Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wish Come True

Well, my wish for snow or sunshine came true. We had both! Snow over the weekend, and yesterday a brilliant sunny day! Hip hip hooray! More snow is on the way today. It's chilly so a nice veggie lasagna will hit the spot tonight.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Freezing Fog

Moscow's weather always seems to be in flux. In a single winter day we can have sun, rain, sleet, snow, hail, fog, and sun again. It makes it hard to figure out what protective outerwear to tote around on a daily basis (should I bring the puffy, the hardshell, the softshell, the rain coat, or the fancy coat plus umbrella?).

But, one of the most predictable aspects of Moscow weather in the wintertime is an absence of sun. This is a result of two things normally. One, Moscow is located in a very northern latitude so the sun rises late and sets early (like we have sun from 8 am to 4 pm on the darkest days of the year). Two, the mountain affect just seems to make weather bog down here on the Palouse.

So, for the last week, we've had "freezing fog." The fog has just been stuck right on top of Moscow and it hasn't lifted for a week (give or take the occasional 30 minutes of sun). On top of just fog, it's been extremely damp fog that freezes onto the trees in unique crystalline patterns. It makes for beautiful decorations on the trees, grasses, and buildings.

But, the freezing fog is also down right cold! Not near the cold the Midwest has been having, but bone-chilling cold. The kind that sinks right through your coat, sweater, skin, and begins to make you shake in that bone-rattling way that only the damp, the fog, and the lack of sun can cause. I've been colder this week with temperatures ranging around freezing than I was in December when our highs were around zero degrees.

We've been making the most of it, though, by trying to go on little bike rides around Moscow. We managed to go on a surprisingly sunny Sunday morning. At first, our ride seemed pretty successful. We got out on the path and cycled around. But, after about 10 minutes out and maybe a half mile down, our toes, fingers, and ears started freezing. We made it a mile and a half before turning into a nearby coffee shop to thaw out with a cuppa.

Even though the frozen fog is pretty, I can tell my tolerance for it is shot. SEND ME SOME VITAMIN D, SUNSHINE, HAPPINESS, COME ON!! Maybe my plea will help. Then again, even a snow storm would be a nice change from the gloomy fog.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Inauguration

The Kenworthy Theater proudly displayed their latest showing: The Obama Inauguration, Tuesday, 8 AM, FREE. At 8:00 their theater lights flashed on, blinking in excitement and hope as scores of people filed into the theater and took their seats.

It was soon standing room only as people reverently watched the pre-inauguration festivities coming in live from Washington. At 9:00 all listened intently as Aretha Franklin sang. My body went up in shivers and tears of joy filled my eyes. A new dawn for our nation. After Biden was sworn in, we all cheered. Then, the beautiful music honoring simplicity and enunciating hope created a calming, joyous entrance for the swearing in of our 44th president.

In Moscow, Idaho, when the announcer asked everyone in D.C. to please stand for our new president, we rose as one and honored President Obama. Tears streamed down my eyes as I watched Obama get sworn into office. We cheered and clapped in joyful abandon, thundering our praise all the way to Washington.

Obama's speech filled me with hope, justice, balance, and inspiration. I have never been more proud of our nation, never felt as groundedly American in my life. This was a moment where I felt connected to our nation as we stood in face of difficulties and spread the words love, hope, bravery, justice, peace from sea to shining sea and around the world. What elation! What spirit! What hope in ourselves to see a better day and brighter future!

We stood in unison and sang the national anthem. All of us in Moscow echoing the sounds coming from Moscow. We stand with you! I covered my heart and sang our anthem, feeling my blessings, prayers, love, and hope spread from me around the room, and all the way to Washington D.C.

My love and hope has never been greater for our great nation and I pray that we may stand strong with love, bravery, and joy in our hearts to meet the new era.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Operation: Rattle

During the Light Up the Night Parade in December, Esther and Jon wandered into the Gem State Crystals store on Main Street. They walked out 15 minutes later exclaiming that a rattle snake lived in the gem store and it was, in fact, the store's guardian. Thus, Operation: Rattle began.

The plan was for Matthew or I to casually walk into the bike store, saunter up to Brian, and whisper "Operation: Rattle" into his ear. That was the signal to head out onto Main Street and into Gem State Crystals on a mission to spot the rattler.

As part of the not-quite-related-Operation: Moscow Brian and I wandered into Gem State Crystals the following week to check out the snake. A world of crystals opened to us as a tinkling bell signaled our arrival. Soft moss-green carpet covered the floor, decorative baskets and artwork covered the walls. Around the periphery of the room, cases with gems of all sizes, shapes, and colors beckoned us to examine their intricacies. But our mission was clear: find the snake. The gems, however, distracted us.

There were gems from Africa, Mexico, the USA, Australia, the world over. There were blues, greens, pearls, diamonds, purples, oranges, stalactites, crystals, rocks of every size, shape, and texture imaginable. A column of amethysts. Crystal book ends. Delicately carved stone roses. It was a sensory overload.

And finally, there was the Idaho Gem Case.

The Idaho Gem Case, named for Idaho's distinction of being the Gem State in the Union, was an ordinary wooden case filled with local gems. But that ordinary case became extraordinary as we gazed further into its depths and realized the "sculpture" of a rattle snake was in fact the rattle snake we had come to see!

Its flat triangular head was covered in thick diamond scales that ran down its length and ended in a massive rattle. I resisted the urge to tap the case and instead determinately stared into its beady eyes. It was pretty indifferent - bored, in fact. And in a semi-state of hibernation, it could care less about the mayhem outside its Idaho case. Never the less, it was the closest I have ever been to a rattle snake.

The Gem Store had a list of rattle facts above the case, where we learned that the rattle does not act as a way to age the snake, that rattle snakes can shed several times a year, and that this snake was about 20. Hm.

The shop owners asked if we had any questions, and so here it began.... I asked the snake's name and learned it was Buddy. Buddy, apparently, likes to eat mice that the owners get from the pet shop. And, on Saturday mornings from April until October, you can go watch them feed Buddy. There's nothing like a trip to the Farmer's Market culminating in hanging out with kids at the "Buddy the Snake Feed" activity! I know where I'll be this April.

Buddy was found as a wee tiny snake outside the gem store 20 years ago after the homecoming parade. The owners think he fell out of a hay bale from one of the floats. They suspect this origin because several more baby rattle snakes were found squished outside the Kibbie Dome where the parade concludes. They decided to save this little snake and he's been with them since.

Since Operation: Rattle 1, we have conducted this mission several times of the last few months. Each time, we gain new information about the snake, and gems. It's become a regular tourist attraction because what's better than looking at crystals and staring a rattle snake in the eyes?!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back to Business

It's back to school here in Idaho. I had a great few weeks off, enjoyed time with family in New Jersey, went snow shoeing with friends in Moscow, and was amazed at all the snow we received in Moscow!

It's almost all melted now and the sun has been shining for the last few days. The beautiful weather has made it all the harder to return to the dark basement and analyze statistics. But, soon statistics will be passed and then I'll just focus on interview analysis! Oh boy!