Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Friday, January 9, 2009


I guess I won another one.

Thanks, Monster Librarian, for awarding me the Prémio Dardos Award. Here's what it means:

'Com Prémio Dardos se reconhecem os valores que cada blogueiro emprega ao transmitir valores culturais, éticos, literários, pessoais, etc. que, em suma, demonstram sua criatividade através do pensamento vivo que está e permanece intacto entre suas letras, entre suas palavras. Esses selos foram criados com a intenção de promover a confraternização entre os blogueiros, uma forma de demonstrar carinho e reconhecimento por um trabalho que agregue valor à Web.'

"The Prémio Dardos is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

The rules are easy:
1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.
2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award."

So because it's an award with homework, I now have to give it to someone else... Let's see. I'm pretty sure I don't know fifteen bloggers, so I'll do my best. Here they are, in no particular order:
*Mummy Dearest

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Now that this election hubbub is finally over...

let's all take a deep breath...

and celebrate our new chance!

Yes We Can!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

525,600 what?

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived back in Pennsylvania to attend the wedding of a couple of friends. A year ago, almost to the day, I was called here for the same reason. A year ago, I left my job and home in Massachusetts to embark on this trip that hasn’t stopped after celebrating the beginning of my friends’ new lives together. That wedding was the omen I was waiting for to help me determine when I should start my adventure, and this one seemed like an omen, too. It marked the end of my internship on Lopez Island and brought me back to my family and home state to sort through the wonders and experiences I gathered like souvenirs.

I thought I owed myself a minute to stop and absorb what I’d seen and done. I wanted to take a slow moment to think about which goals I had met and what aspirations I may have yet to achieve. I’d lived in a foreign country. I tried my hand at farming, new languages, and lived out of a sleeping bag for the better part of twelve months. I drove 7000 miles with a friend to some of the last wild places on this continent. I learned to build houses with straw and mud. I lived in a tent for seven weeks and slept in a new place nearly every night. I figured it was a good idea to give a serious thought to my future.

So I sat and stared my future down, demanding a revelation—some great end-all-be-all moment of clarity. And my future stared right back, just as closed-lipped as ever. Not a clue, not an inkling did the murky days ahead surrender to me. “C’mon,” I wheedled, “just a teensy hint?” And the future said nothing.

Before leaving all stability behind, I figured I’d give myself a year if I could last that long. I left my plans open to finding a new niche to settle into, a new person, place, or skill to fall in love with. Perhaps I’d love the road too much to commit to anything before the end of it, but I wasn’t giving myself that much credit. I figured after three months—six months tops—I’d come loping back with my tail between my legs, afraid of all the possibilities the wide wonderful world had to offer. I counted on having to hold my own feet to the fire to stay out there.

Well, now here I am at the end of that short year. I find myself laying my adventures out like treasures before me and marveling over how... few there seem to be. I suppose this isn’t the time for short-changing myself, but I can’t help but think that I just haven’t covered that much ground in 365 days.

So that’s it then. I’m not done, I guess. The road winds ever onward and I find myself compelled to keep following it. Now, if only I had any idea what it is I actually wanted to do next... The suggestion box is open!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

juggle fest

It’s hard for me to believe that three weeks have passed since the end of a fantastic weekend of weirdos. The folks who have given me a room for the summer host an enormous juggling party every year. What began as a small gathering of family, friends, and a handful of strangers from Seattle eighteen years ago has become an island tradition that brings hundreds of performers and spectators alike to the front yard of Carol and Al. The story goes that on their sons’ return from a profitable fishing season in Alaska, they decided to have a party to celebrate. All the kids enjoyed juggling, the boys had sent piles of salmon ahead of themselves to the Island, and decided to see if they could get other jugglers to hang out for the equinox. So they went to Seattle and began handing out flyers to whatever street performers they could find. A few weeks later, a rag-tag bunch showed up at the gate and Juggle Fest was born. There were around thirty in that party. Nowadays, meals and accommodations are planned for upwards of a hundred people for the whole weekend.

For such a “private” party, lots of planning and community involvement happen and everything goes surprisingly smoothly. Jugglers ranging in age from the teens to seniors arrive between Thursday and Friday of the weekend of the fall equinox, and the yard becomes a buzz of clubs, balls, and antics. Tents are tucked away all over the ten acres of the property, and outhouses are set up. Everybody volunteers to help with meals, drinks, clean-up, and housekeeping. Very little actually needs to be done by each person as long as everybody participates, leaving more time for juggling!

And there was plenty of that. Despite the rain, it was hard to walk from the house to the garden without getting clubbed, hula-hooped, or drawn into a circle of flying objects. I learned quickly to juggle clubs and was passing with a fellow novice before the weekend was half-over.
Contact jugglers, the introverts of the group, shared their secrets with me, and soon enough I was balancing a ball on my elbow and passing it from my palm to the back of my hand.

The food was fantastic. Three times a day we were treated to the delicious efforts of volunteers. Giant meals of soups, fresh baked bread (I helped with a giant bake a day before the whole shebang), salmon, and homegrown vegetables kept everybody full and happy.

Conversations with jugglers I met all weekend revealed people who had been coming for years. Word of mouth alone has grown this festival and street performers come from the Northwest, as well as all over (one man was from South Africa this year), to hang out, trade secrets, and have a reunion of sorts. Some of these folk have performed in groups together over the years, and some meet up for the first time, planning to put on shows when they overlap in cities along their tours.

Even after three days, many were reluctant to leave. But soon, the place had cleared out and no longer looked like a carnival. It was just our house, our yard, our garden, with lingering promises of next year’s event hanging in the air like juggling clubs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

autumn wind

The wind is howling outside my window and an inky blackness has settled already at 7:30. A chill has settled into the bones of this place and the autumn is now completely manifest.

Two days ago I helped a friend’s family put up food from their garden for the winter. We processed pounds of cucumbers and piles of green tomatoes into pickles and chutney. By the end, a few dozen glass jars covered the kitchen counter, a testament to our hours of chopping and cooking.

As the rain fell outside, Mik and I diced tomatoes, onions, and garlic while Diana marveled over the bounty the earth provided. The caustic scent of pickle brine permeated the house for more than five hours as we tackled the relentless piles of produce, Mik with an ulu and I with a chef knife. With four sets of hands attending to the several tasks of chopping, brining, and dehydrating apples, the canning went faster than we expected and we had time to sit and share stories. Mik and David compared their lives in Alaska. I chimed in with highlights from my recent trip there. Climate change and its effect on the glaciers, fishing, and landscape was a major topic and with their combined years there, we pieced together a picture of drastic change. The glaciers that they recalled couldn’t even be seen from the centers built for that purpose anymore. Salmon numbers and fishing limits have dropped. But the stories weren’t all bleak—there were plenty of anecdotes about Alaskan winters, the bus drivers that braved the snow, and cheap fun to be had in the dark days. Diana and I chatted about cheese making, an interest I want to pursue as soon as I have a spare minute and a pastime she enjoys as a way to provide wholesome food for her family. We all told tales of the places we’d each called home. Diana and David recalled Texas, Mik told of her family in Minnesota, and I drew comparisons between Lopez and the Farm in Massachusetts. The reminiscences over my childhood on my family’s dairy farm and the woods around my house in Pennsylvania impressed the back-to-the-landers.

David, Mik, and I lingered in the orchard after gathering our payment of potatoes and apples from the season’s harvest. The sun was peeking out on the horizon as it set below the thinning clouds. The slanted autumn light warmed us despite the persistent wind, and soon I was returning home to hot roasted vegetable borscht. The wind wailed like furies on the ride as my housemates reported on their day’s adventures over dinner in our warm little burrow.