Showing posts from October, 2015

The path before me

"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose" - "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman For some reason that I don't entirely understand, I started taking pictures of pathways in 2011. I just love the look of a long, straight road stretched out in front of me. I always take the photos standing on the path and staring straight down its midline. Sometimes, the paths go on for ever, pinching off in infinity, but others have a determined end with something interesting on it. I especially love breakwalls, jetties, and docks - pathways that lead into the water.  The breakwall at Presque Isle, Marquette, MI, photographed at sunrise, April 2011. It's actually kind of a game for me to find interesting pathways to photograph when I travel. I'm always on the look-out for nice, straight roads, and I take my time getting set up for the shots. In fact, I so

Dinner party

New life goal: live somewhere with a large enough kitchen and dining room that I can host dinner parties on a regular basis. Ever since the Atlantis cruise this summer , my fellow OIMBers that participated in the cruise have been talking about getting together for a post-cruise gathering. We grew to be friends while at sea and wanted to spend time together without the pressure of a Sentry sample hanging over our heads. Well, after the cruise, we all parted ways, so the first time we were all in town and able to get together was this week. I ended up hosting the gathering, since I'm one of the only cruise participants with her own apartment. It was a lot of work, but I really didn't mind - I love being a hostess. Whenever someone comes over to my place, I encourage them to look around. Absolutely every decoration in my apartment is meant to be a conversation starter, and many of them originated in the far corners of the world. I love it when guests ask me questions. Grante

American Girl

"Well, she was an American girl Raised on promises She couldn't help but thinkin' That there was a little more to life somewhere else After all it was a great big world With lots of places to run to" - "American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers It's October 25th. It is October 25th, but my brain refuses to accept it. I'm now in Oregon, and the outside temperature is the warmest I've encountered in 2 solid months. I'm wearing short sleeves and crop pants while everyone else pulls on thick socks and extra jackets. If it weren't for the cheesy blow-up Halloween decorations in people's front yards or the ubiquity of pumpkin spice latt é s, I would have no way of knowing that it was already mid-autumn. My world is covered in crunchy gold leaves, but my skin still thinks it's summer. Coming home is always hard, especially after long trips. The first time my jet-lagged body woke up in the early morning in my dark apartm

Last stop

I made one last stop on my friend-visiting tour, in the Netherlands. My friend, Stefanie, lives in Utrecht, so I spent a few days at her place on my way back to the U.S. We climbed the Domturm (Cathedral Tower) in Utrecht, then did day trips to Den Haag and Amersfoort. It was great to see her! View from the top of the Domturm, Utrecht Stefanie and I on top of the Domturm Seen in Amersfoort, the Netherlands Seen in Amersfoort, the Netherlands

No holds barred

Toward the end of my week in Stavanger, I spent time with my old housemates at Kirkebakken. One former housemate, who moved out to get her own place just before I left, was kind enough to let me stay with her, and I also spent plenty of time at the house itself. To be perfectly honest, not much had changed - a few people had moved out of the house, but they all remained in the Stavanger area. Actually, one of my favorite things about the Kirkebakken community is that even after moving out, housemates remain friends. There are even a number of new Kirkebakken couples, I discovered, each one involving one current and one former housemate. It made me smile. I spent most of Friday evening on the brown faux leather couch in the second-floor living room, surrounded by Kirkebakkeners. We shared chips and dip and clever quips, in a conversation where every topic was fair game. These people know each other far too well for their own good, but the no-holds-barred nature of the exchange just ma

Et hjem

Hello, friend. When I left Stavanger last February, my housemate, Kanjana, made me a keychain. On one side, it has a sketch of our house and the name of the street, Kirkebakken. On the other side, in front of a psychedelic orange patterned background, the words "et hjem," Norwegian for "at home." I stopped by Stavanger to visit on my way back from Svalbard, and I must say, dear friends, it still feels like home. Ingeborg picked me up at the airport, and except for new coat she was wearing, both of us looked exactly the same. It was like I had left Stavanger yesterday. I spent my first few days at her place, and it was great to spend time together again. We ate Thai food one night and Indian the next. We went to see an indie Italian movie about a mob family. I was reminded of all my favorite things about Ingeborg: her generosity, her adventurous spirit, her love of ethnic food, music, and art, her classy fashion sense that always makes me look like a hobo. It w

Four Long Years

I'm not sure if you know this, but Longyearbyen is actually named after an American. His name was John Munro Longyear, and he was a pioneer of the coal mining industry on Spitsbergen. Longyear and I have more than nationality and an affinity for the Arctic in common, though. We were both born in the same state, Michigan, in the American Midwest. Not only that, but John Longyear was a notable timber and mining developer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and he served as mayor of Marquette, Michigan in 1890-1891. Just 118 years later, I moved to Marquette, Michigan, to earn my Bachelor's degree at Northern Michigan University. There is a Longyear Avenue in Marquette, not far from Northern's campus, and while I was a student at NMU, one of my dear friends lived in Longyear Apartments. The Longyear connection is actually one of many examples of recurring names and numbers in the lives of myself and my family. I won't bore you with the other examples here, but every time


"Es heißt ja nicht umsonst Spitsbergen!" "They don't call the island 'Mountain Peaks' for no reason!" - Ingo Schewe, translation mine Aurora borealis behind barrack 11. Photo by Adrian Pop. Dear friends, when I last left you, I told you the course was over. Well, in reality, most of the Master's students took off last weekend, but the Ph.D. students had to stay on and write an additional report. (Higher degree, higher expectations.) I'm actually grateful for that report, because it kept me in Svalbard for an extra 7 days, and when you're in the most beautiful place on the planet, every second counts. I've spent most of my daytime hours this past week in the UNIS computer lab with the report, but in the evenings, I was free to just breathe deeply and be in love with Longyearbyen. There was the night we all sat on the barrack 11 roof and watched the northern lights. Then there was that time we had a dance party in the kitchen. Ther

A real Viking

When I lived in Stavanger and would bike to work, the IRIS secretary used to call me "a real Viking." I worked up a sweat biking to work, so I didn't wear as many layers as she thought I should. Plenty of times, even into the late autumn, I would show up at work in leggings and a T-shirt, flush in the face and breathing hard. I'd come into the front lobby holding my bike helmet, and she'd tell me, "Kirstin, you are a real Viking!" I'd smile, push the sweaty hair out of my face, and make my way downstairs to the locker room. Classmates gather for dinner at the Viking round table at Kroa Well, friends, last night, I again felt like a real Viking. For starters, the final exam for my course was Friday morning, so my classmates and I fought valiantly against each question with our pens. After a break in the afternoon, we met for dinner at a restaurant called Kroa, in the center of Longyearbyen. One of the classmates had reserved a round table for

If you give a biologist a sample

Paradody of If you give a mouse a cookie and similar books by Laura Numeroff If you give a biologist a sample She'll want a microscope to look at it. When she sees the beautiful polychaetes and bivalves, She'll ask you for a pair of forceps to pick them out. She'll probably need a petri dish for sorting And a jar with some ethanol to store the specimens. She'll start to wonder what the organisms are, So she'll ask you for a dichotomous key, And when she's finally finished identifying the species, She'll want to know why they live where they do. She'll want to go on an expedition And run experiments in the lab. She'll ask you for a ship and a crew. She'll go out to sea for weeks at a time, Taking measurements and collecting sediments And strange, wonderful creatures from the deep. When she returns home, she'll be exhausted And probably want to take a nap. She'll ask you for a blanket and a pillow. She'll crawl