Open air

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Mark, having grown up in Idaho talks about the open air, the big sky that he had growing up. DSC_0080

I get it, and I’ve seen it many times.  It is this vastness, this tall, tall air up above us.  nothing to cover it, nothing touching it, for miles.

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And I do like it when I see it, when I have it, when I am surrounded by it.  I like it a lot. It makes you feel small, in this huge open space.  It usually comes with silence, deep silence.  I like all of it too.

But I know this open space also comes with dryer, warmer days.  And as oppose to Mark, I grew up with trees.  I grew up with rain (lots of it), and trees, lakes and rivers (large ones.) And I love that too.  It does actually feel more like home, when I have these with me.  Even though I love this big, tall blue, I need green.  I need water.

I think it’s funny how the place we grew up in, makes such a large impact in our lives.  We were just laughing few days ago, because Mark was commenting how done he was of the rain we’ve had.  He needed a break from it, and he needed it to be dry, even just for a little while.  Siena and I smiled, because we both love the water.  The rain.  I feel like I actually need the rain in my life, and I’ll take all of it as it comes.

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This is the sight to both sides of the road. DSC_0227

I will take this sight though.  It is so beautiful.  All of it.  Its quiet-ness, blue-ness, dry-ness, windy-ness, dark-ness, open-ness, tall-ness.  Yes, all of it.  Because I know soon enough I am always coming home to my rain.

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Left behind

DSC_0086 When I see empty buildings, it always makes me wonder what the story is behind the lives, the families, the people that lived here.

DSC_0087DSC_0096 This mobile home still there, with lamps and shades and shelves, but all ripped from the walls and fallen.

DSC_0159 DSC_0162DSC_0128 I am no architect or engineer but it makes me wonder why they built this rocks and wood pieces that makes wonder its stability.

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DSC_0095The house almost still standing, but yet, mostly gone.

DSC_0152 DSC_0153 DSC_0158 DSC_0167 Farming equipment left behind, covered by grass and oxidized.

DSC_0169 DSC_0175 At the end of a road, not well traveled.

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DSC_0195DSC_0192 The gate still swinging with the wind.

DSC_0198 DSC_0200 Hinges and hooks meant to withstand the rough cold winters and hot summers as well as the strong winds.

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The recycler and thrifter in me makes me hope it could be saved, or the materials re-used.  But I think this is fine too, I guess.  I love the colors and the sight nevertheless.  I love it that makes me think of the history and the stories of these places.  But it also makes me think of what I might be leaving behind when time comes.  And what it will all look like.  I am sure there will be people who will be wondering then what all that I am leaving would have meant to me.  And so the stories are being built.

the hill climb

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Mark and Siena have climbed this hill a couple of times, and Lucas has always been too little.  This time though, they all three went with Grammie.

DSC_0072 Yes, that hill in the middle of the photo above.

DSC_0075 DSC_0078 DSC_0093 We went to the end of the road, and then to the right.

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Then they left, to this thing they do when we go to Grandpa and Grammie’s cabin, but this year a little different, as it is every time, as the kids grow and change.DSC_0104

That hill from down here, didn’t seem like much, but as they got further and started to climb, the stories we heard, and then we looked at the pictures Mark took, looked very different up close.

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Rugged, rough.IMG_0271 Steep.

IMG_0274 Cold, hot. Dust. Sagebrush.

IMG_0276 Snow. Rocks. Cold.

IMG_0277 IMG_0281 Tall.  Windy.

IMG_0269 IMG_0282 IMG_0283This is their view from the top.

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And this is what we saw from the bottom, with a zoom in the camera.

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Then, on the other side of the hill…IMG_0290 IMG_0298they saw elk.

IMG_0293 And taller hills. Trees. Mountains.  More snow.

IMG_0296 Sky.

IMG_0297 Yes, I get it.  This is the open-ness Mark talks about missing.

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From top of the world…

outside with the animals

DSC_0270 DSC_0272 DSC_0278Daily check of the chickens to see if there are eggs.  And yes there were!

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We rode in the back of grandpa’s pickup and visited  his neighbor.  He has lots of cows and new calves.IMG_0401 IMG_0408

We actually got to see one being born.  That is not something we have a chance to see in the city.

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Highland cows with their shaggy hair back at grandpa’s…  DSC_0298 DSC_0019DSC_0288 We got to help feeding them all.

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But mostly we watched them.DSC_0287 DSC_0301 DSC_0302 DSC_0305 DSC_0307 DSC_0310

A little calf born a week ago.DSC_0308 DSC_0309

Lots of hair, free-range eggs (for that delicious angel food cake we tried!) and lots of fun times being outside.

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Visiting

The day we arrived in Idaho, was a beautiful clear, sun shining day.  The drive was gorgeous.  Since we had left so early that day, the sun was still up and a little warm, the air was crisp and clear. DSC_0049

There was still snow patches on the ground at grandpa’s place.

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The mountains were still with snow too.  DSC_0056 DSC_0053

And this hill here in the center, was waiting for them to hike.  A hill Mark and Siena have climbed a few times in the past few years.  The last time being 4 years ago.  This year, Lucas was invited as well.

DSC_0058 There was sitting and relaxing and talking.

DSC_0061 There was reading, and talking and catching up.

IMG_0305 There was cooking and baking of a delicious angel food cake (with farm eggs!)

IMG_0309DSC_0326 DSC_0329 And eating.

IMG_0412 IMG_0418IMG_0242 IMG_0416There was dog playing, and hang out.

IMG_0250 There was watching and hanging out, and resting and photographing.

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Yes. Lots of playing!IMG_0370 DSC_0319 New kites and no worries of getting tangled with trees or cables…

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(…and we noticed that our Portland eyes are not very accustomed to the Idaho sun just yet…)IMG_0336 IMG_0345 IMG_0365IMG_0256IMG_0426

Fun few days visiting grandpa and grammie.

The long way there

We went to visit our family in Idaho this week. We left very early one day and this is what we saw on our way.  This is the (long) pictorial story of our long drive Eastward.  Go get a cup of tea, it gets cold, and it was beautiful.

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I fell asleep as we left (and the kids did too) as Mark drove that early morning.  When I woke up, the sun was coming up and the sight was unbelievable.  It always is.             IMG_0039IMG_0040 Oh the colors…

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The reds, yellow, oranges, purples, blues, all of them, all at once.IMG_0049 IMG_0050 IMG_0052 IMG_0060

A beautiful sight.

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The colors as well as the view outside the window changed as the minutes and hours, passed and we (Mark) kept driving.

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From mostly (dark) greens to browns and some greens spread across. IMG_0070 IMG_0072 IMG_0074 IMG_0077 IMG_0078 IMG_0079 IMG_0084 IMG_0087

As we passed the Blues Mountains, reaching the summit, there was this thin white blanket that made the view outside our windows almost magical. Just a dust of white as a cake is sprinkled with powder sugar for accent and a delicate touch, barely covering the grounds for few miles.  And we could feel the chill in the air.  I love that cold air coming through your face, knowing we were warming up soon.

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We left our house what it felt like the middle of the night.  So the kids were in PJ’s until we stopped on our regular spot for a break.

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Usually is lunch time by the time we get here… almost half way our destination.  But this time it was not even 9am. The park was closed for the season, and it was freezing outside.  A much different sight when we do this in the summer and it’s lunch time.  So this time was a quick breakfast stop and we kept on going in the warmth of our car.

IMG_0117 We saw snow in the distance, almost the rest of the way, as we headed East.

IMG_0120The sky opened, turning to a huge blue and white and gray ocean above and ahead, and all around us.

IMG_0128 IMG_0129IMG_0114 One of the things I look forward to in this drive, is seeing these white giants.

IMG_0125 At 70 mph (in Oregon) this time, made the trip a whole lot faster.

IMG_0119This new road trip-project had a great start.  With a planned 10-hour trip each way, I was excited to get all that time for knitting. As long as Mark was happy driving.  Which he did.

IMG_0123I had some time to play with our new camera too.  A small, lighter one to carry around in the purse or pocket, which I left handy and used for all these photos.  (I am happy how they turned out, but I think I should read the manual to know exactly how it works and not be surprised at what is happening while pressing the button!  Oh… details.)

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Sharing a book on tape I love hearing them laugh at unison, but not being able to hear what the story is all about.  It makes me smile every time.IMG_0155 IMG_0157

The Snake River.  The dessert.  The cement plant. The windmills.  The vast land.  The undulating hills.  The long road.  All are part of what will be our memories of this trip, this time around.  Each time different, at different stages of our lives.  This time, its own chapter, I know.IMG_0158IMG_0164 IMG_0167Lucas’s car game.

IMG_0162My knitting growing with each minute that Mark drove us East.  So thankful for this time.

IMG_0163 Music.  Audiobooks.  Conversations.  News.  Snores.  Silence.  Sleepy eyes. Closed eyes.  Open eyes.  Questions.  Answers.  Jokes.  Memories.  Laughs.  Stories.

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Cities. Towns. Farms. Mills. Sugar factories. Car lots.  New cars. Old cars. Tractors.  Snow.  Sand.  Pebbles.  Shacks.  Homes. Cabins. 18-wheelers. Corvettes.  Trucks.  Mini Coopers.  Trees.  Rivers.  Sage brush.  Plantations.  Bridges.

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Greens. Grays. Blues. Blacks. Grays. Reds. Yellows. Sun. Clouds. Rain. Snow flakes. Clear skies. Wind. Calmness.

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Freeways.  Highways.  Exits. Turns.  Straights.  Rest areas.  Gas stations.  Parks. Restrooms.  Road side stop. Dirt roads.

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Turn after turn.  Hill after hill. Snow.  Vastness. IMG_0213 IMG_0215 IMG_0216 IMG_0221 IMG_0222 IMG_0219 IMG_0225 IMG_0236 IMG_0237

And the snow is sparse but the air is fresh and thin and very large. IMG_0238 IMG_0240

And right up on the edge of these mountains, we arrived to the first stop in our visit.

Back to Earth

I have been watching and keeping up with Astronaut Scott Kelly and his year in space at the International Space Station.

Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this from March 2015.
Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this from March 2015.

I’ve posted few times this past year, with some of his pictures and videos.  Now that view from up above, the sights from his camera, are done, but there are others up there that I am sure we can follow and continue to enjoy the view of our world from afar.

"Earth Art : Desert Dunes" from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 28, 2016.
“Earth Art : Desert Dunes” from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 28, 2016.
Himalayas from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 24, 2016.
Himalayas from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 24, 2016.
Mountains from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 25, 2016.
Mountains from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 25, 2016.
"Near the top of the world" from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 24, 2016.
“Near the top of the world” from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 24, 2016.
Astronaut Scott Kelly, Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov Sokol suit fit check on February 23, 2016.
Astronaut Scott Kelly, Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov Sokol suit fit check on February 23, 2016.

For now, we are glad he’s safely back on Earth, together with the other Russian cosmonauts.  It can never stop to amaze me what technology and what humans are able to do.

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Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The news said last night “Two thumbs up from NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, seen here resting in a chair outside the spacecraft just minutes after landing in a  remote area in Kazakhstan.”

We are waiting to see more videos from his return to Earth and their families, and learn more about the experiments and research being done. But I’d say, that here at home, we are anxiously waiting to see a picture of Astronaut Scott Kelly reunited with his family and kids.  Something we’ve talked about for a while, how hard it must be to have a dad astronaut.   My family was teasing me last night, as we watched NASA TV live, and how stressful and so much happening at once, to make the return back to Earth, and how such a bad candidate I would be to be one of them.  I am so glad I an firmly grounded here on Earth.  Thank you very much.

But I am so glad someone else can be up there doing the hard work, and sharing with the world, these beautiful sights.

"Earth and fiery vein" from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 28, 2016.
“Earth and fiery vein” from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 28, 2016.
"Earth Art : Snow and ice make Canada" from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 28, 2016.
“Earth Art : Snow and ice make Canada” from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 28, 2016.
Ice from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 28, 2016.
Ice from ISS by Astronaut Scott kelly, February 28, 2016.

A year out of this world

I can’t really imagine what it would mean or what it would take to be at the International Space Station (ISS).  Actually I can’t even imagine myself getting inside a space shuttle for any amount of time.  I don’t like being inclosed in a small space to begin with, but also, I am not that adventuresome.  It doesn’t sound like fun at any level.  But I am very glad there are other people who do it.  I enjoy the results from their work.

But if I were to be OK flying off this world into space, I don’t think I could spend 340 days in yet another small space, “floating” in space.  I don’t think I could spend 6 months up there, or a month even.  I don’t know what it takes to become an astronaut, but I know I don’t have any of those characteristics.  I guess, enjoying the view from up there and taking pictures…. yes, I could do that.  Probably.  Maybe.  For few hours.  I don’t know.  Maybe not.

This is one of the responses Astronaut Scott Kelly wrote about a typical day up in ISS:

I wake up at about 6:45 am. I work most of the day on different experiments, maintenance and operations of the space station. I exercise, and I end my workday at about 7:30 or 8 p.m. I go to sleep about a couple hours later.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the pictures Astronaut Scott Kelly  I posted some pictures back in August, and I can’t tire of seeing his pictures (on Facebook) with all the shapes, and colors… what a view it must be from up there.  I find it incredible.  Incredible nature, colors, shapes, incredible that he could stay up there for a whole year.

I am really hoping Mr. Kelly publishes a book with his images, because I’d be the first one in line to get it.  Most of his photos look surreal, many times like paintings, abstract lots of the time, it is just amazing what our Earth is all about.

Here, I, by no means, want to take credit for his work by posting his photos that I’ve copied from Mr. Scott Kelly’s posts.  I just want to make sure I can still enjoy them until he does publish his book… (wishful thinking, right?)

And of course, I want to celebrate the completion of his (their) mission.  On March 1 (just few days from now) he (and the Russian cosmonaut) will return to Earth.  He will finally return home to his family and friends.  He will be with his twin brother with whom they are doing scientific studies to see what gravity and being out of it for this prolonged time does to his body.  And as this article says, he’ll have few things to re-adjust to.  I’m hoping we can watch his last live interview from ISS tomorrow.  And of course, we’ll continue to watch and read more about what it has been like this past year for him and everyone at the ISS.

For now, I am celebrating his accomplishment, because I have enjoyed what he has shared with us online.  Videos, thoughts, and these amazing images.  (You can see Time’s pick of Scott Kelly’s best photos.) I am forever thankful for the chance to see our beautiful, wonderful Earth through his camera.

%22When you think of beautiful things. Don't forget Earth%22 Scott Kelly from ISS Feb 1 2016
“When you think of beautiful things, don’t forget the Earth” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 1, 2016. Year in Space.
Snow from ISS.
Snow from ISS.
304th day in orbit = 4864 round Earth from ISS January 2016 Scott Kelly
“304 th Day in orbit = 4864 Round Earth” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS.  January, 2016.  Year in Space.
Sands of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 2016.
Sands of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 2016.
Africa colors from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Africa colors from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Colors of Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 16, 2016.
Africa - from ISS Scott Kelly Jan 2016
Africa. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS.  January, 2016. Year in Space.
Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 11, 2016.
Africa from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 11, 2016.

Astronaut Scott Kelly posted on Tumblr the description of this sight in Africa and he titled it, Earth Art : Out of Africa.  Do go visit when you have few minutes, it is amazing.

Africa - Jan 26 2016 from ISS Scott Kelly
Africa. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS.  January 26, 2016. Year in Space.
Africa from ISS by Scott Kelly on day 321
Africa on day 321. By Astronaut Scott Kelly from ISS. 2016. Year in Space.
Japan on Day 322 from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 12, 2016.
Japan on Day 322 from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 12, 2016.
Blizzard 2016 from ISS - Scott Kelly
Blizzard 2016. By Astronaut Scott Kelly from ISS. Year in Space.
Polar vortex from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 14, 2016.
Polar vortex from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 14, 2016.
Colors of the Earth - Scott Kelly from ISS Feb 18 2016
“Colors of the Earth.” By Astronaut Scott Kelly, February 18, 2016 from ISS. Year in Space.
Flowers frown in Space by Scott Kelly ISS - Feb 2016
Flowers grown in space by Astronaut Scott Kelly. February 2016. At ISS. Year in Space.
Iran from ISS - Scott Kelly
Iran. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. 2016. Year in Space.
Italy and the Alps from ISS by Scott Kelly - January 25 2016
Italy and the Alps from ISS. By Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS> January 25, 2016. Year in Space.
Morning Aurora in the PNW from ISS - Scott Kelly Jan 2016
Morning Aurora in the Pacific Northwest from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly. January 2016. Year in Space.
Morning Aurorai from ISS - Scott Kelly
Morning Aurora from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. Winter 2016. Year in Space.
Mother Earth by Scott Kelly - Feb 18 2016
“Mother Earth” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 18, 2016. Year in Space.
Ho Chi Minh City from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 15, 2016.
Ho Chi Minh City from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 15, 2016.
Snowy foothills of Iran from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 22, 2016.
Snowy foothills of Iran from ISS by Astronaut Scott Kelly on February 22, 2016.
Over a Shanghai night - Scott Kelly ISS Feb 8, 2016
“Over a Shangai Night” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 8, 2016. Year in Space.
Colors of Africa - Scott Kelly from ISS Feb 22 2016
“Colors of Africa” by Astronaut Scott Kelly, from ISS. February 22, 2016. Year in Space.

One of the last interviews to both of the astronauts at the ISS before they return home after a year in space.  And this website a really fun one to check as well.   I am hopping we can watch live their return back to Earth.

Scott Kelly himself, at the International Space Station on February 13, 2016.
Scott Kelly himself, at the International Space Station on February 13, 2016.

Thank you Mr. Kelly for sharing these beautiful sights with the whole world while you watched us from up above.