holidays on ice.
on the twelfth day of christmas, a penguin gave to me:
twelve blazin' redfish*,
eleven flights cancelled**,
a ten-minute shower,
nine GAs shoveling,
eight kiwis drinking***,
seven hours resting,
six days a-working,
five skua eggs!
four free meals,
two bunny boots,
and a flight on a C-130.
* crumbed and deep-fried spicy fish, usually served in the galley when they're out of other meats. not a particular favorite, except among skuas.
** a common occurrence, especially around the holidays when everyone is hoping to receive christmas package mail from the states. a C-17 loaded with package mail was scheduled to arrive last week wednesday but was cancelled due to 'mechanical and weather issues.' many tears were shed.
*** the kiwis (new zealanders, not flightless birds) that live at nearby scott base are legendary for their drinking fortitude. sometimes spotted running around naked, indoors and outdoors, in the wee hours.
happy holidays from the bottom of the world!
christmas has come and gone on the seventh continent, and a lovely time it was. with the help of volunteers, the galley served up an astounding meal featuring huge trays of shrimp cocktail, loads of freshies that had arrived at the 11th hour from christchurch, homemade pies and cookies, beef tenderloin, seasoned-tofu puff pastries, and a tower made of cappuccino-flavored frozen heavy cream. wine and conversation flowed freely, and everyone was happy, clean and in a festive mood.
I was lucky enough to have both saturday and sunday off, so on friday night I went all-out at the town christmas party. the heavy shop at the vehicle maintenance facility had been emptied of all forklifts, drums of grease, and sweaty coveralled mechanics and filled with trays of hors d'oeuvres, shiny decorations, and canned christmas music. photos of peoples' friends, families, and pets sent from home were projected onto a giant screen in a continuously looping slide show. my family sent me a photo of Tate (see above) that garnered several appreciative comments to the effect of 'your nephew is so cute!' (who would dress their nephew in that outfit is beyond me, but hey -- different strokes.)
our christmas choir performed a forty-five-minute set at the party, and in spite of technical snafus too numerous to mention, the crowd seemed appreciative and sang along with gusto. later, after the instruments had been put away and I'd fortified myself with some olives and chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, I danced my booty off until approximately 1:30 am. brian, one of the airfield supervisors (the people we radio for permission to approach the planes on the ramp), was DJing, and played some excellent tunage. brian says that the difference between a bad DJ and a good DJ is that the bad DJ plays what he likes to hear, whereas a good DJ plays what everyone wants to hear -- such favorite ditties as Dancing Queen by ABBA, Celebrate by Kool and the Gang, and Love Shack by the B-52s. by that measure alone, brian is one helluva good DJ.
speaking of DJing, last week I was featured as a guest DJ on the local AFN (Armed Forces Network) radio affiliate, 104.5 FM. people from the mcmurdo community are allowed to sign up to DJ during weekly two-hour slots. my friend jeff has a slot every tuesday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00, and I often sit in the studio and knit while he plays music and talks. he and I decided that we should have an ongoing 'Shuttle Cindy as guest DJ' spot during the show, so for my inaugural session I played two shuttle-themed songs: 'Go Faster' by the Black Crowes and 'Hitch A Ride' by Boston.
being a radio DJ is a funny thing. here you are, in this little room without windows, surrounded by shelves crammed full of CDs and records, talking into a little mic and sending your thoughts out over the airwaves. it's enjoyable for purely selfish reasons, and entirely possible to forget that people are out there listening to your drivel -- until someone calls in to comment on your last selection or to request something else. I actually got a call from a listener who appreciated the Boston tune. jeff's show is also great in that he features such ongoing highlights as Parse That '80s Song (in which he play something cryptic like We Built This City by Starship and then deconstructs the lyrics) and the Poem of the Week. and now Shuttle Cindy.
but the highlight of my holiday was christmas caroling at mac ops, which is the communications center for all american stations and field sites in antarctica. the choir, complete with keyboard and two guitars, crammed into the comms room and sang over the high-frequency radio to the south pole station and the WAIS (western antarctic ice sheet) and fosdick mountains field camps. better than singing was hearing them respond over the radio with thanks and caroling of their own!
crackle crackle mac ops, mac ops, this is WAIS. copy?
we copy you, WAIS, on 11335. go ahead.
feedback crackle thank you for the singing. it was much appreciated. pause crackle stand by for the WAIS holiday choir.
and then there would be the faint sound of vigorous, slightly off-key singing. a bunch of people, who for the last month had been sleeping in tents and going without showers, sang The First Noel back to us. and all of a sudden it really felt like christmas.
tomorrow is going to be awesome. the russian icebreaker is scheduled to arrive at our ice dock, and I'm off to snow survival school. more on those later, as it's bedtime for me.
merry christmas / happy hanukkah / kwanzaa wishes to all.