Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked - Take 2

Thursday...I just opened the library for classes when the 8th Reading teacher comes in so excited...."Mrs. Price, guess what?!?  We just got over a thousand dollars worth of paperbacks for our classroom sets.  Isn't that GREAT!"  Yep....that is truly great...great for the 8th grade...possibly great for the teacher...curiously great for the librarian who now needed to bar code all those books, put them in the catalog, and get them on the shelves in the book room...Yep, just great...But once again, I was taken care of by my parent and student volunteers who stamped, bar coded and got them processed so we could get them into the catalog.  One mom worked her whole shift just getting all those books in the catalog...and by 2:30 a thousand dollars worth of paperbacks were done and waiting to be put on the shelves.  Miracles do happen at the hands of many people....Thanks for keeping the Librarian sane!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The End is BETTER than the Beginning...

Quiet Reflection
Grandparent Volunteer Extraordinaire
Some days are better than others...Some days are just worth reliving in order to take in all that has been accomplished or experienced...and some days you are just plain glad that they are over so you can recupe and get ready for the next day.  Today was a day better than others.  Today was a red letter dayToday, the library is finally fully cataloged, inventoried and set in place for our STMS kids...Today I tore up and tossed out the CONSTRUCTION ZONE tape and threw open the doors.  It is a GREAT feeling of accomplishment.  So many good vibes from kids and parents alike..."Wow!  This looks like a library!"  "I love what you have done to the place."  All of this as the DAMS and STMS libraries come together courtesy of so many volunteers...patient and prolific, willing and wonderful... to rise from the ashes to provide a wonderful place to read, study, compute and game with friends.  I love this library; I love the kids and I love my job...I am one happy lady!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Miracles on 51 Street

Dad at his desk
Much has happened within the few weeks since my last post.  We have rescued Dad from Brighton Gardens where he was one of many and found an amazing haven for him in this next passage of his life.  We followed a referral from Jeff via Kathleen via Kathleen's roommate whose grandmother was in "this wonderful place".  We met the owner Debi and toured the group home on Sunday the 15th.  All the pieces dovetailed and we had Dad packed up (thanks, Ginna and Ernie), moved out and in (Thanks, Will), unpacked (Thanks, Ginna) and pictures hung and ready for Dad to move in on Friday the 20th.  It has proved to be a miracle for all of us...a miracle on 51st Street!  You know things are good when you find Dad at his desk, putzing...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked

It just doesn't seem right or fair or even reasonable that you don't get at least a little time to adjust to your life once you get back from a vacation.  We hit the ground running when the plane landed at 8:00 with phone calls to Freedom Inn and Good Sam to see where Dad was.  He was still at the hospital awaiting admittance.  When we got there we discovered him in "the basement" in a holding area awaiting a bed.  He had fallen getting out of bed in the middle of the night.  Dad's account was sketchy as he had sustained two large cuts on his head...not deep but about two-three inches long.  He had a bruise starting to form and was pale and disoriented.  We stayed for a couple of hours and then drove home to collapse from our all night flight, exhausted from worry and the trip.  Went back to see him in the late afternoon.  He had been moved to a room on the 8th floor...surrounded by places familiar and head resident from Family Practice, Dr. Ota....that was Sunday.

Monday started with teacher meetings and back in harness getting a library ready for students on August 9.  Bob was back at the office and life was back to our normal frenic pace.  Alaska is fading from my memory as the reality of more packing, more cataloging, more straightening shelves.  Last week is actually a blur...Meetings every day, Grandad at night and exhausted collapse into bed around midnight, only to start the treadmill again a few hours later.  Dr. Wolfry (Dad's doctor) did not want Dad returning to Freedom Inn but felt he needed to go to a nursing care facility instead for physical therapy and rehab.  So by phone for a couple of days we tried to line something up, but by the time we got out of work, the people we needed to talk to had gone home.  Ginna came to the rescue on Tuesday night and ran point on finding a place and getting Dad settled.  We are so grateful for her being able to do this...I don't know what we would have done...So many facilities didn't have room, or didn't provide the care we needed or didn't have the level of care he needs...disappointments at every turn.

Brighton Gardens on Thomas and 60th street has provided a port in our storm.  And has given us respite in the middle of great concern for dad.

Reflections on Endings

Two days at sea ended our to Glacier Bay and the other to Prince William Sound.  We have had marvelous weather...sunny, warm for Alaska to cool and finally cold near the glaciers.  We have not had the textbook mists, rain, clouds and cold until we got to Whittier.  Then, Saturday the 31, as we were disembarking, we had what I call "typical Alaska weather."  The clouds hung low on the green of Alaska's mountains, the water and sky were gray.  A fine mist made slickers a necessity and the cool reminded us that Arizona was a flight away.  I tried to keep that moment in my mind, knowing that within a few hours we would be back to the reality of Arizona summer and 105.  It was a picture-perfect Alaskan image.  I loved visiting Alaska which has solidified my belief that the Creator did a bang-up job.  He was all about diversity, differences that make you appreciate the whole.  Still cannot get over the green and the thickness of the forests, how they come right down to the water's edge with relatively little shore.  From our flight in Ketchikam, I take back the image of mirrors of water covering the land; every little indentation allowing water to pool and reflect sunlight.  Mirrors against the darkness of the rocks and denseness of the unbelievable image that I can hardly capture with camera or words.

Since our flight was a red-eye out of Anchorage (1.5 hours away from Whittier) we rented a car and explored the outskirts of Anchorage.  Went to a little town called_____________ (will fill in the blank when I get out my map) that reminded me of Greer.  The center of town had reconverted 1930's buildings that now housed ice cream shops, restaurants and an old general store.  People walk there...from their cabins to the center to sit on benches to chat and visit.  Time stands still except for the vacationeers and tourists, like us, dashing in and out to get a glimpse of what use to be.  Cabins are close but because of the dense forest, you are hard-pressed to see them.  Mosquitoes happily dine on unsuspecting guests...our only interaction with these bugs on the whole trip.

Then dashing back to the airport and back in cell range to get a phone call from Freedom Inn...Granddad has fallen; paramedics called and he is on his way to Good Sam hospital...Our peaceful vacation ends in eruptions of concerns for getting home...Reality sets in and our ending becomes yet another beginning.  Alaska recedes and Phoenix looms...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Reflections on Grasping the Greatness of Glaciers - July 28

Great Pacific Glacier
Glacier Bay surrounds us.  Small islands of ice float by and surround the ship. and I remember the Titanic and the sadness of those hours of hopelessness.  It is cold here now; we are wearing layered coats, jackets and fleece sweatshirts. And we have the comfort of warm staterooms, heated pools, sauna rooms and jacuzzi of all sizes.  What a dichotomy of thoughts on this beautiful day!

Marjorie Glacier
Traveled at night to get to Glacier Bay where we saw the Great Pacific Glacier and the Marjory Glacier. The Great Pacific is amazing and we witnessed several moments of calving…where the ice breaks away ad drops into the water with a great splash. Breath-taking. The Marjorie Glacier is black ad looks like it is made out of stone where the Great Pacific is blue and white. It has “marbling” of dark streak in it that is the rock and boulders it picks up and pulverizes along the way. The silt is so fine that it stays suspended in the water and gives the water a cloudy white look. Loved this part of the trip…in a spot to sit and watch the glacier go by. We will be two days at sea between our trip to Glacier Bay and Prince William’s sound.

Reflections on Sounding Brass - Prince William Sound - July 29

College Fjord glaciers
Our travel day is calm and quiet. There are a plethora of activities but we are content to sit in lounge chair and watch Alaska go by. The sky I cloudy and gray, the water is gray with 1-2 ft swells. The mountains are covered with snow with lower elevations bright green with trees right down to the water’s edge. If you have binoculars, you can follow the water’s edge and see bear, moose and sea otter floating on their backs. They are a crack up! They will put a rock on their stomach and then crack their shellfish on the rock and throw the trash in the water…Will write more later when we get to the sound about 5:00 this afternoon.

Prince William's Sound is the entrance we took to get to College Fjord which is an impressive look at a dozen or so glaciers of all sorts.  Because it is so full of wildlife, all ships must proceed at an extremely slow speed.  We ate dinner at the bow of the ship and watched the variety of glaciers slip by.  They were on every side.  The black stripes are rocks that the moving river of ice has picked up.  When it comes together with another glacier, you get multiple "stripes."  Waterfalls were everywhere.  A silent and beautiful place to contemplate how very small we are in the grand scheme of things... It finally got dark about 11:00 p.m.

Reflections on Scouting out Skagway - July 27

Chinook Trail to Klondike
Downtown Skagway
Woke this am to a mountain within a stone’s throw of my window…day is cloudy and overcast. Will have most of a day to explore. Taking a train ride over White Pass on an old railroad. Skagway was originally a jump off spot for gold miners who were traveling into the Klondike. Lots of history in this area. It is has one main street with about 5 or 6 avenues coming off it. They citizen have tried to recreate the town like it was in 1898. All of the stores have old fronts with many of them having original counters, display cabinets, etc from the turn of the century. Especially interesting was the Ace Hardware store on Broadway. Again, for every regular store there were 5 jewelry stores all selling the same things: diamonds, tanzanite, and Alaskan gold. Ate lunch back on the ship and then caught the train @ 12:30 for a 3 hour ride up and down the narrow gauge tracks. Went over several trestled bridges that spanned rushing waters, cascading waterfalls and bottomless chasms. Beautiful and unforgiving county for those who sought their fortunes over 100 years ago?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflections on Juneau July 27 or "All creatures great and small"

Mendenhall Glacier Nat'l Park

Best lunch ever!

Spot after swimming under our boat
Awoke today with balloons at our doorway announcing our anniversary which we are celebrating a month early.  Today was Juneau and whale watching and glacier perusal.  Dawn woke us up around 6:00 with the ship docking in Juneau.  We had breakfast on the ship and then disembarked to stroll Juneau's tourist traps.  Again, hundreds of shops selling jewelry...soapstone carvings, Tanzanite and Alaskan gold.  Spent the morning walking the streets.  Discovered a GREAT crab shack called Tracy's Crab Shack that was down the side street by the library...wonderful crab bisque and crab cakes.  Sooooo  gooooood....yumm!

Afternoon brought a whale watching trip that was amazing.  We were so lucky to have the chance to take a whale watching cruise on which we saw at least 10 whales. The crew and captain were all girls which was usual in itself. There were deck hands, a naturalist and the captain. The captain indicated that if they saw two or three whales, it was considered a good trip. Along with bringing the sunny warm day 68, she said we have also brought luck. The most spectacular event was when a humpback whale swam under our boat and then humped his back and flipped hi tail ad dove for the bottom to feed. The picture shows his flukes. It is not a close-up. He was that close…

Additionally we say several sea lion vying for a position on a buoy to sun themselves. There were at least 6 on it with several swimming around in the water, making noises ad obviously complaining that it was their turn. In frustration, one finally reached up and nudged one of the smaller ones who was precariously perched on the edge. He promptly fell in the water. In a flash the other one was up in the vacated place. There was much noise ad complaining as he defended his position. Within a few minutes things settled down and he was ensconced as the rightful owner of that miniscule piece of real estate.
Playing in our wake was a pod of porpoises, smaller ones than I have seen. They seemed to be having a good time, leaping and jumping in the wake of the boat. Very interesting to watch.

Topped off that trip was a drive to the Mendenholl glacier...a river of ice that has carved out valleys over the thousands of years that it has been retreating.  Again amazing...I have to say that something strange happens as you sit at the foot of this wall of ice and see and hear the rushing waters careening out from under it...There is a sense of awe and small we all are...and then in a nano second, there is a realization of the timelessness of our existence...of our place in the eternities...It has been such a wonderful, amazing day.

Got back to the ship about 6 and went to dinner where we had again a choice that was unimaginable…prime rib, Italian, traditional, fruit of all sorts, pasties, desserts, salads…it goes on and on. By 7:30 we were in the theater to watch Invictus, a very good movie about Nelson Mandela and his struggle to put a nation together using the World Cup rugby of 1995. A very good story! Almost didn’t recognize Matt Damon.

One of my favorite books is “All Creatures Great and Small”, a collection of experiences of a Wales veterinarian. It seems appropriate for the day that we have had today in Juneau.
In it there is a quote from Genesis 1:21  "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly...and every winged fowl after his kind and God saw that it was good."

Reflections on Monday Marvels - Ketchikan

Today started at 6:00 AM with our docking at Ketchikan, a wonderful town on the inside passage that is about 3 miles long and 3 blocks wide  Almost every store is a jeweler of some sort hawking Tanzanite or Alaskan gold..owned by foreigners of some sort...Our time was short and so spent the time walking the town and took a spur of the moment flightseeing tour of the glaciers and fjords.  It was a beautiful and intriguing flight.  Small float plane with 6 passengers.  We landed in a lake and the pilot says, "  Ok if you want to open the doors and get out you can stretch your legs."  I looked around and said, "Get out where?"  To which he replied, "Get out here...just get out on the pontoons!"  So, we did....

My marvel of this day was a trip to the acupuncturist where I won a treatment in the Bon Voyage party.  I am a skeptic from the get-go...a pseudo-science, mystical adventure.  Nervous I was...very very dreadfully nervous; but why will you say I am mad?!?  Karly treated my shoulder which has been bothering me for months and a couple of other problems that I have incurred since surgery.  Today (Tuesday), after a night with no pain pills and a day without any incidents, I have become a convert and have scheduled three more treatments before I leave the ship for good.  Am convinced that things happen for a reason...and remain cautiously optimistic but pleasantly surprised and elated by the success on both jaw is on the floor.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reflections on Sunday at Sea July 25

Sunday @ Sea spent reading on our balcony...
"And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas:  and God saw that it was good." Am sitting in the library, legs up, typing on the Internet, watching the ocean...Guess what?! The earth is FLAT!

Very difficult to be low-key on Sunday. Missed nondenominational church at 8:00…why so early. Attended lecture on glaciers ad discovered that snowflakes are minerals!!! They have all the characteristics of mineral: solid, six points, and made up of chemical compounds…go figure! All this time I thought something totally different…Am sure there are a number of these AHA moments to come!

Reflections on Embarking - July 24

Leaving Vancouver
Have been thinking about a journey/adventure without knowing what lies ahead. I know the destination and have picked out some things to do and see, but don’t know what will happen along the trip. The adventure calls and my fellow travelers come in all shapes and sizes, some have been on other trips and seem ho-hum about the adventure. The staff is pleasant and omni-present, but you can see the newness has worn off and they are tired of answering the same questions in a variety of languages. Won a free hour of acupuncture at the welcome to the ship party. Am getting up my courage to take advantage of it. Needles are NOT my forte.

The food is amazing and you can choose a dinner plate that is the size of a platter or a smaller regular plate. Watching what you eat is difficult as so many thing cry out to be “just taste me!” Why do large people choose platters?

Our room is nice..bed is good enough and our steward is very nice. Found us a couple of feathered pillows. Bathroom is small…like a motor home. NOTE to self: If yaou drop the soap, leave it!

Dinner at 9:30 and it was still daylight!!!

Reflections on Hop-on-Hop Off

Public Market on Granville Island
I’m thinking that this would be a great way to do life…you could ride along for a bit and when you got to a place where you wanted to spend some time, you could hop off and explore and then hop back on again and move forward. I guess you would probably miss a lot of the intricate details, but if you were in a hurry or had to catch up, it would be a great way to do that…We took just such a tour here in Vancouver, getting on at Gas town down on Water Street. We hopped of at Granville island where we walked and explored the Balboa Island type shops…not as boutique high-priced but interesting and fun to explore…Our favorite was the public market which was several blocks long and had amazing produce, baked goods, desserts, etc. We hopped back on and got back to hotel just in time to see a “rock concert” downtown on one of the main streets…A little out of my league, but interesting hair.
Daylight seems to be causing me some interesting problems. My bio clock gets me up at 5:30 but the sun doesn’t go down until 10:00 so I am feeling like it is SIX! Can get to sleep until about 2 and then back up @ 5:00….Augh How do I hop off of THIS?!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Refection on Traveling Great Distances-Embarking July 24

I was watching the musical "1776" before we left and there is a scene between John Adams and his wife who is 300 miles away. The dialog is taken from the letters that they wrote to each other while he was in Philadelphia orchestrating the Declaration of Independence. He is disgusted with the lack of movement toward declaring the separation of the colonies from England. Abigail says, "You are only 300 miles away. If you leave tonight you can be here in 8 days". I have thought about that scene and how fortunate we are. Our airplane journey took 3 hours from Phoenix to Vancouver...three hours for over a thousand miles! I am in awe of how far we have come and how it is so common to get on a plane and travel great distances.

Pictures from the first in Vancouver include arriving and a picture of the wonderful hanging pots of flowers and an amazing "steam clock" that plays chimes and tunes on each quarter hour. We are staying at the Delta Vancouver Suites on Hastings Street.  Just a quick walk to our place of where our ship leaves. Weather is warm and my long-sleeved shirt is perfect. Purchased a vest and a couple of t-shirts for the warm coat and vest are laying on the bed at home...AUGH!

Labels: ,

Airport Update!

We made it on the plane! Cudos and a pay raise to US Airways employee Melanie ...our newest hero! Counting our blessings of helpful people!

Reflections on Taking a Trip

We made it!  On ship and ready to sail...
We are leaving on a trip of our lifetime this AM. We have planned it and research it and finally booked it the first of June. It's an anniversary trip...a celebration of 40 years of togetherness that is coming 3 years late. Alaska calls; we are packed; and, the boarding passes need to be printed. But wait! the passes are for a totally different flight!! AUGH! Will they hold the ship? I don't think so...5 hours later after talking with travel agency, travel insurance, credit card company and the airlines...all are pointing fingers at others saying they can switch flight plans and waive the fee. Long story short? one can do anything...we are stuck and are rolling the dice to see if we can fly standby on the flight that we originally had thought we were scheduled on...Leaving this AM at O-dawn thirty to see if the Fates are kind...

Lessons learned: 1) Don't trust any agent to make your reservation for you. 2) Double and triple check your dates long before you go to print your passes, and 3) Being nasty only makes you feel worse and doesn't change the situation, and finally 4) a sense of humor is priceless but revenge would be sweeter...;D

Being patient and pleasant didn't change anything but after 4 hours of everyone pointing fingers (Oh yes..yes we did...we went up the supervisor chain with "Do you have the authority to change this flight and waive the penalties? ), it got to the point where we were laughing at the canned dialog from the agents..."No, I am sorry I do not have the authority to do that. Yes, I will connect you to my supervisor...No, I am sorry that can only be done by....(Here you can insert any of the following: Airline agent, booking agent, credit card agent, insurance agent).

So off we go...hoping that we can get shuttle to drive to the airport to catch the flight that connects to the ship that leaves the harbor that cruises Alaska on the 43rd anniversary celebration that Bob and Darlene built...:-D


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

REflections on Waiting....

From Wind Erosion Multimedia Archive by Clayton Esterson.
 I continue to learn the importance of waiting...the importance of letting time and life sort out complexities, challenges and impossibilities. I am learning that if I follow the advice to "Be still and know that I am God." that I have a clearer sense of direction and purpose. Otherwise, I kick against the pricks and it seems that I am flailing and making a lot of noise but going nowhere. The thing that brought this to mind was this amazing dust/rain storm (called a monsoon here in AZ, but that really isn't the right name...NOTE: they tried to change it to the correct name several years ago with all the weathermen/women calling it by its correct name, but we are creatures of habit and it remains a monsoon.) that we had of late. You could see the wall of dust, the wind picked up, our small trees were bending almost horizontal and then the rain hit...Sheets of water filling the pool, overflowing into dry washes and cascading down the mountain. Washes ran and every living thing took cover to witness the power of nature. Twenty minutes later is was gone and all the angst of whether we would survive was gone. During the storm, minor problems: chairs flying across the yard, electricity out, dirt and debris in the pool...but safety in our home. I waited out the thinking that that is probably a good lesson for me to remember in the storms of my life..."Be still and know that I am God." Ok...I get the message!