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February 23, 2005
Doing Better... I think
Health , Love , Water

My throat is raw from all the porcelain worshiping I did last night, and my stomach is threatening things, though it feels so much better that I think its bluffing. There is nothing left in my stomach for it to threaten with!

Kevin was so sweet last night. I slept on the futon because my stomach wouldn't allow me to sleep on it as I normally do, but in the futon I could curl into the crease and feel mostly comfortable. Laying just on my back has never been very comfy to me. I tried to send Kevin up to bed where I wouldn't disturb him, but he refused. He camped out on the love seat beside me just in case I needed him in the night.

I think that I ate something bad a day or two ago. I don't know why it took so long to really effect me, but both Monday and Tuesday I ate half a sandwich (which could be the culprit) and then didn't have any desire for a second meal that day.

My stomach is still in the problem land that the doctor's can't quite figure out. But for the last few days it been a bit different. I wish there was a good way to determine if it was something I ate (and what that thing was) or if its a bug of some kind.

*sighs* oh well, I guess I'm taking it easy today. I had all sorts of business naming plans for the day. :( maybe I'll feel okay a little later to go out.

10:31 AM | Comments (0)
January 29, 2005
Because I SO UNDERSTAND!!
Randomness , Rant , Water

As someone who grew up in what the rest of you call Upstate New York (which to anyone who doesn't know New York seems to be anything that isn't NYC - those of us who live there will refer to Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region. No one seems to understand that I lived in New York and yet lived 7 hours or more away from NYC. Its a big state people! But I'll now set that bitterness aside) and who now lives in California and observes how people here react to weather and giving directions and numerous other things, I find this email my Grandmother sent me amusing.

I can relate to more than 2/3 or these jokes in some way or other. If you don't believe it, you should get out more. If you don't get it, visit "Upstate New York" It really is a beautiful year no matter what the jokes say. Just pick the right time of the year!!

Jeff Foxworthy on Upstate New York:

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 36 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Saranac Lake is the coldest spot in the nation, and Syracuse gets more snow than any other major city in the US, you might live in Upstate New York.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May, you might live in Upstate New York

If you instinctively walk like a penguin for six months out of the year, you might live in Upstate New York.

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in Upstate New York.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live in Upstate New York.

If your town has more bars than churches, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Upstate New York.

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A TRUE UPSTATE NEW YORKER WHEN:

1. "Vacation" means going South past Syracuse for the weekend.

2. You measure distance in hours.

3. You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

4. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.

5. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

6. You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings).

7. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

8. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend / wife knows how to use them.

9. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

10. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

11. You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.

12. You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

13. Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce.

14. You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age.

15. Down South to you means Corning.

16. A brat is something you eat.

17. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new shed.

18. You go out for a fish fry every Friday.

19. Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

20. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

21. You find 10 degrees "a little chilly."

22. You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Upstate New York friends.

09:44 PM | Comments (0)
January 27, 2005
UnderWater Dangers
Photography , Travel , Water

I promised in my last photo album that I would tell this little story. Unlike the Baja trip the trip to Bora Bora is not one that I can't the day by day story line... or I could, but I won't because you would be bored. It was a wonderful trip filled with naps and bumming by the pool and beach and a few planned adventures. I just know you don't want to hear about my naps and sunburn though.

So the little story worth telling (I knew I would get to it eventually) is an underwater story. I seem to just find the scary underwater things! In Baja I told you that I managed to find a rock fish (the most deadly fish in the sea of Cortez) and a tiger eel (which isn't horribly dangerous, its just very snake like and snakes scare me!). Well during my second dive in Bora Bora I did one better, I found a Moray Eel! I was quite scared.

So on our second dive we were lucky, there were four of us and we got a boat to ourselves with our own guide because the other boat was going to a different area. This group usually pairs a guide with about 4 divers. Since I had dove with them earlier in the week and Susan had the most recent experience besides me our guide took the two of us in first. We went down and around for a little bit. Once the guide was satisfied that we knew enough of what we were doing he took us to this one rock very near the boat and made motions that we were to stay in this area around the big rock and that he was going to go up and get Jill and Scott.

This thrilled me, I finally had a chance to spend figuring out how to get close to the fish at this rock to take some close up pictures with my macro lenses and I didn't have to worry about the guide moving on and my needing to hurry. So I approached the rock, it was wide and not to high and well prolly more coral based and rock. Its major defining feature was a very old box that seemed to be embedded in one end. Susan and I swam around I took my photos and kept moving around the rock following the fish.

I was coming around and kind of over the rock when I saw it, near a bunch of fish that I was heading toward. I just saw a head, it was bigger than my fist by maybe another half fist, maybe not quite that much, it had a long nose/mouth sticking out the front and it was dark, almost black.

I knew what I was looking at right away, but something in my brain didn't want to believe it. So I doubled back the way I had come and circled around the other way to make sure that I had really seen what I thought I had seen. It was true, I was right, from the other side again, there it was just a head and a little body protruding from inside the rock, and the mouth open just a little this time. A little is enough to see the teeth.

No, I did NOT take a picture. When I get scared I just get away. I don't know the habits of the Moray Eel. I've only ever heard of people getting their arms bit when they stick them in holes looking for lobsters, but I see teeth and I have no idea if he would come after me. If I had take the picture from where I was, well the underwater camera makes things look a bit further away so it just would have been Moray Eel at a distance, and I'll be damned if I was getting closer to those teeth.

I turned around and ran... well swam fast over to Susan because, well we are down here with a Moray Eel ALONE!!

I did my little hand signals and frantic gestures to signal to Susan what I had seen so she can be careful. I tried to show her where he had been, but at this point he had gone back inside the rock.

Our guide came back down with us and I did my little charades for him, but he didn't seem to care. They are much more used to things like that than I am, but still, I wanted nothing to do that that rock anymore. Luckily with Jill and Scott down with us we headed away from that rock and to new under water wonders.

Despite my tendency to find the underwater scaries, I really can't wait to go scuba diving again!!!

10:58 AM | Comments (0)
November 28, 2004
Adventures In Baja Part III
Photography , Travel , Water

October 16th

Finally out of our tents once the sun was fully up, we went for a morning hike to see our beautiful bay from above, fly a kite, get a real view of how crystal clear the water is and just enjoy our thorny rose for the last time. Back down on the beach though we were soon ready to escape the land of the No-see-ems. We took off in our kayaks, made another Paco Pit stop and were off on another beautiful morning of kayaking. After the first day of muscle burn I was really into it, my muscles didnít burn nearly as much (Iíd been working out like crazy to get ready for this) and it was fun. We hugged the coast most of the time and really enjoyed our views.

Near to our camp zone and lunch quickly approaching we made a small detour into a lagoon. Surrounded by mangrove trees and overlooking pelicans we navigated our way through some sharp turns and close quarters. Kevin and Iís large 2 person kayak had a little trouble with one of the hard turns, but a little push and shove and we made it through.

The lagoon let out into a center pool of sorts, larger than the pathways and still surrounded by the low mangrove trees, which echoed with a pop, pop, pop on all sides of us. Itís a deep sound kind of like that noise you make when you pop your cheek with your finger. It was the sound of clams popping out of the mud just below the water, and it was pretty eerie.

Not far from the lagoon we found what was meant to be our next campsite. We set up a shade tent and relaxed and watched Kevin and Steve play some cutthroat cribbage. After our guides had looked around the camp area a little bit the came back to us with a decision: we could a. put up camp here tonight but we would most likely see more bugs than last night and would have to go into our tents as soon as the sun was down. You see, in looking around there was a standing pool of water not far from where we were sitting and the lagoon of mangrove trees really not much farther away. Bug Central! All of this in addition to the shallow waters in this bay being rather prone to sting ray, it didnít sound like a fun place.

Our other choice being to pick up (we hadnít really unpacked much yet) and row a couple more miles to another camp site which was on the tip of the island; and while it would be windy there would be no bugs guaranteed. The vote, 3 to 1 was the move, so we waited for the tide change, watched some more cribbage, had a happy crab visitor and then happily up and we all set out for a little jaunt in the kayaks to a new site. We paddled out, passed a little fishing hut and soon were at our new home for the night.

Our new site we found very much to our liking. We found a few new neighbors: Hermit Crabs. I think we may have become the annoying new neighbors though, as Kevin not only liked to pick them up so they would keep popping out of their shells, but also running hermit crab races and setting up scenes with toys found in our Bimbo Bread package (yes Bimbo is the name of a popular bread company in Mexico). The hermit crabs got us back a little bit though. One got stuck under our tent for a moment as we were setting up and gave us a scare as one scrambled out. It was a unique camp set up all around.

One thing that I havenít mentioned from earlier is that while at lunch spot, before we moved, I was able to pull out the fish book and look for the things I had seen snorkeling the day before. I identified the snake like thing as Tiger Eel. I donít think I was believed still, or at least our guide and others were skeptical of my identification. That evening though, just before sunset we spotted another Tiger eel. He was swimming along right at the waters edge and stopping now and then to dip his head into the sand and grab a hermit crab for dinner. We followed along to shore with him for a bit. I tried to get a photo but the flash kept reflecting off the water. *sighs* At least I was proven right, or close enough at least.

We stayed outside late that night. The wind saved us from the bugs and still managed not to be too cold. The stars were beautiful and vast. You couldnít help be enthralled and mystified by the number of twinkling and falling stars. We spent the evening chatting and pointing out constellations. It was a wonderful night.

The next morning I had hoped to get a little more snorkeling in, but this was not to be. Instead a little walk on the beach to see what had been washed up in the night was all the rough surf would allow. I had also hoped to avoid making the final crossing in the kayak but I was to be disappointed there too.

Earlier in the trip we were told we had an optional final kayak challenge of crossing the channel between the island and the mainland. The actual mileage is shorter than some of the trips we had already made, but that doesnít make it easier. One of the major issues was the lack of mental check marks between one shore and the other, all you could really tell was one shore got a little closer and the other a little farther way. Kevin and I had already discussed it and didnít feel a need to make this crossing. We were quite happy with the concept of the motorboat picking us up. I for one was having a little bit of bowel discomfort and was a bit grumpy and just didnít want to do it. Our guide however had made the assumption we were all in for this without asking and had already called in to let headquarters know they didnít need to send the boat. I wonít go into details however I will say that we were talked/peer pressured into making the crossing.

Before we could go however we first need the waters to be safe and with the surf the way that it was that just wasnít going to happen right away. Our guideís exact words on the matter were ďWe will wait until 11:00 and if itís died down we will go. If not, we will wait some moreĒ. Is it just me or does something ring awfully wrong about that one? Eventually the water died down and we set out!

Now my friend Ali has written about exercise and pushing yourself and such. I know she finds it exhilarating even when she started out not wanting to do it. I think Iím just too stubborn for that. Earlier in the trip I experienced the burn, was happy, embraced it and powered on. It was cool. This time it was totally opposite.

Those bugs which were only supposed to be annoying turned out to be a bit more, in fact the bites and begun to become horribly itchy. On top of that my tummy wasnít the happiest and I was a bit pissed about being pushed into making the crossing I didnít want to make. But we set out and it started out fine.

It soon became apparent how hard the lack of visual checkpoints was going to be on my mindset. You could see the land ahead and that behind and that only changed marginally as you went. It was excruciating. Kevin was a lifesaver by bringing a small GPS unit that told us how far we had gone so we could guess at how far there was left to go (based on the 5 mile estimate our guide had given us). I had to battle myself to not keep asking him how far we had gone, both because I didnít want to be annoying and because earlier in the week trying to row and read the GPS constantly had made Kevin a little queasy.

The high points of the crossing included numerous Mackerel jumping just off the tip of our kayaks as they were scared by our approach and the very last Paco cleaning stop (woo hoo... no more paco cleaning). Sometimes it doesnít take much to make me happy, and sometimes, wellÖ

Not even half way across I began to experience the second thing that would make me power through the burn; exhaustion. I had paddled for the last two days, wasnít feeling well this one and so my body was crying out for a break. My mind wasnít helping since there were no visual checkpoints and I was on the verge of a breakdown in some regards.

Anyone else with the stubborn gene in them will understand this next section of the story. I was pissed at being made to row. I wanted to give up and sit there in the ocean until someone came to get me. This was what was going on in the back of my head. Itís what I wanted and yet I not only knew I couldnít have it, but that I would be acting like a spoiled brat in some ways. Part of me really didnít care, I had sunk pretty low with discomfort and anger, fortunately the rest of me was too stubborn to let this take over and was determined to finish the trip. I know they wanted me to make it across; it was cheaper for them if they didnít have to send out a motorboat. However there was some part of me that figured that resisting failure at this was also spiting them for pushing me into it. Iím not exactly sure how I came to this logic, but I did at the time.

When you reach this mental and physical low but are still stuck in the middle of a channel between the island and the mainland I think you will find that there is only one option: paddle hard. Up till this point Kevin and I had kept a rhythm that we would use on occasion. We would paddle 10 strokes at a normal pace, then do 20 hard and fast and settle back to 10 normal using the momentum to coast along. It was fun. Now however I felt like the only thing I could do to keep myself from feeling like I was going insane and drowning, was to power paddle real hard no matter how I felt. I would do this with no warning to Kevin (poor guy), I would do this for long periods of time. I was simply pushing past pure exhaustion and exerting any last strength I had in a desperate effort to make it to shore as soon as possible, because the alternative was failure or slow frustration. Gak!

Finally reaching the shore was one of the most odd and interesting experiences ever. Finally I could stop paddling and coast into the beach. Exhaustion took hold. From a distance I had seen the palm topped huts and beach tents as I approached, but when we actually hit the beach I really only had the energy to lift my head a bit and what I saw was only the beach. Pure white sand speckled with soft colorful stones and shells as the front of my kayak slide softly across the top of them. It was like a move, the shot the director wants when the heroine finally reaches home from the deserted island where she almost died. My trip was nothing like that movie, but I got the ending anyway.

I wanted to just crawl onto the beach, maybe roll myself into the cool water and then just lay/float there!

There isnít tons to tell about the rest of our trip. We unpacked our kayak, had a light lunch, went to our hotel to relax for a while. Later we took our guides out to dinner to thank them, wandered around La Paz a little bit and then went to bed exhausted before our flight out the next morning.

I have to say, though the rediscovery of ďcoldĒ is an amazing thing. Its hard to explain since cold isnít really a item or a taste or anything real. It is however a sense of some type. We were camping for 4 days and 3 nights and while not a horribly long time, we had no access to ice, nothing to keep a cooler of foods cold. You donít really notice the loss. There is always liquid water or juice or whatever that is cooler than your body temp, and you are refreshed and fine. But when you return to civilization and you are handed really cold bug juice, I swear its like you being handed the exquisite wine or some other full bodied and flavorful drink. Its not that the bug juice has gained any other flavor, or been treated in some way that gives it more flavor, its that cold takes on a dimension on its own and you just canít get enough of it.

Oh the rediscovery of cold.. mmmÖ makes laying in a hammock (in CLEAN cloths after a shower) sipping your pina colada just so so much better!

Good trip! Oh so pretty, lots of experiences, ups and downs, a few bug bites to take home as souvenirs (actually over a couple hundred that itched for over a week, but what can you do), good friends and a great time. What more can one ask for?

THE END

This is the last photo album in this series, donít miss it !!

09:19 AM | Comments (0)
November 16, 2004
Adventures In Baja Part II
Photography , Travel , Water

October 14

Up with the sun on a beautiful beach and ready for breakfast and our first day of kayaking. I need to explain a little something though before I go any further with the general story. These islands in Baja are part of a national reserve, and as you saw in the last photos the terrain is very much a dessert and therefore slow to decompose. Plus would you really want to camp somewhere near where someone had taken a dump behind a bush and it had spent a day or two baking in the sun. Ewwww!!

So there are potty rules on this trip. First off, liquid release is done into the water. When I needed to go during the day I would refer to it as ďgoing to the little girls oceanĒ. Guys (or girls who have their own special penis of plastic tube and funnel sold in camping stores just for those times when a girl is camping with only guys and the ocean doesnít seem as inviting after dark) can stand at the edge of the water and release. However for other needs our guides brought along our friend Paco. Paco is a very small portable toilet that we would hide behind a bush and then take with us to each camp site. I bring up these things because well, I think everyone should know about the little girls ocean and Paco, we ended up talking about Paco enough so you should hear about it, and well he comes up again later in the story so Iím giving you a basis for later.

So we are up, we had a yummy breakfast and then we got our butts into the kayaks and we were off. We had about a 6 mile kayak to do to our next camping spot that day, and it was beautiful. There were lots of bays along the coast, and we would mostly cut across the mouth of them, staying close to the cliffs quite often. We saw many kinds of birds, pelicans, blue herons, turkey vultures, and yes blue footed boobies!

The first day of kayaking you could really feel the burn in your arms. I have noticed there are two kinds burn, there are the ones where you are really into it and using that burn to mentally motivate, and there is the evil burn when its really not happy and you canít do anything but hate the world. We will get to the evil burn later, this was good the kind of burn. It hurt and it was fun.

About half way to our destination, out on the open sea we made a pit stop, and yes I mean that just as it sounds. It was Paco cleaning time. Kevin and I, were using the double kayak which had the perfect little paco storage cabin right in the middle of it. It became daily routine to pull over and help (only a little bit) the guides remove Paco for his ocean bath; and then wait as they went away with Paco to clean him up. It was an odd and slightly disgusting ritual and something that we wonít forget.

We landed at our second campsite just a little before lunch. This beach was more beautiful than the last. The sands where whiter and brightened the turquoise waters. There was a rock that jutted out and a little cave to the side of the beach that just accentuated the beauty. Beauty can be deceiving and my mild jellyfish sting while having a soak in the bathwater we call ocean should maybe have been a warning for events to come; but we didnít notice. Oh well.

The afternoon consisted of cribbage and a nice lunch. After a bit more relaxing we prepared to go snorkeling on at the reef on the far side of the bay. Now the first half of snorkeling sucked. I had been having some mask problems the first day. I kept seeping water, and since I was a new snokeler they figured I didnít have it tight enough so I kept being told to tighten my mask, and not to worry if it hurt a little, it would go away and it was better than getting water in. Well there was a ridge across the nose of my mask and I had tightened it so much the day before that it was now digging into my nose and really hurt. Now the problems begin, It took Kevin and I a little longer to get ready and so our guide had already headed out with Steve and Carl, not normally a problem, but as tight as it was my mask was still taking in water and I would have to stop about every 90 seconds to open it. This made catching up to them nearly impossible. It was not a fun snorkel out. When we did get there, they were all ready to head back in and we had barely snorkeled, so our guide switched masks with me (still not really believing me about the mask I donít think) and they all headed back (after heading back in using my mask he finally believed me how bad it was).

I felt a bit gypped on my snorkeling experience so Kevin and I decided to stay out as long as we could. We had fun! There were several schools of ever-elusive tuna, which Kevin never saw. I would see them and tap him and point and they would be gone. But we saw lots of lovely fish, the sun began to set and they were harder to see and photograph and then I saw two, which scared me right out of the water. We were slowly heading back at this point, taking our time and enjoying ourselves. I noticed a pretty starfish and then I noticed something very near it move. It was kind of a little twitch. I tapped Kevin and pointed to show him there was something there. As he was just looking for the something I followed with my eyes from the place where the twitch had been to see the rest of it. It was brown and it widened out into something that looked kind of like a rockÖ a rock with eyes, I noticedÖthat could only mean A ROCKFISH or scorpion fishÖ only the most poisonous fish in the Baja watersÖ before Kevin could even find the thing I was making wild gestures of ďIts really time to leave this spot, swim SWIMĒ.

Away from there and above water I explained what I had saw and Kevin wished he had seen it, though we were both glad to be away. So heading in a little quicker but still trying to enjoy the swim I noticed something else, something long, thin and spotted and it looked an awful lot like a snake to me. That was itÖ I am really not a fan of snakes or anything snake like them. That was it for me, I wanted out of the water.

Back at camp we told everyone what we saw. Our guide had also seen a rockfish while out and believed that one, but everyone thought my snake thing was a sea cucumber. There is a trend of no one believing me. There is also a trend of my being right, but that wonít be discovered till tomorrow. However I do have to say, sunset in a reef is when you will see the meaner fish. Beware!

We make it back to camp just in time for dinner, which is very yummy! (how do I remember? All the food was very yummy). But now is when the beautiful beach began to bear its ugly fangs. When we got back we were warned that a small bug called ďno-see-emsĒ seemed to coming out. Bug spray and such would be good, but they didnít seem to be two bad, it was just a little sting and not often. Little did we know how many of these little pests would come out and we all took cover in our tents immediately after dinner. Getting ready for bed we made the mistake of putting something outside and letting a few more of the bugs in the tent. We played some cribbage inside and then as Kevin and I were getting ready to go to bed the bugs began a full-scale attack on us. They are small and fast and you donít really see them until they are full of your blood and slow and you can smear them on the inside of the tent. It was a losing battle from the start and eventually we gave up and settled down for a bitten restless sleep.

The next part of this story is hard to really convey. To begin with you know its me telling you the story so nothing really bad must have happened since Iím still hear telling the damn thing. I really donít know how to convey the fear we really felt. I guess I need to ask you to pretend someone else is telling this part of the story. *shrug* I know that wonít work but I have to try.

Just a little before midnight (having only gone to sleep maybe 2 hours ago) Kevin and I both sat straight up in bed at the exact same time. A noise had woken us. The loud noise of a motorboat at full power heading pretty much right for us. We both looked out the front window of our tent but there was nothing! It had been just past a new moon earlier and that had set long ago, so there was no natural light on our deserted island as we seven had slept soundly on the beach, alone.

Peering out the front of the tent we were spooked, we saw nothing, but we totally heard something, and it was still coming straight towards us. Frozen in place staring out there we waited. The boat, nearly on top of us, slowed its engine almost to a stop basically right at the beach just to the left of us. A flashlight turns on, scans the beach and then turns off. At this point we terrified. I mean think about it: alone on a beach in mexico a dark motorboat comes into the beach all stealthy like, and then scans the beach with a flashlight. Imaginations run wild!!

The flashlight off, the motor turns on again and moves just a little bit away from us, at which time the flashlight goes on and off again and then, SPLASH, something or someone goes into the water. At this point we decide we need someone else to wake up. Kevinís cousin Steve is in the next tent over, so in our softest yell-like stage whisper or something we call out to Steve, he wakes up in a start and proceeds to fall right back into snores. Calling out again, still terrified to be too loud, we manage to wake up Steve and one of our guides in training. The boat as luckily continued to move away, but there was still that splash, and we arenít sure what to think. Steve and our guide take a look out at the beach and the boat and return to their tents with a ďItís okayĒ and ďIíve seen them beforeĒ respectively, then they are both in their tents and have left us to our imaginations without ever coming over to hear what else happened prior to their wake up.

We arenít quite ready to throw in the towel on our fear yet, but thinks might be looking better since the boat and flashlight have finally decided to leave, the wind has ominously picked up and the waves from the wake have taken a quite beach to a very loud and angry beach. Kevin suggests we wait a little while for the wake to settle down, so maybe we can hear again if there is still a who or what in the water and then maybe finally give up and try to sleep. So we wait and we waitÖand we wait. At this point we figure out that the waves are not the wake from the boat at all, but a ill timed tide and wind change making our lives that much more sleepless. I should point out that during all of this we refuse to go out in night to check the water ourselves, why? Thatís easyÖ TOO MANY BUGS!! Shows how much we value our lives. *grin* In any case exhaustion finally won out and we both gave up on watching for snipers or whatever our imaginations can come put with that might attack us from dark, and we laid down for a restless few hours of sleep.

October 15

The next morning, after our main guide told us to stay in our tent until the sun came up over the cliff and made the evil little ďno-see-emsĒ go away (you could see them crawling all over your tent just waiting for their chance at our blood) our guide also informed up that our midnight visitors were actually fishermen. What were they doing in a motorboat in the dark? Well thatís simple, itís a nature reserve and netting fish is illegal. Our midnight pirates were poaching fish that splash was the net that then dragged along the reef we had just snorkeled. Yes we are still alive, yes they were never after us, yes they were still sneaky and do illegal things, and yes it was still damn SCARY!!

Sun up we ventured out of our tent for breakfast. A few bugs still not ready to give up had breakfast on us, but eventually the sun was up and they were gone, we were fed and we set off on a hike. We walked out behind Paco and up a cliff to a cave where one of our guides who was also a archeologist told us about the history of the people hear and showed us cave paintings and shells used for eating. Pretty views along with the history and a surprise visit from a Hummy and we were happy campers. Back down on the beach, packed up and into our kayaks we were off for the day!

One more post and photo album will be coming soon!!!
Make sure you donít miss all the pictures from this set

11:34 AM | Comments (0)
November 11, 2004
Adventures In Baja Part I
Photography , Travel , Water

October 12:
Actually we left the bay area on the 11th. We had decided to drive down to LA so that we could bring some of Kevin's fathers things back with us from the storage space. We had planned this nice daytime drive down to LA, but in true Rachel & Kevin fashion we had to finish up some last minute errands and didn't even leave until around 5. The drive was mostly uneventful; though some construction traffic caused us to take a detour, which was very rural and slow. However if anyone needs an extra toilet, I know a roadside where you might still find one. We arrived at Kevin's mother's house late, relaxed with her for a while and then went straight to bed.

The actual October 12th included a few more errands, some time in the storage space and then rushing off to the airport. You know how when you are packing for a trip, there is always something that you forgot, well during out drive to the airport we realized what we forgot. Our plane tickets!!

We have gotten so used to e-Tickets that while packing it didn't occur to us that, yes we had received a paper ticket in the mail and it was because Aero California doesn't do e-Tickets at all. We argued at the counter with the people for a while. They could see us in their computer, see how much we had paid and every detail, but they still refused to reprint the tickets we had already purchased. It was infuriating. We eventually filled out
a lost ticket form, bought new tickets and are now still waiting for the first tickets to be reimbursed. *sighs*

So finally the group is together. This is a small trip, Kevin, His cousin Steve, Steve's friend Carl and me, the one and only girl on the trip. It felt good. I have a tendency to have more male friends than female friends, however since moving to the Bay area that hasn't been as true. I miss the guys in my life. I mean I still have the friends I've had for years and who are very important to me, but they are scattered in the USA. It was nice to be around all guys.

Waiting for the plane to arrive, we noticed something odd was happening outside. A good dozen fire trucks, police cars, and emergency vehicles appeared and spread out near the runway. We all sat and watched out the window as a plane (presumably a cargo plane), came in for a landing completely missing its front hatch door. Our guess is that it wasnít closed tight enough on take off and got blown right off. Really makes you want to fly. But off we went on a couple of short jumps, a detour through customs and then off to our beautiful hotel in La Paz Mexico.

I do mean beautiful hotel. I'm trying to remember the name, but I'll look it up and post it later. It was a tropical paradise and apart from one invader roach, we were pretty dang happy. Absent a guide to check in with us that night, we still enjoyed a good meal and then tried to hit the sack early.

October 13:
We were up early and eating breakfast when our guide found us. We repacked and off we went to get our kayaks, some snorkel gear and drive down to the tip of the peninsula to load up the motorboat and get on our way. Off the Baja peninsula there are a couple of islands, and that was our destination. The plan was to go all the way out to the farthest tip, enjoy our day, and then come back in a little bit to set up our first camp. And for the next few days, we would spend our time Kayaking back toward the mainland.

Our first stop was the small white capped rock is the home to many sea lions. We found a spot and dropped anchor. Changed into wetsuits (not to stay warm, the water was like bath water, the wet suits were to protect against jellyfish stings) and went snorkeling and swimming with the sea lions.

You can't go too close to the rock. The bull sea lion actually will swim a line about 9 feet out from the rock which we visitors are not allowed to cross. However if you try and swim like them, the sea lions will come to you to play. My one complaint about this day was the fact that the snorkel mask I was using was defective. Our guide later discovered it was really very bad, but as I told people I was having problems on this day, I just kept being told to do something different and that it was because I was new to snorkeling. It was hard to totally enjoy it when you had to empty your mask every two minutes or so, but it was still an amazing experience.

One sea lion took to me. I've named her Lola, and I love her. She really liked me for some reason and kept swimming around me and tagging my flipper. If she hadn't been so quick I could have reached out and touched her or even hugged her. She was cool. Kevin, having an easier time with his gear and more experience, got some great shots with our new underwater camera. I do have to say that I love the new Reefmaster 310. I already have plans for ways to get better pictures with it on our next trip. But I'm pretty happy with what we captured this time.

Back on the boat we took off to find a place to set up camp and eat some lunch. The first place we stopped had already been taken over by other campers. Really wanting a deserted island campsite to ourselves, we moved on and found a new beautiful beach to call home for the night. Finally on ground (it felt good), we unloaded the motorboat into our kayaks and walked our stuff to the beach. Unloading some of our stuff, our three guides (one guide and two trainee guides) set about making us lunch while we relaxed. I have to say these beaches were beautiful. Warm white sands, turquoise waters beautiful sky, it was picture perfect.

We rested most of the rest of this day. We did do a basic kayaking class. We watched a beautiful sunset complete with many pelican, stalked a blue heron set up our camp, and ate a lovely dinner while watching an invader attempt to get to our food. And then we hit the hay... or um.. sand... early so that we would be fresh for our first day of kayaking the next morning.

More Baja to come...
PS: there are more photos in that album than just the ones I liked too. Check them out.

12:16 PM | Comments (0)
The Great Wide Baja
Photography , Travel , Water

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

12:14 PM | Comments (0)
November 08, 2004
Evil Water Heater
Domestics , Water

I'm sitting in the office, upstairs next to the closet that contains the monstrosity of a water heater that came with this house. Its huge, its evil and its leaving today... I hope.

We bought a new one at home depot yesterday and right now the poor guys sent to take care of this are trying to take it away.

Its a 115 gallon 15 year old water heater sitting on the second floor of our house and its bottom was starting to bulge with a slow leak and rust flaking off.

Why you may ask do we have a f#*@!&@ing 115 gallon water heater. Well I'll tell you! It was some stupid code at the time the house was built, that required a solar powered water heater, and apparently they need to be of this size. Its dumb, its evil and its going going... soon to be gone.

Provided we don't ruin the house in the process.

04:42 PM | Comments (0)
November 04, 2004
Outside Opinion
Politics , Water
British Magazine Cover About The Election
Thank you to Groovy Mother for this one.
12:47 PM | Comments (1)
October 22, 2004
Creatures In The Night
Photography , Water

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

03:25 PM | Comments (0)
October 21, 2004
A Little Carmel
Photography , Water

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

05:10 PM | Comments (2)
October 18, 2004
Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig
Travel , Water

Sorry about the dead blog! We just got back from kayaking, camping, snorkeling, etc in La Paz Mexico.

There is much story to tell, and many pictures to show (once I get to look at them!). There is much to come... SO MUCH!!! WA HA HA...

Sorry, had a little Zim in me

12:16 AM | Comments (0)
October 07, 2004
Yoga Discoveries
Health , Water

So I'm learning not only about my body but also other peoples bodies too. I'm flexy girl... I have always been very flexible, bendy and twisty. I'm doing yoga now, not to increase my flexibility, but to increase my balance and strength. Because of this I hear the instructions given a little differently.

Often they will explain things by saying... "if you can, put your hip on the floor", or "if you can... do this something". I tend to get confused by these instructions because, well yes I most likely can... but I don't always understand where they want me to go. I literally don't always understand which directions other people don't stretch. Am I stretching forward or backward? Often times I really don't know. Should I be feeling something doing this?

yeah yeah, i know... woe is me... the point is: bodies are weird... and its really interesting to figure out how it all works.

05:17 PM | Comments (0)
October 01, 2004
Aqua Day
Photography , Water

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

07:17 PM | Comments (3)
September 14, 2004
Not Really Looking Forward To Tomorrow
Health , Water
Tomorrow is my Endoscopy... I'm a bit scared. *sighs*
12:24 AM | Comments (2)
September 10, 2004
Weekend Getaway
Friends , Travel , Water , food & wine

So I started writing this earlier this week, but Safari crashed and erased it all. So I will now try again!

Labor day weekend was a wonderful wonderful weekend! Kevin and I took off around 8pm and headed down to his Uncle's house in Carmel. We took our time, stopped for some great pizza in Los Gatos and talked and talked all the way. We talked about a house we looked at that we really loved. We talked about halloween costumes, we just talked and enjoyed the drive and each others company.

Not long after settling in to the house in Carmel Ali and Mark arrived. We chatted we set up and we all went to bed ready for the start of a great weekend.

Saturday was great. We started with a walk into town for some brunch do a little shopping, to check out the houses and take some pictures. On the way back we decided we needed to go to the beach. Changed and prepared we walked to the beach for a great afternoon of hanging out, beach stone hunting and exploring. The water was too cold for any real water play or getting very wet. I did succeed in numbing my feet however.

Home again we played some games and power-napped before getting ready for a very special dinner. All dressed up with somewhere to go we all took off for Marinus at Bernardus. Wow was that a wonderful dinner, we took four hours, had 5 courses, a lot of wine, great friends, a great staff.. oh it was wonderful. A little giddy by the end and the last people there at about 1am or so we played around and switched tables on the waiter while he was charging the credit cards. He was such a good sport and really seemed to like us.

That night, after a quick and giddy stop at Safeway for lots of water and a game of Simpsons Clue, we just passed out!!

Sunday was another success. We drove to Monterey to check out the The Monterey Bay Aquarium. I took LOTS of pictures, and they will be coming soon. What an amazing place, it was so very cool.

Down the the wharf for some great bread-bowl new england clam chowder, calamari, fish and marinated artichoke, we eventually headed home to play some more board games and plan our evening.

We figured out the tide schedule and made plans for an 11:30 walk at the beach during low tide for some tide-pooling. It was romantic, and fun. Ali and Mark did some serious exploring finding all sorts of star fish, sea anemones, crabs, barnacles and more of which Kevin and I followed them to photograph. We got to play with my super flash and also some real long exposure photography. It was a wonderful evening.

Ali and Mark headed back soon after coffee the next morning, but Kevin and I stayed and wandered the shops a little bit more. Did a little cheese tasting and then finished cleaning up at the house.

On the road again and having a great time we made a stop at an Artichoke farm/produce stand and loaded up on all sorts of Artichokey goodness.

Home, happy and relaxed from a weekend of good food, good friends, happiness and relaxation. Oh yes, it was a good good weekend.

02:15 PM | Comments (2)
September 06, 2004
Bye Bye Brown Island
Photography , Water

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

11:26 PM | Comments (0)
September 05, 2004
Notable Quotes from an Elegant Evening
Friends , Giggles , Water , food & wine

A lovely long (5 Course) dinner last night at Marinus at Bernardus. Oh and lots of the best wine ever!!

"You can't pronounce blue letters!" -Kevin

"Lets keep some decorum! *burp*" -Ali

"Use the Fork, Fluke" - Kevin

"You guys sure know how to have fun" - Waiter, Robert

"Why yes, it's Pigeon Toes" - Mark

"What's that garnish" - Ali "Chervil!" - Mark ...3 hours pass... "I believe its Chervil" - Waiter, Robert "You pulled that from your ass Mark." - Rachel, me

"Its really good but all I can see is duck feet waddling around in my mouth!" - Rachel, me

"I licked the lobster off the truffle so I could put the Fois Gras on it." -Mark

"They seated us early and we are still still the last ones here" - Kevin

"Four Hours, thats about right" - Ali

"When we got here it was the 4th" - Rachel

"Lets go sit over there before the waiter comes back" - Mark

11:44 AM | Comments (0)
August 22, 2004
No Cameras At The Dinner Table
Family , Photography , Water

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

09:09 AM | Comments (1)
August 11, 2004
A Little Wet
Randomness , Water

This is Oscar. He is my little sister's boyfriends new puppy. I felt the need to share the cute!!

Edit And a little more cute!

03:50 PM | Comments (7)
August 06, 2004
Get In Shape Girl
Health , Water

Motiviated by both a really cool upcoming trip (its been in the works for a while now, things are recently becoming more solid - I'll share details very soon) and an overwhelming need to take control of the portions of my health that I can, I have started to build a routine that will get me in shape.

The piece of the workout is Kevin and I's weekly bike ride. We have been doing it (usually Thursday Mornings) for a little while now, but we have begun increasing the length. Yesterday our bike-ride took us 9.63 miles around the Mountain View/East Palo Alto Baylands reserve. My original guesstimate had been longer for this trail, but thats okay, we have a few additional loops we can add onto our current one to make it longer.

I'm loving it, I usually want to turn back during the first 15 minutes as my muscles remember why I do it, and then it becomes a blast. It took us about 1 hour 20 minutes, though 15 minutes was spent at our halfway stop photographing an egret. Our top speed was 16 mph (short racing bursts), gotta love Kevin's GPS.

Oh, and to add in a little bit of the "we are way too cute of a couple and we should make you all sick" feeling to the post, check out the heart shaped route we took:

To top it all off I joined a Health Club yesterday. I took my first yoga class today and next week I plan to take a kickboxing class and play racquetball with Kevin. With the help of Ali I'll soon be adding a weight work out plan to the mix. I'm excited... I just hope I can keep it up and really get in shape by October. Woo hoo... *does a little dance*

Oh yeah, and there is the great exercise of dancing every week too.

*and geeky kudos to anyone who actually remembers where the post title came from* ;)

03:00 PM | Comments (1)
August 04, 2004
Hospitals Hospitals Hospitals
Family , Friends , Health , Travel , Water

I'm about sick and tired of hospitals!

Kevin and I went to Vegas to visit my Mom and Dad this weekend. It was their first vacation in about 13 years and the first real one where they weren't dragging kids in tow and having to entertain them too. It was nice to be able to visit with them, also have entertainment around us, and also have the ability for them to be alone and for us to do a couple things on our own too. Overall it was just good to see them again since I hadn't seen them since Christmas.

I could have done without the trip to health center clinic though (very much like an emergency room). We got there Sunday afternoon, and by sunday evening I had a cramps in my upper abdomen, just below my ribcage, just left of the center of my torso. I ignored it, it was a dull pain and it would go away. But it didn't go away, and by 2pm the next day it was getting worse. A stronger constant pain which became sharp pains whenever I took a deep breath. I tried laying down for a while, laying on my back made the pain go almost completely away. I rolled onto my front so I could maybe sleep and found myself in horrible horrible pain.

At this point Kevin called his cousin Steve who is a doctor. I really hope he doesn't mind us bugging him. Its nice to know there is someone to talk to and get advice about whether something needs to be checked out right away or if it can wait.

Steve asked me lots of questions and in the end decided he that without examining me he couldn't figure out anything further. He didn't think it was a super emergency, but he didn't think it was nothing and wanted me checked out by someone. So we tried to find the hotel doctor, or which the Paris hotel did not have. However just behind the next-door hotel was a 24 hour health clinic. Kind of that step in between the hotel doctor and going to the ER. I was hoping that it might not take as long as a ER would, but either way it would have to do.

Sadly we were there for about three hours, 4pm till 7pm. They poked and prodded me eventually finding the spot that brought me to involuntary tears when she poked. She was pretty sure it was my stomach but mixed up this cocktail I had to drink, which would numb my stomach and she would be able to be sure that was the area of the problem. That cocktail was weird, my tongue got numb, my tonsils got numb, my throat, down the pipes and to my stomach which go very numb. When she came to poke me again it didn't hurt anymore.

My stomach already has digestion problems that we are trying to figure out, but it now has more. I have a new medicine that is supposed to help make the acids my stomach needs to break things down. That might help. There could be something wrong in the lining of my stomach. We aren't sure, Steve was happy with the immediate progress but I need to follow up with my home doctor now to figure out the rest of the specifics.

For the rest of the day my tummy was still numb. I would take a deep breath and brace for the pain and there would be none. I was a void of pain where I knew it should be and that was weird. The next day there wasn't as much numb as just the fact that I could feel that my stomach wasn't completely happy, but also not in pain. Hopefully things will get better, but it all at least allowed me to relax and have a bit more fun with my family and Kevin.

I'm back now, and I'm only holding off making my doctors appointment to find out when I might be going to florida. You see, like I said at the beginning I'm tired of hospitals and the need for them. When I arrived home last night at about 11pm, there as a voicemail from DanaMarie telling me that Rex, one of my dearest best friends, was in the hospital. He had been in a car accident, broke both his legs and his ankle and apparently there is a longer list of injuries. He has been in surgery once and is going in again soon.

I have his phone number for his hospital room, but its been busy. So I'm writing all this down. I'm anxious to find out what happened. I really want to go be with him. I know I've barely been home for the last two months and that I have lots to do here, but most of it can all wait. My friend is in the hospital, and if he wants me, I feel a strong desire to be there, at least for a day or two.

*sighs* I'm tired of hospitals.

10:43 AM | Comments (1)
July 27, 2004
Kitty Blues
Family , Love , Water

I love my kitty so very much. She is the sweetest thing. Funny, a bit dumb, sweet and playful and cuddly.

I love her but I have to give her up, and this is tearing me up.

She has a couple of behavioral issues. She doesn't like change, to be left alone too much, new people living in a house that she already lives in, or other cats. Her most frequent method of showing displeasure is peeing on beds or places of personal space. Its quite a list I know. What she needs is a stable house, one with possibly an older person who is home a lot, can pay attention to her and isn't making huge changes in their life. Or maybe just a big safe backyard and someone to put food out for her once in a while.

I talked to vets when I lived in Pittsburgh, and they told me there really wasn't much I could do but wait and maybe it would work itself out. It's been about 2 and a half years and talking to the vets today they agree with the first and think that I could try things but that they most likely wouldn't work.

Personally, with everything that has been going on in life lately I can't deal with getting my hopes up and continuing to try again. Ammy who has been gracious enough to take care of her for me for quite some time can't and shouldn't have to deal with it anymore.

I'm going to have to give up my sweet Nym and I hate that. Since she has been living at Ammy's (do to Kevin's allergies) I think that now is the time to give her up. She isn't hear everyday so I'm less attached. I still love her as much, but she isn't a part of my everyday life and while its still not easy, I think this is easier than if I started having her living with me again and then had to give her up.

If anyone knows of someone who is willing to take on a very sweet but rather difficult cat, please let me know. I'm currently making phone calls and will prolly try and deal with this today or tomorrow cause I won't be able to take dragging it out any longer.

12:20 PM | Comments (4)
July 25, 2004
Winters Evening
Friends , Water , music

I recently had a lovely evening with Ali in the small town of Winters, CA (near Davis and Sacramento). Winters is the cutest place, very small town old fashion. Its places like this that remind me of being back east, it relaxes me a bit.

After a very yummy steak, salad and butter (I list the butter and not the bread because well this butter was heaven, I can't really explain the bliss that is this butter. You just have to experience it. And I recommend you do) at the Buckhorn restaurant. It was lovely, even with all the animal heads watching us devour one of their own.

Tummies full and dreams of butter dancing in our heads (I mean it, once Ali turned to me and said "did you say butter?". She was serious! *grin*) we walked across the street to the Winters Opera House. Upstairs in a large old storefront building we found a good-sized room, lined in brick walls, a mural of old ads for local businesses, and a great old stage. Folding chairs had been lined up facing the stage. The front row also included three small circle tables which no one was yet sitting at. Ali and I grabbed the one front and center to prepare for the show.

The evening that in-sued was amazing. The first act, a local group called The Joy Buzzards was a hoot. Three middle aged men with a grand series of instruments: a aluminum standup bass, several good banjo's, a ukulele, a saw, a well used jug and a steel guitar to name a few. The songs were fun, the guys were cool, and I already have permission to visit and photograph the lovely instruments.

Jolie Holland was the headliner act. She was the reason we drove to the little town of Winters in the first place. Ali found Jolie when she was featured on NPR one day. She bought the albums and soon played it for me. I loved it and felt seeing her live was exactly the relaxing experience I needed. I was right.

Jolie Holland has a voice like an angel. She sounds much like Billie Holiday with a smokey, bluesy sweet voice. Also kind of Nora Jones like, but she really does have her own style. I loved her, and I really enjoyed sitting there in the front letting her voice just wash over me.

It was a lovely evening I hope to repeat very very soon. Everyone should check out the music of both of these artists. If you can't find Joy Buzzards music (I haven't really looked yet, I did buy a cd) let me know and I'll put you in touch with the group. Maybe I'll put a sample up on here sometime soon.

Butter on my tongue and a voice like butter in my ears... such bliss!!

01:52 AM | Comments (0)
July 16, 2004
In The Bedroom...
Domestics , Friends , Water

I'm laying in bed, laptop on my stomach, typing and smiling. I finally feel like there is a room in the house that is virtually complete. Our bedroom is quickly becoming a serene relaxing place that I really want to spend time in. In fact I spent a good chunk of today in here!!!

After weeks of sleeping in other beds more often then my own and only being home for a couple days at a time, just long enough to dump stuff, repack and deal with one or two needed things before heading out again, it became clear that the mess that is our house was becoming overwhelming. The truth is that even though we have been here almost a year we haven't ever really moved in. Sure I can make the house presentable for company, but there are a large number of bookshelves that just have books and junk crammed in them every which way. And the bedroom often has a laundry basket full of folded cloths that no one really knows where to put away. In general nothing (except the kitchen) is organized. Its hard to function in a house that does let you function.

ALI IS A GODDESS!!!!

So finally, after returning to not only our normal disorganization but also the huge mess of "we have barely been here" I was nearly ready to cry. Luckily I have great friends. Ali offered up a house cleaning exchange, she is helping me organize my house now, and next week I'm going out to help her do hers.

We attached the bedroom on Tuesday. We sorted cloths, got rid of stuff, organized, and did all sorts of picking up. Krissy came over for a while before we went to The Green to dance. We had a great time! Kevin came home later and we kept him up quite late going over clothing and showing him what we had done.

Over the last two days I have done a bit more in the room, gotten rid of some more stuff, bought a second night stand and a cool bookshelf. Kevin and I have done a little decorating, and have brainstormed what else we want to do. We are actually decorating, most of the rooms in our house don't have things on the walls, or have only make shift things on the walls.

It feels so good to be in this room. Kevin also got a new toy, some kind of airport or the itunes/ipods. He set it up in the living room and the bedroom so I finally have music in the bedroom too.

I'm in heaven, I might never leave this room again!!!!!

Oh, but wait - my Ali is coming back tomorrow and we are tackling the living room!!! I feel the weight lifting off my body. It all feels so freeing. Its amazing what a little organization can do for the psyche.

01:39 AM | Comments (2)
July 12, 2004
On Edge
Family , Life , Water

So I'm getting my thoughts and feeling out, both bad and good. Lets start with the downside and get it over with.

Kevin's sister Susie or his mother call a little two close together or at an odd time and my blood pressure jumps up a few notches. Kevin's does too, I can see it. Sometimes it happens when the phone rings even before I know who it is. Kevin answers, everything turns out to be okay and tears run down my face. I can't help it, its a release of emotions I don't know how to deal with.

I'm on edge all the time. In the back of my mind I see any nice moment, anything that I'm enjoying, and I know it can collapse at any time. I know its supposed to be over with. The funeral is over, life should be going back to normal, and hopefully it will soon. But a year ago it was supposed to be over with as well. I guess I shouldn't expect it to be over, its life it doesn't just stop cause I'm tired.

So I'm ploughing on, but just about anything can make me jump out of my skin at this point.

10:03 PM | Comments (0)
July 09, 2004
Back In My Own Bed
Family , Life , Travel , Water

We have returned!

I am so happy to be home. I slept soundly all night last night for the first time in weeks. Between changing beds every few days and stress and worry it no wonder neither Kevin nor I has slept well. I have gotten into the habit of whenever I toss and turn between 6am and 8am that I just get up. For some of you thats not early, but I'm not a morning person. This morning however I didn't get out of bed till 11!! I'm still tired, but I feel like I have actually gotten some rest. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So what has been going on in the last week? Well here it is:

We had planned 5 day trip with 17 members of the Fox family to Kevin's Uncle Alan's house on Brown Island (Brown Island is a small island in the bay of Friday Harbor, in San Juan island off the coast of Seattle Washington). With everything going on this was a trip and a chance for a break, rest and relaxation that Kevin, Carolyn, Susie and I really needed and yet it was very hard to make the decision to go and when to go.

Go on time, leave early, go late, many plots and plans were made. Grandma Kitty was finally put on a morphine drip and went into a coma. We decided to go ahead and keep in close touch with those at home. We left on the morning of July 2nd, as we sat down for lunch Carolyn received the phone call that Grandma Kitty had passed. We were able to stay on the island since the holiday weekend postponed the funeral until July 8th.

The island was wonderful, many many pictures will be going up. Two albums from the fourth of July parade are already up; the fireworks are following in a day or so.

While on the island we went on walks, stalked deer, dragonflies and butterflies, shopped, cooked, ate, read, laid around, got on the boat, grounded the boat, visited a lavender farm and a sculpture garden, shopped, cooked, ate, read, laid around, saw the fireworks and the parade. Really just relaxed and spent time with the Fox family.

We celebrated Kevin's birthday with homemade eggs benedict in bed, which is his family's tradition, made by his mother, sister and I. We rode a scootercar, and did 4th of July things. Being away we were able to escape some of the outside issues and enjoy his birthday somewhat. I still plan to have some kind party for him sometime in the future, but I'm happy to say that in the midst of a lot of saddness and loss, a few moments of happiness were possible.

We changed our return flight and flew down to LA on Wendesday with everyone else so that we would be there for the visiting hours that evening the funeral a 1pm on Thursday.

The service was beautiful. A professional singer friend of Carolyn's sang during the service, Kevin and I made a photographic slide show set to music performed by his cousin Janice and Carolyn's Sweet Adeline group sang at the grave site as well. It was a celebration of her life with music and photographs and many friends and family around.

Kevin's Aunt Joanne remarked afterward that there weren't a lot of tears. I don't mean there were none, it just wasn't a mass of people crying. I think that most of us had already said goodbye to Grandma Kitty, she had been leaving us for a while and towards the end she wasn't really there anymore. The service was a beautiful tribute to her life, but I know I had already cried most of my tears, there weren't many left in me. I don't mean to make it sound unfeeling or uncaring, I think its just that when a death is long and drawn out the funeral is almost as much a relief that things are over as they are a celebration and closing of a beautiful life.

Anyway, I'm looking forward getting back to normal life, and sleep with many less worries. I know that the memory of Grandma Kitty will live on in the minds and hearts of many.

03:42 PM | Comments (4)
July 05, 2004
Some Rest and Relaxation
Life , Travel , Water

So here is a update on my life:

Grandma Kitty passed away the morning of July 2nd. We are currently in Brown Island (as has been planned for months) and will be returning to LA directly from here on Wednesday. The funeral will take place Thursday morning and we will return to our home Thursday evening. Please send your love and wishes to Kevin and Carolyn and the rest of the family Thursday morning. Just a moment of thought or a special hug for your own Grandmother will do.

In other news, we are having a lovely and relaxing time in Brown Island. Where is Brown Island do you say? Well, Brown Island (also known as Friday Island) is a tiny residential island (only about 40 houses) located in Friday Harbor just off San Juan Island near the coast of Seattle Washington. Does that answer your question?

We are hear on a woodsy island near a nice small town just relaxing and enjoying life for a little while with about 15 other members of the Fox family. I am currently sitting on a very cozy couch in a wonderful sitting room which is open into what is incredibly close to my ideal kitchen. This HUGE beautiful kitchen has been my playground for the past few days while I got to make basically whatever I wanted for an adoring family who just loved that I was cooking. Unfortunately I didn't come prepared for this so it was a lot of off the top of my head while I walked through the market meals. But next time I will be prepared.

In addition to cooking I have taken a couple nature walks on the island, stalked a deer, putted along on a scooter car, attended the towns 4th of July parade (nice and small and reminded me of home), enjoyed a wonderful fireworks display sitting only about 300 feet from the barge that set them off: it was amazing, celebrated Kevin's birthday, did some shopping, jutted around on the boat and did a lot of nothing!!!!! This is a wonderful wonderful place.

I have pictures to last me for weeks and so you will begin seeing new albums coming in quickly I hope. The first may be today or tomorrow!

The only downside to this trip so far is that the spiders are still stalking me. The spiders we are finding at home have been getting bigger and bigger, but that have yet compared to the one I found in our bathtub this morning. Gak!!

Anyway, I hope you have all been having a lovely 4th weekend, more to come soon.

05:07 PM | Comments (6)
June 10, 2004
Grumpy Like The Dickens
Rant , Water

Woke up in a state of hormonal induced grumpiness to begin with.

(It kind of sounds like I'm trying to write a Dickens novel here doesn't it? Marley was dead: to begin with...)

So already grumpy wasn't a good forecast for the day. But I thought, hey its Thursday - that's biking morning with Kevin - after some good exercise I will feel really good and my mood will pick up.

However in my Dickens classic all three ghosts were currently out to lunch.
My bike was stolen!

10:50 AM | Comments (7)
June 08, 2004
Artistic Confidence
Photography , Water

This post is in response to a comment in "It's Alive!!!". I started writing it and it got too long, so it became a post of its own:


Deciding to charge people money for your art is not an easy decision to make. Photography is something that I love to do and its taken Kevin quite some time to convince me to start this business.

One of my issues is that until today I don't know that I believed that my work was good enough or special enough for people to really really want it. Years ago I started out with theatre as a hobby. Knew I wasn't a good enough actor and only a slightly better technician and that it would be a frustrating life for me. I tried to cut it out of my life, but couldn't. So I figured out how to keep it. I knew I was good at organizing people, events and business issues, so I got my Masters In Arts Management. I got that degree at the best school in that subject, Carnigie Mellon University. I wasn't the best person to ever leave that school, but I was damn good. But I graduated into an ecomony that really sucks; and the arts are always the first thing to lose budgets.

There have been no jobs since I graduated about a year ago. However Kevin, the angel that he is, has never given up on me. We had never meant to find ourselves still together, it was meant to be a Pittsburgh fling, but some of the best things are acidental. He has stood beside me and helped me forward. One of the best things he and his family did was give me a digital camera that had once belonged to Kevin's father. I had always loved photography but just never had the budget to presue it. The digital camera opened new doors to me, and when Kevin saw that he started to encourage it. He bought the Nikon D70 and urged me toward a photoblog. He got me the macro lens for my birthday and supported me taking an online class (he even took another class from the same instructor at the same time) and he has gently nudged and nudged toward selling my stuff.

I think that is one of the keys, he nudged he didn't push. I hate being pushed. I have a stubborn (I'm polish and a taurus) streak and if you push me I push back. I think he has figured that out and so he nudged and let me slowly warm up to the idea.

I did finally start working on the business website and trying to get things set up for the business, but there was still this thing in my head. You see I have gone to school with photographers and other artists, I have seen how much they study and how hard they work, and how many years they have been at it. The bulk of my body of work is from less than a year right now. I just didn't feel like I should be saying - hey, look at me... you should pay me and not those people who have so much more time and energy invested in their work. Its not that I won't put that work in, just that I haven't been at it long enough yet.

I started the business because I needed to do something with my degree that I spent two years getting and I love doing the photography, so I might as well do something with my degree and have fun. Part of me expects it to succeed and part of me doesn't.

This morning there is a little change in my thought process though. It's the last week of my class, which I have loved. My professor is Bryan F. Peterson who has been a photography for 25 years and has done work for major clients like HP and has written several books.

Our last assignement was to upload our 3 favorite works. I uploaded Erotic Red, Jarred and Cutout and was awarded Picture of the week for all three photos. In response to one message that Bryan made about Erotic red I decided to also upload Painted. This was the response I received.


"Rachel-
You have a helluva gift for seeing and composing-I hope you do something with it!!! This is an equally awesome shot (to Erotic Red) if not more so since "its not been seen before" at least by me in more then 25 years of looking at pictures-potential contest winner?
Bryan"

This was the confidence boost I think I needed to believe that even though I've been really working at it for less than I year, my work is good enough to be on the same playing ground as other artists.

Anyway, that hugely long story out of the way. Don't push your girlfriend into making her art a business, nudge her. Sometimes all you have to do is really show your interest in her work and let her bask in your appreciation of her work. Encourage the thanks from other people. When you are around people she has created things for, bring up some detail in the work she did for them that you really like and get a conversation going about that. Let her bask in that kind of praise and her confidence will grow. Given a little time she will warm to the idea and you may just be opening the doors to that one praise that really gives her the confidence in her work to believe people should pay for it.

If she decides she wants to talk about it, send her to me, I'll be happy to talk to her. Though I don't know that I'm a good example yet. My business is less than a week old, I have a very small group of people on my mailing list and haven't really sold anything yet. Not that I expect to yet, I have a lot more work to do an I will have some successes soon.

There is a lot of work in starting a business. Its not easy, it starts very slow and you have to put money in to get money out. I PLAN TO MAKE IT WORK!!!!

PS: Please Please Please sign up for my mailing list everyone!!

11:32 AM | Comments (7)
May 25, 2004
A Blessing & A Curse
Love , Media , Water

I'm a good media designer and with that a decent website designer. But you see my current biggest frustration in life is that I live with a UI designer.

Kevin is amazing at what he does. My biased little love struck mind isn't the only one that thinks so, hence he works at Google on Gmail among other accomplishments. He gets asked his advice/opinion by more than just little old me.

On the flip side: WHY DO I LIVE WITH A UI DESIGNER????

Okay, got that out. I feel better. His advice and help is making my new website better and better. And I'm grateful that he gives the advice since its hard to be critical to the face of someone you love. Its just that I really really want to move on to the next stage of my project. PLEASE!!!

*sighs* okay, back to work.

03:02 PM | Comments (9)
May 17, 2004
Disgustingly Cute Couple!
Love , Photography , Water

Kevin and I both received "Picture of the Week" awards for photographing each other last week!


left photos by Rachel, right photos by Kevin
(click on photo to see enlargement)

01:20 PM | Comments (2)
April 27, 2004
A Real Californian?!
Life , Water

My NY drivers license expires on my bday this Saturday. I have known this for a while and that I need to be a legal California resident, I just haven't done it. I think I'm such a gypsy that this is an odd concept to grasp. Since graduating from high school I have lived in 3 other states (PA, MA, NH) besides New York, but it has always been either educational, or a short enough stay (3 months) that I didn't need residency.

Now that I'm in CA with no real plans to leave right away, I suppose its time to get to that CA license thing. So now I'm studying for my written exam. That feels so very weird - I haven't done this since I was 16.

Okay California driving law - Here I Come!!!

01:59 PM | Comments (4)
April 19, 2004
The Art of Speech
Giggles , Politics , Water

This is last week, but I still feel the need to post it. I found this quote on In Passing:

"His phrasing is weird, it's offbeat. He's not pausing at the commas. Hear that? Wait a minute... Dude, he's pausing at the big words." --A girl watching Bush's press conference on the TV in the lobby of my hotel.
10:58 AM | Comments (0)
April 18, 2004
The Faces Behind the Pictures
Blogging , Photography , Water
I got to meet quite a few Bay Area Photo Bloggers yesterday. It was great fun. I can't wait to see what we are able to pull off as a group.

Great photos of Marc here: Martin Taylor Photoblography

Alisa also got some good photos: Alisa Mudge

06:10 PM | Comments (0)
April 08, 2004
Finally Over!!
Health , Water

So I had my 4th breast exam in 2 months today. I'm happy to say it will be the final one for a while. I finally went to a wonderful specialist and we did an ultrasound on a couple of different areas that she had some questions about.

The ultrasound showed that the areas of concern were very simply normal fatty deposits that were inside the breast tissue. These fatty deposits were thicker in these areas than in the rest of the tissue, however since a breast is pretty much made of tissue, fat and glands this is not a bad thing.

This is a huge load off my mind. Some of the tension is still working on leaking away, but most is already gone. Dr. S was a wonderful doctor too, and what makes me feel even better is that she says from now on I don't have to go to 3 exams before seeing her. If I can do my own checks and I notice areas that feel like frozen peas (she says broccoli is okay, but frozen peas get checked) I can just go right in and see her and get the ultrasound right away. This really makes me feel better. I have no intension of ever taking her up on this offer if I don't have to, and I won't run in for any little thing, but if something really worries me I'm really happy to know I can find out what it is right away.

So thats it on this issue. Thank goodness its over!!!

06:27 PM | Comments (4)
March 31, 2004
Update
Health , Water

My doctors appointment went fine. The lump has not changed so I have been referred to see a specialist and most likely get an ultrasound done to try and find out what this is.

Some amount of immediate stress is gone, at least in the anticipation stress I was feeling in going to the doctor today. However I'm still stuck in that trap of everything being unknown and some part of me not really wanting to know (that whole no news can't be bad news syndrome).

Anyway, thats the update and the saga goes on. Its a happy Nym (my kitty) day though, she is keeping me company while Kevin works his little tush off!!

02:08 PM
Mind Ramblings
Dancing , Health , Life , Love , Water

Tonight I took my first intermediate class at St. Stephen's Green Ceili dancing. It was fun, confusing but fun and I'm feeling good about my dancing progress. It was a good dancing evening though I didn't take too many pictures. Kevin was able to come for a little bit. I really do miss dancing with him; he has been too busy the last few weeks to go dancing much. Overall a good night!

Home now winding down from the evening. Weighing heavily on my mind right now is tomorrows doctors appointment. This will be my third breast exam in less than two months (if you don't know the story you can read it here).

I'm not sure what I think or feel about any of this anymore. Its not the worst it could be, it might be nothing, or something mild which could still call for removal. Who knows at this point, all that I do know is that I'm a ball of nerves. Not knowing is killing me as much as the possibility of knowing. Weird I know - but true. Anyway, tomorrow I see the doc again and we will see what happens.

I have to note how thankful I am for Kevin. When I spaz-out about one thing when this is really what bothers me, he figure it out and forgives me and holds me. He's also going with me tomorrow, he will mostly just be waiting for me, but just knowing a friendly face will be there after is one less worry.

In any case thank you to everyone who helped me learn new dances tonight; And wish me luck tomorrow.

12:18 AM
March 28, 2004
Sappy Sappy Love Post
Love , Water

I spent the evening last night in the best way possible: having a pajama party with my best friend!!

Kevin came home from work around 11 and I was already tired, but rather than being pathetic and going to bed we pulled out the futon, got into our pjs, put in Joe Versus the Volcano and muched at some Ben and Jerry's special core filled ice cream.

It was wonderful. By the end I was half asleep, but besides just cuddling and laughing and such we would wiggle dance when Tom Hanks was dancing on the screen, and pretended we had our own typhoon on the little raft of the futon. I love the playfulness - I love pajama parties with my best friend!

09:42 AM
March 25, 2004
A Woman's Right
Health , Life , Politics , Water

This seems to be the topic of day in blogs I read. And its important so I feel the need to comment.

I am Pro-Choice because no one should be able to tell me what I can and can't do with my body. But besides that different situations call for different actions.

For example my friend DM recently made a post in her live journal about 3 women she knows (I know two of them); this is the short version of her post, but her long version is so so worth reading.

Woman 1: Recently had a baby at age 20. Is a very strict believer of all catholic practices and so never gave a thought to abortion. She dropped out of college, her parents took out a second mortgage. Her husband to be owns his own mortgage company and barely makes any money, so she and the baby are on welfare. She had planned to go back to school in a year, but it doesnít' look like it will be possible till the baby is in school, if then. They are planning to be married in May, but he makes excuses to say at work and she plays the house wife but sneaks in a drink here and there. And this poor baby though she has parents who love her also has parents who resent the life they are now forced to live.

Woman 2: Had a child who is the joy of her life. Her second child is being induced tomorrow and everyone is excited and happy. Her first child is healthy and happy. They may not be a perfect family, but itís a good life.

Woman 3: Recently had an abortion. It was a hard decision and against her catholic upbringing; however she and her boyfriend discussed it rationally and decided it was the best thing. They didnít believe it was something they were mentally or emotionally prepared to deal with. However she can never tell her mother because she would never have approved. She knows it was the right decision for her to make, but it was a very very hard one. She went through the procedure quite well and is going to be quite healthy.

Three women, three circumstances. Whether they made the right decisions can't really be judged. I don't think woman 1 did, but that is my point of view and may not be right. The point is that these three women are examples of the right to choose that they have as US citizens.

Blacksheep also posted today about abortion; this time about laws. The senate has now ruled to recognize "a fetus as a separate victim in cases involving pregnant women". This may not be a ruling to outlaw abortion but this will be used in cases to support the outlawing of abortion.

Abortion isn't right for everyone, but we live in a country that was created so its people could choose what they want to believe and practice. This should count for our bodies as well as our minds.

05:29 PM
March 24, 2004
Dressed for Rain!
Randomness , Water
This is so very cool!!!!

Umbrella Dress
[Thanks to Feed Me Links.com]

10:55 PM
March 21, 2004
Photo Happy!
Art , Photography , Water

While Kevin was in the eye doctor I did some photo wandering around the Berkeley campus. I found some beautiful flowers to photograph on a bridge near faculty glade. As I was photographing two men came onto the bridge and began setting up equipment. I was about to move on when I realized these men were setting up photography equipment. So I stopped to talk to them.

I ended up spending about 45 minutes chatting with freelance photographersEdward Caldwell and Jed Manwaring; asking questions about their equipment and backgrounds. Jed told me about Better Photo.com which is a website that gives all sorts of tips to beginners as well as offering classes online. Kevin and I are both considering taking a class.

Both guys were really nice and really helpful and wonderful. Their photography is wonderful and if nothing else comes of it, I really loved just talking to them. However I made one request of them: Both men were happy to offer me their email and agreed that if I sent then a couple of photos they would be happy to give me some feedback. I'm so excited! I promised I wouldn't pester them; I would just send them my photos.

So now I'm trying to decide what photos I want to send to them. I'm working on sorting through all my photos and narrowing it down, but if you have an opinion please let me know!!

So the question is, of all the photos I have up on In Pictures, which ones should be critiqued?

07:43 PM