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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Discrimination Upheld

Simply unacceptable. What else is there to say? Sorely disappointed in our sunny state. And that's twice.

Liberty and Justice for All.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Something Sunnier

Like my sunshine, Soleil Mia.

Would you believe it if I told you our baby princess turned three on May 7? Well it's true!! I'm pretty sure that makes her officially a "kid". No more babies for us?! Well, she's still sleeping in her converted crib and sitting in her high chair now and again, so I'll hold on to the baby status a little longer. (Although, between you and me I'm pretty excited to be done with the diapers, and bottles, and sleepless nights, fun as they were.)

We had a delightful after school party for her at the park across the street from our house. I sent out Evites on Tuesday for a Thursday party. Is that legal? My poor fourth child (and my poor friends - sorry for the last minute notice, girls). But, the weather was perfect and we had almost 20 kids (it helps that most of our family friends have 4+ kids). We had a jumpy house and a pinata, neither of which excited Soli much, but they kept the rest of the group entertained. Soli was happy sticking close to Mommy and eating as much watermelon as her little belly could hold.

Here are some pics of her day.

It's my birthday!

Mommy, Daddy and Soli

Come get some watermelon!! I love after school parties for many reasons. First, they don't interrupt a weekend. Yeah. Secondly, there's no meal involved. Set out some healthy snacks, throw around some cupcakes and you're done. Love it.

Emerson and Jarret

Soli and her little pal, "Boshing" (Boston). When I asked Soli what she wanted to do for her birthday she said, "Me hab potty at da pock wit my pends an' Boshing." translation: Me have party at the park with my friends and Boston. So that's what we did. Luckily, Boston was able to make it, otherwise we would have had to change the date.

Cole and Justin

Butterfly cupcakes.

Make a wish, Baby. (And try not to spit on the cupcakes!)

I love my Sissy.

Happy Birthday, Sunshine! We love you so much!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Our Little Miss Piggy

Dave, Morgen and me before Rob and Kelly's wedding August 1995

After Dave and I met in Guatemala (HERE'S the link to that story), we sailed Morgenstern (well, Dave sailed the boat, and I just tried to keep from puking - my job was harder than his, I assure you) back to Miami via Mexico and Cuba. We had to ask the Cuban immigration officials not to stamp our passports, as in, "If anyone asks, we were never here." I felt like a renegade. It was awesome. But that's another post all together. Anyway, in Miami, we were greeted by an oh-so-happy-to-see-us Bill and Connie (Dave's dad and his long time girlfriend). Dave had been sailing for 9 months in Central America and I had been traveling for 4 months. It was so delightful to be back in the good ol' U.S. of A. and to have our very own welcome party waiting for us right there on the dock. (Thanks for being there, guys. We love you!). After spending a week or so putting the boat back together Dave and I decided that we weren't ready for the party to end. So we decided to buy an old beater of a vehicle and drive back to California. Upon hearing our plan, Bill generously gifted us his Buick Sedan as he had recently upgraded to something fancier. We were stoked! (And I'm pretty sure I haven't used the word "stoked" since the 90's.) So we loaded our vehicle with all of our salty, worldly belongings which included 3 pairs of cut off jeans, our groovy, matching, tire-tread Huarache sandals imported from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and maybe four Caballero condoms imported from Fronteras, Guatemala - btw, don't use those, they can't be trusted. (No, that's not how Cole was conceived, thankyouverymuch.) We slapped a bumper sticker on our jalopy that read "Places to Go, People to Annoy" (courtesy of the oneandonly Mark Weiss, great friend and owner of Morgenstern) and we were on our way.

We spent the next four weeks cruisin' in our land yacht, popping in and inconveniencing friends all across the states. Just kidding, I'm sure they were glad to see us and our salty cut-offs. It was a magical time in our lives. We drove and talked and drove and talked some more. For four weeks straight we took in the sights of our beautiful country and told each other things about ourselves that we never thought we'd share with anyone. We slept curled up in the back seat of our hooptie, parked at Rest Areas and deserted country roads along the way. Stinkin' romantic, that's what it was. And we fell in love. By the time we got to Montana, it was a done deal. We were hooked on each other. And we decided to get a dog; a puppy. Now, technically, Dave decided to get a dog as I was scheduled to reinstate my acceptance to Sonoma State University in the fall (which I had deferred for a year).

So we left Montana on a mission to adopt ourselves a puppy. It was a Sunday and although we past an animal shelter in every town between Cameron, Montana and Salt Lake City, Utah they were all closed on Sundays. I think it may have been in Pocatello, Idaho where we chanced upon a flier, just under the CLOSED sign at the Humane Society. It said there would be an Adoption Day this Sunday (indeed, it was said Sunday) at the local Petsmart. So we rushed our little highnies on over to the Petsmart only to be turned away by a mean spirited lady who wrinkled her nose at us (and our cut-offs) and told us we were unfit dog parents because we didn't have a home with a yard. Indeed, we didn't have a home at all, unless you count our land yacht (which, of course, we did). Besides, what we lacked in yard we made up for in heart. Couldn't she tell by all the love oozing from our pores that we were the perfect doggie parents? Our best efforts to change her mind failed miserably. So we tucked our tails between our legs and left that Petsmart feeling rather dejected and suddenly, rather homeless.

We pressed on towards Salt Lake, thinking that maybe a bigger town would have an animal shelter open on Sundays. Once in Salt Lake we pulled off the highway into a commercial area in search of a pay phone with Yellow Pages (remember those - attached with a metal cord?). We found one at a 7-11. As Dave thumbed through the Yellow Pages, my eyes were drawn to a piece of newspaper littering the sidewalk beneath the payphone. I picked it up and noticed it was a torn section of the Want Ads. As I scanned the paper, I saw an ad that read something like this:

Six week old puppies. German Shorthair/Black Lab mix. First shots received. $10.

My heart smiled as I handed the shredded paper to Dave. Less than two minutes later we had called the number and were on our way to meet our new puppy.

It was so hard to choose just one, but we finally settled on a squirmy, rowdy little female with soft, puffy fur and a chubby, buddha belly. She was so cute. When you would reach down to pat her fluffy coat she would instantly fall onto her back to get a belly scratch, kicking her feet in the air and wiggling from side to side. We immediately started referring to her as Little Miss Piggy because she was so fat and sassy. As Dave reached into his wallet for $10, the lady told us there was actually no charge; something about having to put a dollar value in her ad in order for it to be placed in the Classifieds. That seemed like good luck. I asked her when the litter was born. (I had every intention of throwing birthday parties, you know. Plus, I wanted to know her sign. Just kidding.) She couldn't remember exactly but said that it was right around May 18th, the day Dave and I had met. Cheesy, I know, but it seemed special to us at the time.

Me and Morgen - Salt Lake City, June 1995

Piggy cuddling with Dave in our Buick on the way to California.

Isn't it time for a walk? Maybe some tug-o-war?

With our new puppy safely tucked between us on the front bench seat of our trusty Buick, we left Salt Lake City, continuing on the road towards what would become our new life together. We would name our puppy Morgen which means morning in German (shorthair) and also paid tribute to Morgenstern which we felt indebted to for having housed us during our first weeks together. But she would never outgrow her nickname of Piggy, short for Little Miss Piggy, of course. I would bail on Sonoma State, we would get married, have a family, buy a house and start a life. And Morgen was with us every step of the way. Until today.

She died yesterday, here at the house with Dave and me cradling her face in our hands and telling her how much we loved her. We sent her on her way, whispering memories of Montana in her ear, consoling her as she made her transition. We like to imagine her with a healthy body loping through the high mountain grass flushing out birds and then pointing at them as they take to the air. Or swimming after sticks as they float down the Madison on their way to the ocean. Or barking impatiently, waiting for 2-year-old Cole to throw another rock into the West Fork so she can dive in and retrieve it. Or greeting another newborn, or playing fetch at the park, or wrestling with Pete (our lost cat), or napping in the sun-filled garden, or peeing on the floor because she is so excited to see us, home from a long trip.

Piggy loved a road trip. The longer the better.

Click to appreciate the stylin' cut-offs. You know you had a pair...or wished you did.

Piggy checking on me and Cole - 2 days old.

The story of Morgen is the story of us and we feel the void of her loss so painfully in our home and our hearts and our story. It's the end of a chapter. A wonderful chapter.

We love you, Piggy. Get the stick, Piggy. Good Piggy.

Morgen in Montana - summer 1996

Friday, May 01, 2009

Pictures of Peru

An early morning in San Francisco. Peru or bust. Ready or not, here I go.

View of the Andes from the airplane on the way from Lima to Cusco.
P.S. The in country flights on LAN airlines were perfectly comfortable and not at all the single prop aircraft I had envisioned in my nightmares. I would guess 737 airbuses? I was delighted.

Here we are, Ellen and me, on our first day checking out Cusco. What a beautiful Spanish colonial city with lots of Catholic churches built atop Incan temples. The Spanish were shameless that way. You can see behind us the Catholic monastery in the background and the gray ruins of the Incan Sun Temple in front of it.

This is coca tea. Coca tea is drinken (drunk?) all over Peru to stave off altitude sickness. Cusco is at an elevation of almost 12,000 feet above sea level. Coca leaves are from the Coca plant which is used to make cocaine, Lidocaine, Novocaine, and is an ingredient in, believe it or not, Coca-cola. But it sure did the trick against altitude sickness. We had our cup of coca tea every day (with a generous spoonful of sugar) and we were symptom free the whole week.

Here we are on our way to the market in Pisac. Ellen and I met 14 years ago in Costa Rica whilst studying Spanish. We then traveled all over Costa Rica and Guatemala where I subsequently met my darling husband. I hadn't seen her in 13 years and had only been halfway diligent about keeping in touch until we were reacquainted thanks to Facebook.

A woman selling yarn dyes in the Pisac market outside of Cusco. Market pictures are my favorite.

We loved our afternoon cappuccino and cafe con leche. Jack's in Cusco served up an especially beautiful display.

This dog and his pet monkey were quite a darling sight in Ollantaytambo. Apparently, they are inseparable and the monkey even holds on for dear life while his master is....shall we say....indisposed.

Ellen and I thought this mountain at the Incan ruins in Ollantaytambo looked just like the profile of an Incan warrior.

Our day at Machu Picchu was mystical even though it was rainy and foggy making the mountain views significantly less dramatic then they can be. We felt a little sorry for ourselves (but only a little) until we found out that the next day the park was closed because the professional guides were on strike.

Orchids growing wild at Machu Picchu.

We hiked up Hauyna Picchu which is a small mountain within Machu Picchu with even more ruins and stunning views of the ancient city below. It was very foggy almost the whole climb up but right when we got to the top, the fog cleared for just a moment affording a fabulous view of Machu Picchu. In the picture above you can see the river far, far below the steps that I am standing on. It was hairy. And amazing to think that these hardworking people had carried each and every stone up that mountain to build their city in the sky.

Another wild orchid at Machu Picchu.

See that mountain rising from the mist in the background? That's Huayna Picchu. We climbed to the top of that peak. We were pretty proud of ourselves.

The food in Peru, particularly in Cusco was so surprisingly and unbelievably good. This is a shrimp salad with grilled mushrooms, grated coconut, seasoned tomatoes, and an amazing mango vinaigrette. With the unbeatable prices for gourmet dining, Ellen and I fancied ourselves food critiques for the week. We tried all of the country's specialties including Alpaca steak, fresh ceviche, lomo saltado (like a beef stir fry), sopa de quinoa (did you know quinoa originated in Peru and is a staple grain here?), sopa criolla, and the Peruvian favorite, cuy (guinea pig). We had a hard time stomaching the cuy although it was plenty tasty (like the dark meat of a chicken) so we had our plate wrapped up and gave it to a woman begging on the street. We found that far more enjoyable than the meal itself.

If you click to make this picture bigger you can see the heard of rare Vicunas at a watering hole behind me. Not long after Ellen took this picture, the alpha male of the herd came and ordered his brood away from our offensive looking tour bus. Then he jumped up on a boulder between us and his herd and gave us "stink eye" until we left. The snow capped mountain in the background is, El Misti, an active volcano outside of Arequipa.

This mountain top "facility", at almost 15,ooo feet above sea level, is little more than a hole in the ground with crisscrossing boards for "balancing". Oh, and, BTW, it's strictly BYOTP.

We took a two day/one night guided tour to the Colca Canyon from Arequipa. The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and is the home to some 50 giant condors. We were lucky with the weather and were able to observe at least 15 of the graceful (if not somewhat ugly) birds riding the thermal currents in the canyon.

Click to fully appreciate the condor "cuteness". This condor had a 10-12 foot wing span. Did you know condors live to be 100 years old? And then when they can no longer feed themselves (condors are scavengers) they crash themselves into the canyon wall ending their life before they starve to death. Whoa.

And just like that our week in Peru was over. The best part for me (aside from the amazing food) was having a week to get reacquainted with myself. Not me as a mom or me as a wife, but just me. And it was delightful to meet that person again after all these years.

P.S. Dave - You're an amazing husband to let me go have this adventure. I love you so much. Next time, let's go the two of us. ~H