dichroic: (oar asterisk)

I finally got our Galapagos trip blogged, and it took only 5 posts to do it. You can click each link below directly or just start with the first (or last) and page through.

Quito

About the ship, trip and people

Photo-intensive posts:
Tortoises, sea lions and scenery
Birds (and also more birds) (and there were even some more kids we didn’t get photos of – ask me if you want to know which of these are which)
Iguanas, lizards, and a few other things

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

We got back from the Galapagos just a week ago and I’m at the tail end of catching up: I’ve unpacked and done all my laundry; restocked the fridge and cupboards; caught up on email and news: set up a Google Drive and given access to all the other people on our trip so we can share photos; uploaded some of our own photos for them (everyone was eager to see Ted’s photos, because he brought a long telephoto lens).

I’ve also just about caught up on sleep; I never did get to sleep a night through during the trip. We were on the lower deck, toward the bow of a 12-passenger ship with no high-tech stabilizers. I can sleep through a ship’s rocking, but not through the bow whapping down after each wave, or through the anchor chain being lowered from right overhead. Then in Quito, our hotel room was noisy, then we had a red-eye flight that was a couple hours late so we left at 1:40 AM, one day off, and then back to work.

This weekend, I finished both the shawl I was knitting during the trip and the socks I’d left at home (after I frogged and reknitted the leg of the first sock four times before we left).

So now I just need to blog the trip – having selected our best photos already, for sharing, should help with that.

And then it’s time to be thinking about where we’d want to go for our next big trip.

Here, have a couple photos.
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Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

My trip to last last week was wonderful, actually. I got to meet up with J and his wife, also J for lunch – I worked with him in about 1997-98. I got to meet up with my friend K, the Rower Formerly Known as She-Hulk in this blog for dinner (time to retire that nom – she’s not even all that big, it’s just that at one point we were in a crew together and the rest of us were around my size, which is considered absurdly tiny for a rower). I got to meet up with some of my old Six Sigma group, which was one of the two best teams I’ve worked on in my whole career, and had a wonderful night out. Also, I got to spend the workday with a youngish programmer who has a good reputation but whom I hadn’t met before, and I both enjoyed hanging with him and approved of him professionally.

Also, the places. I was in a hotel about 4 miles from work (which is no distance at all, as roads go in the Phoenix area) and our old house is on a direct line between the two, so this was very much my manor, my old stomping groups. I was surprised at how much hadn’t changed in ten years – for instance I got to the bead warehouse store, which was having a 50% off sale on most stuff, and Changing Hands bookstore, both of which moved into their current locations while I lived there and haven’t changed since. K and I ate at Abuelos, a Mexican chain Ted and I used to like. With the Six Sigma group, we ate at Caffe Boa, on Mill Ave (which *did* move, though just down the street, but apparently that was before I left), I always liked that place, but now it’s really amazing – my caprese salad had homemade bufala mozzeralla and burrata on it. I also snuck in a visit to the mall that was built while we lived there – the Nordstrom’s there is exactly the same, and hadn’t even moved their departments around. It was always a good one, so I got fitted for a bra while I was there since it had been a while. One new thing – a Dutch store I liked, Oil & Vinegar, has now expanded to the US and had a branch in that mall, so I was able to stock up on the dippling spice we like (you add it to olive oil). Somehow I’ve never been able to make my own blend that works as well, and Ted hasn’t had a trip back to the Netherlands in a while.

And to crown the trip, on our last workday, I was able to talk my coworker into going out to Chandler Airport to have lunch at the Hangar Cafe, which lets you sit near the flightline and watch the planes take off. I never worked near enough to go there for lunch, but we used to love having weekend breakfasts there.

What surprised me was realizing how fond of the place I am, when it’s not doing its celebrated imitation of Hell in summer. It’s easy to get around, there’s great shopping, great scenery and hiking, and I miss the community we had there. By the time we’d left, I was just sick to death of the heat, we’d lived there for ten years and I was more than ready to move, so I needed this trip to remind me that I actually like Phoenix. In season, at least.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

I thought I was doing well because everything fit in my backpack but Rebeccmeister’s packing list for her trip to Seattle now has me thinking that, as usual, I’ve probably overpacked for my four days in Philadelphia. At present, I have

knit dress
3 t-shirts (blue sleeveless, black ballet-neck, I forget what else)
knit skirt
jean shorts
sari silk skirt
shorts and top to work out in
bathing suit
one pair shoes (I will wear sneakers on the plane)
cardigan
plus my knitting, Kindle, iPad, phone, chargers, etc

I wasn’t going to bring the sari skirt, but it arrived a couple days ago and is just too cool *not* to bring. As it can be a skirt, top, or even shawl, maybe I can ditch one t-shirt and either the skirt or shorts. I wish I could have the cardigan I’m knitting done and ready to wear, because it would be just right for this trip, but it still needs sleeves and edging. I could take it as my knitting project, but I have a pair of socks started that are much smaller to pack.

I’m really, really not good at minimal packing – part of that is just that I like clothes, like having options, and don’t like wearing the same thing for multiple days. I don’t feel freer when I have less stuff – I just feel constrained by my stuff’s limitations. I still need to put my purse and electronics into my pack, but I don’t think it will be overstuffed. Also, Ted’s decided to check a suitcase, because he wants to bring the good (SLR) camera instead of just using iPhones. So I can put my toiletries in there and not have to worry about digging them out for airport security, and there’s room for my shoes and probably a bunch of my other stuff too, if I don’t feel like carrying it.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

I’ve been quiet because we were on vacation; I really need to write up a blog entry on our trip to Hawaii, but the short version is that it was wonderful. I’m not really a tropics person normally, but I loved Hawaii. I find laying out on a beach inordinately boring, but there was lots to do: playing in the waves, drinking Mai Tais, trying out a stand-up paddleboard, kayaking in the surf, visiting Pearl Harbor and Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling. One of the pleasant surprises was to find that Hawaiian culture isn’t only alive, it’s everywhere. I hadn’t realized how many of the people in Hawaii are at least partly Hawaiian (I suspect the Hawaiians’ willingness to integrate immigrants into their culture and their families helped ensure that their genes survived even though they had the same massive and tragic death rate that you’d expect once the Westerners brought their smallpox and other germs in). The majority of people we saw or talked to had Hawaiian features; many had Hawaiian names and used Hawaiian words. (Of course, some of that is that everyone in the tourist industry says Aloha and Mahalo.) We were told that lots of people speak the language fluently, though I’m not sure if many speak it as a native language rather than a second one. On the other hand, there’s enough Asian influence that Oahu had a bunch of little reminders of Taiwan for us, including the smell of tuberoses.

It was good to be traveling again! It’s felt like we got back to Oregon, after our years of traveling all over the world, and have just been sitting here not going anywhere. This was our first trip that wasn’t to visit family, aside from a couple of work trips. I do have a bit more travel to look foward to, at least: a surprise work trip to Toledo in a couple of weeks and then one to New Orleans in November to get together with Ted’s college friends. The former should be OK (except that flight times from OR to OH are always awkward – I can either wake up at 4AM or arrive after 11PM, so I chose the late arrival); the latter trip will be fun.

Also, on the Hawaii trip I got through the whole lace part of the shawl I’m making my SIL for Christmas. I also got a sock started, for times I needed something that required less attention, but I’ve only done a few inches of that. It makes me a bit twitchy to have two many knitting projects going, but I think the shawl will take only a few more days. The sweater I was working on was too big to travel with, since I was packing light, but has a body and half of once sleeve done, so I’m hoping to get that done while we’re in fall weather rather than winter. I’ve got a quick vest-ish thing I also want to do in fall, but it’s bulky yarn and should be quick; if I’m done in time I’m considering a pair of slippers for my nephew. Or maybe a bigger pair for Ted.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

We spent last week in Philadelphia, celebrating my parents’ 50th anniversary, spending Rosh Hashanah with the family, and getting reacquainted with the nephew while he’s still a toddler (it was actually the first time Ted had seen him since he was 2 months old, though i’ve been there a couple of times since).

The 50th anniversary party was good; we had it in a restaurant with about 40 perople showing up. Some of them were people I’ve known all my life, so it was good to catch up. Interesting to see how people have changed. There’s a couple of former neighbors I babysat for, who were like older sibs to me when I was a teenager and whose presence in my life meant a lot then – they were probably my biggest non-parental adult influences, along with my late uncle. They’re grandparents now, the kids I watched having grown up and had kids of their own, and he’s fatter and balder but she looks exactly like she did at 30, with just a few lines and wrinkles added. The kid down the block three years older than me, who was wild and slightly dangerous (in his mind, and to some degree in mine) is settled, married over twenty years and the father of a teenager. Unfortunately, due to death, distance or (in a few cases) estrangement, only one person was there who was actually at my parents’ wedding, but she’s in her eighties and going strong.

It was fun playing with Hunter too, though the visit confirmed that eight hours playing with a toddler is more than I really need to have at one time. (Fortunately he takes 2-hour naps.) I have no idea how he’s doing developmentally, because there’s so much variation among kids – I know from my old baby book that I was talking clearly in sentences at his age, and a friend of mine has a son a who months younger who’s drinking from a real cup, whereas Hunter uses a sippy cup and tends to drop or throw it now and then. (Then again, I often use a sippy cup too (=sports bottle) though I don’t throw mine.) But as far as I can tell he’s somewhere in an average 2-year-old range, having just turned 2, which is pretty good for a kid who was born 2 months early.

I’m glad we went, because obviously those were important things to do, but it sure was a relief to come home to good roads, green everywhere, and our own comparatively uncluttered house. I feel a bit like Kipling’s soldier returning from Mandalay: “I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!” Only subsitute “home” for “maiden”. A lot of Phladelphia feels like it’s either stuck in a time warp or even decaying; the roads are crap and the sidewalks are upheaved and uneven (I mean, among the Northeast rowhouses, not in picturesque historic areas where you’d expect uneven paving.) I first got that sense of time warp on the way home from the airport; I-95 was as bad as ever (in terms of both traffic and paving) and we were listening to WMMR, the same radio station I listened to in high school. They were doing an alphabetic theme, and the letter of the day was ‘E’ – so they started playing “Escalator of Life” by Robert Hazard and the Heroes, a Philly band from the 1980s. And then Pierre Robert came on; he started DJing at that station the year I started high school, and apparently he’s still there. My parents are still there too, in the same small rowhouse I grew up in, though I think it’s more cluttered now. (They may move soon, though, for health reasons.)

The one thing that had changed a lot, ironically, was the historic Old City. We visited the relatively new Constitution Center and the National Museum of American Jewish History that opened last year, and Franklin Court which had been refurbished and reopened just a few weeks before. We also took a look at the Liberty Bell; which is much better displayed than it was in the 1970s and 1980s; it used to be behind glass and was impossible to photograph, between the glass and the crowds. Now you can walk all around it, so the crowds are spread more thinly, there’s no glass between you adn it, and there are interpretive exhibits about the growth of liberty in the US.

The most noticeable overall change in the historic exhibits was that they no longer give the impression that the past was exclusively populated by white men and Betsy Ross. Now it’s populated by white men, Betsy Ross, black men, and women fighting for suffrage. There were a few other women mentioned in Colonial times, but only in the context of their relationship to Ben Franklin – not much about women running farms and businesses while the men were fighting, or women fighting either informally or disguised as men, or women like Mercy Otis Warren who were active in the politics of the day. (One exception: the Jewish Museum did discuss the lives of both women and men. You can’t really talk about the history of Jews in Philadelphia without mentioning Rebecca Gratz, anyway.) Still, getting away from the whites-only focus is definitely an improvement. Sometimes it seemed labored and artificial, as if they’re thinking more about connecting with current visitors than anything else, but other exhibits did a better job pointing out that Philadelphia has always been a diverse city. There were 10,000 Blacks in Philadelphia in 1790, over 60% free and some of them landowners. (Source of those numbers is Wikipedia, but I remember the exhibit at the Liberty Bell saying that 1 in 10 Philadelphia residents in Colonial times was a free Black.) There were also still large numbers of American Indians in Pennsylvania then, some assimilated into Whateveryoucallit culture and some not. (Can’t necessarily call it “mainstream” culture, since there might still have been more natives than imports on the continent in those days. Can’t call it “white” culture when I’ve just said it included lots of blacks too. Can’t call it “Anglo” culture, given the large groups of Germans, Huguenots, and other European groups there at the time. “Culture of the people who wrote most of the history books” is accurate, but unwieldy.)

Some things in Philadelphia do change. But don’t worry, there’s stilll plenty to recognize. The roads are bad, Pierre Robert is still good, local government is still more prone to “piddle, twiddle and resolve” than to solve problems, and my mom still thinks Northeast Philly is the center of the world.

If you’re off to Philadelphia this morning,
And wish to prove the truth of what I say,
I pledge my word you’ll find the pleasant land behind
Unaltered since Red Jacket rode that way.
Still the pine-woods scent the noon; still the catbird sings his
tune;
Still autumn sets the maple-forest blazing;
Still the grape-vine through the dusk flings her soul-compelling
musk;
Still the fire-flies in the corn make night amazing!
They are there, there, there with Earth immortal
( Citizens, I give you friendly warning ). .
The thins that truly last when men and times have passed,
They are all in Pennsylvania this morning!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

So now that I have income again, I’m seriously thinking about attending Sirens, in October. I’d probably not be able to go until Friday afternoon (sigh, missing those 41 days of vacation I got in the Netherlands) so I can’t take the airport shuttle and would need to steel myself to drive it, and since it’s out in the boonies I’d want to stay there at the hotel, not go for day trips. I do know at least one person going, and a couple of the presenters have been on my blog roll for a long time but I haven’t had significant interaction with them. Knowing more people would definitely make it more interesting.

Anyone?

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

I. One result of all our travels is that I always get a kick thinking about the provenance of my outfits. Today it’s a turtleneck and cardi bought in the Netherlands over a pair of jodhpur-ish capris bought in Arizona tucked into boots I got in Oregon. Socks were knitted by me while cruising around the Baltic Sea; earrings made by me in the Netherlands from ‘planet’ beads shipped from Minnesota, and necklace is a jade Maori symbol bought in New Zealand. (I also figure I get bonus points on any day when I’m wearing more than one item made by me.)

II. Less than twenty workdays left here! The movers come in 27 days from now (I have a countdown app) and we leave a couple of days after that. Since the people here are getting caught up in all sorts of administration, we are assuming that we’re taking time off and traveling around the US, unless someone makes us a better offer at the last minute. I’ve been asking elsewhere, and it also applies to readers here: got any advice on must-sees, as we road-trip around the US? Since we’ll have a big pick-up and long fifth-wheel RV, we are leaning more toward rural and remote sites than big cities.

Also, let me know if you would be interested in meeting up as we travel around. No guarantees, as described above, but it is much more fun traveling when you can meet up with locals here and there for dinner or a drink or outing. (We also appreicate any local advice on where to part the trailer or on where a convenient laundromat can be found.)

III. I may have discussed this before, but I’ve been getting annoyed lately at one-bagger and light-packing advocates, because so many of them are so damned prescriptive and sanctimonious. I think I can fairly say that I have a lot of travel experience, and you know what? Sometimes it really is easier to check a bag. Often, those people and their two-shirt packing lists are simply not doing the kind of travel I am. Even if I were willing to wear the same shirt for a week, which I’m generally not, more often than not I need business clothing, personal clothing, workout gear, plus a computer and whatever electronics I want for communication and entertainment and chargers for all of those. Even if I’m only going for a week I’m going to want more than one outfit in each category, and if I’m meeting with muckey-mucks, then the work clothing required needs to be both dressy and pristine enough that I’m not going to want to wear it outside of work. I have plenty of clothes that can do double duty, but for example if I wear a knit skirt as a cover-up after getting all sweaty – which is what my amazingly versatile black wool skirt is actually designed to do – or spill food on it at dinner, I can’t wear it to work the next day! Maybe two days later, after I’ve washed it and it has time to dry. I can do business travel for a week with no gym access on a carry-on-sized suitcase plus a laptop backpack, for a longer time or if I’m going to need sneakers or rowing gear, I could probably manage with the same, but I’d be more comfortable with a suitcase one size up, which has to be checked.

Also, I think those people complaining about how much everyone else has packed aren’t always considering the possibilities. On my next flight, for instance, I will probably have my large suitcase plus a smaller one plus a carry-on. In that case, it is not classified as “over-packing” but “moving”. We have what we can take with us plus 60 kg of air freight; everything else is shipped by sea and will probably take 5-6 weeks to get there. We have left some clothes in our US house on previous trips, but it’s mostly either exercise gear or old sweatshirts and worn jeans, ot anything nicer. (Except the two sheath dresses I took last time, in case I needed work-wear in a hurry and hadn’t packed it.)

Finally, except for the one-backpack ultralight packers, I suspect many of the loudest carry-on adocates are the ones dragging big bags on the plane, overfilling the overhead bins, and slowing everyone else down.

Aside from the bin-hogs, there’s nothing at all wrong with light packing, and maybe it is better in many circumstances. I just get annoyed when people insist that their way is the One And Only Right Way, in almost any context, and this is a bunch I seem to be coming up against regularly these days. A number of them also like to insist that all checked bags will be lost or their contents stolen. Of course that happens, but less than you’d think. I’ve had bags not show up after the flight three times in my life; once they were delivered the next morning to the house where I was staying (an hour and a half from the airport); once they were checked through even though the airline had canceled our connecting flight (and not informed), and they got to us two days later; and once my flight was late and I chose to take a flight on another airline, that I had to run to. They got my bags there two days later. In the case I was told my bags wouldn’t make it and I chose to take that risk. Of those, the first one was really no inconvenience, the second was entirely the airlines’ fault and should never have happened, and the third was partly my fault. Three incidences aren’t bad for twenty years of extensive travel. I’ve never had anything stolen from a suitcase; Ted did have a hat and gloves I’d made taken (he thinks it was an accident during a security check rather than deliberate theft, since only one glove was taken). Of course, when I check bags I do have to wait for them, but I’m generally just tired, not rushing off to a meeting at that point.

I might think differently in a few years, if I do much domestic travel; these days my trips are mostly international, and checking a bag is still free (two, if you travel enough to be at elite status in the frequent flyer programs). I can see how my choices might change if there’s a more-than-nominal charge to check a bag. Even then, I don’t think there will ever be One Choice to Rule Them All.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Sorry for the long silence here; I’ve just gotten back from Oregon. The weather was amazingly perfect: it rained a little on Friday afternoon, my last full day there (well after we rowed), but otherwise it was gloriously sunny and cloudless, warm in the day and cool at night as if someone was trying to define the perfect October by example.

As our outlook is still unsettled, we decided not to buy a truck this trip after all, though we did figure out exactly what we want. We’ll probably have to spend a little more if we buy it after we go home in January (because they won’t be getting rid of 2012 models by then) but at least we’ll know if we need it. So with that decision taken, the trip was really pretty useless, except for the purely recreational aspects of it. But it was blissful in the beginning and end, marred only by our having colds in the middle (well, Ted’s was more at the beginning, but he got over it quicker). Also, mostly through luck the timing allowed us to attend the wedding of a young (relatively) cousin of Ted’s; it was a beautiful and very personalized wedding, held at her new husband’s family’s house on the river there, and it was good to spend some time with that side of his family. I’d only met the actual bride once, which was also the only time Ted’s seen her in the last twenty years, but she seemed genuinely happy to have us there. We’ve seen her parents quite a few more times, so we’ve all sort of jkept up on each other. (Come to think of it, I’ve just figured out who she looks like: Queen Susan of Narnia, movie version, grown into adulthood at the end of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Beautiful and gracious.)

We got to do lots of cooking and have plenty of quiet time at our place, sitting on the balcony and watching the sun set and turn the lake into an opal. I also did a fair bit of reading; as usual we had some unavailable-in-the Netherlands stuff sent to Ted’s parents. That included a one-volume edition of all ten of Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber; I got through about 7.5 of them. (We only got to his parents’ house several days into the trip.) I’d read the first five (Corwin) books before, but not the second five, the Merlin books. Those books definitely have dated, especially the Corwin books; there’s an odd combination of a he-manly hard-boiled feel with the dreamy trippy wanderings through Shadow. (Was it really that common to invite a total stranger to your home and sleep with him? Even in the late 80s, in college and before AIDS heated up I would have thought that was dangerous.) They’re still worth reading, despite all that, and despite the way bother heroes (but especially Corwin) keep being surprised when women turn out to have brains and skills and guts.Zelazny is doing some unique stuff there, while at the same time building in a lot of history (The Medicis come to mind.) and a few fun literary references.

In addition, I got about halfway through a Christmas stocking I’m making for my nephew (for which I’d had yarn and pattern delivered there). I’ve made a few changes – really, who knew Christmas stockings carried so much religious and political freight? I’ve made a bunch of white boys into multiracial boys and girls and replaced camels and drums with more secular holiday symbols. Before getting that yarn, I finished one sock and on the way home started a second one, because the stocking needs too many colors to be easily portable.

Getting home was an adventure. I found a shuttle service that goes from Eugene to the Portland airport, so Ted only had to drop me off in town instead of driving all the way to Portland. So that was easy. Then there was the 9+ hour flight, which was OK as those things go. But then I landed on a Sunday, the day that NS most often uses to work on their train lines. Instead of the usual direct train from Schiphol to Eindhoven, it took me two trains, a bus and another train to get home. The Eindhoven marathon is today, so I had to make my way through the blocked off course to get to my apartment from the train station. It hadn’t realy started yet, so that was easier than I was afraid it woud be. (I did break the barrier tape by accident though. Oops.)

Now all I have to do is stay awake until bedtime.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Well, I think I mostly managed to avoid jet lag in coming back home – I’ve slept pretty well all the way through the first two nights. Last night we went to bed a little early (by 9, normal is 10:30) and I woke up half an hour before the alarm clock, so that’s probably good. It is so nice to be in my own bed, which is at least a little bit softer than the very hard beds in Japanese hotels. It also has a nice warm man in it.

I really appreciated my colleague’s efforts to take me to a wide variety of Japanese food, and I really enjoyed some of it (like the yakitori), but it was also nice to be home and go to a restaurant and just order what I liked without feeling responsible to keep tasting new things.

I’m also glad to be back to my home TV – the coverage of the Olympics is so much better here! That’s mostly because we get BBC1, though even the Dutch coverage is much better than the Japanese. But the British announcers seem to getting so much fun out of the whole thing that they’re really enjoyable to watch. A much wider variety of sports are being covered, and a much wider variety of athletes within each sport – they’re unashamedly rooting for the Brits, of course, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in anyone else. Also, sicne so many sports happen in short bursts, i.e. there’s a 100-meter dash and then a while until the next one, that it’s nice to be able to understand the announcers so that you know when to look up. In Japan I kept missing stuff because of course I’d look away (at a book or my knitting) when there was an interview or chat or explanation I couldn’t understand and then I’d miss half of a gymnastic routine.

Unfortunately I brought angry skin back with me; my skin started breaking out a lot back ont he cruise ship (all the rich food and humidity, I guess) and then got worse in Japan’s muggy climate. Not only are these zits unsightly, but they hurt. Ow. I hope they go away soon.

I have finished my Olympic knitting; my Nerys came out smaller than I’d hoped, despite my adding 4 extra repeats of the pattern, but hopefully when I block it, it will become more of a shawl and less of a scarf.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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