Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Emery Jane Williams

Babies make their own schedules and little Miss Emery Jane Williams was no exception. We'd arrived in Chicago late Saturday afternoon only to receive a phone call early Monday morning that Bonnie was heading to the hospital. We kicked into high gear to change our plane tickets and get on our way to Amarillo via DFW. There was only one seat left on the closest connecting flight to Amarillo so poor Rich was left behind in Dallas to wait it out for a couple more hours. Even with all of our rushing, I did not arrive in time to help Bonnie with her labor or to witness the birth of our newest granddaughter. I was sad about that but mostly grateful that everything went well and we have a healthy baby girl added to our family. Sarah and Elle did get to town in time and Sarah was able to be there when Emery was born. She weighed 6 lbs, 7 oz and was 19 inches long (for some reason, we were initially told that she was 6 lbs, 12 oz and that was revised today...not sure whose mistake that was!) Emery has a little bit of very dark hair and long fingers and toes like her daddy. She is perfect and precious. We are thrilled!

Bonnie did a great job!

Grandpa Rich with Emery

Gigi with her new girl

Elle has grown up so much just since we saw her at the Jersey shore in June! She is talking up a storm and has such a cute sense of humor. She was also very interested in her new cousin. We've decided she'll be a great big sister when the time comes!
Not proud or anything!

Emery, one day old

Sarah and Elle were only here for a day but we were happy to have some time with them. We will see them later in Dallas. Our vacation plans have been turned topsy turvy so we are starting in Amarillo and then visiting the other kids in Dallas and Abilene toward the end of our trip.

Sarah and Elle with Emery

Mommy and baby

Emery Jane

Happy daddy David with his little girl

The new family of three
Congratulations to David and Bonnie. We love you and our new granddaughter very much! It will be fun to be here for a couple of weeks and get to have some Gigi time while helping Bonnie out. Then off to see the other precious grandkids Aidan, Ally and Elle as well as their fabulous parents. We are very lucky to have such a wonderful family.
I'll catch up the other pieces of our trip soon but wanted to share this post first!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday Round Up and We are on the Road Again

I started writing this post last Monday and never got finished. Now it's 6:45 AM in Seattle as we sit waiting for our 9:30 AM flight to Chicago. Yippee! Our vacation has begun! The weather has been iffy all week; we heard horror stories about flights being cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday and many of those passengers were still waiting on Friday. Thankfully we had a nice pretty day and were holding confirmed tickets when we showed up yesterday evening. We waited in line at Pen Air for an hour--that tells you just how busy they were! We usually don't have much of a wait, if any. Then the plane even left on time--now that's unusual! Arriving in Anchorage at 8:30 PM, we had plenty of time for dinner and then just had to sit around and wait for our flight to Seattle at 12:30 AM. The good thing about an overnight flight is that we don't have to pay for a hotel. The bad thing about an overnight flight is that it's not very easy to sleep sitting up in a packed plane (especially if you are stuck in the middle seat, like me). I brought my slippers and a blanket so got as cozy as I could but still didn't rest much. I got to try out my new Kindle (and it gets a nod of approval) and listened to the ipod while dozing intermittently. We arrived in Seattle at almost 5 AM local time (one hour time change), had to retrieve our bags, get our boarding passes, recheck our bags, go back through security, and here we are. While in Anchorage, we pricelined a room in Chicago and got a great deal on the Intercontinental downtown. We love priceline! We just reserved the first night and will do the rest when we get there. We are excited to be traveling again and can't wait to see everyone in Texas in a few more days! Also hoping that baby Emery will wait till we get there before making her entrance into the world.

Okay, so here's the rest of the post from a few days ago:

Last weekend basically revolved around eating. Friday night we went to Anne and Jeanette's for an Ethiopian potluck. We had never eaten nor cooked Ethiopian food before but after doing some research, Rich stepped up to the stove and made some chickpea fritters with a berbere sauce, meeting with the group's approval. We also had injera (flat bread), honey bread, two versions of wat (stew), several veggie dishes and salad. It was all delicious and a very nice evening with lots of conversation and laughs.

We went to dinner at the Chart Room on Saturday night, since Rich needs to do some quality assurance from time to time :) and I am lucky enough to get to tag along. We made a meal of yummy appetizers and small plates and I even liked the scallop appetizer, which is not typically my favorite thing. We topped it all off with dessert and I just have one thing to say: pumpkin creme brulee. A delicious nod to the holidays. I think Rich is going to make some for our Thanksgiving dinner in Texas, too.

Sunday night, we had an early Thanksgiving potluck with friends and a rousing discussion of the classic book Heart of Darkness. Several years ago, we saw a recipe for a sweet potato-banana casserole with a pecan streusel topping and had never made it so I decided this was the perfect opportunity. I spent a good bit of the day working on it and it turned out pretty well, although the banana taste almost overwhelms the sweet potatoes. Again, more good food at the potluck. No wonder we haven't lost a pound before vacation.

Some of you might remember that Rich and I met a woman named Anne on a plane leaving Denver after the Democratic National Convention. She was traveling with some teens and we struck up a conversation about their work filming a movie called "Papers." It is about undocumented teens in the US and what happens to them when they reach the age of 18 : considered "illegal aliens" even though most of them arrived here as babies or small children and have no memory of nor experience with the country of their birth. We just found out that the film is finished and I saw Anne and one of the kids on CNN being interviewed by Rick Sanchez. How cool is that? "Papers" is being screened around the country by various sponsoring organizations. I am hoping we can bring it to Unalaska after the first of the year. Look here http://www.papersthemovie.com/ for more info and to sign up for a screening.

All righty, stay tuned for more vacation posts. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Monday Again

I don't have any new photos. I must be too preoccupied with our upcoming trip, failing to take the camera to several recent events. We just got back from our Monday evening shopping trip to the local grocery store where we are happy to get our Senior Discount each week. We are apparently leaving soon because we didn't want to stock up on anything and couldn't think of much we needed.

Saturday we went to the grand opening of the Alaska Ship Supply store right across the street from the hotel. It used to be the A.C. store which closed down last year. We bought a few items and greedily reached for our share of give-aways--a reusable shopping bag, pens, Alaska Ship Supply Tshirts and caps. Well, I did. Rich probably would have been fine with just one, but I was kinda pushy, saying "two," when asked how many we wanted. There were two of us, right? I figure we were both entitled. And someone in Texas might want an Alaska Ship Supply shirt or cap for Thanksgiving or Christmas. See, I am thinking ahead. We didn't win any door prizes, including the grand prize of a huge flat screen TV. Probably just as well since we don't have room for one anyway.

We met some friends at the Museum of the Aleutians auction fundraiser Saturday night. As always, auction items included beautiful art work, gorgeous quilts made by our friend Judi, jewelry, Alaska Native art and craftwork, gift certificates for all kinds of stuff, you name it. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Rich and I like to save our extra money for traveling and visiting family and friends so the bidding quickly gets out of our range and we have our fun watching everyone else. We do renew our membership and purchase door prize tickets, so you shouldn't think we are total deadbeats. We just don't want to spend thousands of dollars or even hundreds, even if it's for a good cause, sorry. I was quite pleased that we won a door prize--a box of our friend Sharon's lovely homemade chocolates--one of the items I covet most, so I was quite pleased with that. And yes, we already finished them off tonight. :) We were happy for the Museum, which had a great event and raised a good bit of money.

I was watching Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS yesterday and he showed part of a new film called "The Good Soldier," a documentary about men who fought in WWII, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and Iraq. It will be released next week around Veterans Day. I don't think the rest of us can understand the experiences that they went through (and I am thankful that I do not know war firsthand). Their stories were simply heartbreaking--I really don't know another word to use. I am hoping to see the entire film when we are down south. Go to http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11062009/profile.html if you want more info. No matter your stance on the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think it's worthwhile to listen to these individuals and to learn from their personal experiences.

A lone sea otter has been swimming in front of our house for the past few days, along with lots of ducks and a couple of seals who occasionally join them before heading further out into the bay. The cats are in and out, in and out, but seem to be resigned to the presence of the window screen. As for the humans, we are watching the mountains turn brown and white while we tie up our tasks at work and finalize our vacation plans. Eleven days to go!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Winning photos, an annoying cat, and an exciting opportunity

Congrats to Rich, who continued his UniSea photo contest winning streak by taking two prizes again this year for the photos above. The theme was "faces of Unalaska," but he didn't have too many people photos and entered these faces instead. All of the winning shots will be going into a calendar. And I think he gets a little bit of money, too. Nice! (Sorry, if you looked earlier, I had the wrong eagle picture posted!)

Just imagine lots of wind, rain, sleet and hail outside. Ajax is driving us crazy because he loves to go out and he cannot believe that the weather is so nasty. He cries, we let him out, he looks around for two seconds and then cries to come back in. Repeatedly. You might remember that the cats tore up the bedroom window screen last summer and made it into their personal "kitty door." When we were at home, we'd leave the window open enough that they could come and go through the screen. Then our house was being painted and the maintenance guys took down all the screens. We went without screens for four months or so, totally spoiling those cats. Again, if we were home, we left the window open wide enough so they could go in and out independently. Now, to their dismay, we have new screens, AND the weather has turned. Rich likes to have the bedroom window open when we're sleeping, even in winter time, so we are dealing with Ajax scratching at the screen all night long. I am tempted to take it off and store it somewhere before he ruins another one, not to mention ruining our sleep!

A couple of months ago, the Behavioral Health Program at my former workplace decided to apply for a program called the Healthy Native Communities Fellowship. It requires a team of three people, including one from outside the agency. Char, the community wellness advocate, and Donna, a behavioral health clinician, were chosen for the team, and I was asked to be the third member from the community. It's been an interesting process--we had to complete a letter of intent, followed by team and individual written applications, then a fairly intense phone interview with previous members of the Fellowship. It's competitive and there are teams from all over the country who apply each year so we did not know what our chances might be. This week, we were very excited to find out that our team was one of 16 who were accepted! We will be going to quarterly week-long retreats in various locations around the US to work on skills that we can apply to community health and wellness efforts. Our first retreat is at the end of January in Scottsdale, AZ. I am looking forward to meeting people from all over the country and having new experiences that will help our work here in Unalaska. Here's more info on the Fellowship:

The Museum of the Aleutians is having its annual auction fundraiser Saturday night--another "can't miss" event. You wouldn't believe all of the fabulous items up for bidding--though the best ones go way too high for us. We just like being in the middle of it all, even if we don't bring anything home.
Otherwise, we are just counting down the days till vacation--15 to go! Can't wait to see everyone back in Texas, especially those grandkids!