Friday, November 19, 2010

Goodbye, My Dear Friend

Once in a while, you come across someone in this world that is just genuinely a nice person. Someone that is patient, and kind, and supportive. My friend Gayle was such a person. Gayle died today after fighting with all her might against cancer. I count myself among a large host of people that are mourning right now for our friend that we, and the world, have lost.

I first met Gayle at the community college where I was taking classes in Sign Language back in 2000. I had taken ASL 1 the previous quarter, so I could sign my name, ask basic questions like "How are you?" and knew the signs for some foods and other vocabulary. In my first class we hadn't been allowed to use our voices except at specific times allowed by our teacher, who was hearing. The first time I walked into Gayle's classroom, I expected it to be similar. There was a lady standing at the front, greying hair, careworn face, with soft eyes and an easy smile. She moved slowly and deliberately, as if not to spook us in our first-day-of-class nervousness.

Her hands started moving, and suddenly someone sitting next to me started to speak! I glanced over and realized it was a sign language interpreter.. my someday goal. Gayle explained that for today, and for a few more classes, she'd have sign language interpreters to help us all get started. After that, we'd be on our own so we better learn fast!

Gayle was the first Deaf person I ever truly interacted with. She had been born hearing, and gotten ill and lost her hearing later in life. I never actually heard Gayle use her voice until several years later, when I volunteered to help interpret for the local Special Olympics where she helped coordinate. I hadn't even known she *could* speak with her voice, it just never occurred to me and in my head I had always "heard" her speak when she signed anyway.

Gayle was an awesome teacher. She had the patience of a Saint, repeating things over and over, and finding different ways of explaining things until we all could grasp what she was trying to convey. She had a great sense of humor, joking around in class and keeping learning FUN. You could tell she loved what she was doing, that she loved the language, and she was happy that we all wanted to learn it.

She gave us assignments that required us to *gasp* TALK to other Deaf people! I was brave and went to a Silent Weekend the college sponsored each quarter, where you couldn't talk all weekend, and instead it was hands flying with Sign, and me using a notebook and pen to try to ask people what they were saying. It was scary, and overwhelming, and yet as fun as hell and completely addicting. I went to almost every Silent Weekend after that. Gayle continued to help us all grow in our skills, I fell in love with the Language, and I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Over my years at college, I'd run into Gayle and chit-chat. My then-husband took ASL classes too, and had her for his teacher, so one year for Christmas we got Gayle the ASL Teacher Barbie toy as both a gag gift, and a homage. I think it really tickled her, I still have the matching one we bought at the same time for us. Every time I look at it I'm reminded of her standing up at the front of the room, with her hands dancing in patterns slow and elegant.

After I graduated, I started helping out with the Silent Weekends. I joined the committee, and once the instructor retired who had been running them (the amazing Chuck Gramly, who deserves a whole 'nother post), Gayle eventually took over the job. It was so much fun to be able to meet with a bunch of my friends, Deaf and hearing, and plan and scheme and just have a great time. Gayle brought her warmth and giving nature to these events as well.

I went through a really rough time in my life a few years back. With my marriage in shambles, my life in total upheaval, Gayle was like the Rock I could cling to in the storm. She was absolutely supportive, understanding, and sympathetic. She listened when I needed a friend, she didn't judge, and she was there for me. I thank God every day that I had the privilege to count Gayle as one of my friends. I have missed her since moving cross country last year, and now knowing she's not there anymore, my far-away Rock still teaching, breaks my heart. I'm glad she's at peace finally, but I sure feel sorry for myself and everyone else stuck here on this earth without her.

I love you, Gayle, you'll be sorely missed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Night, pre-raid

Me: ARGH! I need to go the store, but I don't really have time before raid.

Adam: You should go to the store.

Me (suspiciously): Why?

Adam: To get the stuff.

Me: What stuff?
(thinking he knows of something we need)

Adam: Uhhh whatever the stuff is you need to get..

Me: HA! Maybe I don't NEED stuff! Maybe I just want to go to the store and walk around!

Adam: Well that would be... weird.. I don't think you're THAT weird... are.. you?? *trails off*

Me: *glare*

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Fair

Whenever I think of going to the Fair, I always get the song from Charlotte's Web (the original cartoon, not that hack remake) that Templeton the rat sings about the fair.. "A fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord, after the crowds have ceased... Each night when the lights go out, it can be found on the ground all around..Oh, what a ratly feast!" Because as we all know, one of the main reasons to go to the fair is the yummy, horribly unhealthy food!! So bear with me because a lot of this rambling will be about fair food. Yuuuuum!! I'm probably describing events out of order somewhat, but it was a couple weeks ago so cut me some slack.

Two weekends ago we went to the Puyallup Fair with our kids and in-laws. This being Washington, the weather cooperated with alternating torrential downpours and sunny skies, often changing within minutes. What is this.. Ohio with the psycho weather mood changes?!! Geesh! Dummy me of course left my sunglasses in the car because it was grey and yucky and rainy when we arrived, only to bemoan the fact later when the beaming sun came out.

We arrived early, and squished into the fairgrounds. We of course had to hit up the obligatory and traditional Fisher Scones vendor and get scones for breakfast. This is something so weird to me.. in Ohio you don't find scones at a fair.. well to be honest I don't think you really find them anywhere. Apparently Fisher has been making scones and been part of northwest fairs since 1915. o.O

They are hot, light and crumbly and almost-biscuit-like, triangular and pre-sliced and slathered inside with honey-whipped butter and rasberry jam. They are utterly delicious.

Once fortified, we headed for the first vendor building (mainly to get out of the rain!) Inside were all the vendors you normally see at the fair, that would be repeated tenfold throughout all the other fair buildings. Mattresses, massaging chairs, candles, beanie babies, and more. We found an odd little booth setup with a boardgame called "The Tower of Mystery" (, and discovered the salesman that was waxing enthusiastic about it was in fact the inventor. It sounded intriguing, and we're all about the boardgames, so we made a note to ourselves to head back and buy it before we left so we wouldn't have to tote it around the fair or run out to the car. Megan also found a beanbag animal seller that had various lizards and stuff so we knew we'd need to head back there to get an addition to her beanbag lizard collection.

After that we wandered through the rain, looking at chainsaw-made wood sculptures and benches, the working blacksmith (with their fancy tiny natural gas forge, at 1800-2300 degrees. Back in MY day, we used WOOD for our forges, none of them fancy gas jets! ..I digress)

We wandered through the draft horse barn, the show horse barn, they had signs up *everywhere* asking you not to touch the animals "for their health and yours" which sucked because EVERYONE knows how utterly irrestible a soft horse nose stuck through stall bars can be. We were all VERY good though it was agonizing and didn't succomb to the temptation. The coolest horses imo were the Norwegian Fjord that looked like it had stepped off a cave wall with it's prehistoric back stripe and short, spiky mane, and the huge black percheron that apparently someone was using as a riding horse, which freakin ROCKS.

We alternated walking through more vendor buildings, and more animal buildings. When we were wandering through the cows (not dairy) every huge steer I saw made me drool.. steeaaak. I'm a carnivore and not ashamed of it. We wandered through the agriculture building and saw vegetable competition entries made to look like things, designs, and freaky huge pumpkins. All this made us hungry!

We ate some lunch, shared a huge rack of BBQ ribs, mediocre cornbread, and freshly cut string french fries with lots of malt vinegar and ketchup. And.. Roast Corn!!! If you have never tried fair roast corn, you are missing out. Make sure it's a place that actually roasts it in husk, and then once it's done pulls down the husks, and holds them to dip it in butter before handing to you. DELICIOUS. If I could have gotten away with it I would have eaten a dozen of these alone for lunch.

We checked out the retro farming area where they have an old-time washing tub with crank ringer, a fake shaving straight razor with lather and mirror, and other pioneer-esk stuff. It was rather soggy underfoot but the sun finally came out so we split up and took our kids to do the rides.

I went on a little coaster with Meg (fun!) and then the kids went on the big wooden roller coaster, then again on the one we had gone on first, and then spent the rest of their tickets on carnival games. Pro-tip parents: No matter how you explain the science of how carnival games are rigged so they are extremely difficult to win, your kids will want to try them, and probably not win. Make sure you do a sure-win thing like the dart balloon throw. Meg was proud as punch that she popped a couple balloons and won a tiny ugly little stuffed purple cat. We bought the obligatory cotton candy (NOMNOM, blue is the best flavor), and headed back to meet up.

We hit up more buildings of cows, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, lions, tigers and bears Oh My! (ok maybe not those). When we were in the Dairy Cow barn there was a mamma cow apparently giving birth so they had part of it sectioned off, and it was late and we were tired so didn't stay to try to crowd with others. We did however go to the other part of the building where they were giving out free samples of Darigold Chocolate milk, the BEST chocolate milk you can buy (and most expensive -- boo!) It tastes like melted chocolate ice cream.

We remembered just in time about the Beatles tribute band "Imagine" that was playing so ran in and got some seats under partial cover (that almost kept us from getting rained on). They didn't really look like the Beatles, were dressed in Sgt. Pepper sort-of uniforms, and 2 were from California and 2 from Utah! But, they sounded pretty good, and hey, free Beatles music YAY!! Lem ran to the bathroom mid-way through and brought me back some Darigold chocolate milk <3.

Megan wanted to stay forever in the little petting zoo petting the pygmy goats and the little 8-week old baby bunnies, but eventually we got hungry again and since it was pouring rain once more headed to the big food court building. Unfortunately, a skrillion other fair-goers had the same idea so it was rather packed. We eventually found seats and ate our various foods, I had a rather good chicken caeser salad and stole some of Adam's fair fries w/malt vinegar and ketchup.

We walked through more buildings with a zillion vendors, managing to resist most of them. Had to get some Seattle Fudge, and some fresh honeycombs dripping with honey for the kids to eat. Delicious! It was getting late, so we stopped to get Elephant ears for everyone to eat, and then ran back to get our board game and Meg's lizard (just as they were closing shop - whew!).

Very footsore and exhausted, we headed back to the van and homeward. A great day for all, and totally worth the big blister I got on my toe from walking around all day with wet socks!

How'd They Do That?

I'm constantly amazed as I go through my life at how crazy smart and inventive people are in this world. Did you ever use a neat gadget or gizmo, or enjoy the convenience of our modern world, and think, "How'd they even THINK of that??"

Like, the sewing machine. I know how to use a sewing machine, and I understand the basics that it has two threads, the main spool and the bobbin, and it intertwines those two threads in a way that keeps them from unraveling through the fabric. What I never knew was how COMPLEX this process is:

I mean REALLY, I can't even imagine just sitting there fiddling around bits and bobbles, and trying to make some mechanism that could do that.

Another thing that amazes me is flight. Not that it's possible, or how it even works.. that people were brave enough to just TRY it, no parachutes, no inflateable safety chutes.. check this out:

1908?!! And do you see how high they fly at one point.. they're just sitting in basically an antique ultralight aircraft I would hope with some form of seatbelt, but even so.. yikes!!

I am really thankful to all the people that have preceded me that have come up with all the amazingly cool stuff that I almost always take for granted in my life. It's not only the big stuff, even little stuff like staplers, and nerf guns.. those every day things you use.

I am perpetually fascinated by history and how people lived and survived in a world without modern medicine and technology. If I had access to a time machine it would be so neat to go back and visit the past, but I sure as hell know I wouldn't want to live back then. Give me flushing toilets and computers ANY day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Almost Got Into A Nerd Fight At Gamestop

Halo Reach came out today for Xbox 360. Yet another installment in the Halo franchise, that to me looks exactly like every other installment, but my son really wanted it, and pre-ordered it with his own money.

He reminded me about 30 times in the last three days that it was coming out, and I happily failed to inform him that there was actually a midnight release date Monday night, since frankly it was a school night so it would have just been torture for him to get it and not be able to play it anyway.

On the way home from work today, I in fact ALMOST forgot to swing by Gamestop and pick it up. A quick detour into the turn lane at the light past that and I circled back and parked to head into the store. I figured since I missed the midnight launch, all the screaming fanboys would have been and gone and I'd be right in and out. HAHAHAH! The line stretched the entire length of the store and started curving back in on itself.

I dutifully took my place at the end of the line, and more people were coming in every minute to get behind me. The 20-something guy in front of me starts explaining to me that he *was* here for the midnight launch, there were about 150 people outside waiting, and it was chaos. So glad I missed that. He then goes on to explain he lost the receipt on the way home that apparently has the code printed on it for the special in-game armor you can activate. Suuucks.. so he's back to get a reprint.

Apparently he's friends with the three 20-something guys BEHIND me, because they start Nerd talking about various games that are displayed around us. I vaguely pay attention as they are discussing Halo Vanquish, for which a big poster is on the wall above us. "What's that?," I ask..
This opens the FLOODGATES OF HALO NERDTALK... and after about 10 minutes of being peppered with information (much like pepper-spray, this made my eyes burn. Or that could have been their unwashedness). I find out essentially it's another Halo expansion coming out in a few months, but THIS time it's made by Sega and not Bungie.. so, yeah.. you know. *blank look from me* "It's basically the same Halo, but set on a different world, you know, it's like Star Trek vs. Star Wars."

WOAH. Wait a second. You did NOT just start something, did you Nerdboy?! His friend behind me even says, "Weellllll.. I was going to have to address that, but, now that I think about it.."
The guy in front of me then goes on to start his Star Trek vs. Star Wars comparisons, on how they really are the same (The Force = Q, for example, and how they both just want to find new places and kill people, except that Kirk would first sleep with everything before killing it, etc.). I was ready to go all Jedi on him, but then his friend chimes in with, "Yeah but I always liked Picard better." I turned around and actually high-fived him*, and the crisis was averted.

I finally make it up to the counter after having to endure them debate Dead Rising 2 and if in fact you could realistically swing around a pole with 2-chainsaws tied to the ends in a Darth Maul-type fashion (consensus: no, but the game will probably still let you), and the fact that The Gig game that is coming out will let you use a REAL guitar when you play boy band music so you're not gay at all (ok I might have thought that in my head as they debated real guitar vs. controller guitar).

I show my ID, and the guy brings out the Halo Legendary that my son reserved. Holy SHIT.. the box is ginormous. I'm literally embarrassed to reach over the counter and heft it away as other people are walking away with their little slim game cases. I asked the guy if it came with a dead puppy in it, since obviously there were no air holes for it. He said probably at that price.

That's my minivan in the background. I'm pretty sure you could hide a small child in this box.

It came with a bunch of extras, including a "statue" of "action figures":

Isn't Lem's computer chair sad looking? My son informs me that the blue guy in the front middle USED to be gender ambivalent, you could choose male or female, but NOW they've made the chick on the left of him in blue so that there's no confusion, because, as he says, "You can see they made her curvy and feminimmem." *blink*

Is Cataclysm out yet?

*and unsurprisingly, his hand is warm and sweaty. Ew.

Monday, August 2, 2010

At Subway

Me (lays head against wall): I'm so tired, I need a nap

Meg: If you fall asleep I am SO takin' the car. I'll go to Mexico, and buy a chihuahua, and dress it in a taco suit, and then I'll let it pee on you to wake you up. And then you'll be like, "Whuuh? What's with the taco?" And I'll be all innocent like, "Hmm? I don't know what you're talking about."

Me: Wow. Well it's good to have goals.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On The Way Home

Discussion with kids while driving home from park:

(me: not really paying attention to the chatter from the back seats, tunes in suddenly)

Meg: No! Only pregnant ladies have those.

Me: *mildly alarmed* What?? What do only pregnant ladies have??

Meg: Mood swings.

Me: HAHAHHA! Ohh no, my little one, just wait until you are a Lady, then you too will have them, probably monthly. Periods cause hormonal fluxuations.......

Meg: MOM!!!!! Oh my gosh I can't believe you SAID THAT ADAM'S HERE..

Me: Hey! This is important stuff for him to know too. Someday he might have a girlfriend or wife, and he'll have to deal with this. Chocolate, Adam. And foot massages.

Adam: Oh great mom, what if my wife's allergic to chocolate. YOU JUST KILLED HER.

Me: GRR fine then whatever she likes.. icecream...

Adam (with condemnation): She's going to be a diabetic.


(general laughter)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


We are currently trying to buy a house. We've been trying to buy a house since April. It's a big lovely house with lots of room, not a huge back yard but adequate. It's also a short-sale, which actually means it's not.

For those of you who haven't gone through the house-buying process, a short-sale is usually when a borrower can't pay the mortgage loan on their property, so the bank that holds the mortgage decides it's better to cut their losses and sell the property. This lets them avoid a foreclosure which is long expensive messy process.

Now.. "short-sale". Those words imply some sort of expedited process, don't they? Well WRONG. This is one of the biggest misnomers I've come across. What it really means is that the bank or banks involved are the ones calling the shots, and as everyone knows when you get banks involved things take FOREVER. This particular sale actually has TWO banks involved, since apparently the seller took out two loans, so that just doubles the red-tape. Oy.

So now we have school almost starting, and although the new house and our current location are the same schools (our main priority when looking for it), I really wanted the kids to be able to start out from Day 1 on their new bus route and we'd be all settled in before that time. Damnit.

Keeping our fingers crossed we hear something soon, the whole thing has been very frustrating as it's completely out of our hands at this point. Banks suck.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jetta, You Missed The Mark

As I drive around running errands I usually listen to my car radio. I tend to tune out commercials (just like at home when watching TV) however if they repeat often enough I can't help but notice them.

One recent commercial is for some sale that Jetta is currently holding. The premise of the commercial is that people are calling leaving messages for other people to say they can't make it to whatever appointment or commitment they had because they simply MUST go to this sale and/or are currently test driving one of the cars. Some of the calls are:

1. A sewer guy calling a client to cancel appointment, can't miss that sale!
2. A woman calling to say she's going to be late for a baby shower because she simply has to go test drive one of the cars
3. A dad calling his daughter to tell her he can't make it TO HER BIRTHDAY PARTY because he's test driving a car.
4. A woman calling her husband to tell him she can't make it to their child's Kindergarten screening and telling him to 'cover for her'.

Wait.. what? Seriously? Jetta, did you just say that coming in to test drive one of your cars is MORE IMPORTANT than my child's birthday party???? Oh well, I'm sure there will be PLENTY of other birthday parties but that sale, boy it won't last, right?! Kindergarten? Bah! That's not really a milestone event for a kid, right??

Or is this ad aimed at the type of people that would indeed blow off these commitments to go drive around a car?? I can't really fathom it, and it UTTERLY OFFENDS ME that Jetta would think this type of ad would in ANY WAY appeal to parents who value and love their children and have their priorities straight. Every time I hear it on the radio it makes me SEETHE with anger. What if little kids are hearing that ad, and they're hearing these "parents" minimalizing what should be really important things? What message is that sending??

Jetta, you suck.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Say What??

Usually I have my camera with me, and as I'm going about life if I notice something amusing, or odd, I'll snap a pic of it. Here's my recent ones:

While in a gas station to snag some munchies, we came across this fine vintage wine:

For your domestic squabble this evening, we recommend the cabernet sauvignon...

Really she doesn't look very mad to me? Oh wait! She's probably drank a few bottles of this fine $7.19 wine. And hey, if she's still mad, at least it's a red wine so it'll nicely match your blood! Er..

Ok wait. What? Bread in a can? BREAD IN A CAN? No, we're not talking bread dough, it's an actual small LOAF OF BREAD?!! THIS is what makes America so great!! Mmmm raisins..

An important public service announcement that we should all heed:


While at the Dollar General store, I happened across a few products:

Ok is it just me, or do you immediately think of Lassie, the famous TV dog? So you're basically saying I have enough hair on my legs they look like Lassie? I'm so offended!! And here I was going for more of a Bigfoot look..

This was in the hand cream section:

NOT going to make any boobie jokes here, but wtf??

So wait.. you're selling something that was developed for use on dairy cows at the dollar store? Does your average farmer usually shop for Udder Cream at the dollar store?? Perhaps this is a demographic that dollar stores have been missing out on all along!!

Yes, this world is still a crazy place.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Day You Realize

Today I was cleaning my house in preparation for company coming over tomorrow. You know how it is, you're in The Zone, just busting away not really paying attention to anything just Clean Clean Clean.

We have an area upstairs that we call the Rec Room. We have a TV there, a computer, small table and chairs and a couple comfy chairs to sit in while you watch TV. My 12-yr old daughter has recently been spending a lot of time up there, usually when her brother is playing on the X-Box downstairs and we're on the other computers. She watches TV, or plays on the computer, or reads. We call it her "lair" since she's put a blanket down and has little snacks and toys up there.

She and her brother are currently away visiting family, and so I was up there cleaning unhindered, and I came upon a notebook. Not just any notebook, but her "Notebook of Awsomeness!!" (and love) <-- written in a heart.


Did I read it? Heck yes!

Recently she's been very into the Twilight books/movies. We read them all before her to make sure they were appropriate, and then she read them, and we all saw the movies together. She's printed out pictures of Jacob, Edward, Carlisle, and Jasper and taped them into the pages, writing those silly gooshy things that girls write about boys they like. Already my heart is aching as I realize that my little girl is not so little anymore.

I turn the page and she's written a poem. It's about Edward, and it's beautiful and so well done and mature that my tears start. She's also started writing a story where she is a werewolf in that world, and it's good and at the end she's drawn a gorgeous picture of a wolf in pencil. I won't type her poem here without her permission, but I admit I typed it out and saved it somewhere on my computer just to have it permanently.

She's growing up. SHIT.. when did this happen?! So many more things to worry about now, so many more things to have to deal with. I hope I can guide her through this new phase of her life, and I hope she understands that to me she'll always be my little girl.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bon Voyage! Day 6 - Ketchikan Alaska

The next day we stumbled up to the Lido deck and ate breakfast at 7am so we could get ashore for our early excursion. It was a gloomy rainy day but we were all too stupid rugged to bring our umbrellas or rain ponchos (which we had bought and brought SPECIFICALLY for this trip).

Our first stop of the excursion was the Lumberjack show, which was a quick walk from the dock. We headed over to the Lumberjack show store, where you wait til you get to be seated in the (thankfully) covered little bleachers area where the show is held.

Hey! Stop prospecting for children, creepy guy!

The store sold a bunch of really amusing stuff, like:

Beans and beer cans! Now that's taking Green to a whole new level!

Finally, time for the show! Unfortunately I somehow forgot to charge my camera battery the night before, so I didn't take too many pics of the show to save it for later. Plus they were moving so fast I couldn't get many good shots anyway in the rain.

They had two little shacks with the two different "group" names that were competing. One was of course representing the US, and the other Canada. They split up the audience into two groups so each side could cheer for "their" team, and taught us all how to yell, "YOH-HOH!!" really loud to egg them on. Our side (US) had a bunch of fuddy-duddy's so Canada always got more yells.

Getting ready to chop a log, super fast


Axe throwing, you could kinda tell when one guy was "messing up" on purpose to keep the teams even in score til the end:

The Harley of chainsaws. Fully mod'd, it was LOUD and viscious. Lem was making Tim the Toolman grunting sounds.

Chainsaw carving, silly-style:

The show was fun to watch, with log rolling, pole climbing, and a relay race, and of course US won! Then it was head over to the bus to get to our next stop - Totem Bight State Park.

This park is actually a place where the government went out in 1938 out and gathered up all the remaining totem poles made by the two native tribes (Tlingit and Haida) after they had abandoned their villages to move to places with more work. Since totem poles only last 70-80 years (which I didn't know) almost all the totem poles in the park are actually replicas, carved from cedar wood. There is a few restorations.

The forest is vast here, it starts out as a new growth forest:

With some seriously funky looking trees:

That then changes to an old growth forest. There were quite a number of cedar tree stumps, that now have hemlock trees growing up out of them using the stump as nutrients:

After a period of time the cedar stump breaks down, and the hemlock tree is left standing with it's roots forming a cage, sometimes so dense bears or other animals use them for shelter:

Once we reached the cleared area where the totems and Clan house is, the pathways were surrounded by HUGE bushes I'd never seen before, which millions of still-ripening berries:

They're called salmon berries (Megan: EWW!), because as they ripen and darken they look like little clusters of salmon eggs. This one wasn't quite ripe, but I eated it anyway and it was a little bitter but still yummy.

Now, for totem poles! Each pole tells a story, but interestingly enough ONLY the tribe who "owned" that story was allowed to tell what it meant. That means when the non-natives moved in, and asked what they meant, if they asked the wrong people then they'd just get a "shrug: it's a totem pole" answer and a lot of stories were lost as people and tribes died out. The guide told us some of the stories, which the living descendants of those tribes have given permission for them to share.

Neat Raven on the top.

This tells the story of one clan that slaughtered another one by luring them into their clan house, but then the wounded tribe got revenge. It's amazing how something little on the totem can mean so much, like the smile (which is hard to see here) on the top bear means they got revenge.

The guide talks about the Clan house. It was really big and had an area in the center floor for multiple fires - one for light/warmth and a different one to cook on. The two tribes were led by men, however bloodlines were passed on through the women. They had to marry outside the clan, which means if an Eagle man married a Raven woman, then her children were considered Raven and their father couldn't even teach them because he was an Eagle clan. Uncles and other relatives in the tribes were very important for this reason.

The door in/out. It's actually been enlarged by about double, it was made small on purpose so visiting clans would have to enter one at a time with their heads down in case of treachery (Boot To the Head!).

Top of the clan house. One of the tallest totems in existence.

This is a Potlatch totem pole. A potlatch is when they would all get together for a festival. They would carve rings on the top figure's hat to show how many potlatches they had held. They wouldn't add rings as they had more potlatches, instead they'd let the totem eventually fall, and then carve a new one with the correct number of rings.

This is a bear at the top, with bear foot prints going up both sides like it climbed up it. There was a big long story attached to this about a man who fell in love with a female bear, and they married and had a cub, but then the man and female bear were bantering back and forth one day pretend fighting and the bear cub, who was very protective of his mother, misunderstood and killed his father in rage. The female bear climbed up to the top of the highest mountain and cried and cried forever more, which is why the water runs from the top of the mountains down into make rivers and streams.

There were HUGE skunk cabbage along the edge of the forest. That's my foot at the bottom:

The guide said skunk cabbage are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring when the snow is still on the ground. They have a yellow pod that sticks up above the snow (that stinks), and the freshly awakened bears from hibernation come out and eat it because it's a natural laxative, and after being asleep for months they need to get things movin!

Back to the docks, we ran around to the various stores we wanted to visit.

No Lem, we're not getting that for our house.

Then got in line to get back on the ship. The line was super long and it was POURING rain, so we were soaked by the time we finally got on board.

Dinner Time!

They had paper chef's hats at each place setting. This was the night all the wait staff sang songs and did the "napkin dance" (ie: enter the room in a line waving our napkins around before they stuck them on our laps). They had a woman singing with a mic somewhere but she apparently was hungry too because she was trying to eat it so it was hard to understand her. Next time maybe they can feed her a snack first so she can take the mic out of her mouth.

GAAH!! The appetizer is looking at me with it's eye stalks!

Megan helpfully finishes off my Oxtail soup. It was either that or Lobster Bisque (YUCK!), I was the only one at my table to get the Oxtail soup (which I thought sounded equally repulsive). It arrived and looked like a little shepherd's pie with a golden brown pastry top, and the soup did NOT have a big ole cow tail stuck in it like I imagined, but did have little shreds of beef and vegetables and was DELICIOUS. Enough so that Megan would eat it, which is saying something. Everyone at my table was jealous, because apparently the bisque was inferior even for bisque.

Matt models his hat.

Grandma Wittman sparkles once again. It was cute all the waiters called her "Grandma" too!

After dinner we went by Kim & Joel's cabin to take a look at the set of formal pics they had bought of us. We got various pics taken after both formal nights. It was REALLY funny one night because that was one of the few times the ship was experiencing a lot of motion back and forth, and all of us women in high heels looked like drunken sailors trying to walk down the corridors. We all got positioned on the stairs for pics and the ship would pitch back and forth and all of us would lurch back and forth giggling and clutching each other.

Hey! Looks like Kim & Joel's room steward left them a present. Aww I was so jealous he was so cute. Til we went back to our room!

Aww he's got his tongue sticking out!

From 11pm - midnight this night there was a Dessert Extravaganza on the Lido Deck. Apparently this is some super secret spy thing, because they have very few LIGHTS so you were kinda bumping into people and it was really hard to actually see the desserts they had made. Then again this probably hid a bunch of imperfections.

Megan was annoyed that they wouldn't let her eat the decorative bread animals.

What the offspring of the Chiquita banana lady and a Dalek would look like:

An amazingly beautiful carved watermelon:

This one's actually a little creepy looking

Earlier that afternoon there had been an ice carving demonstration (presumably carving for this event), and Megan was watching it sneaking the carved ice chips to eat. Having seen some master ice sculptors' work, I can safely say these are cruise ship quality carvings.

WTF is this thing?? A peacock? A phoenix? Michael Jackson with his hair on fire???

There were a bunch of cakes that had these for decoration, made with white chocolate:

Also some that had some basic sugar work. I'm sure they couldn't do very tall poured sugar, the ship's vibration would shake them to pieces (see, all those Food Network Challenges learned me good!)

Look! A big stack of heart attack! Really it tasted as bad as it looked:

Ok.. why the chefs thought a bread SPIDER (on the right) would be cute is beyond me. I just wanted to step on it.

Formal night for the vegetables. The white carved turnip is rather lovely.

Megan's night is redeemed when she finds out she can charm the chefs into giving her the dragons from the cakes.

FYI poured sugar (at least theirs) doesn't taste as good as it looks. It tasted vaguely like blue kool-aid.

We headed to bed after this since it was midnight *YAWN*. Thus ended Day 6!