Monday, July 11, 2016

Family Reunion Photo Scavenger Hunt

This year my family had a family reunion. All 10 of us siblings with spouses and kids hung around together and played games and generally didn't kill each other for a week. It was a huge success! We touring an old mill and played in the Mississippi river, we caught tiny toads and giant moths and took pictures for the photo scavenger hunt. My sister Kassie had the most items photographed, but others had some of the coolest pics.

Best picture of me: MOM

Best picture of an animal not on the list: DAD

Best picture of a fly: AMANDA

Best pic of tree sap: ALECIA

Best pic of a pink flower: LYDIA

Most pictures of flowers and toads: ALECIA

Best pic of thorns: LYDIA

Most determined photo taker: HYRUM (although I see none of your pics uploaded)
When and IF more people upload their photos, I will continue to add best photo winners (hint hint kassie and hyrum)

Highland Games and Salmon

Gordon and I went to the Scottish Highland Games in Palmer Alaska. They had both a local competition and the international heavy weight competition. To put some things in perspective, they guys throw 33 pound hammers like they're nothing. We watched the local men throw first getting the hammer about 60 feet (Gordon's PR is around 80). Then we watched the local girls and they thew about 10-50 feet. Then in the afternoon on Saturday the international players threw. They threw 120 to 140 feet like it was nothing. It was impressive.

Highland games has a variety of competitions. They take place in a field and usually more than one competition is happening at a time. So you can watch a dude throw while a girl lobs and beginner makes a fool out of themselves. All at the same time. It makes things move faster for watchers and it quite funny. SO most competitions are to see how far or how accurate or how high you can throw a hammer, a weight, or a gigantic 20 foot 150 pound tree trunk called a caber. Did I mention this was all done in kilts?

Of course Gordon wears his kilt and beard in a manly fashion.

My personal favorite part is the playing of the pipes.

This dude is casually tossing one of those 20 ft 150 pound cabers. The goal is to accurately get it to flip in front of you.

Having a spot of tea.

We both got shirts. Sitka got stressed on the ride home to I attempted a quick thunder jacket using my shirt. It went well, even though he looked like he was stuck in the 90s with the knotted t-shirt.
I think Gordon enjoyed himself.

The view was loverly too with mountains as the back drop. Seemed fitting for the games.
I leaned a bit more about my clan. Turns out we had land in the far north too. 

Gordon refused to get on the bleachers in a kilt. Thought it would be immodest for some reason :) 

That spot of purple in the middle is the OLIPHANT clan.

The next week after our drive to Palmer for the games, Gordon went dip netting for red salmon. He didn't take any pics of fish camp or the boat or anything because apparently catching salmon takes a lot of work and taking pictures weren't a priority.
Gordon filleted the salmon in fish camp, so when he came back we vacuum sealed them and threw them in the freezer. Here are pics from that (once I'm involved in the process, note how suddenly there is time for pictures) 

Some people were still cleaning and filleting. 

Gordon helped catch 1,000 fish he says. We get 35 of those as our families allotment. The allotment is based on family size (25 per head of house and 10 for each dependent). Multiple families fished on the boat with Gordon, which is why he helped catch the 1,000 fish.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dry Cabin Time

We've moved into a dry cabin this past week. For those who aren't familiar with a dry cabin, let me cover the basics.

  • It doesn't have plumbing. There is no water line and no septic.
  • It does have electricity.
  • It has normal kitchen with oven, stove, fridge, microwave and sink. Only difference is our sink doesn't have a faucet.
  • It has a privy (outhouse) outside. 
  • We have our own space without neighbors pounding on the walls.
  • It has a deck with an awesome view.
  • We fill our 7 gallon jugs of water at a water station. It operates like a really cheap gas station.
  • We shower on campus inn one of the many shower facilities (most of the wildlife research buildings have nice showers)
  • We have a deal with a friend where we swap cookies for doing laundry at their house.

That just about covers it. Our place is two floors with the kitchen and dining areas downstairs and our bedroom upstairs. Here are some photos. They're taken at night so unfortunately our blinds are down and you can't see the views. Although Gordon makes up the difference with his beautiful posing.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rant about the concept of marriage

I honestly do not understand the concept of marriage.

Preface: I am married. I got legally married to the love of my life almost 3 years ago. When I promised to marry him I considered it a done deal. I love him, he loves me. boom. then end. because of society and religion we were taught that when you decide those things that your supposed to get a paper that 'proves' those things.

A year later in a religious ceremony we promised each other our eternities.

From a religious perspective, I believe that the love and respect of two people's union is sacred and deserves a high level of respect.

From a social perspective, I believe that a union provides stability and increases health from having the loyalty of a companion. I've taken enough sociology classes and read enough peer- reviewed papers about anthropology to believe that.

I don't understand the legal concept.
I understand the benefits, like joint tax returns, joint custody of children, hospital privileges and other legal benefits, but I don't understand why these benefits exist only for married couples.

From a legal perspective, I see only a piece of paper with two signatures making a legal claim to one another. I am grateful that I have that paper, I think. I haven't had much need for it, but I used to it to change my name on various legal documents, and I had to have it for the religious ceremony (and that makes sense that you hafta promise your days before you can promise your forever, although some people skip doing it separately and promise days and forever together).

Perhaps the root of my question is: if marriage has these 3 main facets (social, legal, and religious), why do people use the social to argue the religious or the legal to argue the social. As a student of ecology, I have learned everything influences each other so the social perspective of marriage will change the legal system. And we are currently seeing this with allowing more people to get married.

But, isn't marriage a personal choice that is molded by our own beliefs in it?

I know I'm rather cynical about society, I think we have many silly traditions in society, and I wonder if most of the arguing we currently have over marriage, is due to some of these silly personal traditions. And I wonder if somehow these silly traditions are holding society back from understanding the beauty of marriage and the joy of that love and devotion. We're shoving ourselves and others into this narrow perspective of what marriage should be and expecting others to conform to our beliefs instead of letting them follow their own?

I don't understand a lot of legal matters, but I understand that we the people have the right of freedom of religion which means we can believe what ever want and follow those beliefs so long as they don't interfere with other's abilities to follow theirs.

So why are we molding other's marriages to our own beliefs?

A short list of some of the silly social traditions involving marriage:

Expensive wedding with: white wedding dress, cake in face, honeymoon, the entire family involved (because marriage is the most important day of your life and is a joining of two families)

Marriage happens when: both parties are completely mature, financially stable, ready to have children, 300% sure that is the right person (might wanna wait a few years just to be sure), and you know EVERYTHING about the partner (no surprises after marriage)

Marriage entails: magically understands personal role in marriage and role of partner in marriage, children should come soon after marriage (because that's why you got married right?), excuses for everything (getting married, staying married....), marriage is about "me" or about "him" (it's about "us"), your supposed to be the only the 'best friend' or only the 'business partner / serious one'.

Why do we hold people to our values instead of holding them to their own?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

There and back again: A winter trip to Tucson

On vacation this year we took a trip to Tucson AZ for our dear friend's wedding. On our way, we stopped by several national parks, national monuments, national forests, museums, gardens, and state parks.

On our first day on the road we traveled to Canyon lands. The red rock and drama of the extremes with deep canyons and high rock formations was breath taking. Here are a few photos that try to explain the beauty.

The next day we went to Arches and Hovenweep.

While Hovenweep was out of the way, it was beautiful and it gave us a beautiful sunset over the desert.

The next day we went to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. The wood and rocks were red, pink, yellow, white, blue, chocolate brown, black, and soft greens.

We followed historic route 66 and this car is a memorial to that "All American" road.

Finally we arrived in Tucson where we went to some interesting caves (no pictures allowed) and to the Sequaro National Park. I had twisted my ankle earlier that day, so we did only very short hikes.

The next day we went to the Desert Museum that is more like a preserve than a museum because there weren't any dead animals! We spent 6 hours watching birds, admiring flowers, and enjoying the 'exibits.'

The next day was the day of the wedding, which took place at the Tucson botanical gardens. It was a lovely gardens. My battery ran out early in the day so only a few photos were taken.

Yes this is made out of legos!

The next day we left and stopped by Montezuma's Castle. It is an ancient dwelling that has been very well preserved. A lady there encouraged me to try a leaf off a bush. It tasted retched! After spitting and chugging water and eating some prickly pear candy, I was ok though :)

On the last day of our road trip we stopped by Hoover Dam and got this lovely photo before finishing our trip home.
I know this post was long with many photos, but so much of our trip was the beauty around us. This trip took 9 days with traveling through Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. I have barely mentioned all the stuff we did, but to recount it would take another 9 days so here are just a few of the photos and just a tid-bit of the stories.