There is a kitty-shaped hole in the family now that Marilyn, my sister’s oldest kitty, is gone. He was the sweetest, friendliest kitty I’ve ever known.
I remember when he and his brother were tiny kittens, running and climbing all over Heather’s Manhattan apartment. It wasn’t unusual to find them in the upper kitchen cabinets or on top of the fridge. When he was older and was recovering from a surgery necessitated by eating too much styrofoam, Heather brought him to NJ during a visit to my apartment. Despite a zipper belly full of staples, he still managed to get up on top of my 55-gallon aquarium.
After the aquarium incident, I put him in the bathroom for the rest of the night. When I checked on him the next morning, he was gone. One door, one closed window, and the cat had just…disappeared. My sister’s favorite cat, gone. After I had a heart attack, I finally checked the under-sink cabinet and found him there, quite content. It must have taken some effort to get in there.
Marilyn was very old, and had some health scares this year, like when the stress of moving for the second time in a year taxed his frail little body, but he always bounced back. Unfortunately this time was different, and Heather determined the most loving thing she could do was let him go.
Goodbye, sweet Marilyn. You were a king among cats and will be keenly missed for many years to come. Please tell Julia I miss her, too.
So I heard it’s 2013? Oh, for a while now, you say? I was too busy to notice, what with being chained to my desk. Fortunately that means I’m still employed, and doing lots of good stuff. This year I’ll be sending dispatches from glamorous places like Milwaukee. I’ve never been to Milwaukee, but I hear they have good pretzels.
Seriously, this year is flying already. Every week I think, “If I can just get through this week…” and by Friday I’ve already got every hour of the next week planned. I want to make room to blog again, so bear with me (she says for the fifth entry in a row).
I did get to do some relaxing recently when I visited my family to belatedly celebrate my sister’s birthday. She brought me some little Siamese cat figurines that she had accumulated and told me to take any I wanted:
I took the three that our mom thought might have been hers as a kid, and brought them home for Sweet Pea to examine:
Cute, right? Except, if you know cats, you have already figured out that what she was really sniffing was where the treats had been. Here is the exact moment she figured out that there weren’t any more, and decided she was done with this little exercise:
Four things I’m loving right now:
1. Silver and copper cherry blossom jewelry from etsy seller HapaGirls (ring, $35, earrings $30)
I’ve been wearing the ring almost every day. I usually wear large earrings, but these are perfect when I want something more subtle, and I love cherry blossom anything.
2. Bumble & bumble Color Minded UV Styling Balm ($28/4.2 oz)
If you’re wearing the red hair you should have been born with, try this to keep it in place. I tried Aveda’s color care product and wasn’t impressed, but since I started using this, my stylist always comments how well the color has held up 6-8 weeks out.
3. Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural, N45 ($19)
Sephora describes this color simply as ‘red,’ but clearly it’s a fuschia red. But what’s remarkable about this lipstick is that it doesn’t dry my lips. I tried to make MAC work for years before finally realizing that all of their lip products just dry me out. Lipsticks, glosses, all of it. But this formulation feels like a balm — I could wear it every day. Best $19 I’ve spent this year. (Well, $15.20 — I waited for Sephora’s VIB sale!)
4. The music of Gin Wigmore
I guarantee you’ve heard her music on commercials in the last month — Heineken, Lowe’s. I downloaded everything I could get and she earned permanent rotation in my car for about four weeks straight. One of my favorite artists to come along in a very long while. I’d tell you which songs are my favorite, but I can’t narrow it down to fewer than five.
…for the next three weeks, I predict.
We always talk about having some of my photos printed to hang in the house, but we’ve only managed to pull the trigger a couple times. Fortunately I had just sorted through my favorite Glacier photos when CanvasPress had a 50% off sale for Labor Day! We may have gone a little overboard, but I’m happy to have so many of my photos reminding me of an amazing vacation.
They came out great — if you want to create your own art, I highly recommend signing up for CanvasPress’s emails, because they often have great flash sales around holidays. The best strategy is to already have a folder of the photos you want to print, because the pressure of having to make a decision quickly has paralyzed me many times.
The other thing I wanted to do is create note cards from my prints. I threw in a sheet of matching postage for a finishing touch!
(If you want some of my cards, you can order them directly from my new Zazzle store! Send me a comment if you want me to offer a different product! I hope to add more photos over time.)
On our way back to Missoula to fly home, we stopped very briefly at the National Bison Range. Bison are my favorite animal, and there is even a movement to have them declared the national mammal. Plus, they are delicious. Anyway, you can drive through the range and see them grazing right along the road. You can step out of your car as long as you don’t wander into the grass. There are some other critters living on the range as well, such as bears, elk and a mountain lion, but we only saw a pronghorn. Still a great drive — wish we’d had time to do the full loop! Next time, for sure.
The rest of my Glacier photos are just assorted images taken along Going-to-the-Sun Road (except for the first, which was taken in Many Glacier).
The first photo was our only grizzly sighting, which was right after we missed the grizzly at Grinnell Glacier. She was by the side of the road with her three tiny cubs, and lots of people were stopped to watch. We were a little late and the crowd was large, so the only photos I got were after they ran across the street to another meadow. A couple idiots followed her deep into the meadow with their cameras. By then I had my telephoto out and was poised to deliver on the results of this foolishness, but they made it out okay.
That same evening, coming back home via the St. Marys entrance, we spotted a black bear munching on berries by the side of the road. This one wasn’t concerned with the growing crowd and let us shoot to our content. We took off just as the rangers showed up to end the party. (Yes, that’s twice in one evening that we participated in a ‘bear jam,’ one of the first things they tell you not to do at the park. I had good intentions, but telling people not to pull over and gawk at bears is hopeless. The second you see one, good intentions go out the window.)
Going-to-the-Sun Road: not for those with a fear of heights or a distrust of 90-yr old roads.
Logan Pass is an interesting deal. It’s one of the busiest areas of the park, so guidebooks advise that you arrive before 10 AM if you want to park. There’s a visitor’s center and a boardwalk through an alpine meadow, which gives way to several snow fields (even in August) and then a combination of boardwalk and path out to the Hidden Lake overlook. You can usually continue down to the lake if you wish, but that part of the trail was closed due to bear activity when we visited.
The greatest irony of this trip is that we mostly tried to do the less-popular trails so we’d see more animals, and our best sightings happened when we were surrounded by people. If you go to Glacier, Logan Pass is the mountain goat jackpot. They generally pay humans no mind at all. Plus it’s a pretty easy little ‘hike,’ considering most of it is either boardwalk or flat.
One of the things I love about the national park system is that the NPS has maintained the right balance of modernity and nostalgia. When Glacier opened, people arrived by train to stay all summer and traveled the trails by horseback, staying at the various backcountry chalets, of which only two remain. Watching so many families enjoy their vacations together, or even just walking around through the lodge on a summer evening, really hits home for me. It feels like the rightest thing in the world.
That was the sappiest introduction for what I wanted to say, which was just that it was a little surreal to come upon Hutterite families several times in the park, looking like they’d stepped out of Little House on the Prairie. Logan Pass was the first place we spotted them, enjoying the snow. Pictures of that and everything else, below (and more after the jump).
More alpine scenery (and goats!) after the jump… Continue reading Logan Pass
Here’s where (I think) it gets good – this post and the next one contain some of my very favorite photos from our visit to Glacier.
The first time we visited Glacier, we didn’t get to see any glaciers up close. The most accessible one for day hikers is Grinnell, so this time it was my top priority. We had to drive several hours to get there — around the bottom of the park and up to the Many Glacier entrance — but everything about the day was worth it.
The hike to Grinnell is spectacular — it starts beside a lake, climbs up above the teal-blue Grinnell Lake, meanders up the side of a mountain (including under a waterfall) and through alpine meadows, before the final ascent past a larger waterfall and up some tallus. When you get to the glacier, I don’t know how to describe it except that you may as well be on the moon, for as alien and still as it feels up there. I expected it to be novel, but it was awe-inspiring.
The wildlife wasn’t bad, either. We got a late start, so 99% of the hikers we encountered were coming down. For the last mile and a half, all of them felt it necessary to warn us of the bighorns and the grizzly near the top. Not having seen a bear yet during the week and a half since we’d arrived, we were ready! Unfortunately the bear scrambled up the ice and over the glacier before we got to see him, but we did have a close encounter with a bighorn. He came close enough to decide we merited a warning stamp, then decided we were okay and ignored us.
Touching Grinnell Glacier!
Grinnell Lake and Angel Wing
I don’t know what these berries are, but they looked like little Christmas lights to me.