the night. They collected three scorpion flies at 5,000 feet, thirty-one fruit flies between 200 and 3,000 feet, a fungus gnat at 7,000 and another at 10,000. They caught wingless worker ants as high as 4,000 feet and sixteen species of parasitic ichneumon wasps at altitudes up to 5,000 feet.

At 15,000 feet, “probably the highest elevation at which any specimen has ever been taken above the surface of the earth,” they trapped a ballooning spider, a feat that reminded Glick of spiders thought to have circumnavigated the globe on the trade winds and let him to write that “the young of most spiders are more or less addicted to this mode of transportation.” an image of excited little animals packing their luggage that opened a small rupture in the consensus around the passivity of all this airborne movement and let to Glick’s subsequent observation that ballooning spiders not only climb up to an exposed dist (a twig or a flower, for instance), stand on tiptoe, raise their abdomen, test the atmosphere, throw out silk filaments, and launch themselves into the blue, all free legs spread-eagled, but that they also use their bodies and their silk to control their descent and the location of their landing.

Thirty-six million little animals flying unseen above one square mile of countryside? The heavens opened. The air column was “a vault of insect-laden air” from which fell “a continuous rain.”

First Snowfall of the Season

Well, the first at my house at least – it has apparently been on the ground elsewhere for a while now. I got almost two whole inches in my yard, with more coming down as we speak.

As always, the first snowfall of the season makes for some exciting driving out on the roads! People tend to forget how to handle icy roads after the summer months; I can’t find anything in the papers about it this morning, but I’m sure the local police had a busy day yesterday. Just standing out on my driveway and watching the cars attempt to drive by I saw pretty much every other car slide out of control at one point or another.

Wouldn’t you know it; I had not switched my tires over yet. I ended up dropping my car off at the garage at 11:00 on my way to lunch, figuring I could just hang out till it was done and head on back home. Unfortunately every other person in the city had that same idea, so the wait-time was over 5 hours! It had to be done, though, so I called my niece to see if she could come pick me up (YAY for Katy being back home now!) after I ate. She said she could.

As it turned out, Rob ended up being the one to pick me up (I didn’t want to interrupt Katy’s study group) on his way to dropping off a load of stuff to store in my garage. He is moving in to his new home soon, but needs a place in the interim for all his gear and whatnot. In fact, he needs a place for himself too, so will be crashing on my futon in the library. But that’s a whole other story…

While he was at my house, I grabbed the snow shovel and attacked the driveway thinking he would insist on taking over, but it was actually my neighbor’s kid who ended up taking over. He was very excited about the snow – and not just because he loves to go sledding: he was getting a real kick over watching all the cars spin out of control!

Hiking with Guns

Rob and I went hiking with guns again this weekend, this time going up Buffalo Mine Road to the creek out there. Our intention was to get some grouse, but honestly just being there was good enough for me. We ended up not seeing any, so the point is rather moot.

It was a beautiful day. The snow on the ground gave a nice crispy chill to the air and turned the entire area into a Black & White Photograph. I had my camera with me, but forgot to actually carry it when we started out so missed some of the best shots. We doubled back after a bit so I was able to retrieve it from the back seat of the car and ended up getting a few good ones regardless.

As for the guns, Rob sighted his in and got to fire a few rounds – but mostly he just carried it. I had my rifle with me but had inadvertently brought the wrong ammo, so was not able to shoot at all. Not that I minded; as mentioned earlier, just being there was enough for me.

Both of us had been super busy all week, with work and chores and whatnot – a day outside in the woods was exactly what we needed!

I’ve Been Shot!

It happened Friday on my way home from work. I got shot three times, even: twice in the left arm and once in the right arm. And yes, it hurt.

Of course, I’m talking about inoculations. My doctor’s appointment was on Friday. Hillside Family Medicine is just down the street from my house and are a very friendly office, with mostly women (I think there might be two men) employed there.

When I made the appointment I asked for a worst-case idea on the total cost since they require payment up-front (they bill insurance and refund any overlap). She told me that the tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever shots would each be $130, and the rabies was a series of three shots each one costing $200. Added to that would be the office visit plus the prescriptions for the malaria pills and the antibiotics needed for emergencies – and I was planning on paying roughly $1,100.


Thankfully, it didn’t hurt my pocket book nearly as much as expected. Turns out my tetanus and yellow fever shots were up-to-date (heck, I didn’t even know I’d had the yellow fever inoculation) and they let me prorate the rabies, paying only as I get them (the second one is 7 days after the initial shot and the third one is 21 days after that). The prescriptions I won’t have to pay for until I get them filled, and they went ahead and billed the insurance directly for the office visit.

All together, I only paid $430.00

According to the booklet my employer gave me when I got hired, my insurance covers “preventative maintenance” issues at 100%. I called them to make sure it meant what I thought it meant, and the girl on the other end of the phone said that as far as she could tell, it did indeed mean just that. I just may get that money refunded!

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Immunizations & Inoculations

Now that I have my travel plans taken care of, the next item on my ToDo list is making sure all my shots are up-to-date.

According to the paperwork sent to me by Earthwatch, I need to make sure my routine immunizations are current: DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus), Polio, MMR (Measles, Mumps, rubella) and Varicella. As far as I can tell, the only thing I need to do is make sure my tetanus shot is current. I seem to recall this particular one causes a rather painful lump on the arm for a few days. Oh joy.

Carrs Grocery Store is offering Flu shots this year: I should probably get one of those, too. I’ll ask my doctor to make sure it won’t interfere or react adversely with any shots I have to get. As an added bonus, the advertisement for Carrs says they’ll give me a 10% off my grocery bill that day! I should stock up.

The more exotic inoculations required include Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, and Rabies. I believe I am up-to-date on all of those, but might have to have a booster for Typhoid. The paperwork also said I should get checked for antibody levels in my blood; a booster shot for Rabies may be required. Rabies is a fatal disease, but it is totally preventable.

Yellow Fever is a concern. Some countries require a Certificate of Vaccination for re-entry if you have traveled to an area where yellow fever is endemic. I’m not entirely sure, but I believe that the US does not. I’ll just have to confirm that.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s Malaria to be worried about. Chloroquine-resistant malaria is endemic to the Peruvian Amazon. More than likely I will have to begin taking anti-malaria pills a week prior to leaving, and then continue taking them for up to a month after I return.

Just to add some fun to my trip, they tell me I have to be concerned with Dengue Fever! Globally there has been a 30-fold increase in the number of reported cases of dengue. Dengue fever is a flu-like virus spread primarily by mosquitoes, characterized by fever, headache, rash, vomiting and severe muscle pains. There is no vaccine, and mosquito bites should be avoided whenever possible. Insect repellent and long sleeves and pants are highly recommended.

Which reminds me… I should get a couple long-sleeved shirts for the trip.

Slight Change of Plans

Hello Ruth,

Although Vizcaya Museum & Gardens are lovely and worth the trip, it is about a 20 minute ride from Miami Beach and thus would probably be too hectic a day to do the walking tour and head to Vizcaya for another tour.

There is plenty to do culturally here on the beach and the Welcome Center where you would be taking the Art Deco Historic Walking Tour from has plenty of information on local museum and activities you can pick and choose from that would not require you to travel much.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

11 Hour Layover in Miami

Whatever shall I do with my time there? Here’s what I have planned so far.

My plane gets in at 7:09 am. I will first locate my departure gate, to make sure I know where that is. Then I will find some lockers to stow my carry-on for the day. After that, I’m thinking I should exchange some currency for Peru – although on second thought maybe I should wait till I’m actually in Peru. What do you think?

I had thought to visit the zoo in Miami, but emailing back and forth with their volunteer coordinator I realized that they were too far away, what with rush-hour traffic and all. Added to which they don't offer any type of shuttle bus service and a taxi would cost way too much. I'm bummed, but realistically I just can't do it.

So, instead, I contacted the local AIA group (American Institute of Architects) and discovered that they offer a guided tour of the Art Deco Historic District. It starts at 10:30, lasts 90 minutes and costs only $20.00. Here’s what their website says:

Forget the sand: take a stroll around the art deco buildings on South Beach to catch its golden era of architecture. Here you'll find a glamorous array of hotels, which grew up when a theatrical style swept the design world in the 20s. Crowded along Ocean Drive are the best of these giddy individuals. Park Central Hotel and the Imperial, designed by New Yorkers Henry Hohauser and L Murray Dixon, feature bold bands of colour and window 'eyebrows', characteristic of this flamboyant style. This is the ideal place to start off exploring the Art Deco District, which contains over 800 buildings from the 1930s and '40s.

Once that is done, I think I’ll head on over to the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Their admissions price is $15, with a $5 fee for the self-guided audio tour and $3 for the guide book. Here’s what their website says:

The sight of the Italian Renaissance-style Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on the Biscayne Bay is straight out a fairytale book. It's bizarre to discover a European-style palace in this beach lovers' paradise, but visiting it is like entering a wonderland. Built for Chicagoan industrialist and Europhile James Deering in the 20th-century, the extravagant architecture conceals an opulent interior. Full of European antiques and decorative works from the 16th to 19th centuries, and complete with original fittings, it will whisk you away to a golden age.

I should have plenty of time to see the place and even sit down for a bite to eat at their café, and still make it back to the airport by 4:00 in time to catch my flight to Peru at 6:05.

All of this is, of course, contingent upon me NOT being a complete zombie by the time I get there. I do not sleep on an airplane – but maybe if I take some sleeping pills ahead of time…

It's Worse Than Pulling Teeth!


At long last, after much struggle and anguish, I finally have my ticket to Peru! I just can’t believe how difficult it was to get. Honestly, does everybody have this many problems?

First, I went to the internet – one of those Priceline.com type sites. I typed in where I was flying from, where I was flying to, and when I needed to go. They came back with a long list of flights going to Peru to choose from, so I picked the best one. Then they came back with a long list of flights coming back, so I again picked the best one.

I got the following message: “I’m sorry, that flight is not available. Please choose another one.” I went thru the whole process again, only to have that same message sent back to me. I actually went thru the entire list, one at a time, and got no where. Tell me, why the heck did they list all those flights if they aren’t available? I hadn’t even gotten to the point where I mentioned that I wanted to use my frequent flyer miles yet!


My next plan of attack was to go to the airport and speak to an actual person. I took time off work one day and headed down to the Alaska Airlines Ticket Counter and waited in line for half an hour, only to be told that I’d have to go to the American Airlines Ticket Counter, since Alaska Air doesn’t fly to Peru. I searched the entire airport trying to find the American Airline Ticket Counter (it’s tucked back behind the baggage check-in kiosks, of all places) only to find that they were closed. A random uniform walking by was able to tell me that they don’t open till 4:00, so I should come back then.

I went back a few days later and stood in line for another half an hour – and never once saw anybody at the counter. Apparently, no body told THEM they were open at 4:00! I gave up in disgust and went home.

My third plan of attack was to call the airlines and speak to somebody over the phone. I must admit that by that time I was quite frustrated to begin with, but I called the Alaska Airlines Travel Agent and told her my story. She said that I’d have to call American Airlines (I knew that, but wanted to be sure) and gave me their number. I dialed it and spoke to the person on the other end of the phone, again telling my story. She said, and I quote, “You’ll have to call Alaskan Airlines, since it’s their miles you want to use.”

“I just spoke to them, and they told me to call you!” I cried.

This was getting my no where, obviously. As I mentioned earlier, I was frustrated to begin with so had absolutely no patience for being bounced back and forth between people who didn’t know how to do their job.

I threw in the towel at this point, and called US Travel. The lady was very sympathetic and said she’d get right on it. A week later, I called to check on her progress and found that SHE HAD FORGOTTEN ABOUT ME!


I took a deep breath, gave her all my information again, and said I’d be checking back with her in a couple days. When I did, I discovered that she was in a week-long training course!

Again, seriously?!

The person who told me that promised they would get her a message from me and that she would contact me on one of her breaks. She never did. So I called back and tried to get somebody ELSE to deal with me, but they just kept on giving me back to her.

When I told Rob what was going on, he got all upset (for me, not at me) and said he’d take care of it. He called American Airlines right then, and got found that they could get me to Los Angeles but no farther, so he called Lan Chile Airlines (they recommended them to him) and actually got a flight for me. The lady working on the itinerary for him got it all arranged and said she’d call back the next day to finalize it. She never called. So, I went on line to their website to make the arrangements myself – only to discover that Lan Chile does not fly out of Los Angeles!!! What the F@#*!!! Why would that lady SAY she could get me from Los Angeles to Peru if they don’t even fly out of Los Angeles? It just boggles the mind…

Which leaves me STILL trying to deal with US Travel.

Eventually, after trying numerous times to get something – anything! – out of them, I finally gave up and called a completely different company and spoke to a completely different travel agent. Not that it has any relevance: but it was a man this time. He was, again, very sympathetic to my plight and said he’d get right on it. (he actually did, by the way)

And not two minutes after I hung up the phone, I get a call from US Travel – wouldn’t you know it! I should have tried that trick a lot earlier, if that’s what it takes to get them to do their job.

Anyway, the good news is – I HAVE A TICKET TO PERU! The bad news is that I couldn’t use mileage for the entire trip. I used it to get me to Miami, but then had to actually purchase the ticket to Peru and back.

At this point, I’m just happy to have the ticket.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My First Cup of Tea

My first installment of tea arrived in the mail last night:
          4oz of Natural Panda 1 Keemun Tea

The description on the package reads:
          If you're looking for an English Breakfast, try Natural Panda 1 Keemun Tea. It has a lovely burgundy depth with light hints of an oak cask; a tea to savor during hectic or quiet times. A great value, and farmed without pesticides!

I made my first cup to relax with as I watched some TV (the last disc of Criminal Minds season 6, thank you very much Lauren!) and found it to be quite good.

In that same shipment, I got 2oz of another tea which I had ordered because it was on sale. This one is their Ceylon Lumbini OP1 which I found to be a beautiful tea to look at, but perhaps not quite as good as the Natural Panda Tea as far as taste goes.

It’s description reads:
          The Lumbini estate is considered one of the areas finest. Teas from this region tend to be full bodied and thick with a robust feel, and the Ceylon Lumbini OP1 (Orange Pekoe 1) Tea is a stunning example of this regional character. This less expensive cousin of our Lumbini Special is another award winning Ceylon. It produces a smooth, almost red liquor and this tea is far more flavorful than your average Ceylon. Enjoy any time of day!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The House of Bread

Have you ever eaten there?

It’s quite good, offering up all sorts of yummy bread products and sweet treats, as well as a whole menu of soups and sandwiches for lunch. I got to eat lunch there this weekend with my friend Lorna.

The person behind the counter taking our order was a cute high school aged guy, complete with acne and braces. He’s got potential, though = I’m sure when he’s older and done with the whole growth spurt thing, he’ll be quite the catch. He was very friendly, flirting with us and offering up suggestions.

I had to laugh, though. When he asked me for what name he should call out when my order was up, I told him my name.

You’ll never in a million years guess what he wrote down.

He actually wrote down “Rooth”


Okay… well, it is phonetically correct, I suppose… but honestly, it’s a little scary. That right there is the future generation, just waiting to take over.

Crunching My Car

I did a rather stupid thing this weekend – and it’s entirely my own fault, too. I can’t place the blame anywhere other than on my own shoulders, because I know better than to talk on the phone while driving. I know that! Yet, that’s what I was doing.

I was leaving the movie theatre (I’d just seen The Thing! = what a fabulous movie), following Lorna as she headed out the parking lot on her way to where we were to meet up for a late lunch. I thought she had gotten into the turn lane, but she didn’t turn – so then I thought, “Well, perhaps it isn’t the turn lane after all.” and followed her.

Turns out it was the turn lane.

She had to scramble to merge into traffic before hitting the curb, and I – for whatever reason – turned my car into the on-coming lane! Well, I knew that wasn’t a good thing, so I quickly decided to jump the median and get into the proper lane.

Apparently, the median is taller that the bottom of my car. I made it up onto it with one set of wheels, but they stepped off before the second set got on – so I totally crunched the bottom of my car.

Oh gosh, it sounded bad!

And the whole time this is happening (which took all of like 3 seconds, mind you) I’m still on the phone talking to Rob.

“Oh Sh*@!” I said, “I think I just wrecked my car!”
"What?!” he exclaimed.
“No, I’m serious – I think I just wrecked my car!!!”

I managed to pull it over onto the side of the road to wait for his arrival, and even called Lorna to let her know I wouldn’t be joining her for lunch. Thankfully, both Lorna and Rob came to my rescue. We determined that it wasn’t as bad as I’d originally feared, and that no fluids were leaking.

There are several lessons to take home with you here:
     1. Do not drive while talking on the phone! You really do need all your attention focused on the road ahead of you.
     2. Do not blindly follow the person in front of you, assuming they know what they’re doing. Sometimes, they don’t.

Thank goodness it all ended well enough, and I even got to eat lunch!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Worth Reposting

I posted this a couple years ago from a book I was reading at the time. It's funny enough that I thought I'd repost it...

An Incomplete Education

by Judy Jones and Wiliam Wilson

May as well begin with the documentary footage of the scorpions. Not that it prepares you for the bandits, or the Majorcans, or the fellow kicking a violin down the street. In a way, it does prepare you for the man and his mistress, though not necessarily for the mud they’re rolling in. Things are a little more upbeat at the marquis’ party (ignore the kitchen fire and the gamekeeper who shoots his little boy), especially once the man and mistress get out to the garden, where they try to have sex while seated in two wicker garden chairs. Try, that is, until he is summoned inside to take the minister’s phone call and she busies herself with the toe of the statue. At some point somebody throws a Christmas tree, and archbishop, a plough, a stuffed giraffe, and several pillowfuls of feathers out a window. Then, before you know it, we’re leaving a chateau in the company of four worn-out orgiasts; look for a cross, covered with snow and festooned with a woman’s hair. The End – accompanied by a happy little Spanish march, the kind you might hear at a bullfight.

Antarctica Here I Come!

Boy, don’t I wish… but, really – it just might actually be a possibility!

National Geographic is having a contest right now, and the grand prize is a trip for two to Antarctica! I’ve been logging on each morning for a month and submitting my name; the contest ends on the 17th of October, so I should know soon if I’ve won or not.

So, Lorna… wanna go to Antarctica with me? You’re the only one I know of who would enjoy it as much as I would, plus you’d get some awesome pictures for your website.

Here are the details from their website:

Travel aboard the state-of-the-art National Geographic Explorer and encounter the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands and waterways. Glide around enormous tabular icebergs by Zodiac, walk along beaches covered with thousands of penguins, and kayak amid abundant marine life. View magnificent mountains, towering icebergs, and ice formations that make up the dramatic Antarctic landscape. Cruise aboard sturdy Zodiac landing craft in search of leopard seals. Kayak in protected waters, paddling around icebergs as penguins swim nearby. Walk on shore amid thousands of penguins, including gentoo, Adélie, and chinstrap. Explore the world's last great wilderness in the company of a team of top naturalists and a National Geographic photographer. Approximate retail value is $29,000.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rinse and Repeat

Type vocabulary list, phrases, and miscellaneous words during lunch hour

Work on homework during lunch hour

Finish homework during lunch hour

Review homework during lunch hour
Meet with Spanish tutor for 45 minutes
Go to class for 2 hours

Repeat as required till class is over for the sememester!


That is my plan of attack for my Spanish class. I figure if I post it for all to see, I might actually hold myself to it.

To be honest, I don’t really expect to learn the language: it will take much more than just 11 2-hour classes to do that. I will do the best I can, however. Don’t want to look like a complete idiot over there!

Actually, my tutor Germon (pronounced almost like Herman) gave me what I am choosing to take as a complement when I first met him.

He said “You don’t look like an American. You look… hmm… International?”

Craig’s List

Apparently, I’m addicted to Craig’s List.

Have you been there? It’s an awesome place, man! You can find ANYTHING there! In fact, you can sometimes find too much – things you really didn’t want to know were available.

I found two really good jobs there: both Treeline Construction and GDM advertized for my position on Craig’s List. I even got several Cat-Sitting jobs from an ad I myself posted. I had hoped for more, since at the time I really needed the income. Now that I’m reasonably (knock on wood) secure in my position here at GDM, I don’t really need to continue along that line of employment. However, I do still keep my eye out for people in need of a cat sitter – but mostly because I know what it’s like to need one, and will no doubt find myself in need of a sitter again one day.

A friend of mine sold his car on Craig’s List. He posted his ad and not 30 minutes later, people were calling about it. He had it sold within the hour!

My roommates came to me via Craig’s List. Granted that didn’t really turn out so good, but I can only really blame myself for that. I simply am not meant to live with anybody.

I recently answered an ad from a guy offering to help somebody practice their Spanish in return for helping him practice his English! And I’m now corresponding with a lady out in the valley who is familiar with the art of Quilling, in hopes that someday she and I might get together so she can show me how.

And yes, I’ve had a few dates from ads posted there. Obviously they didn’t go anywhere, but still – it’s nice to meet new people sometimes.

Does anybody else have a good Craig’s List story to share?

The Weather in Iquitos

I know, I know… I have months left before I get to go to Peru.

Still, I have been checking the weather in Iquitos each day. Iquitos is the city where I will be rendezvousing with the group, by the way. I guess I just wanted to “get a feel” for the weather ahead of time, so that I would pack the right things (theoretically, at least).

It’s kind of funny, actually. I check it each day – and yet each day it says almost exactly the same thing!

The temperature is 88°F, with the feel of 100°F (give or take a few degrees here or there) and it’s raining with the chance of thunderstorms in the evening.

Well… it is the rainforest, after all.


Speaking of Peru: can anybody recommend some good Peruvian music to listen to? Something unique to the indigenous people...

A Horrible Thing

I had to drive around a dead cat on the road as I was going to work this morning.

It was a beautiful cat, too: white, with black markings. I’m sure somebody out there is wondering where their cat went, and will eventually come to the realization that the cat will never come back home again.

Honestly – it’s their own fault.

I truly believe that cats do not belong outside in the city. My girls are both indoor cats, even though they might try to convince you otherwise once in a while. I provide them with everything they need: food, shelter, warmth, love, entertainment, and exercise. They don’t need to be out there on a busy road that is dangerous even for us humans.

I have no problem at all with cats being outside in the country. Back on the Farm, at the Lake House, and at the Cabin by the River (all places I have lived) we let our cats roam free. Yes, they hunted birds, mice, rabbits, and whatnot – sometimes even getting in to the chicken coup and helping themselves to a few of Mother’s girls. Still, that was acceptable as they were simply doing what cats do.

Sigh… what a horrible start to my morning, to have to see that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Impulsive Indulgence

I just did something rather impulsive yesterday: I signed myself up for a Tea of the Month Club!

I have been in one before, back in my pipeline days, and really enjoyed it. Now that I have such a good job and actually have some money to play with finally (within reason, of course) I felt I could go ahead and treat myself once again.

The Tea Table

They have several plans to choose from:

The Decaffeinated Plan includes black and green teas that have been naturally decaffeinated with CO2. Examples include Decaf English Breakfast, Decaf Green Tea with Apricot, Decaf Earl Grey (4 oz. each shipment).

The Estate Black Tea Plan includes fine black teas that each comes from a single estate or tea garden. These teas tend to have unique characteristics particular to that estate for that season. Like fine wines, they will vary somewhat from year to year. No flavored teas are in this group. Examples include Keemun Three Monkey, Royal Golden Yunnan, and Ceylon Lumbini Special. (2-4 ounces of tea per shipment.)

The Flavored Black and Blends Tea Plan includes a wide variety of premium black tea blends, some with added flavors and scents. Examples include Yorkshire Gold, Earl Grey, Peach and Ginger, Cinnamon Orange Spice, Monk's Blend and Black Currant (4 oz. each shipment).

The Green Tea Plan includes a wide variety of Chinese and Japanese green teas, both plain and flavored, such as Jasmine Yin Hao, Sencha, and Crime of Passion. (3-4 oz. per shipment).

The Herbal Tea Plan includes caffeine-free fruit blends, rooibos, and other herbal blends of various dried herbs, flowers, and fruit pieces. Examples include Blackberry Twist, Chamomile Mint, Casablanca, and Rooibos Cream Caramel (4 oz. each shipment).

The Rooibos Plan provides the herbal tea, Rooibos (pronounced "roy bus"), which is made from the needle-like leaves of a caffeine-free bush native to South Africa. Good both hot and cold, it has a mild flavor and won't turn bitter with extended brewing. It is known for its soothing properties. Examples include Rainbow Rooibos, Rooibos Cream Caramel, and Rooibos White Chocolate Toffee (4 oz. each shipment).

The Variety Plan is perfect if you don't know what someone likes or if you love all tea! We will simply vary the kind of tea you will receive each month, typically rotating among flavored black, unflavored black, green, and herbal teas (4 oz. each shipment).

They also have several shipment plans to choose from:
     12 shipments (monthly)
       6 shipments (every other month)
       4 shipments (quarterly)

I decided on the Estate Black Tea Plan shipped every other month.

I’m rather excited about it, too. I do love tea and I have my spiffy new Craft Room all set up with the Mrs. Teapot and all that. I’m looking forward to afternoons spent sipping tea and snipping paper with my girls.

Djuna does love a good cup of tea - and Thing so loves to snip paper, don’t you know.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rest and Relaxation

I had a very quiet weekend, full of rest & relaxation. It was very nice, yet at the same time I actually got a whole lot done.

Saturday was my eye appointment. I had thought that my glasses were no longer working for me because I couldn’t see the close-up stuff when I did my paper-cutting and card-making. I bought a $3 pair of glasses at the pharmacy that worked better than my $600 glasses! (I’m exaggerating the price a bit)

Thankfully, it turns out that my eyes actually have not gotten worse as I had feared – I was simply expecting more out of them than they were designed to give. Apparently, reading glasses are for just that = reading. You hold the book at a comfortable distance from your eyes and read. I will continue using the $3 glasses for my craft work, and use the more expensive ones for my reading.

After that appointment, the rest of my weekend was completely unscheduled. I cleaned house a bit, snuggled with my girls a lot, went online and got a couple more essentials for my trip, watched a few movies & some TV, and even got to go out on a date!

Rob and I went to Jalapeño’s in Eagle River for dinner on Saturday night. It’s one of our favorite places to eat, and I had a killer coupon.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Books & Movies

Part of the preparations for my trip to Peru is to read as many books and watch as many movies on the subject I can find prior to actually going, so as to have a better appreciation for the environment, culture, and inhabitants as I can.

Here are some of the books I’ve read, all of which I highly recommend:

Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest
     By: Sy Montgomery
When Sy Montgomery ventured into the Amazon to unlock the mysteries of the little known pink dolphins, she found ancient whales that plied the Amazon River at dawn and dusk, swam through treetops in flooded forests, and performed underwater ballets with their flexible bodies. But she soon found out that to know the botos, as the dolphins are locally called, you must also know the people who live among them. And so in Journey of the Pink Dolphins, Montgomery--part naturalist, part poet, part Indiana Jones--winds her way through watery tributaries and riverside villages, searching for botos and hearing the tales of locals who believe these ethereal dolphins are shape-shifters--creatures that emerge from the water as splendidly dressed men or women only to enchant their human onlookers, capture their souls, and then carry them away to the Encante, an underwater world. Montgomery takes readers on four separate journeys, exploring the river-dwelling dolphins' natural history, chronicling their conservation pressures, unraveling their prehistoric roots, and visiting with shamans who delve into the Encante.

Lost in the Jungle
     By: Yossi Ghinsberg
Four travelers meet in Bolivia and set off into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, but what begins as a dream adventure quickly deteriorates into a dangerous nightmare, and after weeks of wandering in the dense undergrowth, the four backpackers split up into two groups. But when a terrible rafting accident separates him from his partner, Yossi is forced to survive for weeks alone against one of the wildest backdrops on the planet. Stranded without a knife, map, or survival training, he must improvise shelter and forage for wild fruit to survive. As his feet begin to rot during raging storms, as he loses all sense of direction, and as he begins to lose all hope, he wonders whether he will make it out of the jungle alive.

Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest
     By: Mark J. Plotkin
A century ago, malaria was killing Washingtonians, Londoners, Parisians. Today HIV, along with various cancers, has taken its place among worldwide epidemics. Quinine, extracted from the cinchona tree of the Amazonian rainforest, quelled malaria; alkaloids taken from trees in the West African rainforest may well yield a cure for AIDS. Yet those woods, Mark Plotkin tells us, are fast disappearing, along with the native peoples who know the powers of the plants that dwell there. His account of wandering through the Amazonian jungles focuses on local knowledge about plants, whose uses range from the mundane to the magical. The rainforests of the world, Plotkin notes, are our greatest natural resource, an intercultural pharmacy that can cure woes both known and yet unvisited.

Just last night, I watched this documentary. It’s short, barely 40 minutes, but still quite good. I am more eager than ever to get there and see it all for myself now! As an added bonus, the film starred Dr. Mark Plotkin, who wrote the book I’m currently reading.

Amazon: IMAX
This enthralling IMAX presentation lets you explore the Amazon River and experience the vitality and magical wonder of the Amazonian rain forest, which is fast disappearing because of unchecked clear-cutting and burning. Narrated by Oscar-winning actress Linda Hunt, the film also chronicles an amazing collaboration between an American scientist and a tribal medicine man on a mission to find a rare root with curative powers.

Blood Work

I got my annual exam over with yesterday – and got all my paperwork signed for the expedition, too! While we were at it the doctor suggested having blood work done as well, since it had been quite a while since I last had it done. What we were mostly concerned with was the cholesterol levels, since I have a family history of high cholesterol.

I got the results back just this morning: I’m good to go!

Total Cholesterol = 194
LDL cholesterol = 110
HDL cholesterol = 63
Triglycerides = 103

Doing a quick Google search, I found the following chart on the recommended levels for cholesterol:

Total cholesterol
Below 200 mg/dL =  Desirable
200-239 mg/dL  =  Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above =  High

LDL cholesterol
Below 70 mg/dL  =  Ideal for people at very high risk of heart disease
Below 100 mg/dL  = Ideal for people at risk of heart disease
100-129 mg/dL  =  Near ideal
130-159 mg/dL  =  Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL  =  High
190 mg/dL and above  =  Very high

HDL cholesterol
Below 40 mg/dL (men)  =  Poor
Below 50 mg/dL (women)  =  Poor
50-59 mg/dL  = Better
60 mg/dL and above  =  Best

Below 150 mg/dL  =  Desirable
150-199 mg/dL  =  Borderline high
200-499 mg/dL  =  High
500 mg/dL and above  =  Very high

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Things are happening around here lately – I’m a happy girl.

My Craft Room: for all intents & purposes, it’s finished! Rob installed the window shades and fixed the chairs for me the other night. The few things that are left to do can be done at anytime over this coming winter, and do not impede my using the room. I am still planning on refinishing the table as it is old and has been well used. I also think the closet doors need to be painted so will most likely use up what’s left of the dark green paint on them. I have two more craft cubbies to put together and then install them in the middle of the line-up (of course, it would be the middle… it couldn’t be the ends, now could it?). Last but not least, I need to get something hung up on the walls, and am keeping a lookout for any cool photos I might take in the near future to print out and frame.

My Trip to Peru: I’m right on schedule with the plans, but as time gets “shorter” more and more things have to be done. Just today I had a meeting with my doctor so she could sign off on the paperwork, which then got faxed to Earthwatch’s main office. I still have to get the inoculations taken care of, but am fairly certain that I only need the anti-malaria pills. I have a travel agent working on my tickets, so will hopefully have that taken care of soon. I ran in to a slight glitch in that particular plan, however: when I called her today to check on her progress I found that she had completely forgotten about me and had not worked on my flights at all. My next call today was to Earthwatch to get a final number on what I owe on the expedition, so will be able to pay that off on time. My Expedition Fund was a whopping success, gathering over $2,000.00 in donations (THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL WHO DONATED!). And last but not least again, my Spanish lessons are progressing. I can’t honestly say that I am progressing, but the lessons are at least. Honestly, I suck at second languages. I can read it, and can somewhat get the gist of what people are saying, but I simply can’t seem to actually speak it. I just keep telling myself that I don’t have to be fluent… I just want to have a better understanding of the culture and its people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Don't Get It

The teacher at the Spanish emersion school told me that I needed to purchase a Spanish-English dictionary for the class I’m taking, and recommended the Oxford Dictionary as being her personal favorite. I went on-line and ordered one thru Amazon.com using the $25.00 gift card I’d earned thru my credit card.

It’s advertized as “a pocket dictionary” so you can imagine my surprise when I received it to find that it’s roughly the size of my StarTrek Lunch Pail, and much heavier! This thing weighs more than my two cats combined, I’m thinking.

Now really = how can you possibly call this a Pocket Dictinary?

And yes, I have a StarTrek Lunch Pail.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back Again!

I know, I know… it’s been over a month since my last update here. I’m sure you all have been just dying to know what’s been going on in my life! So I’ll give you the brief “Reader’s Digest” condensed version:

My Job: work is going quite well. I am busy enough to fill 40 hours a week, and have even managed to go out on a few site visits. The people I work with are all very nice, and I am fitting in easily enough. The dread of getting laid off again is fading, although I do still have nightmares about that. The office is located near enough to my house that it only takes about 10 minutes to get too and from work, so my commute time is very manageable. I may not be riding my bike to work any more, but I can still feel good about it at least.

The Zoo: my volunteering activities seem to be dwindling off here. I do still love the zoo, but seem to be loosing interest in spending so much time there. I may not go back to being a tour guide this next summer even. We’ll see how I feel once it gets closer to that season. For now, I will still do the occasional special event (like ZooBoo and Christmas for the Animals) just to keep my toes in the door. On a slightly un-related topic, two of my good friends no longer work at the zoo: Bryan, the maintenance man, now lives in the valley and has his own Handyman business out there – and Katie, the education director, will be moving out to Fairbanks soon. I definitely wish both of them well in their new endeavors, but my overall opinion of the zoo is lessened by their absence.

Earthwatch: my travel plans are proceeding right on schedule. I made a calendar on Excel with all the important dates noted to ensure that I get everything done when it needs to be done. The most recent tasks are: getting my travel arrangements made with the airlines and getting an appointment with the doctor to sign off on the paperwork. Both are not exactly my favorite thing in the world to do – but both are extremely necessary, as the trip will not happen without them. I believe I have all the gear I need, and will be looking at my luggage soon to determine the best way to get it all packed and portable. I will also have to check on my inoculations to make sure everything is up-to-date (different doctor) and get a prescription for the malaria pills.

Research: that’s the fun part of planning an expedition! I am reading all the books I can find on the Amazon & Peru (I just finished “Lost in the Jungle” by Yoshi Ghinsberg and am in the middle of “Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice” by Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D) and have even signed up for Spanish lessons (my third class is tomorrow). Heck, I even got myself two coloring books on the rainforest – along with a set of 45 color pencils! I plan to take them with me to while away the evenings on board the boat.

Talkeetna: Rob and I have spent quite a few weekends out at the property, getting it ready for winter. We got 8 nice big windows from one of Mother’s neighbors (he got new ones for his house and gave us the old ones) so had to haul them out there. Just this last weekend we worked on the driveway, chopped down a few trees that were in danger of falling, cut firewood and stacked it, picked up a whole plastic grocery bag full of spent nails out of the burn pile, painted the outhouse & tool chest, and got tarps secured over the windows for the winter.

My House: the craft room still is not entirely done, but I am using it anyway. There’s just one tiny piece of trim left to be installed, the window shades need to go up, and the chairs need to be fixed. If I can just get him up there, it would only take him an hour or so… but he’s been busy down in the garage building shelves and working on his boat. I also need a bit of work done out in the back yard – but that’s a “want” not really a “need” so I’m not stressing over that too much. Unfortunately for me (but YAY for him) he’s trying to buy a house – if he does that, I won’t be able to “borrow” him as much since he will have tons of stuff to do at his own place.

The Girls: Thing had her 10th birthday this month, with Djuna following behind her by one year. I love my girls very much, and am so grateful they live with me! June-Bug is feeling well enough that she is actually running away from me when I try to give her the fluids each week. She still needs them, though – so I try to make it as non-stressful as I can. She is a trouper and forgives me each time, thankfully. She may not for give me soon, however – I am actually thinking about taking in two boys for a couple months of babysitting. Their human has to leave, and is desperately trying to find a place for them. I don’t know for sure if and/or when it will happen – but it would mean earning some extra pocket money for my trip, so it might actually be worth it. We’ll see…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Today’s Activities

Not only did I get a full day’s work in, I also managed to get several more items knocked off my to-do list!

One: I found out the other day that we have a wireless connection here at work, so I brought my laptop in and downloaded all the updates on it. The only way I know to do that is to turn it on, connect to the internet, turn the computer off, and allow it to update itself. Then turn it back on, connect to the internet again, and turn it off again to allow more updates to load. I did this about 12 times, each time loading updates, till finally it stopped wanting to load things. All together, I ended up with about 70 updates – yeah, it’s been a while…

Two: Last weekend, Rob had me order myself some boots & shoes for my trip from a website that he uses – using his membership for the cheaper price, and using his rewards certificate for an extra $10.00 off. The package arrived a few days later – and I absolutely LOVE the shoes! The boots, however, did not fit. So today, I packaged them back up and took it to the UPS store to return them for an exchange. I’ll try the next size up and hope that fits better. If not, perhaps I’m just not meant to wear those particular boots.

Three: I have my furniture all moved in and arranged in the new craft room but there are still needs a few things left to be done: one piece of trim still needs to be nailed down, he needs to install my closet doors, and he needs to put up the blinds on the window. The table and all 5 chairs need his attention, too – mostly just tightening up the fastenings and making sure they won’t wiggle free and/or break on me. Today at lunch I stopped off at the store and got two power strips so I can plug everything in and get it all going. Tonight I’ll have to get the tea cabinet organized. Then I think I’ll be set!

Anybody want to come play with me?

As an added bonus: I have a date with my niece to look forward to this weekend. She and I are going to go pick raspberries at my friend Rikki’s house. Katy wants to make jam, and I just love to pick berries. Plus, we’ll get to meet Rikki’s new baby daughter, Adina.

Splish, Splash

Saturday was such a nice day outside, Rob and I finally got around to tackling the moss on my roof. Last year we had taken a solution of bleach and water to it, so it was mostly dead. We just had to get up there with a wire bristle broom and sweep off the dead stuff.

Of course, Rob can’t do anything half way – so while he was up there, he took my garden hose and pressure-washed all the cracks and crevices.

I say “pressure washed” but honestly, the garden hose doesn’t have nearly the pressure you’d expect from a Pressure Wash… let’s just say he used a fairly strong stream of water to get all the dirt and whatnot loose from my shingles.

While he was up there with the hose in hand, he went ahead and washed my windows for me even! It had been more than a few years since that had happened, so the difference is very noticeable.

He also attended to my rain gutters, cleaning them out and making sure they’ll work properly. He even took care of my neighbor’s gutters since he could see that they needed attention too.

All the mud, moss, and junk that had been up on the roof ended up on my driveway, the boardwalk leading to my front door, and on the neighbor’s car, too. So we had to clean all that off once the roof was done.

All in all, it was quite a day’s worth of work, but the results look so good it was definitely worth it.

The bad news: we determined that I really do need a new roof. I should get it this year, even – but since I’m going to Peru this year, it will have to wait for next year.

Unless I can get a screaming good deal… know anybody who can replace my roof really inexpensively?

Burn Baby Burn

Woke up early Sunday morning and headed out to the property in Talkeetna to burn the old wood. It was a great day for it – wet, rainy, and overcast.

The drive out was uneventful. Rob slept most of the way, so I got to drive by myself. I must say, I was rather miffed at Rob: I was tired, too, but no – he had to be the one to doze thru the whole drive. Ah well, such is life.

We made one little stop in Willow to pick up the burn permit at the Fire Department. I don’t understand the whole “burn permit” concept: I thought it would mean filling out an application and turning it in to an actual person. At the very least, they might want to know who we were and where we intended to burn. But all it was was a piece of paper with some rules on it. No form to fill out. No human being attached to it anywhere. Absolutely no one to check in with or talk to about our intentions.

Very strange.

At least we got the paper required in case somebody happened by who cared. No one did, by the way.

Our first task, according to the rules, was to rake out the area where we intended to burn, making sure we had a fire brake of several feet worth of dirt and non-combustibles. The fire itself was to be no wider than 10 feet around and no higher than 4 feet high – so we piled up some of the wood, doused it with lighter fluid, and set it on fire.

It wouldn’t burn. We ended up using an entire can of lighter fluid on it, and it just wouldn’t burn!

Honestly, we were a bit stumped (no pun intended). How were we supposed to get the darned fire going when the wood was so wet you could have used it as a sponge during your bath? Maybe if we got some charcoal briquettes to start the fire? Or maybe cut up some of the dryer deadfall lying around? A trip into town and roughly an hour’s worth of work down the hill and finally, we got our fire going.

My, what a fire it was too! Of course, it got bigger than 10 feet around and 4 feet high. At one point it was so hot Rob singed his hair just adding more logs to the fire! We burned for 4-5 hours but only got about half the pile taken care of, so we’ll have to go back again to finish up.

Putting the fire out was interesting, too. It was so big, and burned so hot, I made Rob stop putting more logs on about an hour before we thought we’d want to leave – but that still wasn’t enough time for it to burn out. We raked the coals around to cool them off, then dumped 3 very large containers of water on it (I don’t know how big the container was, but I couldn’t lift it – I know that!), and finally – with a little help from the weather – it was finally safe to leave.

On our way home we stopped in at the Sheep Creek Lodge and had a really tasty pizza for dinner, along with a drink of some really good Alaskan made vodka (birch flavored even!).

And yes, he slept the whole way home while I drove again. But at least I now have a very impressive colorful bruise to show for my weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Again with the Roller-Coaster!

And here I thought I was done with the ride… but it’s the DOW that’s going up and down this time, not me.

Have you been watching? It’s been quite the ride, let me tell you. I don’t even want to know how much I’ve lost lately.

Monday it plummeted 634 points.
Tuesday it came back up 429 points.
Wednesday it sunk again, down 519 points.
Thursday saw it swing back up again, 423 points.
Today it continued on up, but at a more leisurely pace with a gain of 126 points.

According to the papers, this was “The wildest week on Wall Street since the financial crisis in 2008”

“The blue-chip index had four 400-point swings in a row for the first time in its 115-year history.”


My To-do List

     Install 5 or 6 bulbs

     Clean up excess glue
     Tighten up fastenings
     Sand and/or resurface table top

     Fix supports
     Tighten up fastenings

Glass Cabinet:
     Install1 light bulb
     Clean up glass
     Arrange tea accessories
     Set up Mrs. Tea

     Make sure it’s working

     Arrange monthly kits

     Determine sturdiness
     Arrange supplies

Digital Picture Frame:
     Load photographs
     Hang on wall

     Install doors
     Paint doors

     Finish installing
     Touch up with paint

     Install shades

     Arrange accessories

     Install weather stripping around door
     Sweep floor 
     Rearrange shelving
     Break down boxes for recycling

Dining Rm:
     Rearrange shelving
     Bring in 2 bookshelves (from stairs)

     Arrange bedding in dresser

The Second Helping

It was such a nice sunny day yesterday I figured it would be the perfect time to get the second coat of stain on the garage door. I had worked on it last year, sanding off the old stuff and applying the first coat. Over the winter that got soaked in, so it really needed another.

It’s a fairly easy job, and only took an hour or so. The hardest part was getting the weather stripping off prior to painting – it’s screwed in with like a million screws, and I don’t have the power tools like Rob does, so had to make due with a good ol’ hand powered screw driver.

The door really soaked up the stain, too. Rob says I should do it each year, but that each year it will need less and less.

I also need to do the walkway and entry way, but that needs Rob’s air compressor to blow away all the debris so I can get a good layer down without dust in it.

When I look at pictures from before and compare them to now – wow… it really needed attention, and looks so good now.

Oh So Close!

I made a huge leap of progress on my craft room last night! I’m so excited about it…

Rob came over last night (rather late, I might add) and helped me bring up all the furniture out of the garage and into the spare room. The table barely fit thru the door, but with some rather ingenious maneuvering he got it in. I have it set up with one flap down (against the wall) and the extra leaf put in, so that I can set all 5 antique chairs around it. Both the table and all the chairs still need some attention, but they are at least usable if I’m careful with them.

Next to be put in place was the glass cabinet that used to set next to Stan’s chair out at the farm. It needs a light bulb and a good cleaning, but is otherwise good to go. I’m thinking I will put my tea pots and china cups in there, and if I can figure out how to fit it in I may even bring up my Mrs. Teapot (by the makers of Mr. Coffee) so I can serve tea while crafting with friends and family!

I put the antique-looking radio/cd/casset/record player on top of the glass cabinet. Mother says it had been Grandma Dorothy’s, but she had never even taken it out of the box. Do you think it will be safe enough to place my Mrs. Teapot on top of the radio? Or should I scoot it over and make room on the cabinet itself? I’ll have to think on that a bit.

The craft cubbies got moved up next. Down in the dining room I had them set up in a stair-type format, but that arrangement won’t work up in the craft room – so they are now just two cubbies high and 4 cubbies wide, forming a nice low “shelf” under the window. I put my Goldfish Plant on the shelf, and will have other nick-knacks and supplies as needed up there. Of course, I shall have to leave room for the most important adornment: my girls will love sitting up there to look out the window!

Mother had also given me a tall shelf unit from the Amish Treeforms place out in Wasilla which now resides next to the cubbies. It’s a beautiful piece, and will hold all the monthly kits that I have. That’s tonight’s chore: get everything in place, organized and cleaned up – both in the craft room and in the dining room. I may even clean out the garage a bit.

The finishing touches included hanging up the clock and placing the lamp on the table. We talked about installing the digital picture frame on the wall, but I may get my sister Heather to do that for me. She has one herself, so would know how to load it up and get it going. Rob has a flat screen monitor he’s going to loan me (thank you Trey!) which can be hooked up to the cable outlet, and he still needs to install the window blinds and closet doors.

Oh, and I have plans for getting my artist friend Lorna to pain the closet doors! I’m thinking a nice garden scene, with fireweed and what not would look just wonderful.

So, now the real question is: Does anybody want to come over and play with me? We can have a Craft Day together!

Monday, August 08, 2011

What a Week I’m Having!

That’s actually my favorite line from that old movie “Splash” starring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks. The dentist who is trying to get proof that mermaids actually do exist has just been stabbed in the leg with the Novocain needle and is wobbling around with his arm in a cast and I think his neck in a brace even. Anyway, it’s a cute line.

In my case, it would be more descriptive to say “What a Weekend I Had!” but that didn’t really fit the movie reference.

Saturday morning, I was supposed to give the Discovery Tour at the zoo, but just couldn’t face dealing with tourists so was not looking forward to it. Thankfully, just as I got to the parking lot, I got a call from Rob who invited me to join them for a late breakfast.

After helping Rob cook biscuits and gravy for 4, we gathered up a few of the neighbor’s kids and headed out to the go-carts. The kids had a great time racing around the tracks while Rob and I had fun watching them from the sidelines. Boy, it was expensive, though! It’s only $5.00 a ride – but each ride is only about 10 minutes long, and there were 4 kids. They each went 3 times, so that was $60.00 for about half an hour’s entertainment.

But then it got REAL fun! We dropped the neighbor kids off back at their house and took off for a hike on one of my favorite trails: South Fork Eagle River! It was raining, so the parking lot actually had a few spaces open, and there weren’t that many people on the trail itself. I had forgotten to bring my rain coat, but since I tend to overheat when I hike anyway I was just fine with the waffle-weave Henley I had on and was able to give my button-down shirt to Trey, who was shivering in his t-shirt.

I had such a good time up there! My head was feeling good, my legs had just the right amount of burn to them, and the rain was just a light continuous misting. It was awesome!

We even made it all the way to the bridge finally! I’ve been on the trail numerous times over the past few years, but have never actually made it that far before. Although, truth be told, just the kids and I made it – Rob and his friend Dustin took a side trip up the mountain to see how far they could get in that direction.

On the way home, we all stopped off at a Japanese restaurant for some sushi and saki (okay, the kids did NOT get any of the saki – just Rob and I) then we stopped off at Freddy’s to get some movies and ice cream.

To end our day we all plopped down on various chairs & couches, ate our ice cream, and watched “The Adjustment Bureau” starring Matt Damon.

On Sunday, I got another phone call from Rob inviting me over for breakfast – this time we had sourdough pancakes with pecans and caramel cooked into them. Yum! The sourdough starter he uses is taken from my Mother’s starter, which is taken from my Sister’s starter, which is apparently taken from somebody else’s starter, and so on – and is supposedly a very old sourdough starter.

While they were getting things ready for the day, I borrowed Rob’s computer and downloaded the latest software update for my Kindle (my computer at home didn’t want to do it, for some strange reason) and even managed to buy some more gear (boots and shoes) for my Peruvian Expedition!

Once everybody was showered and organized and all that, we took off for downtown. Rob and Trey and the neighbor’s boy walked down to the Delany Park Strip to see the car show (over 300 cars expected to be entered this year!) while I took off to the 5th Avenue Mall with Sierra and the neighbor’s girl for some shopping. Two hours later, we regrouped in the Town Square Park to compare stories and make plans for the rest of the day.

This is where I threw in the towel. I really don’t enjoy shopping so had been rather worn out after two hours of it, and I knew that Rob really needed to spend these last few days with his kids by himself (no tag-alongs needed) – so I went home and they took off for dinner somewhere.

At home, I got laundry done, cooked up a batch of soup for my lunches, snuggled with my girls for a bit, and relaxed with a glass of wine and a so-so movie before going to bed for the night.

All in all, it really was a great weekend.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

I Changed My Name

Well, not really – although, to be honest, I’ve been thinking about doing just that.

What I mean on this posting, however, is that I’ve changed the name of my blog. Did you notice?

I have felt for quite some time that “Blog of a Zoo Volunteer” just didn’t accurately describe my blog – but it’s taken me this long to figure out how to change it.

Hopefully it won’t mess up all of my followers (to whom I am dumbfoundedly grateful – I have no idea why you follow me but appreciate the sentiment, and your comments too).

Le me know if there are any complications as a result – I’ll do what I can to fix them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pharmaceutical Scam

One of the more negative side effects of switching jobs is that – once again – I have to go through the probational period before my new insurance kicks in. Thankfully, it’s only two months due to Treeline’s very generous offer of extending my old coverage by one month. Still, two months without insurance can be… shall we say - a nuisance?

Case in point: my daily medication prescription is very close to running out - I probably have a couple week's worth left. As most of you know, the price of drugs can be astronomical without insurance, so I prepared myself for the sticker shock that I just knew was going to hit me when I refilled it.

I found myself at the grocery store the other day, so stopped by the pharmacy to ask exactly how much it was going to cost so that I could start saving up for it. I must say, I was stunned at her reply.

Care to take a guess?

I take a pill and a half each day, so a 3-month supply is 135 pills. With the old insurance’s 3-tier drug program, I paid just $10.00 a month – or $30.00 for the entire bottle.

The cost without insurance for the same amount of pills was…

Wait for it…

That’s right = $15.00!

I don’t even know what to say about that. I’m happy, of course. But come on: it’s actually LESS without insurance than what I’d been paying all along?

I suppose the lesson for everybody to take home here is = Check your prescriptions! You might actually be able to pay less by not using your insurance coverage!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Getting a Ticket

Once again, my big brother has saved the day!

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But really, he saved me well over $2,000.00 – and to me that pretty much counts as “saving the day”

He gave me 50,000 Alaskan Airline Miles so that I won’t have to pay for my ticket to Peru! I did pay for the transfer fees, but that was considerably less (like maybe a fifth of the cost) than what a round-trip ticket would cost, so I’m still way ahead of the game.

Now all I have to do is figure out exactly when I need to be in Iquitos, get the flights all figured out, and somehow get them to actually let me use the miles. I’m thinking I’ll just go to the airport and talk to a real person at the ticket counter. That is so much easier than trying to deal with it all myself, even if it will cost me an extra fee.

Me no hablo Espanol

As part of the preparations for my up-coming trip to Peru, I have decided to take Spanish lessons. I registered just last night; I’m so excited!

It’s an immersion program, as taught by Somos Amigos - I don’t know what that means just yet, but I’m sure it has some significance. I’m starting out in the Beginner’s class which meets each Wednesday night, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, September 14 thru December 7, with the week of Thanksgiving off.

The class cost $250.00 with an extra $35.00 for the book. I’ll have to go find a Spanish-English dictionary (they recommended the Oxford Dictionary) for the class as well. Hopefully Title Wave has a used one I can buy.

I didn’t think that was too bad a price: add it all up and divide it by the number of classes and it comes out to about $25.00 a night, or $12.30 an hour.

I used to speak Spanish back in my younger days, so realistically it shouldn’t be that difficult to find it again. That was a very long time ago, however – so don’t expect any miracles, please.

But even a little bit will help, I’m thinking.

And wouldn’t you know it – the teacher of the class is from Peru and has been to Iquitos numerous times! I totally plan to ask as many questions as I can think of during our time together.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gearing Up

Now that I have officially committed to the Amazon Riverboat Exploration trip (I put my deposit down just last week!) I am starting on the fun stuff: Gearing Up!

While grocery shopping at Fred Meyers the other day I browsed thru the travel-sized sundries and found a few items I will need to take with me. I even found hand-held battery-operated mini-fans on sale! Earthwatch actually suggests having just such an item, so I went ahead and bought two of them (one pink and one green).

A trip to REI got me the mosquito repellant, sun screen, and electrolyte replacement tablets I’ll need. The head-netting, rain poncho, water purifying tablets, and compass/thermometer/whistle were purchased from the Sportsman’s Warehouse. Last but by no means least, a set of 42 colored pencils (8 of them in metallic colors) from Michael’s Craft Store will go nicely with the two Amazonian Coloring Books I purchased from Title Wave.

So much for the small stuff. I have several more expensive items to purchase, as well.

I need a pair of knee-high rubber boots, a pair of deck shoes, and at least two pair of light-weight pants (perhaps even the bug-resistant ones) = all of which I think I can get from REI, or maybe Sports Authority.

My digital camera is at least 6 years old: I’m thinking perhaps I should get a new one for this trip. I also saw that REI has a dry-bag specifically made for cameras = you put it in the bag and just take your pictures right thru the plastic. I might have to get me one of those. They also have a dry-bag specifically made for my Kindle that I might just have to have as well.

And of course, there’s still the ticket to get. As I watch, the prices keep going up and up and up… but I’m actually waiting to see if my brother can transfer some mileage to my account. That will save me loads of money, and is worth the wait.