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The New York Times recommended a visit to Juneau! Here's the link!

I have to say that I agree with just about all of their suggestions! Other choices: Thai food at Chan's and lunch at the Hot Bite in Auke Bay, bagels from the Silver Bow, and I'd stay at the Alaska's Capital Inn. And I'd also hike Perseverance Trail.

ETA: How the hell did I forget pizza at Bullwinkle's??
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What an amazing place. What beauty, and bounty. I never eat so fresh as when I am in Alaska during the summer time.

Flying into Juneau was a different experience for me. I usually get a window seat and stare outside the entire flight. This time I was corralling a toddler (he flies really well, but he's still a squirmy toddler). As we entered familiar airspace and I saw the rivers, islands and fjords I'm acquainted with come into view I expected certain feelings to come up. But this time I felt more disconnected - or, I didn't feel that tug of loss I normally do. As we flew over Juneau proper I realized, for the first time ever, just how rural my home town is. It's TINY. It's..... out in the boonies. Which of course is a great big part of its charm. But still. Growing up I felt I was in the big city (comparatively).

I spent 10 days on Shelter Island with my parents, nieces, and sister. Bennett wasn't so sure about every one for the first few days, but he warmed right up eventually. He never really bonded with my mother, which I find interesting. I think she has issues with males, so I'm not surprised. It was wonderful to be able to let B play and play and play. Outside, inside, with his cousins, on the beach. He loved it. He loved the water, the rocks, everything. He ate enormous amounts of vegetables and fish. So did I. Fresh fish from the ocean and veggies from the garden. Amazing.

My time was spend walking around, frolicking with the kids, eating well and reading. In the first 6 days I read 4 books and an Economist. Every evening there was time spent hanging out on the deck watching the whales bubble feed or breech or just swim around.

Right before I left for town my dad and sister caught a 90 lb halibut.

Town was great too. Exhausting, brief, but great. The Future Gov of Alaska, who from here on out will be renamed MM, as per her request, came down from Anchorage for the weekend and we stayed at her parents' house. That was wonderful. Spending time with her with no agenda, watching our kids play together, was good for my soul. On Saturday night we cooked up a feast: halibut (from my dad) with herbs from MM's parents' garden, dungeoness crab from my dad's crab pot with cocktail sauce, steamed kale, sugar tomatoes, figs grilled with humboldt fog cheese and garlic chips, pinot gris. Seriously, this is the sort of meal I am used to eating with friends in Juneau.

I didn't get to see as many people as I would have liked. Carrying B around town was brutal. We didn't have a car and the town is all hills and mountain sides. After walking up 6 blocks of hills (maybe more?) and 400 stairs we made it back to the house and that killed us for any more wandering around.

Juneau is still beautiful and still filled with amazing, generous, passionate, creative people. The tourist part of the town sucks. Let me rephrase that. It SUCKS. It's getting worse. There are EVEN MORE jewelry stores than there were two years ago. How this is possible, I can't figure out. Literally, there are several blocks where it is nothing but jewelry stores. What idiots go to Alaska and buy fancy diamond jewelry at places called Caribbean Jewels? Oh, your parents, you say? I'm sure they are nice people, but fuck them. Fuck those cruise ships. Juneau is going to tourist hell in a cruise ship hand bag. If you go to on an Alaska cruise on one of those mega ships, please don't ever tell me.

****
Books read:
Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
Midnight Never Come - Marie Brennan

Kablooey

Jul. 27th, 2009 09:16 pm
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*Tomorrow morning I am waking at 3.30 to be on the road at 4.30 to catch a plane that leaves at 6. Two and half hours to Seattle, a two hour layover (for diaper change, bathroom, food, and to let little legs run around) and another two and half hours to Juneau. A ten minute car ride to the harbor, a half hour boat ride, my 60 year old father rowing us all ashore. Sometime around 5pm I expect to have "landed."

*How much longer can my father expect to row us ashore, to be the only one who knows how to run the generator, the wind power tower? I can run the boat, but not well.

*I will be off line for the better part of two weeks. Two weeks in Juneau. I haven't been home since I was married two years ago. I can't wait for whales, water, the smell of the sea, the mountains, moss, salmon, crab pots, quiet, the wussy cries of bald eagles, my nieces, long twilights, boat rides, the Future Gov, old friends, murders of ravens, Silver Bow bagels, the stories of amazing people doing inspiring things.

*Bennett is busting my chops lately. He is beyond clingy. It's weeping and gnashing of teeth if I am not paying 100% attention to him and/or holding him. Ay yi yi. But it's understandable. Between moving and a traumatic facial accident, I am not surprised. Poor kid.

*I think ComiCon has eaten my brain. I had an extensive and detailed dream about Twilight last night. Whoa. I was dreaming that I was watching a sneak peek from the next movie. The director had decided that it was so ridiculous a story that opera was the best inspiration. There was music, not necessarily opera per se, but the comparison was apt. And it totally worked.

*Now, to pack and to bed.
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*Thurs, July 16, 4pm: Give Away, Go Away party. Come for the free stuff, stay for the deep fried turkey! Snuggle the baby one last time and say goodbye to us. Private message me if you want to come and need directions.

*Sat, July 18, Bennett and I catch a flight to San Diego. Adam and his father drive the Uhaul with the cats down to SD.

*July 20: [livejournal.com profile] snowcalla is in San Diego and I might to get see her that week?

*Thurs, July 23: I go to ComiCon with Adam.

*Tues July 28: Bennett and I head to Juneau. We'll be incommunicado out on Shelter Island. Sis arrives Aug. 2.

*Fri, Aug 7: Go to Juneau proper, the Future Governor of Alaska and her babe join us.

*Tues, Aug 11: Back to San Diego.
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Last night I had dreams about a cabin in a field off of the Gastineau Channel, a field that doesn't exist, of course. It then morphed into a wedding, many people I grew up with where there, and we were so happy. Full, belly aching laughs. One guy, a friend I've know since I was 6, who I haven't seen since we graduated high school, he and I were wrestling and rolling around on the floor laughing. He in his tux and me in a strapless cream silk brocade dress. Me, sans back fat and ginormous matronly boobs.

Then the dream morphed into a beautiful, elaborate arts salon. I was on a list to sing a baroque song. One I knew, but had never actually sung. I was surprisingly calm about having to do it. There were people in costumes, musicians, singers, almost like some sort of rococo themed back stage.

I woke so home sick, aching with nostalgia, aware of the lack of creativity, ease and spontaneous joyful laughter in my life these days. Not that things are grim, but the juiciness of my dream exposed the ordinariness of my living day to day.

There used to a website, Juneau Photos, that would post a new photo of Juneau every day. It is no more. But I found some sort of link to the photographers photos. These pictures are part of the reason I miss Juneau so much.

5 years

Aug. 26th, 2008 10:29 am
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Five years ago last week I moved to the Bay Area. I came to Berkeley to start graduate school. My intent was to finish with a masters degree and move back to Juneau. Lots and lots of things changed that first year in grad school.

My life is unbelievably enriched for living here.

But I still wake up every morning and want to move back to Juneau.
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I can't look at pictures of Juneau. It's like porn for me, or something.

Right now, I want to move to back to Juneau. I want to raise my baby there. Screw the restaurants and opera and whatnot, give me trees, clean air, grey skies, carharts, and fishing boats.

Seriously. I want to move home. The question remains: what would we do there?

Now isn't the time. But soon.
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I'm struggling a little. I went for a walk with B in a wrap and it didn't lift my spirits liked I'd hoped. Of course, I was over dressed for the temperature + baby + wrap. I'm just T.I.R.E.D. And I am always, with out fail, homesick over the 3rd and 4th of July. As much as it is a drunken crazy fest in Juneau, it's still like the most major holiday, with reunions and all kinds of wonderful hometown events. I miss it. I've also been worried about B's (lack of) weight gain, even though he seems to be thriving. I'm just adjusting in general still, but ..... some days are easier than others.

So, gratitude. Sometimes when I'm a little down it's actually easier to see what I'm grateful for. I'm not too happy to forget to notice, nor so bummed out that I'm wallowing in woe-is-me.

I am grateful for:
*hot cocoa
*abundant clean water
*a partner who loves being a father, wearing his son in a sling and gives me encouragement, even thanking me for breast feeding
*my son - who is healthy, though tiny, and seems to be developing right on schedule
*my upcoming midwife appointment
*breast feeding support [livejournal.com profile] expected_chaos
*my own health
*the ability to sustain life
*the experience and diversity of the mamas I've come to know on LJ
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Yesterday's headline in the San Fransisco Chronicle was something like "East Bay faces water rations." Right on the heels of my "I might be very happy here for a long time" musing, the reality of living in a place not equipped for millions of inhabitants sets in. I live car free, recycle, try not topurchase too much, etc., but I'm still one more person, bringing another person into the world, living in a place that can't healthfully sustain the millions of people that live here. I have year round "allergies" to the air pollution and water comes from the mountains quite a ways away. It's not LA or San Diego, but it's not sustainable either.

Of course, Juneau isn't perfectly sustainable. All the food, save seafood, gets shipped in from Outside. And recently Juneau's been facing a massive energy crisis (check out the New York Times article). But this glitch will get fixed and they'll go back to clean, sustainable hydro-electric power. All that rain and water is good for something!

Still. Now I wonder if I can justify living in a major urban area. It seems a bit selfish and not that wise. I want my boy to be able to play outside! To have a relationship with nature beyond zoos, the Discovery Channel, and field trips. I don't want him developing asthma or other allergies.

Here I go, waffling about place again. As if I am even in a position to move.
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Spring is on in full force here in the Bay Area. I barely seem to leave my couch these days. Sadly, walking is starting to make me ache in areas seemingly unrelated to my legs. I'm just so damn tired all the damn time. I really really want to indulge myself in the energy that I feel when I wake up to birds chirping and fresh, bright sunshine in the morning. I think I'm starting to get a (very small) surge of new energy thanks to spring. I have an itch to read the books piled up on the coffee table, to get out of the house, to finish some house hold projects. Still not feeling quite as motivated to sing or study, but I know that will come. (I actually dreamed last night of performing in an opera - which was really more like a musical - one I hadn't rehearsed for. But my improv worked and I sounded great. A decided subconscious shift from trying to sing only to find enormous wads of gum clogging up my mouth.)

I think part of me might also be entering the Nesting Phase of pregnancy. Some women seem to get this from the start. I'm not surprised it's taken me 2/3 of my pregnancy to get here. All of a sudden I realize that I have 11 weeks left - 11 weeks to prepare. Now's the time to read all the books I want to read, finish moving into our apartment (hang the stinkin' art!), wash the floors, get those side tables we've talked about, purchase the baby needs, etc. Now should also be the time to get cracking on the dissertation outline. But I've just given up for the time being. I'll do it. But I know if I hound myself I'll have an anxiety fueled crying jag. Ah, hormones.

The arrival of spring and the looking ahead to July also makes me a bit sad. Summer is coming and I won't be making my yearly pilgrimage back to SE Alaska. This year, around the 3rd and 4th of July I will not only be wondering if the Pea is immanent, but I'll also be sad that I'm not in Juneau. No long 18 hour days, no hikes in the rain forest, no whale watching off mum and dad's deck, no fishing, no foraging beach lettuce, no communing with the mountains or the sea, no seeing the friends I see for maybe one or two days a year. I'm sure once the babe is here I won't be thinking of this. July will be a blur of bonding and boobs and poop and baby.
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I dreamt last night that I was in Juneau, walking out towards Thane. No cruise ship docks, old wooden framed houses, precarious icy dirt slopes to the water. I was having trouble staying balanced on the edge of the road. The sky was slate grey, a typical winter day's sky around 2 in the afternoon. I dream of this light from time to time since it's not available here.

My sister wants me to move to Anchorage. There are many good reasons to move there: nearer to my nieces, nearer to my sis, nearer to the Future Gov; Alaska; free day care: Sis can watch the baby while I work on my PhD. That's hard to pass up.

But Anchorage. It's a hole. If I want strip malls and box stores, gang violence and meth fiends, pretentious rich folk with fancy cars, I can stay right here in the Bay Area! It has many good things too, of course, the most important being that it is in Alaska and if you look up, over the fast food outlets and dingy streets, the mountains and ocean are right there.

But Juneau. I miss that town. Today I am homesick for the water, the overcast impenetrable grey skies, the fishing boats, the snow capped mountains, and even for some of the mind-numbing hometown politics.
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Have been in Alaska for 4 days now. It is amazing and lush and beautiful and I am in love. The home of my heart. I miss this place so much. Even the grubby, shake your head, heard it all before, why did they ever build that, tedious bits of it. It's also a challenge to stay with the parents. In addition to the fact that I can only go to town when my dad decides to go (and then we have to be on his schedule to catch a returning ride), he's just... so... difficult. I feel physically and spiritually alive and fed, but emotionally exhausted and protective. Adam is struggling, but I'm focusing on how glorious the land is and how quiet it is and how I've seen killer whales, humpback whales, bald eagles, a seal, and sealions. But we have not caught any fish. My freezer will be empty for the winter. So sad, but there is no time to try again or get worried about it. Wedding Stuff begins tomorrow.

In good news, my dad is teaching me to use the boat. Finally.

I also wish I had a camera. And more than two weeks of vacation a year.
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From NPR news online:

In another decision, the court tightened limits on student speech, ruling against a student who held a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at an event in Juneau, Alaska. The 5-4 ruling sided with the school principal, who said the banner advocated drug use.

The student, now 23, sought damages, saying he dropped out of college after his father lost his job over the incident. A jury recently awarded Frank Frederick $200,000 in a lawsuit he filed over his firing.

Writing for the five member majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said, "Principal Morse thought the banner would be interpreted by those viewing it as promoting illegal drug use, and that interpretation is plainly a reasonable one."

-----
When I read the (I don't know the formal legal terminology) transcript from the court case before the Supreme Court I recognized that there was likely no good outcome for this case. Either you side with a smart ass of a student who uses free speech arguments for stupid shit like "bong hits 4 jesus" (and potentially disruptive displays in a learning environment) or you side with a anal retentive stickler of a high school administrator (and a diminishing of free speech within the confines of public school). Neither side satisfies.

I have not read the decision yet. Probably won't get around to it, as I'm busy at work and leaving for Alaska on Wednesday.
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Last weekend I attended the western regional conference for the American Academy of Religion here in Berkeley. It was great: collegial, interesting, heavy on the women and religion end of things, and I totally got my geek on. It made coming back to work this week painful. My job has become especially dull and uninteresting to me and I'm having a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings. It's sapping the energy from my days. But there it is.

However, my blog reading has been getting a boost these days. My favorite weekly is The Stranger out of Seattle. I adore David Schmader's weekly recap of random news events. This week the first two events pop right out: yet another replay of the JDHS "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Supreme Court case and a tale of why sisters need to have each other's backs. Two bartenders in San Francisco saved a girl from getting drugged on her date, eventually leading to the guy's conviction. Three cheers for ladies that watch out for one another! (And for the guys that would do the same.)

Lastly, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna, I am now obsessed with the Eurovision song contest. You can check out all the entries here. I haven't seen all of them yet, but my top three faves are Germany (jazzy! If only any of the guys in American Idol were as good as this guy.), Bulgaria (goth pop done right, plus Bulgarian folk singing technique and interesting rhythms!) and Israel (using klezmer to convince us not to blow them up). Most that I've seen so far are awful. The lead singer from Sweden thinks he's Hedwig, but he's missing an angry inch or more. But, seriously, for a good way to pass the time at work, Eurovision is where it's at.
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Even the Economist has reported on this very fun Supreme Court case.
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A couple of years ago a guy from my home town high school held up a sign reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as the Olympic torch ran through town. This was during a school day, but clearly not at the high school. Still this guy was suspended. The principal, a woman I have worked with and who is, in my opinion, annoying becuase she's so freaking concerned with what others think is right, suspended the boy. Now, the case is at the US Supreme Court and in the school district's corner is none other than Kenneth Starr. He's taken the case pro bono. I think the boy was stupid in his youth, but to be suspended? Puh-leeze. And now it's at the Supreme Court as a freedom of speech case? Oh my.

The Juneau Empire requires a pass word, so I've cut and pasted the article here for you:

Starr )

Pictures

Aug. 25th, 2006 03:12 pm
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Enter at your own risk:

Downtown Juneau

I lied

This. Is. Bear. Territory.

I taste good

Where the fam lives

Many of my favorite photos didn't make it. Oh well.
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The Retro Redhead loaned me her digital camera for my trip to Alaska. Such generosity! I had plans to take fabulous photos. Thanks to my current mac problems I couldn't get them all off of the camera and then some didn't seem to make it to host site and then I had to delete a bunch of them. I think I don't have much memory on my ibook and the pictures were the source of my itunes issues. Technology gives me such a headache.

So, let's see if this will work:

Fish Head

Update: Well no wonder I had no memory left! These pictures are HUMONGOUS! No way am I posting a picture of my face.
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I am back in East Bay. My last day in Juneau was pleasant, indeed. I had a really nice chat with [livejournal.com profile] robroys at his gallery. His art looks even better in person. That night I attended a multi-course gournet vegan meal (exceptions being a little stilton in the broccoli-potato soup for all except the Vegan, and some amazing halibut ceviche). The food, the wine, the company - all exceptional. I think it might have also been the first time I noted the distinctiveness of French wine. It's always good to throw a fancy dress, fancy food dinner party every now and again. If only I had a real dining table..... fancy dress, fancy food and holding your plate on your lap just ain't classy.
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Once again, this must be quick. Finally, finally the sun is out. No rain. My god, there are moutnains behind those clouds! It's been grey but the sky is now blue. Dad and I caught 5 small halibut yesterday. Dall's porpoise came and danced under and around our boat. Saw a bunch of seals up on rocks at low tide. Saw a breaching hump back. A baby whale nestled in our tiny cove. Yup, whales whales whales. Brag, brag, brag.

Here's dad. Off to get the sister and the youngest neice from the airport.

It is spectacular here. I'm hoping to make dried kelp tomorrow. It's been a SlowFood extravaganza around here.

If only I didn't feel emotionally and spritually remote. A little. But a little too much.

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