getting out of my way

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IMG_1641Six hours at the Dane County Airport waiting for weather to clear in Newark, New Jersey, to take for a short, direct flight is enough to make anyone a bit of a philosopher. That or go nuts. Because I bought this summer’s tickets with credit card points and used the voucher we got in January, I sprung for flying out of our little, low key facility. Lines are short, seats plentiful but there are fewer food choices and what there is comes with NYC prices.

Julia did all her home work and her puzzle exercises and some extra of each. She worked on coloring a new dragon picture in her art app. If her cello had been here, we would have gotten in a good practice. Now, she is listening to music on her phone and watching videos of kids dancing and singing. She has not even cracked the sketch book or dot to dot book. The kid has learned to wait. She is developing patience. Continue reading

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada

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IMG_5699Arriving in Victoria, Canada. Crispy but not as cold as Alaska.  We spent our time ashore at the Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, located near Victoria on Vancouver Island. I had heard about the Gardens long ago and I am so pleased we got to see it on a sunny day.  It was crowded which only tickled me more.  What could be nicer than enjoying a garden with many, many others intent on taking in such a glorious site. Continue reading

Skagway

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No snow!

25 July 2017. Our next port of call was Skagway, a small town of under a thousand people, a population that doubles in the summer to work the tourist trade.  Big cruise ships like ours are the usually visitors.  And so, three to five thousand people stop by for the day.  We docked with another big ship and we all flooded off our floating fortresses to walk the boardwalk streets and find adventure.

The center of town is only a few blocks long and fewer wide.  It is well painted and well kept.  One peculiarity of our two Alaskan ports was the number of jewelry shops featuring diamonds that each town held.  Do people really buy expensive jewelry on vacation? Continue reading

Glacier Bay

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IMG_5588Early on the morning of the 25th, our very huge ship crept into Glacier Bay and stopped. There was an eerie silence which replaced the constant hum of the motor that I had stopped be conscious of hearing.  We could hear the water lapping against the ship but it was a small and quiet sound.  Julia and I had not woken up to see the approach to Glacier Bay, but right after we stopped, we dressed hurriedly and stood out on our balcony.  Had we not had a balcony, it would have been truly fine to share the sight with others on an open deck, but we didn’t need to share at all.  It was like being alone with magnificence.  We stood, watching, taking pictures in awe and wonder.

Then the motors started again and the boat began to turn in more than one complete circle before we left the bay. Continue reading

Juneau

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Juneau from across the Gastineau Channel on Douglas Island

We landed in Juneau at noon and started out first land excursion an hour later.  I bought a non-cruise line tour from viator.com and our experience was very good.  The drivers of the buses and boat were knowledgable about their city and what they hoped to show us.  We had a short tour of the city which was followed by a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier where we explored by ourselves.  Favorite facts about the city include that  there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America.  Residents and visitor get to the city by water or air.  Also, The settlement was founded by Joe Juneau and Richard Harris, and was originally called Harrisburg after a vote by the miners.  According to one of our guides, Juneau was not happy with the result.  He waited until Harris was out of town, treated the miners at the local pub, called for another vote and registered the result in DC.  If the story is not true, it is still a good one and a good reminder the politics have not really gotten any better or worse. Continue reading

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Alaskan inside passage

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29 July 2017: We did not have an internet connection that allowed for posting to Chasing Joy during the cruise.  So, over the next few days I’ll be posting pictures from our travels. I groused about the lack of internet and was quite grumpy about it.  The IT guy was generally unhelpful, promising something better each day which he failed to deliver.  Had internet been free, I would have had little reason to complain but internet packages are pricy and I had sprung for both internet and streaming.  Needless to say, we never streamed anything. Finally, on day five, I cancelled the service.

23 July 2017: After a day cruising up to Juneau via the Inside Passage.

Privilege. Privileged.

This morning I ordered room service for breakfast, wanting to avoid another pass at breakfast buffet madness.   Fruit plate, an orange, blueberry muffins, bagel with cream cheese. Coffee for me and a glass of lactose free milk for Julia.  Julia asked if she could really eat in bed.  I pulled up a comfy chair to sit in front of our balcony.  It is cold on the balcony and although we have blankets, I cannot get julia to enjoy the cold balcony. Continue reading

water & wake

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IMG_5325Embarkation: Yes! Sleep was better. Overtired and late night food—Julia’s choice of chicken strips and fries which were, I admit, superior but not conducive to sleep—and Wisconsin morning time were our challenges yesterday. Today, my eyes are open and julia is bushy tailed.

We are ready early. Kinda’ a theme of this traveling which is not without benefit. We are up, showered, breakfasted and re-packed and still have almost an hour til the shuttle to the ship. Julia’s smallish anxieties about the ‘boat’ have eased. We’ve talked a lot about the size of the ship. Continue reading

Seattle cups

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IMG_5315We landed in Seattle Wednesday night. Late. What follows is from Thursday and upon waking on Friday.

First impressions. The cup provided for coffee at our hotel’s breakfast buffet was a huge mug. Julia needed two packets of powdered hot cocoa to make a full cup. Such is Seattle.

Seattle is a port city and I was reminded of Genoa. In port towns the very industrial process of shipping is visible from roads and overlooks. Lots of  hills in the small portion of Seattle we walked this morning, lots of hilly walks in Genoa. But Seattle it is a city vibrant and expanding, construction on every block. Genoa has not know growth for a long time. Seattle is youthful — shapes and colors are neither staid nor classical. Genoa must have appeared just like this a few hundred years ago. Continue reading

cells

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IMG_1175Feeling like a super mom today.  Exhausted but endowed with power and magic.  Today is never easy.  7 years.  Another anniversary of the beginning of my unexpected life.

I have long entertained the idea that the cells of the body are recycled bit by bit every 7 years.  Where did I hear that?  I have no idea, but if it were so, there is no cell in my body left that actually knew David. Could that be? Even if it was the general rule, I imagine my cells clever enough to bypass such ignorance.  They might have whispered and conspired, perhaps saving one very, very old seven or eight or nine year old cell and sitting at her “feet” to listen to stories of when I was not lonely.  And really, there was that time when I knew joy without effort. And maybe in the stories of that old cell is the seed of a coming time of such joy.  Just maybe. Continue reading

julia

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Julia and cake

Half the year has been lived.  Not really wanting to measure progress and projects but all the same, I wonder if I am standing in the same place. Surely, I have moved either by my own energy or the winds of changing times. I can quickly recount gains and losses, some sad, some hopeful, some just as they are. Like the cracks in my porch ceiling that I watch without judgment.

Julia is on a meds vacation weekend for the first time in 6 or 7 years.  When she first started on stimulants for her ADHD, she almost stopped eating and quickly began losing weight, but her behavior in school made the meds indispensable. So, she was medicated on weekdays and crazy on weekends.  She was tough on therapists and in church school on the weekends and she also ate like a starving woman.  During the week, I filled her food with as many calories as possible and there was at least one bottle of Ensure, rebranded dinosaur milk, every day. After a few months, Julia’s eating and weight stabilized and although she has always been in a low percentile on the growth chart, her docs have been comfortable with her progress.  But since the beginning of the year, she’s lost 8 lbs. on a steady decline. I wanted to blame our summer healthy diet—fruits and vegetables, a little protein and dairy and very little starch—but she has been losing since January. Continue reading