Monday, January 08, 2007

Hanging out in Seattle (and Victoria)

I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's, staying with Jay and Jennie, being a slug - although a slug having a lot of fun (no salt) - we went to a hockey game, went out for sushi, hung out with Jennie's friends, had Starbucks (and Starbucks, and Starbucks), watched movies, met up with an EIS classmate, took Grandma out for lunch, raided each other's digital music collections....
Here I am in front of the UW library - Jennie works in the U District on the Ave, so I walked around campus with Jay on our way to pick her up from work. (He's an archeology PhD student at UW and does field research in Corsica during the summer - tough gig!)

Out with Jennie's friends from work - definitely a fun bunch!

Coffee with Jennie and Jay! Wouldn't be a trip to Seattle without it!
December 30-31, Jennie and I drove up to Vancouver and took the ferry across to Victoria to see some friends I had met in Costa Rica earlier this year. On my May vacation, I went to a tiny little beach town on the southern Pacific coast (Uvita). The only other people in the hostel when got there were three Canadian college guys. They were going to eat when I got there, and I was hungry, so it was a natural alliance. :) I hung out with them all week and had a blast! They were so good about hanging out with a girl and totally made my vacation - Costa Rica picture after swimming in a waterfall for reference below.....So, I decided to go see them in Canada ... different attire, but just as fun! They put us up, let us meet their families, showed us around Victoria...... fed us, entertained us, took us to a hockey game.... I asked Jennie if all Canadians are this great, or if I had a biased sample - she thinks they're mostly this great. Maybe I should move to Canada, eh? I like the flag. :)

Christmas in Seattle

For Christmas, I flew up to Seattle to spend time with the Thwing family. I'm very close to my cousin Jennie, who is 6 weeks younger than me. Her dad is my dad's older brother, and I have spent Christmas with them almost every year since my parents went back to Cameroon. This is brunch on Christmas morning with Uncle Ted, Jennie, her husband Jay, Aunt Cathy, my cousin (Jennie's brother) Andrew and his wife, Christy. It's always delicious!

Stocking and Christmas present time! I think Jennie and I have a picture of us just like this at age 2, and for a good many of the years in between!

Jay "wearing" the tree skirt - you know, when you're six foot four, no one can make fun of your clothes!

Later in the afternoon, the extended Thwing family comes over for our family Christmas celebration. This is my grandma - it's such a treat to spend time with her!

After a great dinner, we play our own version of a white elephant gift exchange (although the presents are actually nice), which gets very funny and occasionally rowdy! Here are some aunts and uncles enjoying a good laugh.

After presents, we always have Jesus' birthday cake - one candle for every family member and guest - some guests become permanent family members (this year, we had a third Christmas engagement announcement) and some last a year or two, but everyone gets a candle. It takes longer and longer to light! And the youngest - this year Payson - gets to blow them out!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


December was unseasonably warm, even for Atlanta - we had multiple 70 degree days - I took myself to the zoo on a particularly gorgeous Saturday afternoon. I love the gorillas!
Sapna and I got a Christmas tree and had the "ashram" over to decorate - this is Vishnu, who came from India this year to marry my friend Nandini, decorating his first Christmas tree!

Class Christmas party - any excuse to wear a little black dress, right?

I actually also got a lot of work done in December - we finally finished the analysis of the Niger data, and I spent a lot of time on the final report, both written and power point, which I had the opportunity to give for some visiting representatives of the Canadian Red Cross, who had funded the bednet distribution. I'm also working on getting a study for the coming year in Kenya off the ground, as well as hounding the states to get their last few reports of malaria in for 2005 so I can start working on the 2005 domestic malaria summary. There's an annual summary of all the cases of malaria treated in the US that the first year EIS officer does - and this year, that's me! I've been telling people I'm giving birth to triplets - trying to juggle all the projects and keep them all going forward.
I flew to Dallas for my former roommate's (Aruna) official engagement ceremony. It's a pretty long ritual, involving the whole family - I think you must feel very engaged after it's all over! This is the whole family gathered around to take part....

And the beautiful couple - those wreaths around their necks weigh a ton!

Being in Dallas all weekend allowed me to hang out with my little sis and catch up with some extended family. My Grandpa Will has had a rough patch lately and is now in a rehab hospital, so I went with my Grandma to visit him. He's looking pretty good for his 90s, eh?

My mom's youngest sister Gayle was in from Arizona, so I got to spend some time with her. In the picture are: my cousin Jodi, my aunt Gayle, my sister Laura, me, my Aunt Jeri, and my Uncle Rick. I hadn't gotten to see them in awhile, so it was a special treat!


Yes, these were my feet at Thanksgiving! I drove down to Florida for Thanksgiving to visit my friend Lee, who lives not too far from Destin, Florida. It was spectacular! One afternoon, I took a walk down the beach several miles to the town of Seaside, where "The Truman Show" was filmed....Bought some fresh seafood and made Lee and Dave my favorite shrimp and my favorite mussels..... Read on the balcony......

Sunrise off the balcony in front of my room - Lee's house is the kind of place that beckons you into conversation with God. Who can wake up to a view like that in the morning and not feel compelled to say hi (and thank you) to God?

At sunset, Lee, her son Dave (who was there from the Navy base in Pensacola), and I would haul wine, cheese, fruit, and crackers up the turret to the top balcony for happy hour and sunset watching. This is Dave and me.

Lee and Dave at happy hour in the evening sun

The last rays of the setting sun...I hope to be back!