Saturday, December 30, 2006

time flies like an arrow. fruit flies like a banana.
oh my lord. it's been almost a month since my last blog entry. apologies to those of you who have been anxiously waiting with bated breath for the next installation in the saga of my exciting life. for those of you who just happened to check my blog between YouTube viewings and shopping at, well, hi to you too. and merry christmas.

december = busy busy!

early in the month, I was given the opportunity to accompany filmmaker Werner Herzog and his cameraman Peter Zeitlinger on a trip to the historic hut at Cape Royds. herzog is the director of the recent documentary Grizzly Man, as well as several other critically acclaimed films including the soon-to-be-released Rescue Dawn starring Christian Bale, and was on the continent as a grantee in the NSF's Artists & Writers program. according to his RSP, or research support plan, his goal for this project was to

reach a deeper stratum of truth, an "ecstatic" truth, and I have
ventured out to explore the "inner landscapes" of jungles and deserts, as if
they were not a backdrop...but a quality of the human soul.

to me Antarctica seems to be the unknown continent which allows us deep
insights into our past, te past of our entire planet, and an outlook into our
future...beyond the cute penguins which feature prominently in almost all the
films on Antarctica, I am more fascinated by the landscapes, the lesser
documented strange forms of life, and the scientists who study them.

I am in good physical condition, and have recently circumambulated Mt.
Kailash in Tibet at altitudes up to 19,000 feet. my cinematographer is a quite
physical man who used to play ice hockey in the czech republic.

who could turn down a proposal like that? I mean, ice hockey! in the czech republic! show him the money!

anyway, the historic hut at Cape Royds, like the one I blogged about earlier at Cape Evans, was used during the heroic age of Antarctic exploration by Ernest Shackleton and Co. it's located a few miles further north of Cape Evans, near an Adelie penguin rookery. the Antarctic Heritage Trust, a Kiwi nonprofit that maintains and curates the huts, has deemed that no one is allowed into them without a trained hut guide. the guides are there to make sure boots are brushed clean of volcanic soil before entering, that no one disturbs the artifacts within or without the huts, and to answer questions about the huts themselves.

so. herzog and zeitlinger needed a historic hut guide who was free on a sunday. hmmm.

was I free the next sunday? yup.

was I trained as a hut guide? definitely.

did I volunteer for the gig? of course.

do I ask questions and then answer them myself? you bet I do.

werner, peter, a couple of people from the science support department, and I set out for cape royds after brunch in a mattrack, which is a burly ford truck outfitted with rubber tracks instead of tires. we took along a huge box of snacks and
lunches, and in the back of the truck were the camera and sound equipment. werner travels remarkably light. you would think that a world-famous director would need scads of sound- and lighting-people, a publicist, someone to get him his coffee, another someone to drive him around, someone to carry his bunny boots, and so forth, it's amazing that he came down to the ice with (1) himself (2) a cameraman. we chatted on the way to cape royds. he's a very sort-spoken, approachable guy, sort of like a high-school history teacher with a thick jah-men accent.

when we arrived at cape royds an hour and a half later, werner and peter quickly set up in the hut. they wanted a few shots of the interior of the one-room hut, panning slowly 360 degrees, and they also wanted close-ups of some of the historic artifacts...old boots, cans of food, empty glass bottles, the cast-iron stove, woolen socks hanging from clotheslines strung across the room.

while they were filming in the hut, the rest of us walked around the area and peered across the way at the adelie penguin rookery. there were hundreds of little black-and-white penguins honking and lounging and preening and generally doing not much of anything. the rookery is off-limits to the average homo sapien, so we contented ourselves with hiking around the perimeter and getting views like these (above). adelie penguins are smaller and funnier to watch than emperors. they're like toddlers wearing snowsuits. emperors are more like members of the british royal family wearing snowsuits.

that was a great day. I'm sorry to say I didn't spend any actual time on-camera, but when their documentary is released, I'll stand up in the theatre and yell I was there! when footage of cape royds comes on the screen. doubtless I'll be pelted with popcorn and sugar babies, which I will triumphantly catch in my mouth.

for weeks prior to christmas, I was furiously knitting knitting knitting freshie hats to sell at the annual craft fair. the craft fair is held at the beginning of december and showcases an amazing array of goods created on-ice -- knitted and crocheted and felted bags, hats, scarves, and baby booties...ceramic teapots and tiles and pendants and made with silver, semi-precious stones, even handmade paper...gorgeous photographs of penguins, pressure ridges, glaciers and aurora australis...hand-knotted zipper pulls...bookmarks and greeting cards and stickers and postcards and tons of other amazing things. I set up a modest little table between two gals selling earrings and laid out the goods. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't sell any hats, but it turns out that folks are into the idea of looking like they're wearing fruits and vegetables on their heads. I sold thirteen hats -- a veritable cornucopia of strawberries, pumpkins, eggplants, summer squash, raspberries and tomatoes! occasionally I'll see one of my creations walking around town -- an eggplant here, a squash there -- and it makes me happy. five a day for good health.

for christmas, mama raytheon gave us a two-day weekend. my friends amber and kelly and I used it as an excuse to dress up in girl clothes and then gorge ourselves.

the chalet staff set up a beautiful (fake) tree, which we managed to take some photos in front of before it collapsed one day due to metal fatigue. we called it into the FEMC work order desk to schedule a repair and the scheduler was laughing so hard she could barely write down the information.
happily, the next day they sent no fewer than five FEMC foremen (construction coordinator, sheet-metal, electric, plumbing and carpentry) over to take a look at it, and within the next couple of days a pipefitter had it back up and looking festive again. alas, by that time it was time to take it down for the season.

here is a picture of my parents, my niece Tate, and the dogs in their front yard. my mom is holding Happy, their miniature pinscher, who at the age of ten still isn't house-trained. my dad is holding the new lab puppy, Kona Girl, whom he's planning to train in Search and Rescue work; and Maya, our twelve-year old.

the picture at right was sent to me by my friend Atlas. it's of a signpost out in front of the Dole Pineapple Plantation on O'ahu. heartening to see that antarctica made the signpost, along with such landmarks as pearl harbor and schofield barracks. especially in light of the fact that my friend KB, recently returned to oregon after wintering at mcmurdo, wrote to say that at a welcome-back party her parents threw for her, she actually had to explain to one of the guests that antarctica is not part of the united states.

and finally, here's a picture of me volunteering at this year's Women's Soiree, the event I co-emceed last season. the soiree is an all-woman talent show that sells raffle tickets to raise money for a new zealand charity. this year I decided to keep my involvement level low in order not to burn out, opting merely to dress up according to the 'carnival' theme and serve wine and cheese during the pre-event social. the handsome devil standing with me is father phil cody, the kiwi priest. we toyed with the idea of sending the photo to the new zealand dairy board, perhaps as something they could use in their billboard campaigns. but we figured the combination of orange feathered wig and member of the Society of Mary wearing a paper hat might be just a tad too difficult to write into an advertisement.
happy new year -- I promise the next entry won't be a month off!
love and ecstatic truth,