Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Do I Sound Gay?

Have you watched "Do I Sound Gay?"  David Thorpe did a fantastic job dissecting when he started to sound gay, and how it bothered him to sound gay, and steps he took to sound less so.  I won't tell you how it ends, this documentary is well worth watching, and offers many moments of clarity, at least for me.

Towards the end, I had an Ah-Ha! moment.

Never, as long as I've been self aware have I liked the way I sound.  To me, my voice is to high, and in my opinion sound like Minnie Mouse.

The last several months I've been asking people if my voice is extremely high, and if they think I sound like Minnie, and they always tell me, "no".

So, either everyone is lying to me, or I have no idea what I actually sound like to others.  And I refuse to believe that my friends would lie to my face, so the onus was on me to sort this out.  Which is why I watched "Do I Sound Gay?"

And then BOOM!  out of the ether came the answer, one so obvious that it appalls me that it took me so long to winkle out.

I'm male, and males are supposed to have deeper voices than women.  Thats why my voice has always bothered me, I sound like a woman.

Yeah, see?  Could I be any more dense?  Sigh.....

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Howdy there strangers!

On the day of sister's Celebration of Life, his dad passed.  It was a blessing for him, he as so ill with Parkinson's.  To tell you what his son's thought of him, neither of them shed a tear for him.  Sad isn't it?  To die and not have anyone sad you're gone?  Makes me want to make sure to live my life in a much more positive way.

The Celebration of Life went off very well.  Hubby managed to stand and tell some sweet tales of his sister.  But the one that really got to folks was this.

Way back when eldest was small around 4-5, we were outside in our snow outfits watching the Northern Lights (Aurora).  We had build snow chairs into the deep snow and were watching the lights flash and zoom across the sky.  That summer was the first time eldest had seen and heard thunder and lightening, and it frightened him.  Alaska doesn't get many thunderstorms, I suppose due to the topography.  Anyway, to comfort him, I tried what my grandmother had told me, it was god bowling and when you hear the thunder, he knocked all the pins down.  It worked and he was fine with it, until a few years later when we wanted the truth of the matter.

So, where was I?  Oh!  Ok, so there we were laying in the snow watching the lights when suddenly he piped up, "Mommy?  Those must be angels dancing!"  And that stuck with us forever.  Of course we told sister, and she loved it.

TH ended his talk by telling about eldest and the angels and then said, "And now there is another angel dancing in the winter night skies."  That made several people tear up.

Me?  Yes I told a story about Sister, but a funny one.

A million years ago Harvey Wallbanger drinks were all the rage, and Sister had gone to a party and they served a Harvey Wallbanger cake!  She wrangled the recipe out of the hostess, and bought all the ingredients.  I came in to spend the day with her while hubby had his truck worked on and she was going to a party and wanted to bring this cake.  Now for some odd reason the cake recipe was exact, down to the last drop, but the frosting recipe was very loosey goosey and had a bracket next to the alcohol ingredients with the words - to taste.

We quickly whipped up the cake and shoved it into the oven and went to work on the frosting.  After we reached the grey "to taste" area we added a tablespoon or so of vodka and Galliano and orange juice.  And it was much to liquid to spread.  We added more sugar....and now it was to sweet.  We added and tasted and added and tasted until it was all gone!  Starting over again, wouldn't you know the same thing happened again?  By the time TH came to pick me up, us two non-drinkers were two sheets into the wind.  Two giggling beings who had ended up in our drunkenness ripping pieces of the hot cake and had dipped them into a mixture of Galliano and orange juice.  She did go to the party the next day, but took a chocolate cake.  Which she said was "much safer to make".

Sister will be missed, as she was so loved by everyone. 

Oh, the red in the Aurora is super rare.

Monday, November 23, 2015

hugs and thanks

I only have a moment here, but needed to thank all of your for your heartfelt messages.

Tomorrow is TH's sister's Celebration of Life.

I fucked up the obit and forgot to put the day of the celebration..............

And now, his dad is dying, and is down to moment to moment.  The dad TH hates.

How true, that when it rains it pours.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A new Angel

Tuesday night TH's sister passed away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Divide and Conquer, Colorfully!

I have the guide books!

Scanned a few of them, but as to actually read them cover to cover, no.  And then it dawned on me.  We are planning a 3 month trip to a foreign country and this can't be done in a fly by night fashion.  So far the only large scale planning finished, is that we will be based out of Kyoto for a month.  There is so much to see and do just in Kyoto, and the surrounding areas that are perfect for day trips by train or bus. 

Ok, time to knuckle down and see what else there is to do.  Sigh....the last few times I've had a guide book, it quickly went from nice clean white pages to a sea of yellow highlighter, which really wasn't all that helpful.

And then TA-DA!  A brainwave of epic size hit!  Highlight all things important, but with different colors and corresponding page tabs.

green is used for general info, I don't have any tabs for this color, but anything super important will have an entry page in our notebook.

blue is used for temples and historic sites and its tab is at the top

yellow is for gardens and forests, its tabs are also at the top

pink is museums, its tabs are on the side

orange is entertainment, tours, notable eateries, its tabs are also on the side

Having this system in place, I've read more in 3 days than I have in a month.  It allows me to break the material into easily found categories later when we are in Japan.
By living in rental apartments, eating most meals at home, and packing me a bento (lunchbox) when we will be out for the day is going to save us a giant pile of money.  I've checked into prices at the grocery store and its not that much more than Hawaii.  By not eating much western food, and eating a rice based diet, will really help keep our food budget in the black.  The only thing TH will hate about it is how expensive beef is, but he does enjoy fish and pork both of which are cheaper.

We have a few food splurges planned.  I want him to eat at a good sushi restaurant and we both want to try Kobe beef.  Kyoto is renowned for their delicate tofu, and I can't wait to give it a try!  I've found a restaurant that is famous for their tofu.  So that night, hubby will go and eat sushi and I'll go and gorge on tofu.

I have to say, one of my biggest griefs about these stupid food allergies and sensitivities is my inability to eat out when we travel.  The best way to learn a culture is by eating it. 

And now, off to study!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Through the Wringer

Howdy!  Well, 'tis been a few days yeah?  What a muddled weeks these have been.  Here is a breakdown of past events.

14th  TH flew into town!  Yippeee!  We had a nice dinner and a movie out, it was so great to see him again!  We saw the movie Pan, I liked it, TH was meh about it.

15th  I arrive at the oral surgeon to have a tooth pulled, and an implant placed.  Two separate areas of my mouth.  Double the procedure, double the dose of meds to numb me up.  What is so funny about my very awesome dentist is that my child's dose of pain meds worries him, he is afraid of causing pain, and is always amazed at how little meds it takes.

16th-23rd.  The first 4 days were mostly pain free, due to a long lag time of my body breaking down the numbing meds.  It hurts but isnt all that bad.  Day 5 the pain in my jaw from the implant wakes me up.  While I used an ice pack as directed to keep the swelling down, I'm now wedded to an ice pack, the only pain reliever available to me.  I also spend this entire time wanting to hurl.  Thank god for ginger!

25th  TH's long time friend comes into town on business and we have dinner together.  My dinner has been cross contacted with shellfish, and its nearly an epi pen evening, which mucks up our plans to go to Sedona the next day as I my eyes are mostly swollen shut.

28th  Boo Hooo!!  TH flies home! 

30th  Halloween Eve dinner with friends.  I make all the of food to help the Mrs. out as she is heavily pregnant.  Best day since TH flew in!

1st  I have dinner with a friend and get glutened.  I did my work, I asked all the right questions, but the waiter was a care nothing drooling fool.  He was surprised by the fact we needed silverware?  This should have been a tip off.  The fake chicken meat "hot wings" came with a coating that was so tasty I knew not to take another bite.  And then the food that I ordered to replace the evil "wings" had cashew cream, a nut that doesn't like me at all.

Today is the first day I feel halfway normalish.  Hopefully it will all be smooth sailing from here on.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A No Good, Terrible Day!

A week ago, I walked up to George and noticed he had a neon orange sticker on his window, claiming he was ILLEGALLY PARKED!  As per usual, I had cut my allotted driving time to the bone, but went in and asked what the story was.  I was assured it was no biggie, and went on to the library.

Three days later, again with the sticker, with the same reason, and now I am ANGRY!!!!  

I am not a violent person, usually, but this one woman who works in the office brings out the worst in me on a good day.  She sat there with her supercilious, better than everyone look on her face and asked, "Do you have this on your window?"  No, I did not.  When I asked why she didn't ask me that 3 days ago, she tittered and made some stupid assed remark that left me wanting to pull her over her desk and beat the shit out of her.  I'm telling ya, she brings out the very worst in me.  I took her damned sticker, stuck it in the window and went to work.  

Two days later as I'm coming out of the bathroom from my shower, I hear George's alarm go off, I run to the window to see him be pulled out of the apartment complex.  

Luckily there was another woman in the office besides supercilious bitch and I talked yelled at her about George being towed.  This is where the whole thing gets ugly.

Those other two times I went into the office and supercilious bitch acted innocent about why George was tagged was a fucking lie.

The maintenance fella was behind SB, looked down at the book she had opened and mentioned that maybe my tags were expired?  Turns out he was giving me a hint!  But I was to focused on the whole documentation of my parking permits to listen to him.

There was a spot on the tag of doom for expired tags, but they didn't check that one, but the illegally parked box.

They told me where George had been abducted to and I called a cab to rush me to George's side.  While Mr. Taxi was driving me to the impound lot, he told me something very interesting, that when you contract with a towing company you get a kick back on every car towed!  I checked at work with a few folks and yup Mr. Taxi was 1000% correct.

I paid the towing fee of $136.00 and got into George.  Knowing that I needed to get new tags ASAP, I opened the glove compartment to grab my registration and there, sitting on top of the manual was the new tags..........giant sigh.

When I was talking this over with TH, we both had a vivid memory of the tags coming in the mail, but this is when he was going thru all those surgeries and doctor appointments and rehab classes.  And like fools, I just dropped them into the glove box to put on tomorrow.  A tomorrow that cost me $136.00, a taxi ride and a months worth of anger.  This was 3 days ago, and I'm just now calming down about it enough to write it down.

The thing that angers me the most is that Supercilious Bitch knew the first day I went in why my car was tagged.  That's what burns me the most, that they have no problem fucking over their tenants.  I wish the old company hadn't sold to out to these vultures.  When my lease is up, even if we were planning on keeping an apartment here, I would still move out, I am that angry with them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ketchup, umm-no! Catsup, no that's not right! CATCH UP!

When last we visited I was having issues dealing with the death of my friend.  I find myself thinking about sending him a comic or a bit of news or trivia and then reality washes in and I know he's gone forever.  The anger is slowly eroding, but that may take a bit longer to work thru.

I kissed TH as he left to work, had a taxi pick me up at midnight for the trip down to Arizona for the winter.  We boarded on time, had a cool seat mate, and then the captain leaves the plane?  He bounced right back, and with a stern look, and told us we all needed to deplane quickly and take everything with us, we had a fuel leak under such and so engine!  Needless to say, we vacated that plane quick time.  After hours of updates that wasn't all that helpful, Mr. Captain Man came back to the gate and told us the trouble was deeper into the engine and they had a call to the mechanics in Minneapolis, their repair headquarters.  At this point I knew the plane was grounded, and wouldn't be leaving anytime soon.  I called TH and told him to come pick me up on his way home.  Called the airline and had them book me out later that night, and went home and collapsed into bed.  That night the trip went flawlessly.

Am back at the library and having a great time.  So many people were so glad to see me I got a million hugs!  After years and years of being a social pariah in the tiny village in Alaska, its shocks me that anyone would like me well enough to miss.

TH is still on track to retire after the first of the year!  When he drives down we are going to have to hash out our plans, because at this moment in time, its all a muddled mess.....

Friday, September 4, 2015

Circular Thoughts

A "dear" friend of mine sent me an email saying he had killed himself.  Which should be a time for grieving and sadness.

 But his passing is tainted by the reason he killed himself.

Because the FBI showed up on his doorstep and took his computer and bags of evidence for child pornography.

Leaving me with a jumbled mind. 

How can I mourn someone that I actually didn't know?

Should I even mourn someone who obviously was guilty, or he wouldn't have pulled the life plug?

I know quite a few people who were molested as children, and know how hard it was for them to put their life and self back together.  I HATE molesters!!!

but he was a friend, yeah?

and round and round and round my thoughts go, with no way to solve this dilemma between friendship and disgust.   knowing he will never again leave me an email, and feeling grief at losing his friendship.  but hating who he truly was.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Looniverse Teabaggistan Says WHAT?

Have y'all seen this?

No, you dumb fucks.  Its Athabaskan for "great one" or "tall one".

And to put frosting on this shit cake, there is no Kenyan language!  Swahili or English is spoken in Kenya.

Alaska has been fighting to have the mountain renamed since the 1970's.  But Ohio has been fighting the name change for 40 years!  Yes, McKinley was from Ohio, and he was president.  But who knows a single fact about him besides the two I've mentioned?  President McKinley,  a president so mediocre, no one remembers him.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Have you watched any of last season's tv show hitRECord, it can be found on Netflix?   Season 2 is currently airing on Verizon FIOS, AT&T U-verse, DirecTV, and Dish. The show is supported by TakePart. Its the brain child of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and what an amazing concept it is.  Nothing on the show is the work of one artist, its a collaboration of many artists.  Anything that is sold is split 50/50 between hitRECord and the artists who worked on that collaboration.

This movie was from Season one, Episode one, and blew TH and I away.

So, what did you think?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The case of the mysterious "graham" crackers

These are my favorite brand of gluten free "graham" crackers.  They are tasty, not the exact same taste like Nabisco graham crackers.  But that's ok, I have a cookie that tastes great and dips well into a cold glass of rice milk.  No, they don't come with marshmallows and chocolate, absolutely the weirdest packet photo ever!

Well, my favorite snacking one became hard to find and one day, while scouring the gluten free aisle at Whole Foods, I found this brand.
They met all the requirements, no egg or dairy and not a laundry list of non-food ingredients, and into the cart they went.  The next day wanting a little something, I ripped open the box, unwrapped one and took a bite.  Sigh, they were WEIRD!  Odd texture, and weirdly enough, little flavor.  Now one thing you might not know about gluten free products, but they are usually pricey, and I trend towards cheap.  But I just couldn't bring myself to eat these, nor could I bring myself to toss em into the trash.

A few weeks later, I had come across a spread made my the same folks that makes the brand of vegan butter I eat, so into the cart it goes. 

With this product as soon as I got home I opened it up to taste it.  Oh my golly gee gosh!  This stuff is AMAZING.  Lightly sweet, with a delicate coconut flavor.  I toasted up a slice of bread, sha-zam!  That was great!  If my life was a movie, this would be a montage of me putting this spread on various items.  In my quest to try this on ever more items, I pulled out the evil hated box of "graham" crackers and spread on quite a bit...and about fell to my knees in bliss!

I'm sure all of you love these cookies.  They seem to only appear in Alaska around the winter holidays and then are gone, but they are hands down my favorite store bought cookie.  Those weird assed crackers, with the spread from heaven, somehow, in some way transformed that dull lifeless cracker into tasting like these cookies! 

Now TH was skeptical to say the least, and he considers himself a cookie aficionado extraordinaire.  But bring the super sweet man he is, he gamely took a plain one, took a bite and needless to say, was not impressed.  Then I spread my magic spread on the remaining piece and handed it back.  Heaving a giant "poor me" sigh, he took a bite, amazement and delight shone from him.

"How did that icky cracker turn into butter cookies?"
"Beats me to hell and back.  But aren't they good this way?"

I later sprinkled the top with some coarse sugar and that took the cookie/cracker to nearly twin status. 

Between looking for new things to put the magic spread on, FYI  potatoes are NOT a great vehicle for it.  I was looking for other things to put on those weird crackers.  After trying a few things, jelly-meh, orange marmalade- better than jelly, but still meh.  Next up was smooth peanut butter.  Again some weird magic occurred and they tasted like these cookies, at least to my best ability to recall fading food flavors from over 2 years ago.
After the success of the magic spread + cracker, TH was much more willing to try this combo, and after one bite, opened and ate about 10 crackers with PB on them!

The hunt continues for other combinations to magically turn these dull tedious crackers into something amazingly tasty and delicious.  But even if these are the only two substances that turn a meh cracker, into a face shoving food, its all good!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Adventures in the life of Biki

Howdy!  Welp, 'tis been quite a long while, yeah?

The fires are still burning, as the fire season is beginning its seasonal slow down, so far a total of 5 million acres have been blackened.  That is larger than the state of Connecticut!

The smoke for a few days had the air at hazardous levels, add in the moldy carpet, and I became quite ill.  To the point where getting off the sofa became an act of will.  I began to hate leaving the house.  Between the choking smoke, and the three flights of stairs, it wasn't worth it to me.  TH put his foot down, and basically packed my bags and forced me to head to Arizona for 2 weeks,  so my health began to recover in the heat and clean environment.

Before all the smoke invaded our town, TH talked me into seeing a doctor, and then the doctor left on vacation before the results came back.  Doctor man came back from vacation, gave me a jingle and it turns out that my thyroid is on permanent vacation.  I took the first pill, and ZIP!  BOOM!  POW!!!  Did it make me feel better!

The next day I took my pill and in the afternoon was talking to TH and he told me to stop yelling at him!  And thats when I realized every single thing had me on edge.  The next morning after awakening I was weak and had the headache from the Pluto.  TH called me early in the day and looked up my meds and it turns out I was being overdosed, sigh.  After a few days it began to wash out of my system, and began to feel better again.  No more thyroid pills for me until after a visit with the Doc.

Flew home on the 1st, weather was great again in Alaska, no smoke.  Headed for Seward for our annual b'day/anniversary fishing trip.  Had a great trip down, it was so nice to be with TH without him needing to run off to work.  That afternoon we went to our favorite attraction, the Alaska Sealife Center.   The sea bird enclosure is fantastic, they have room to fly, room to sit on a variety of surfaces, and room to dive to a depth of about 22 feet.  The water holds black rock fish and a few other species.  There are nesting holes, shelters and boxes, and many of them were occupied by babies!

We got up way to early to be bright and bushy tailed and headed for the docks.  I have zero pictures to show you this time, as the sea at the beginning of the trip was the long slow rolling swells and I spent the majority of my time attempting to not hurl.  Except for the sea sickness, we had a great time!  Caught 22 lbs of Coho (silver) salmon, and 12 lbs of black rockfish. 

My shoulder was killing me, that isn't a common motion, the jigging of a pole up and down and all the reeling.  So, by the time we got off the boat my shoulder was screaming at me.  The GREAT and fantastic news is that TH suffered no pain at ALL fishing.  Those two surgeries really fixed him up a treat!  After showers and dressed for dinner, my shoulder was really starting to be an issue, and I decided to have a glass of dry white wine with supper.  Now, after not finding a gluten free beer that I liked, I stopped drinking alcohol as it was my tipple of choice.  I'd been without food most of the day, slightly dehydrated due to fears of hurling, I got tipsy super quick.  Talk about a cheap date!  But, while I may be cheap, I'm also no fun.  After we got back to the hotel room, I was asleep within 5 minutes....  But I awoke to a happy shoulder the next morning! 

Last night, I mixed up the smoked salt, kosher salt and brown sugar for my first adventures into making Gravlax.  My hands were wet and I couldn't find the kitchen scissors, and used my ultra sharp kitchen knife.  Yes, you know where this is going.  Nothing to stitch, as you can see from the photo, so they just cleaned it well, bandaged me up and sent me home. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love, love, love

Wow, what a day, yeah?  While I hoped fervently that SCOTUS would do the right thing, worries still hounded me.  All the what if's that has had us on tenterhooks for months now. 

But even in the very most 'rose colored glasses' moments I never EVER thought I'd see the White House support us to this degree.

To have a President and Vice President behind us so strongly is beyond amazing.  When President Obama says, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender my heart soars because we are no long an invisible people.  And today, we are full citizens of our country.  Is there still hard work ahead of us, well of course.  But with this win, we are all walking on air.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

I had planned an "What I've been doing on my summer vacation" sorta post, but scrapped it for more timely news.

Our entire (well most of it) state is on fire.  This is what the sky looks like from our deck last night, around 8.  Last night the smoke was so thick, the street lights came on.  Remember, during the summer we dont have any darkness at all, so they shouldn't be on.
 We can't open the windows, or we can't breathe.  And while we have a tiny air conditioner for the bedroom so TH can sleep when its hot, we can't run it as the area around the window vent lets in to much smoke.  Even with the windows tightly closed we can smell smoke in the house.  It hurts to breathe and everyone has constant headaches.

Rather than try to write what has already been written much better than I can, here are two screen shots and a few links.

The wee balloons are fires.  The dark blue ones are tiny <10 acres="" span=""> 
turquoise are moderately sized, 10 to 250 acres
the yellow are large fires coming in at 250 to 2500 acres
but the red ones are giant >2500 acres 

The vast majority of the fires shown will be allowed to burn, as they aren't impacting humans.

for fire updates, here is our newspaper link.

a map of the fires, if you click the wee colored balloon, a blurb will pop up describing the fire.

air quality

and a facebook page ran by the Alaska DNR  (department of natural resources

This surprised me a few days ago, and here is today's weather from my iphone.  I didn't even know they had smoke as a weather definition on the app.

And one last photo
There is a radio tower that should be visible but isnt as the visibility is down to 1.5 miles.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

North to Alaska

I've got the last load of wash in the washer, after lunch the last of the dishes will be done.  There are some things that wont get done, and things that wont be remembered until I'm in no position to do anything about them.

As it gets closer to my appointment with a cab, I become glacier slow, unwilling to let my Arizona life end for the summer.

Oh well, maybe this summer won't be as boring and sterile without things to do and friends to do them with?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Have Love, Will Travel

One lazy afternoon after lunch and acres before supper, we were out on the lanai, enjoying the uncommonness of actually being within smiling distance of each other.  We were enjoying the breeze and listening to birds and chickens and the odd random car struggling up the road, when a mosquito of an idea began buzzing around.

Now this idea, flitted about for a few days before it landed and bit and hung on.  With that bite I pulled out some paper, pushed the breakfast dishes to the side of the table, yanked my calculator from my pocket and feverishly began to write, and figure.  I wrote and added, punched the minus key a zillion times, and after running the numbers several times, and coming up with the same number (a math miracle) it was time to let TH in on my tremendously scary, and yet terrifying exciting idea.

This is how the conversation went.  (more or less)

"Ok, so my lease on the Arizona apartment runs out the end of next May, yours the end of November.  Your last day ever of work is January 1st, right?"

He agreed with me, with a worried look beginning to form.

"We'll need a short term place to rent for that summer in Alaska, but then what?  You don't want to live in Arizona, and I refuse move back to Alaska full time.  We both are fairly young for retirement, 57 and 55, and in great health.  This is our time!  What would you say about stuffing our belongings into a storage unit and heading out and travel for a while?"

"Do you want to buy a motor home or just drive around in my truck?"

"Neither!  Let's save seeing the States for later, I'm thinking much further away.  What would you say if we packed a few bags, grabbed our passports and took off to see the world?  No matter what, we have to have a place to live, right?"

Slowly, and hesitantly he nodded his head, yes.

"What's to stop us from living where ever we want?  You want to go back to Japan and see Kyoto and spend time in New Zealand, why dont we live there?  Or any other place that takes our fancy?"

"Are you saying we wouldn't have a house to come home to?"

"No house. Just two storage units and my car George and your truck."

"But?  No apartment?  Nothing?"


"But......we'll need someplace to live!"

"We will live where ever we wish.  Look renting an apartment is cheaper than hoteling it.  We can't eat out a great deal due to my food allergies, so that saves us a ton of money right there!  I pulled out my phone and called up Airbnb and found perfectly wonderful apartments in Kyoto for 2K a month."

And just like that the idea caught fire in TH and we began to discuss it, and started researching things like transportation costs, average food prices.  Our liking of Asian cuisine will really be a boon in Asia as rice and fish and veggies are much cheaper than milk, cheese and bread.  In South Korea we could actually save money by living there, which would be helpful if there is something pricy we want to do.  Charter fishing, helicopter rides, etc. Or we could be Scrooges and just save the bloody stuff.  Staying in one country for 3 months, the average length of time most countries allow foreigners to remain in their country for leisure travel, would allow us to experience each country and really get to know and learn the country.

We have batted the idea back and forth, talking about what we wanted and how difficult we think certain things might be.  Talked it over with the boys, who are very excited, and think its a great idea.  We have offered a blanket invitation that any of them may come and stay with us where ever we happen to be.  The only proviso is that they must let us know before we book the apartment so as to have enough sleeping space.

And just like that, we are planning for a grand adventure!  First stop Japan.  When I come back to Arizona in September, I hope to have a lady I met during Table Talk help me with my Japanese.  Orginally our plan was to keep the hops as short as possible and go from Japan to South Korea, to an few days lay over in Singapore then off to Australia and New Zealand.  But I'd like to be able to say more than hello in Korean.  And it is a bit wearing to not understand most of what is said.  We are thinking that Australia and New Zealand will fall between Japan and South Korea.

After we visit the Pacific area whats next?  No clue, and thats half the fun isnt it?

I've really been digging the bands from Australia lately!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

When we think of Memorial day these images are usually iconic.

Brothers in arms who remember those who have fallen in battle.

Or for most of us, its a lovely three day weekend spent with family and friends.

When we think of soldiers returning from battle we are shown happy reunions

Or sadly soldiers who have paid a terribly high price for old men to prove they are the biggest dog

What we dont see are those that never truly come home.  Who are trapped in the hell of combat, and are left broken and battered of soul and mind.

When I was going to volunteer for the shelter in Tempe, a large number at the drop in center were homeless young vets suffering from PTSD.  The government washes these soldiers out, and they're on their own.  When Congress makes cuts, its never for hardware, fancy jet fighters, but for medical care for our veterans.

TH was friends with a fella who fought pirates in Somalia, he was in the lead in Iraq hunting down insurgences who had been slaughtering Kurds.  And each and every time he came home, it took longer and longer for him to adjust to a normal life.  We lost touch with him and his family when they were posted stateside, and we worry about him, but have no way to find him.  He is very security conscious and refuses to use social media.

Third son has a very close friend who was in Afghanistan and was the leader of his battalion at the tender age of 24.  After two tours he became quite ill, and after extensive medical tests discovered he had cancer.  He stayed home getting treatment, while his battalion left for yet another tour.  And while they were gone, several of his buddies died in combat.  The friend was near suicide, sure that if had been there, they wouldn't have died.  He finally recovered from his cancer, and mostly from his survivors guilt. 

If we are going to continue sending the best and brightest of our men and women to war, then we need to care for them their entire lives.  We need to care for them as if they were our own brothers and sisters, with loving compassion and kindness.  For those who will never be able to reenter society they need to be housed, fed and cared for in warm and comfortable settings.  The military is decommissioning bases, those can be used to provide homes, recreation, and medical services, an entire community for our men and women to heal and live safely and cared for.

And yes, the Aussies fought with us in Vietnam, and faced the same disdain and hate that our soldiers faced when they returned home.

If one considers the observation that the worth and dignity of a civilization is judged by the way it the treats its weakest members, we cannot help but look back in shame at our past.
By Rudolf Rickes

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Good God I love President Obama!

"We take this opportunity to reaffirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights, to celebrate the dignity of every person, and to underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love.  We work toward this goal every day. Here at home, we are working to end bias-motivated violence, combat discrimination in the workplace, and address the specific needs of transgender persons. Overseas, I am proud of the steps that the United States has taken to prioritize the protection and promotion of LGBT rights in our diplomacy and global outreach."

Barack Obama

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tissues are required for this awesome video!

My new hero is in this video, Ban Ki-Moon. Get your hankies ready for a happy cry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May Days

The end of the school year for most of us conjurers up memories of endless days of sunshine and freedom.  Out on our metal steeds (bikes) pedaling as fast as our feet and legs could churn those foot pegs.

Out in the dark in our backyards playing zombie tag with flashlights.

Sitting under the dappled shade of a tree reading either a much beloved book or the latest volume of our favorite comic book series.

But for to many children the end of school marks the beginning of hunger.
For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers. (1)

Let that number of children living in poverty, 51% soak in a moment.   Over half of our children are living in poverty.  In Mississippi the percent rises to a mind boggling 70%!

And Congress sits on their fat asses and tries to undo public safety nets and access to free medical care, and a stern refusal to raise minimum wage.

The lack of education in the southern states matches perfectly with the higher  poverty rate in those states.

And schools are having to feed more and more children for free.
 This sentence shocked me to pieces.
In a classroom at Smothers Elementary School in Washington, D.C., third graders grab egg sandwiches, cups of juice and milk and take them back to their desks to eat. In this high-poverty school skipping breakfast wasn’t about stigma. All kids qualify for free meals. (2)

I'll just say what most of us are thinking, our country is broken and we need to find a way to get it back on its feet and running again, but how?  I have no idea at all.

May 9th is Letter Carriers "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive.

 On the morning of Saturday, May 9, just set out your non-perishable food items well before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. Note that he or she will be delivering and collecting mail as usual, on top of collecting food donations, so that pickup time could be slightly later than usual.
Pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity often are bare by late spring. And, with most school meal programs not available during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.
People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods such as canned soup; canned vegetables; canned meats and fish; pasta; peanut butter; rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday. (3)
No child should ever have to go to bed hungry.  Or have to worry about if there will be food available tomorrow.

(1) Washington Post
(2) Marketplace
(3) USPS

Monday, April 27, 2015

Forecast for the week, increasing bouts of freaking out, with flurries of out right panic

About 6 weeks ago, in a weak moment, I agreed to host a May the Forth Be With You meetup.  If you're not a Star Wars geek-a-zoid, its a play on the saying "may the force be with you", and is held every year on the 4 of May. 

I did have enough common sense to hold the number to 6, including myself.  Out of that 6, three will be complete strangers. 

In.  My.  House!  

My safe zone. 

My batcave. 

My fortress of solitude. 

Ok I've finished with the comic book references, sorry.

I hate cooking for others now.  When you cant taste what you're cooking it becomes super stressful.  I can't cook only things that I can eat as one of the people coming is allergic to soy, my go to replace dairy.  So, now I'm trying to come up with things that everyone can eat. 

At this point in time I've decided on build your own hoagies.  I'll have my gf bun, and will buy some for Miss Soy Allergy (MSA).  They can have cheese and egg mayo, meat and shredded veggies. 
MSA is a sometimes veggie, so that gives me some worry.  Tortilla chips with guac and salsa.  I was thinking about raw veggies, but am stumped as for a dip.  What I can eat for a dip, MSA cant.  What I can serve for the others, neither one of us can have. 

I need to clean the house, tis a messy home at the present.  Lay in party supplies, like paper plates, as I only have a service for 4 dinnerware. 

Oh dear Pasta, what have I done.....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wow Gee Golly Gosh!

Sorry for the long delay in my travelog, but I became sad from missing TH.  It was FABULOUS to be together for 11 wonderful, thrilling, quietly together days.

I don't have any of my own pictures of this beach due to us going to swim and not wanting to leave cameras or phones unwatched. 

Ok, remember Pu'uhonua o Hounaunau from the last post?  Right across the bay is a "beach" called Two Step. The building in the distance is the temple in the Pu'uhonua (refuge) area.  There is no sand at this beach and only the very edge where the waves wash it are smooth enough not to hurt tender feet.  This lava is like walking on brillo pads, very sharp!  See that wee bit of sand up against the greenery?  That is a shallow sand lined cove that green turtles come and bask and rest in.  Its roped off from the rest of Pu'uhonua and anyone that comes snorkeling in is chased off as the turtles are a protected species.

 Two Step is named for the naturally occurring two steps from the lava to the water.  These two steps are the only area to get into the water.  Here are the Two Steps in action.  Luckily the top step is coated in a soft layer of ocean plant that makes getting up and down comfortable.  If you time it right, the waves help push you up on the step from the water!  Lovely for tired legs after snorkeling for a long while.
See how close to the surface the coral is?  There is a goodly portion of the bay that is fairly shallow, but it does drop off rather quickly to depths of around 100 ft, give or take.

Now TH being the totes adorbs fella that he is, goes snorkeling with me.  Even though he is afraid of the ocean, and can't get a good seal on his mask due to his mustache.  He rents a boogie board and motors out with his flippers on and if I see something amazing, I come and show him, he dons his mask and looks about quickly before it fills with water.

So this day the weather was perfect.  No wind, lovely calm flat seas.  The beaches fill up quickly so we arrived about 9 am.  There were already beach goers, but not at all crowded.  So, into the water we go, and are amazed at all the fish!  As we slowly made our way further from shore, the bottom began dropping off and TH became a bit nervous.  Until he looked up, him of the perfect vision and shouted DOLPHINS!!!

There was a pod of about 20-30 dolphins!  They swam and fed and there were two with babies who nursed their young!  While I was under watching them do this, TH saw them do flips and spins out of the water!  We swam around them for over an hour.  At first I have to admit I was terrified of them.  But then calmed down and really enjoyed watching them.

A video of what the reef is like.

I sure wish I have pictures and video of my own.  Hopefully, next time will have an underwater camera and goggles for TH so he can see more underwater without trying hard not to drown every time he puts his face in the water.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

P'uhonua o Honaunau

In ancient Hawaii only Ali'i Nui (royal chiefs) owned property.  Ali'i land was pie or wedge shaped so each chief received rights to the ocean, beach, and so on up into the mountains/volcano cone, allotting equal access to all needed resources.  There was no form of currency, the only thing a common person actually owned was his own life.

Polynesian culture was ordered with laws that were sacred rules, known popularly as taboo, in Hawaii as kapu.  While modern usage of kapu throughout the Hawaiian isles is keep out, or no trespassing, that is only a portion of what it used to mean.  Kapu rules codified what was acceptable in their society.  Like any society kapu covered all aspects of life: gender roles, politics, religion, areas open for fishing, when to harvest trees and so forth.

With no currency, no ownership of property, how would you punish someone for large and serious transgressions, by taking the only thing they owned, their life.  Now, there was this very tiny loophole to escape death, a loophole that wasn't easy to wiggle through, but was available, pu'uhonua, a place of refuge.  If you could make it to pu'uhonua, then after religious rites and purification all was forgiven, and were free to regain society once again.

The pu'uhonua on Hawaii is wedged between the ocean and the Ali'i Nui (royal) compound at Honaunau.  It was not meant to be an easy thing to get to, many were supposed to fail on their journey, so only the bravest, strongest and most determined managed to save their lives.  Weeding out the weak in a very Darwin way, yeah?

The building behind the wall is the pu'uhonua compound.  During times of war, women and children, elders and defeated warriors took refuge from the battles, no chief would breach the kapu of killing someone within the walls.  If the chief of the area lost the battle, the chief took ownership of the land and had a ready supply of people to get back to work.  A much better way of waging war if you ask me.

This is the reconstructed temple or heiau that also served as a mausoleum for the Ali'i bones. (royal chief)

Ki'i or more widely known using the Maori word, tiki.