Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Long Way Down"...

Scotland to Africa

Dreams... especially travel adventure dreams are so deeply embedded in my soul... I can't stop thinking and talking about travel... so I wanted to share my latest favorite travel, adventure documentary shot in 2007, Long Way Down. It is a follow-up to the 2004, Long Way Round and is a motorcycle journey undertaken by two friends, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. They ride south through 18 countries from John o' Groats, Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. It's amazing...

ok... so I couldn't help but post this picture of Ewan... he 'rocks my world'


Sunday, November 9, 2008

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

A Russian Church, in Dutch Harbor, Alaska
My hotel, somewhere in Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Salvador Dali Museum, Spain

At the top of a Cathedral in Strassburg, Germany

Strassburg, Germany
One of my favorite lines from J.R.R. Tolkien is “Not all those who wander are lost.” I've always felt like a wanderer but I've rarely felt that I was lost.
When I graduated from High School one of the most import things on my mind was travel. I couldn't wait to buy my first plane ticket. I was ready to see the world and I wanted to go everywhere. My first trip on my own was to Houston, Texas, then Hawaii, then San Felipe, Mexico, then Mazatlan, next was Steamboat Springs, Colorado, then Washington, D.C., next was a Euro-rail trip (Germany and then France), then the next year I was in England, France, Germany, Italy, and then Spain and then I traveled to N.Y. City. Then, I took a break and got my Bachelor's degree, paused briefly after and then took myself to Alaska for 3 weeks. During many of these trips I tried to convince my friends to travel with me, I managed a few times to drag some on them along but travel for them was different and often difficult. My friends were looking for a vacation get-away but I always wanted something more.
After getting married and having kids, I had the opportunity to travel through my work around the U.S. That was great because I didn't pay for a thing and I was not away from my family long but I was able to spend time in Chicago, Houston, Denver, Atlanta and New York City. Then I headed for the Aleutian Islands in Alaska (scary plane ride with a lot of fisherman in a prop plane).
While I was married my husband and I traveled a few times across country with our kids (they have been in over half of the states) and I was also very lucky to have the chance to travel across the lower U.S. alone with my Dad a few years back... through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Missouri, Alabama and then to Georgia. That was fun, especially when I made my dad find a 'Whole Foods' for me in downtown, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
So this blog is dedicated to us travelers... and to future travel with my girls. I really hope to take them to Africa and New Zealand some day... and enough of the mowing the lawn (my metaphor for boring) and hanging out waiting for something to happen...

Go travel people... bring your kids, quit your job, sell your house... live


Friday, August 22, 2008

Just my favorite photos...

Addisen and Alexey, Chicago's Museum of Modern Art

Addisen hanging out in Cody, Wyoming

Alexey in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

Addisen, Stacey and Alexey in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Alexey and Addisen in Yellowstone National Park

Just my favorite photos..


Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Singing Elvis

Last week while I was driving home from work and I was talking on the phone (in Oregon we can talk on our cell phones, drive and listen to someone serenade us Elvis at the same time) to my Mom when an Elvis impersonator drove up next to me at a red light... he said, in his Elvis voice, "Helloo Baby"... I'm Elvis and then he started singing "It's Now or Never"... he followed along side of my car for at least 15 blocks, singing and laughing. Every time I'd try to get away... he'd speed up next to me... he even shouted out "don't try to get away from me darlin"... so I listened and then when he realized that he had missed his turn a few blocks back... he shouted out "See you on the Internet". What did that mean? Anyway, it was fun, funny and weird... so that's what they mean when they say... "KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD"

What was great about this is that the Elvis impersonator was freely doing his own thing... he had created his own world... I like that... but I still like the 'original' Elvis better.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Alexey... Relaxing in the Pool

Happy Alexey...

Pool therapy

Addisen... beauty meets mischievous

Just a few minutes prior to the beauty shot... this is what Addisen was doing

It's so great to see Addisen when she is calm but I also love this adventurous/mischievous side in her. I guess because it reminds me of myself. I know that this would aggravate a lot of parents but I love it!!! I love that she is floating her sandles down this 'human-made' stream in the middle of Windsor, California...

As Addisen would say ... 'You Rock'

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Family, Friends and Neighbors

Addisen at the Warm Puppy Cafe, Santa Rosa, CA

Carolyn and Jaden, Alameda County Fair - Pleasanton

Addisen, Madison and Deanna... B.Day Party at the Bowling Alley

Addisen, Mom, Dad, and Alexey in Windsor, Ca

The past few weeks in California have been amazing and I just wanted to say how much fun it was to be with my family again in California... lots of swimming and hanging out in the sun; meeting up with old friends... we tried to see everyone but didn't get to see all of our friends (sorry) and of course coming home to neighbors and friends at work... thanks for a great time in California

California Peeps - lots of love to Sabina, Mark, Ben, Chris, Kaitie, Faith, Andy, Dad, Mom, Dick, Carolyn, Lawrence, Jaden, Jackson, Deanna, Madison, Melissa C, Dawn, Steve!!! Thanks for the good times!!!!

Portland Friends - thanks Amy, John, Liam and Shawna for taking care of our animals and our house.

Portland SWCA - thanks for all the hugs and 'generous' Welcome Back to Portland I received when I got back into work last Wednesday.

Lots of Love

Stacey, Alexey and Addisen

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Dad, My Other Hero...

So Father's Day is coming soon and I wanted to take some time to talk about my Dad. I know there are a lot of great Dads out there but my Dad is by far the best Dad ever. He is kind, nice, and funny but most of all is alway there for me. I have posted one of my favorite pictures of my dad (on the right) and our family friend Richard... Good Times!!!

The only thing to say is I love my Dad...

Happy Father's Day ...


Friday, May 23, 2008

So you want to be a Volunteer...

I have always tried to instill in my girls since a very young age the importance of doing volunteer work. Once they started grade school I would tell them each year to pick something to do for someone else. When they were little we did things like visit the SPCA and donate money or for Hurricane Katrina we picked our a charity to donate money too and we also wrote letters to our representatives asking for more funding for Katrina rebuilding projects. But this year, since the girls are now 10 and 12, we decided we wanted to give our time.

So Alexey, Addisen and I decided to volunteer at the Oregon Zoo as Zoo Ambassadors. We volunteered not knowing what we would be doing or when but to our surprise we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer at this year’s Oregon Zoo Dinosaur Exhibit. Now, I may be an archaeologist and the field methods used might be some what the same but there is a big (no joke intended) difference between Archaeology and Paleontology. So, I was a little worried at first because there was so little that I knew about dinosaurs except for the T-Rex and a few others, but the girls were so excited and they seemed to really be interested in the Dinosaurs that I just went along for the ride. To prepare ourselves to become Zoo Ambassadors, Alexey, Addisen and I have had 16-hours of training at the Zoo over the past several weeks and surprisingly I actually now know what a Compsognathus is as well as what a Pachycephalosaurus and I can pronounce their names too…Amazing.

Anyway, as Zoo Ambassadors we volunteer 4-hours per week at the exhibit as a family from May through September 2008. The best part about it is that it is fun, we feel like we are making a difference in our community and we get to go to the Zoo as often as we like for FREE!!! It really is a great opportunity for the girls to give back to the community but also it is a great chance for them to get to know their local Zoo and to get to know the animals that live there.
The Exhibit Details:

As for the Dinosaur exhibit... it's fantastic and lots of fun. It is when tooth and tale come alive at the Oregon Zoo and where we are given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the wonders of prehistory, from the safety of the present. I heard a visitor say last weekend … “it’s too bad they have to be animatronics dinosaurs…”… what? what is this guy thinking. Anyway, the exhibit shows the dinosaurs in the ancient rain forest and this is where we come face to face with the gigantic moving exhibit. There is a section to dig for fossils, find dinosaur egg nests, and track a T. Rex, all while making dinosaur discoveries along the way. The exhibit trail is located near the Asian Elephant habitat (which is great as I love Elephants) and throughout the trail there are more than one dozen animatronics dinosaurs that roar, snarl, and move with lifelike ferocity.

Tomorrow, May 24th is our first official day as Zoo Ambassadors. We are really excited and hopefully on our first day it won't rain and the Dinosaurs will behave.
Take some time and Volunteer with your family.

Stacey and Girls...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Addisen and Alexey...

Just a last minute addition...

Horses and little girls... loads of fun. Oh and as promised the next blog really will be 'Volunteering at the Oregon Zoo'


Friday, April 25, 2008

A Horse, Fish and a Pug... Animals and Childhood

Childhood and Animals go hand in hand... When I was growing up in the Bay Area I always dreamed of having a horse for my own. I wanted a Palomino or Stallion. Every year on my birthday until the 6th grade before I blew out the candles on my cake I would wish for a horse. I just knew one day I would have a horse. Then one day... when I was in 6th grade on a Christmas morning my dad said to my sister and I "go out side and check to see whose there". It was a cold day and we weren't quiet sure what our dad was up to but we ran to the front door and when we opened it there was a beautiful Shetland pony. His name was "Rusty" and he was standing on our front porch. It was a great day.

Good ol' Rusty he was a beauty and soon I would come to find out that he also had a temper. One day after my dad had built our corral, shed/barn for our new pony he decided to put a 'big horse' saddle on Rusty and then he told my sister Sabina to get on... of course she refused (some sort of smart girl intuition that apparently I had not acquired) and so my dad told me to get on... so of course I did. Very soon afterwards I found myself flying through the air and landing on my back near the fence of the corral. I was stunned and a bit scared... all Sabina could do is laugh. We didn't have Rusty for long but he was quiet a horse and I did love him.

Anyway, a few years later when I was 15 I decided I wanted some fish and so I got a very large fish tank with about 1/2 a dozen different fish. Unfortunately, within a few weeks I had killed them all by over feeding them...

Now my daughter Alexey wants a pug this summer. I love dogs, so I am thinking I can't wait to get a dog this summer and as long as we don't put a saddle on the it or I am not in charge of the feeding than I think we'll be just fine.

Anyway what is childhood like without Pets. It teaches children responsibility, love, caring, acceptance... and you know the rest. 

Next Blog .... Volunteering at the Oregon Zoo... the animal theme continues...


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good Times.. Good Times...

Donner Lake, 2002

Idea: Think of a word or a saying that keeps you in the moment, or reminds you of the past, a word that keeps the peace or one that just makes you laugh.

My girls, Alexey and Addisen and I have picked up on a saying that just makes us laugh... 'Good Times... Good Times'... We say this around the house all the time and I like it because even when we're not having good times, I say it anyway. Annoying, yes... but good annoying (there is such a thing) you know.

So here's to past good times... and annoying good times to come


Monday, April 14, 2008

Music, Smarts and Happiness

Music = Smarts: The influence of music on society can be clearly seen from modern history. Music helped Thomas Jefferson (the good looking President) write the Declaration of Independence. When he could not figure out the right wording for a certain part, he would play his violin to help him. The music helped him get the words from his brain onto the paper. Also, in case you didn't know, Albert Einstein is recognized as one of the smartest men who has ever lived. A little known fact about Einstein is that when he was young he did extremely poor in school. His grade school teachers told his parents to take him out of school because he was "too stupid to learn" and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education. The school suggested that his parents get Albert an easy, manual labor job as soon as they could. His mother did not think that Albert was "stupid". Instead of following the school's advice, Albert's parents bought him a violin. Albert became good at the violin. Music was the key and even Einstein himself said that the reason he was so smart was because he played the violin. He loved the music of Mozart and Bach the most. Also, not to compare myself with Jefferson or Einstein, but when I was an undergraduate at San Francisco State University I learned that if I listened to classical music right after studying for a test and just prior to taking 'said' test that I would retain the lessons learned easier than with 'traditional' methods of studying and I have to say my grades did improve.

Music = Happiness: What is the relationship between music and happiness? You know that feeling when a song that really 'gets you' is played. There is a beautiful passage in a book called "Home of Gentry", by Ivan Turgenev, where the protagonist of the novel listens to a piece of music being played on the piano that touches him to the very depths of his soul. The power that music has over us is so incredible and so facinating... One great problem that arises in trying to study music's emotional power is that the emotional content of music is very subjective. A piece of music may be undeniably emotionally powerful, and at the same time be experienced in very different ways by each person who hears it. The emotion created by a piece of music may be affected by memories associated with the piece, by the environment it is being played in, by the mood of the person listening and their personality, by the culture they were brought up in: by any number of factors both impossible to control and impossible to quantify.

Happiness to me is anytime... anywhere that I hear Eddie Vedder's voice... I'm definitely happier and maybe even smarter too!

Go... Listen ... Be Happy...


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

King Corn

This documentary is amazing and if you eat corn or want to know a bit more about the corn you eat... go out and rent this movie. Here are some details to get you interested.

King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation.

In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.

Almost everything Americans eat contains corn: high fructose corn syrup, corn-fed meat, and corn-based processed foods are the staples of the modern diet. Ready for an adventure and alarmed by signs of their generation’s bulging waistlines, college friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis know where to go to investigate. Eighty years ago, Ian and Curt’s great-grandfathers lived just a few miles apart, in the same rural county in northern Iowa. Now their great-grandsons are returning with a mission: they will plant an acre of corn, follow their harvest into the world, and attempt to understand what they—and all of us—are really made of.

Ian and Curt arrive in the Midwest enthusiastic about their new endeavor. Iowa’s newest farmers lease an acre of land from a skeptical landlord and fill out a pile of paperwork to sign up for subsidies. The government will pay them $28 to grow their acre of corn—the first of many steps that reinforce the idea that more corn is what America needs.

Ian and Curt start the spring by injecting ammonia fertilizer. The chemical promises to increase yields fourfold, fueling the mission of abundance laid out for them. Then it’s planting time, and with a rented tractor, Ian and Curt set 31,000 seeds in the ground in 18 minutes. Their seed has been genetically modified for high yields and herbicide tolerance, and when the seedlings sprout, Ian and Curt apply a powerful spray to ensure that only their corn will thrive on their acre.

But where will all that corn go? Ian and Curt leave Iowa to find out, first considering their crop’s future as feed. In Colorado, rancher Sue Jarrett says her cattle should be eating grass. But with a surplus of corn, it costs less to raise cattle in confinement than to let them roam free: “The mass production of corn drives the mass production of protein in confinement.” Animal nutritionists confirm that corn makes cows sick and beef fatty, but it also lets consumers eat a $1 hamburger. Feedlot owner Bob Bledsoe defends America’s cheap food, but as Ian and Curt see in Colorado, the world behind it can be stomach turning. At one feedlot, 100,000 cows stand shoulder-to-shoulder, doing their part to transform Iowa corn into millions of pounds of fat-streaked beef.

Following the trail of high fructose corn syrup, Ian and Curt hop attempt to make a home-cooked batch of the sweetener in their kitchen. But their investigation of America’s most ubiquitous ingredient turns serious when they follow soda to its consumption in Brooklyn. Here, Type II diabetes is ravaging the community, and America’s addiction to corny sweets is to blame.

The breadth of the problem is now clear: the American food system is built on the abundance of corn, an abundance perpetuated by a subsidy system that pays farmers to maximize production. In a nursing home in the Indiana suburbs, Ian and Curt come face-to-face with Earl Butz, the Nixon-era Agriculture Secretary who invented subsidies. The elderly Butz champions the modern food system as an “Age of plenty” Ian and Curt’s great-grandfathers only dreamed of.

November pulls Ian and Curt back to Iowa. Their 10,000-pound harvest seems as grotesque as it is abundant. They haul their corn to the elevator and look on as it makes its way into a food system they have grown disgusted by. At a somber farm auction, Ian and Curt decide to tell their landlord they want to buy the acre. The next spring their cornfield has been pulled from production and planted in a prairie, a wild square surrounded by a sea of head-high corn.

King Corn was shot over the course of 2004 and 2005. The narrative is rooted in the rural town of Greene, Iowa (pop. 1015), where Ian and Curt grew their acre of corn.

Isn't this great!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

6 Pack Rings Drive Me Crazy...

When I was just out of highschool I became obsessed with cutting up plastic 6-pack ring holders and since my mother loved to drink diet Coke, I had plenty of cutting to do. I must have cut up 100's of platic 6-pack ring holders that I was afraid might find there way around some innocent birds neck out in the bay. Then, as time went on, I had a family and I got busy with life. Honestly, over the past 10 years I had not thought much about the plastic ring holders and though I never forgot to cut up my 6-pack rings, I was not quite the advocate that I use to be... until I saw the movie Happy Feet. I adore Robin Williams and when I saw the 6-pack necklace around his character 'Lovelace's' neck I was reminded of how important it is to cut up the 6-pack rings.

Here's how long it takes for some commonly used products to biodegrade, when they are scattered about as litter:
Cotton rags - 1-5 months
Paper - 2-5 months
Rope - 3-14 months
Orange peels - 6 months
Wool socks - 1-5 years
Cigarette butts - 1-12 years
Plastic coated paper milk cartons - 5 years
Plastic bags - 10-20 years
Leather shoes - 25-40 years
Nylon fabric - 30-40 years
Tin cans - 50-100 years
Aluminum cans - 80-100 years
Plastic 6-pack holder rings - 450 years
Glass bottles 1 million years
Plastic bottles Forever

So get out your sizzors and start cutting... or better yet, don't by anything products that still use 'plastic 6-pack rings.
Happy Days... Stacey, Alexey, and Addisen

Friday, February 1, 2008


You know those moments that are remembered throughout your life. They can take up on a few minutes of your life but it's amazingly facinating to me when these moments in time occur because they can change your life in an instant. I've had a few of these moments, one of them was very personal and the other I had no idea was going to happen, but they are important moments in my life.

One of these moments I planned (or at least I thought I had) and though I didn't really know what the outcome would be this was a moment that changed my life. It was a time when I revealed to someone something that I knew would break this persons trust in me. I created this moment because the feelings that I had for this person were beyond what I could handle and I felt that he'd be better off without me. So, I revealed a truth that I knew would likely end our friendship. I cared so much about this person but I could not allow myself to show this person my heart because I knew that where I was in my life at the time I could only cause this person pain. So, I felt by hurting the person now I could avoid causing more pain in the future. This person had a significant impact on my life. I still think about this person almost everyday.

The other moment happened up in Alaska. I had decided that I needed to spend some time in a place that would challenge me in a way that Paris or Mexico had not. So, I decided that Alaska was the place. One November day in 1991, I traveled to Alaska alone (hence the emphasis on alone...) and I decided after about 5 days in Anchorage that I would travel down to a little 'fishing' town called Seward. I didn't know much about Seward, I just knew it was on the water and it didn't look that scary on the map... scary meaning in Alaska if you drive to far into the wilderness and from 'civilization' you might not make it back. Well the days were getting shorter and the sky much more grim than when I had arrived but I got in my rental car and I headed down the highway. The town of Seward, though small, was amazing. I stayed at a local Bed and Breakfast and I was pretty happy or at least I thought I was until I visited the local grocery store in town.

One afternoon I decided it was time to get to the store and stock up on some groceries. The owner of the B&B I was staying at recommended a small, local grocery store in town. Now keep in mind I had not yet gotten out of Alaska what I had planned... sure it was beautiful and I was in total awe of the scenary, but I had not really opened myself up to the world of Alaska. Anyway, I headed out for the store and after walking through a few eisles I remembered thinking how understocked this store was... where were the croisants, the chevre , the rows of fabulous fruits and veggies that I was use to in California. But this was Alaska and items like Mangos (of course) were not easy to come by in the winter months in the town of Seward and although it was a port town; there was not a lot going on during this time of year. But, I still did not understand where the mangos were... Anyway, while I was hanging out in the 'magazine/book' eisle for a few minutes something happened. One of those moments, unexpected and one that caught me completely off guard. Out of the corner of my eye, just to my right a dark haired, native Alaskan woman appeared and she said "Are you waiting for this months "Mystery Magazine" to arrive too?" In that moment, my silly, mango, bay area life came to a halt... and there were brake marks on this moment. I was immediately humbled by her words and though I was not sure how to respond I said, "No, are you?" She then told me that she had been waiting for well over a month for the shipment to arrive with the latest "Mystery Magazine" as she was reading a story that was "to be continued"... This was the moment I'd been waiting for and it happened in a grocery store in Seward, Alaska. I had what I had come for and this moment changed my life.

Think about the Moments that have changed your life...


Friday, January 25, 2008

My Hero, The Dali Lama

The Dali Lama and The Three Commitments to Life

First - The promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. All human beings are the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who do not believe in religion recognize the importance of these human values in making their life happier. His Holiness refers to these human values as secular ethics. He remains committed to talk about the importance of these human values and share them with everyone he meets.

Second - The promotion of religious harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of each other’s respective traditions. As far as one truth, one religion is concerned, this is relevant on an individual level. However, for the community at large, several truths, several religions are necessary.

Third - The commitment to the Tibetan issue. His Holiness has a responsibility to act as the free spokesperson of the Tibetans in their struggle for justice. As far as this third commitment is concerned, it will cease to exist once a mutually beneficial solution is reached between the Tibetans and Chinese.

This is my hero... take a look and he'll soon be yours too


Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Talk with My Daughter Addisen

Last night my 10-year-old daughter Addisen asked me who I was planning to vote for ... for President. I pondered this question briefly and then replied... Barack Obama. Her response to my answer was good. She smiled and said, "I didn't want you to say Hilary Clinton." What? I thought... Where had she come up with the idea that Hilary Clinton would not be a good choice. Could it have been our brief visit to my sisters house in Santa Rosa. Since she has spoken to the man herself... and since she is a Barackamite... or was it me? Anyway, the great thing about last night was that she was interested in who was going to be 'ruining'... I mean running our country. I was so inspired, so we talked a bit more about what we would ask the candidates and she said her two questions would be and I quote... "What are you going to do about the environment?" and "How are you going to stop the war in Iraq?". She made sure to tell me that she knew how to spell Iraq. This was great to hear. We talked for about 30 minutes. Discussing the next president, the environment and the war...

so for what it's worth...

Go Barack!!!!