Sunday, July 31, 2011

All on a Summer's Day

A very lazy Sunday draws to a close here... Nothing but cupcakes to show for it, and those now mostly gone. Here's a shot at redemption, a few summer photos from around the Last House taken by the Understudy mostly. Summer is in absolute full swing here at the moment... We are going to rouse ourselves briefly in about half an hour, the Ustudy and I, to take the bikes out for a ride and a photo shoot. The place we rode through yesterday, a little dirt road through some woods and fields nearby, was so beautiful we decided we had better go back with a camera. Hope your Sunday was peaceful too.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This Actually Happened...

The other night I opened the medicine cabinet to get my toothbrush off the built-in little holder behind the mirror. The medicine cabinet probably dates to about 1960 (based on the approximate date of the salmon-colored bath fixtures) - soooo, the toothbrush holder has a bit of a rust issue ...

Anyway, I hang my toothbrush there because Whusband is unlikely to open the medicine cabinet when he is looking for a toothbrush. He is a notorious non-respecter of toothbrush property rights. That is, if he sees a toothbrush, he will use it.
I know. You don't have to say it.

Anyway, I opened to the medicine cabinet to get my toothbrush late that night and found an earwig curled around the back of it, resting in the rust. Boy, an earwig can skedaddle when you take away his toothbrush!

What do you think I did next? Wrong if you guessed, "ran and got a picture for the blog!" (Sorry).

What would you have done?

I'll tell you next time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Alaska - Done and Dusted

Breakfast on the boat

Seen in Skagway

Well, just for us, and just that southwest bit of it to which we were transported in the most cosseted possible fashion. Here's one last blog post re: the trip, written on board for later blogging purposes. Back to work tomorrow...

Cabin 5562 Log – Thursday July 14, 2011

The very clever people who know how to move a luxury hotel full of people into the Arctic Circle and then take it out again are at their posts. We are steaming dieseling (?) into Glacier Bay National Park. I have already been up for breakfast (7 AM local time). Scrambled eggs with peppers and onions, fried potatoes, coffee, cranberry juice. Then, cause I saw it for the first time, some smoked salmon with fresh onions, accompanied by French bread and finished off with a few slices of fresh pineapple. The pioneering spirit, as you can tell, is not dead…

This is as far north on the planet as I am ever likely to get at 59 degrees north latitude. For the first time on this trip, everything is shrouded in mist and the sun is nowhere to be seen. I took a turn around the upper decks and thought of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (although no one here is dying of thirst). It is 7:50 AM local time and Shack is still snoozing off the effects of yesterday’s tourism. We were in Skagway, Alaska – a gold-rush born town of 800 people with 10,000 tourists there yesterday. The effects were predictable. All during this trip I have been thinking back to an essay by the late David Foster Wallace called “Consider the Lobster” It’s all about lobsters and their place at the center of a Lobster Fest in Maine.

At the time I read it (heard it on audiobook, actually) I was irritated by his attitude toward the masses in search of a good time. What an easy target - a straw man. Wallace did, however, talk about himself as part of the problem, as ruining the thing he came to see - a “parasite on a dead thing” . Skagway still has the bones of a frontier town but the face of a rapacious tart. Diamonds for sale at eight different places within 200 yards of the ships. (What’s with all these diamonds and “tanzanite?” Can people not buy this at home? Do they only want it when they’ve left home on a boat?) But yesterday, after Shack and I bought our T-shirts and postcards in Skagway (playing our parasitic part), we went up a scenic railway, naturally with a thousand other people, and saw scenery that was so beautiful it almost didn’t seem possible that it was real. It was, the conductor said, the nicest day of 2011 in the area so far. The views of mountains, crags, cataracts, forests primeval etc. stretched for miles in all directions. We were, all of us parasites, coming to see and, in a way, to pay our respects to these sights of this world. And, let it be said, we are a natural part of it too and if there were no on lookers to see it, would the world still be so beautiful? We tourists may not be attractive, but there was nothing but goodwill in our hearts for all those crags and cataracts and, I think, a sense that we were very small in the face of this splendor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Post for a Hot Night

Uggh. One day back from Seattle and Iiiiimmm Meltinggggg! The only place in the country with decent weather at the moment was Seattle. Hmm. Still, it's nice to be home. Flying into Burlington yesterday, I saw little Vermont with new and grateful eyes.

Anywho - since it is hot and I am feeling all-in here's a little video I took as we were dieseling away from Skagway, Alaska last week. Also featured is Shack, who is acting like a nut and modeling his Russian army hat, which we had procured at the Russian American store in Skagway. The hat was the hit of the trip. I am hoping that somewhere under that hat he will keep the images of the scenery he saw in Alaska...


Monday, July 18, 2011

The View from Cabin 5562

Hey - anybody out there? Breaking news: We're back in Seattle at an airport hotel that FINALLY offers up some free internet. Bless them. We are having a proper internet wallow tonight after a week of deprivation at sea. I couldn't connect the night I wrote this (more on that below) but now I will be catching things up a bit. One more day in the northwest, on land, then back to Vermont. Today's banner is a shot I took (then messed with) in the White Pass on the way to Yukon Territory.

(Norwegian Pearl – Monday, July 11, 2011 – 10:15 PM)

First, let me say that it is after 10 PM and it is still light, as I can see through the porthole in this cabin.

I was too poor for a proper window and too claustrophobic for an inside cabin, so Shack and I are down here on what amounts (almost) to the bottom floor – just above sea level.

This cruise to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Pearl was one of several ideas we considered for a big trip, in recognition of Shack’s having achieved 10 years. France and England were other contenders. He is happy with his choice (did I mention about the bottomless self-serve soft-serve?) but I am pining for some old city – Paris or London would have done nicely. I am not cut out for this kind of thing.

My heart sank when I got on board and was greeted by a pretty blond girl in a strapless knee-length red dress. Are we going for 1890s saloon here, I wondered, or is this just what the average cruiser expects by way of elegance? I mean, I am as fat and badly dressed as the rest of the crowd on board – well, not quite as badly dressed since I had sleeves - but I mean, really.

The d├ęcor in the reception area was apparently the result of a collaboration between Donald Trump and My Little Pony. I can hear it now:

Svend: "Pony, Donald, what we need in the reception area is something that will really blow their clogs off. Something elegant, like Vegas, and refined - like a high-end Bangkok brothel - but also something that will delight the eight-year-old girls and NASCAR fans we're expecting."

Well, really, you say, what were you expecting? It’s a cruise. Duh.

True -- but, in my defense, since the cruise line is Scandinavian, I suppose I was expecting some teak or something Danish-y. A little restraint. And since it was destination Alaska I thought there’d be a lot of outdoorsy types. Wrong and wrong.

OK – Maybe I am being an bit harsh. Here’s what I like so far. I like our cabin. It has that cunning way of a ship in using the limited space to maximum advantage. I like the fittings of the ship itself – our porthole is like a manhole cover – solid and no corners cut. The decks are scrupulously cleaned and all the railings and every lick of paint is perfect. (I suppose, before they got around to upholstering banquettes and the bottom of the silver columns in the reception area with pink and turquoise, they had to build something that would not try to cheat the ocean). Today, also, I liked the view. We got to see the coast of British Columbia and it was gorgeous. We both like the shuffleboard – that oldest, lowest tech cruise pass time.

I will post this once I get some free wireless Internet somewhere. I did go online for 12 minutes today. I know because when I signed off I got a message about the $12.95 that I had spent for checking my email and saying hello to the Understudy. But that (the ceaseless merchandising and chiseling on board) is another story…. More later.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hello Seattle!

Whew. It was a long night flight from NYC yesterday, but here we are, at last, on the western edge of the country. It is lovely here - I had forgotten what that Pacific light does to everything. Seattle, you'll recall, is the jumping-off point for the Alaska cruise I threatened to tell you about a few weeks ago. The boat leaves tomorrow.

We had a Seattle day today and ran around town checking off the sights. The closer we got to the waterfront, the less Shack liked it. Pike Place Market was mobbed but I wanted badly to see it. Shack claimed it made him sick (there were some beggars and - quel horreur - people smoking cigarettes. He is not used to such sights - he'll kill a thousand aliens before breakfast on "Halo" but a guy sitting by a sign asking for spare change reduces him to a jelly). We had to leave eeeemediately.

And, dear internet, though I could not possibly overestimate your interest in my vacation I will be back with more later.

(This is the Seattle Public Library. I read an article about it in the New Yorker some years ago when it was first opened (it was designed by uber cool architect Rem Koolhaas) so I was sort of excited to find that our Priceline hotel room has this great view of it). Bye for now.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Video of My Dog Trying to Get a Cookie Out of a Wastebasket

I was going to write a paean to America the beautiful - but I'll spare us all that. (And that is the last time the word "paean" will ever appear here. Promise). See, I sense that the internet is impatient with my boring, self-regarding content. I hear that. So here's a little clip of my dog trying to get the remainder of a "Chips Ahoy" cookie out of a wastebasket.

A little set up: The fun began with Maisy approaching the wastebasket like a commando, inching forward on her elbows and stomach. Then she started to growl and bark, staring intently at the can. I thought there must be a mouse or something behind it. Nope. Chips Ahoy - partial.

I helped a sister out by putting the can on its side. Still, it was a puzzle for her.

Enjoy. (PS She got the cookie in the end). Happy 4th.