A little quote so you know I'm not dead - just on vacation.
A little quote so you know I'm not dead - just on vacation.
I was planning on writing a long post from the Seattle Airport yesterday, but it was hard to tear myself away from the Board Room, with its bagel bar, fresh juices and free booze.
OK, actually, they only have free internet access if you have a laptop. I, dear reader, do not. I crap outside, for the love of Pete, so I don't exactly have access to portable computer technology. Plus, I was too cheap to pay for use of a terminal.
I did, however, maximize my once-a-year use of the Board Room. I brought Tom, so he managed to make a sizable dent in their supply of bagels and breads. I did my part by attacking the free Bloody Marys with gusto. Gusto, I tell you.
It's less than 24 hours until I get on a plane and fly back to New England. And to be frank, I'm a little nervous. I haven't seen the family since October 2003. And I do love them and miss them, but sometimes I just get overwhelmed. Especially when I'm back in "civilization," surrounded by strip malls and highways and people. Alaska has really grown on me, and I worry that I'll start to get claustrophobic surrounded by the teeming masses of humans one finds Outside.
Of course, I also have to spend time with Tom's family. I've met most of them once before, but it still makes me nervous. They clearly know how Tom and I feel about each other, but that still doesn't make it easy to handle a smart-ass like me. To make things easier, I dyed my hair to some color that occurs naturally on human heads.
And finally, there's the inevitable pressure Tom and I will face about our relationship. So let me just be plain: We are not going to visit the families to announce any of the following:
- an engagement
- a wedding
- a baby
However, I have encouraged Tom to drop to one knee in front of me as often as possible to tie his shoes. That should keep people jumping.
December 16 brought Savage's Solstice Bonfire. And a few lessons:
- If Savage offers you something called "Uncle Milton's Eggnog," you might want to reconsider drinking it. If you do drink it, and you think, "Gee, this is kind of yummy. I wonder if there's any alcohol in it," stop drinking it immediately. If you make it through the first cup, please, for the love of God, do not drink a second, or third, cup.
- When someone from your dance troupe calls you the day after a party and your boyfriend tells them you're on the living room floor, hungover, in agony, it's hard to maintain your dignity when telling them you will not be attending rehearsal.
- No matter what your friends say about valuing your friendship, their actions at a party will speak far louder.
- If your computer is acting up and you call a shop to price out repairs, it can hear you on the phone. So if the shop recommends backing everything up, do it immediately. Otherwise the computer will immediately go on strike, and all your information will be locked in the hard drive.
If you like Bollywood, or even if you think you might be able to tolerate it, you should check out Chocolate.
OK, it balatantly rips off a pretty well-known American film. And you'll be able to guess which one by about 10 seconds into the opening scene. Why do I say rips off? Well, it's not a remake. The characters are different. The ending is different. Many scenes are different. But in the end, it is the same movie, with many lines being copied almost verbatim.
However, the cinematography and editing are excellent. The movie adds several classic Bollywood dance scenes. And, overall, I enjoyed watching it.
I suppose, on some level, I am aware that the cookies in the library are meant for the students who are studying for finals. And maybe they're not necessraily meant for me. But you know, I took some anyway. And I suppose it's some sort of karmic payback that I just ate a fruitcake cookie. Come on, people....fruitcake?
More Library of Congress stuff most of you won't care about:
drilling platform--moorings is drilling platforms--anchorage
Which hopefully won't be confused with a geographical subheading for drilling platforms in Anchorage.
See? I told you you wouldn't care.
Bollywood freak as I am
From the Oct. 18, 1974 issue of the Pioneer All-Alaska Weekly:
I know what they were trying to say: DHSS had earmarked $6.5 million in funding for alcoholism prevention programs. But by leaving off the $, the editors made it looks like there was a whole bunch of dedicated drinkers in the state. Which, especially during the pipeline days, was quite true.
Global warming is a great thing.
Now, before you hippies get up my butt about that statement, let me explain. See, Alaska is cold. I know you may think "Gee, Alaska is cold," and you probably also think you know what cold feels like, but you are most assuredly wrong. According to weatherologists, the average winter temperature in Fairbanks is -17 degrees. Kelvin. So while global warming may be very bad for, say, Pacific islanders, it sure makes Alaska more pleasant. Plus, the Midwest is getting closer to oceanfront property every day.
But I digress. I was busy pointing out that most people are
wimps warm. I usually am not. Tom will agree, as he emits a girlish shriek whenever I try to cuddle after a trip to the outhouse. But this morning, something was afoot. The air seemed merely cold, as opposed to frigid. When I started my car to warm it up, it turned over right away and it shifted into neutral. In fact, when I went to unplug my car, the cord was malleable, not frozen.
I can only conclude that this is a sure sign of global warming. And I welcome it. My family has believed me crazy for years now, since I voluntarily moved to Alaska and haven't returned. But overall, Alaska seems to be the more favorable place to live (thanks again to our good friend global warming.
- You have to sweat through eternally long summers, while I trip happily through fields of fireweed under the midnight sun.
- You shiver at 0 degrees F and put the car in the garage, while I plug in various parts of my car to keep them from freezing solid.
- You deal with noxious emissions from the millions of cars around you on the highway, while I deal with noxious emissions from the man next to me in bed.
- You get to pee inside where it's warm, while I go outside ... nah, you win that argument.
This was an educational weekend. To wit:
- When attending a business/social function, the cash bar may very well turn into an open bar. So buy your drinks carefully.
- Windows in cabins can break for absolutely no reason.
- Window sills on said windows make it very hard to seal them with plastic.
- There really is a Bollywood version of Top Gun.
- If you can't find a goth-industrial bellydance troupe in town, just form your own.
- Everyone wants my man. OK, maybe not everyone, but he's getting called for jobs left and right. His reputation precedes him.
- A 91 Toyota Corolla will start at -30 degrees F without being plugged in for several hours, but a 93 Subaru Legacy gives up after a few unplugged hours at -15 degrees F.
- Always bring a doggie bag to business functions. And if you wear a wig, make sure to take it off and let others try it on after a few hours.
Ah yes, I've finally reached that point of pondering the purpose of my blog. Is it to chronicle my life? To vent my frustration? To passively communicate with others?
And of course there's a reason why I'm wondering all this. I think I have been regulating and censoring what I say here so as not to risk offending people. Obviously I haven't been doing that great a job, since Tom won't give his parents the link. Something about too many references to drinking, drugs and/or debauchery. Hey, my parents still read it. But I have avoided certain topics that could create problems, or I've saved posts on them as drafts and never published them. In a way, it helps just to write and vent, but I fear upsetting people if I put them online.
And no, it's not idle gossip that I fear posting. My friends are all pretty well aware that most of what they tell me stays with me. I know when to spill and when to keep my mouth shut. And if I don't keep my mouth shut, I won't get to hear all the good gossip in the first place!
I'm not sure if there's a perfect solution to this - a third blog where I can speak anonymously and freely? Continued self-censorship? Putting it all out in the open? A big part of me wants to say "Fuck it if you can't handle my feelings" and just put it all out there. It's nothing I wouldn't say to anyone's face, so maybe I shouldn't worry about putting it online.
But I don't think I've found the right balance yet, so for now those posts will remain as drafts.
I'm at work now, waiting to start seeing the wire stories about people be trampled at WalMarts and Targets, trying to get cheap DVD players or limited video games. It seems like every year people go a little crazier at the day after Thanksgiving sales and the stores open a little earlier.
Sure, I didn't have to go to any stores this morning, But I am an American, so I did my part to support the economy. And I got an mp3 player. A really cheap one, too, but it's mostly for taking music to the gym. $19.99 buys you a little red 128 mb player that comes with headphones and a USB cable. Which is good because it turns out I need a USB cable for my new jump drive. Yep, got that today, too.
Since our home computer can only connect to the Internet at 26.4K, I can't download any of the photos, graphics or PDFs I need for work. My solution was to get a 1GB jump drive and download stuff at work, then bring it home. However, the two USB ports on the front of the computer don't work. The four on the back do, but are somewhat inaccessible. Which is where the mp3 player comes in, because I can use that cable to connect the jump drive, too.
Isn't it nice when you can justify things?
It's just not Thanksgiving until someone cries "Oooh....my stomach!" At Hidden Hill, the residents and Quakers all gather together for a meal of epic proportions. How epic, you ask?
I think you can see the end of the tables in the distance.
There was no way I was getting up for anything, since I had convinced people to set the tables up around my spot in the recliner.
Instead, I tried asking Jacob to pass the salt. He was most uncooperative, but he and Gretta were drinking. Savage convinced Jacob to supply Mexican organic coffee for the feast, which he then drank all day.
Despite the fact that Savage slaved for days over that damn turkey, Jacob and Gretta opted to stay vegan. Behold, the glory of the tofurkey!!
But please don't actually taste the tofurkey. After seeing Tom's reaction, I tried a bite. My opinion? It's ... distinctive.
I chose instead to fill my plate with Amithye's mashed potatoes. I first met these potatoes in the form of leftovers last Thanksgiving. I ate them all. These, my friend, are the potatoes of the gods. Most mortals cannot survive a brush with them, and, truth be told, they nearly did me in as well.
Or maybe it was all the desserts that almost killed me. They were my contribution to the meal, and I started making them Wednesday afternoon. I didn't try the pumpkin-rum couscous cake, because I don't like pumpkin and it was vegan. However, the cranberry-lime tart with white chocolate cream and almond crust was so good that Savage actually licked the inside of his bowl. And the brown sugar-bourbon cheesecake with pecan-chocolate crust and butterscotch-bourbon glaze made Tom take the Lord's name in vain. Twice.
I'll bet those descriptions made you hungry. Check out my other blog, The Deft Palate, for photos and recipes. But not just yet. I'm still digesting....
As promised, I finally got a digital camera out of the library for the long-awaited cabin tour. Without further ado....
Let's start off with the path from Savage's cabin to ours. We put up a motion detector at either end and strung Christmas lights through the trees. Without lights, you either need a headlamp or you need to walk slowly with your arms extended to ward off any trees. And you can't see any moose that way, which could be dangerous.
As you reach the end of the path, you might see Tom off to the left, working on the outhouse. This time he's hanging an outhouse sign that MaryBeth Smetzer gave me a few years ago. Just in case someone confuses the outhouse with a shed.
We have an arctic entry. For those of you who live in warmer climates, it's a little entry room designed to keep the cold out. It has a lovely orange grove mural on the inside, which you can see in previous posts.
We got a free couch from Susan Godwin. Since getting a couch through an arctic entry is tricky, we ended up putting her couch in the main cabin and taking this little one. It is a sofa bed, which wasn't the easiest thing to move down the path. Note the lovely curtains behind the couch.
Our kitchen floor is very stylish, and free! Don Crowe got 1.5'x2' sample tiles of Marmoleum from work and laid them down in a very bright pattern. Being a perfectionist, he looks at the floor and sees only the flaws. Everyone else just says it's cool.
The kitchen is not big, but it is fancy for a cabin. Note the double sink and water jug. We may get a gray water drain put in next year, but for now the gray water collects in a bucket under the sink. And could it be? Let's look closer.....
Yes! They are sushi curtains! Tom and I both love this fabric for our kitchen window.
Moving down the hall from the kitchen, you'll find the office. It features amenities such as two phone lines, a ceiling light fixture with dimmer and boasts of Internet connections up to 26.4 Kbps.
Nibbles looks stoned, but is not. She doesn't touch the stuff, though she does occasionally partake of a little catnip.
Speaking of the cat, note the shelves. They are empty for a reason - they are actually stairs for the cat. My old friend Justin Douglas did this for his cat just for fun, but it serves a practical purpose here. Although Nibbles can climb up the ladder, she cannot climb back down.
For safety, there is a railing at the top of the ladder. Just in case there are kids over or something. Though to keep kids really safe, we don't invite them over.
Due to a severe lack of storage, we put a book case upstairs.
And a dresser. Man, this tour is starting to drag.
And another dresser and a medicine cabinet from the transfer station. And speaking of the transfer station...
Take a look at our bed. Designed and built by Nancy Fresco. Made of materials salvaged from the transfer station (mostly). And the shelving and hanger bars underneath were my idea. Yeah, they're all my shoes. So what?
So there you have it - our sweet little cabin in a nutshell.
At long last, Tom and I are fully moved into the new cabin. On Friday, we had friends over for a housewarming party to celebrate living in sin - and in splendor!
Here's a shocker: I still don't have a digital camera. So there aren't any photos from the housewarming. However, I did recently unearth an ancient disposable camera, and so I present to you Mary's Pictures, 2003-2005.
In chronological order, here is a photo of me taking during a hike at Angel Rocks in September 2003. This was taken just weeks before the Log Incident, which henceforth shall be capitalized. After the trip, the camera went MIA....
...until the summer of 2005, which heralded the arrival of Jacob and Gretta Stone, formerly known as the QIRs. Jacob and Gretta came from Doylestown, PA, to spend the year in Fairbanks. Their arrival should have meant I'd leave the community, but instead I got a new cabin. Isn't life funny sometimes?
A few months ago, the cabin was still in progress. Stop turning your head around trying to make sense of the picture. It's the ceiling drywall in the kitchen being put into place. It's right-side up, I swear.
These disposable cameras sure take bad pictures after a few years, but I know you wanted to see the outhouse floor after Tom repaired it. I mean, who doesn't want to see more pictures of my outhouse?
The squirrel-proof toilet paper holder he built is pretty cool, too. But you can't really see it in this picture. Trust me, though, it's squirrel-proof.
After the cabin was structurally finished, the cosmetic work was left to us. And since plain blue walls are pretty boring, I painted a small orange grove in the arctic entry, courtesy of ReadyMade magazine, which you should subscribe to right now.
And there you have it: another painfully slow journey through pictures. Now let me go borrow a digital camera from the UAF library so I can get you real pictures.
GCI finally came out to Hidden Hill yesterday to hook up our private line. The guy looked at the main box and said "You don't have a dial tone. ACS will have to fix that." So, in about 10 days, ACS should come out to look at things and try to get the line set up so GCI can come back and hook it up. Isn't competition in the marketplace great?
I've been unable to download any e-mail for Mushing for about 2 weeks, so I decided to hook the computer up to the main line and get my mail off the server as quickly as possible. It turns out it's not so quick to download mail when you can only connect at ... wait for it ... 26.4K! I think there must be some verrry old phone lines at Hidden Hill, because that's kind of ridiculous. To add insult to injury, I'm not sure if we have any option other than dial-up. The disadvantages of living in the woods, I guess.
Diwali is the Hindi festival of lights. The Hindi New Year, if you will. Living in Fairbanks, Alaska, I wouldn't expect to find much Hindi culture, but the UAF Namaste India Club hosted a Diwali celebration at Hutch on Saturday evening. Tickets were hard to come by, but I snagged two. After getting gussied up in a sari and a salwar kameez, Susan and I set off for the evening.
I wasn't aware of how many Indians were in Fairbanks until we arrived at Hutch. Students lined the hallway greeting us with "Namaste," and more milled around inside the hall. An hour of entertainment was scheduled prior to the buffet, and it included singing and dancing. We especially enjoyed an 8-person dance routine that began with a folk dance and ended with a dance to a small part of "Maahi Ve." The men and women dancing seemed to be channeling their inner Shahrukhs and Aishwaryas. We also greatly enjoyed an East-meets-West dance by a young man that included moonwalking and a little bit of "Billie Jean."
Of course, as soon as the buffet was opened, Susan and I hopped in the line. Chana Masala, Lamb Korma, Palak Muttar, Gulab Jamun....I could go on. The only option for Indian food in Fairbanks is inside Pizza4Less. According to Susan, you now have to call 2 hours in advance at dinnertime, and they may or may not be cooking that day. Fairbanks take note - we need an Indian restaurant.
After dropping Susan at home, I wasn't ready to shake the Diwali spirit just yet. Instead I settled into the loft and watched "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam." While I normally enjoy Bollywood, this one didn't really work for me. Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai play the two star-crossed lovers. Although they're both normally fine, their performances lacked in this movie. Salman relied on taking his shirt off a lot, which I certainly didn't mind, though I would have enjoyed a little less of the "talking-to-my-dead-father-in-heaven" bit. Both characters were headstrong and bratty, and it was hard to feel any passion from them or understand how their relationship evolved.
As is often the case in Bollywood films, the lovers were kept apart by a cruel twist of fate. In this case, it was Aishwarya's arranged marriage to Ajay Devgan. Naturally, she doesn't love him and mourns the loss of Salman. The movie took an unexpected twist when Ajay decided to help her reunite with Salman. Although I'm normally not a fan of happy endings, I would have preferred it to the moralistic drivel that concluded this movie.
Despite all the unenjoyable aspects of this movie, it still made me happy. Why? The dance scenes. With lyrics by Mehboob and a group of choreographers, all of the dance scenes were lavish, colorful affairs. Nit-pickers will also appreciate that all of the scenes in "Italy" were shot in Hungary, and all of the "Italians" were speaking Hungarian.
We moved the cat in last night. For those of you who don't know Nibbles, she is a needy and annoying animal. It's a good thing she's also very cute. If she had a cauliflower ear, matted fur and one leaky eye, no one would put up with her. However, she was blessed with a charming little face and some freaky thumbs.
I am now going to talk about my cat. If you don't care to read it, please scroll down.
Before I retrieved her from the Stones' apartment, I put up brackets and shelves to create "steps" alongside the ladder so she could get herself up to the bedroom. I learned long ago that cats can go up ladders. They can also come down them, but it is often much less graceful, involves a big fall, and hurts their feelings if you're really stoned and laugh at them. I decided to bypass that with the shelves.
After being moved into the 8th house in her 10 years, she was a little freaked out and kept searching for a place to hide. When Tom left, I attempted to show her the shelves by moving her from shelf to shelf. Not happening. So after dinner I went upstairs to watch some TV. After about 20 minutes of crying (seriously), she decided to give me a heart attack by winding her way up the ladder. Nice trick, cat, but how are you going to get back down? I decided to show up the shelves again, but after I put her on the first shelf, she freaked out and tried to jump across the opening. Bad move, as she has no front claws and her back paws missed the ledge. Fortunately, I was there the catch her and toss her back into the bedroom. She decided to go hide in Tom's shoes and think about things for a bit.
We eventually got her downstairs. That is where the food and water is, not to mention the litterbox. We, however, sleep upstairs. Or at least we tried to. Nibbles resumed her position at the bottom of the stairs and resumed crying. We tried to keep silent, lest we agitate her further. After a while, she fell silent, then we heard some scrabbling. I'm not sure if she used the shelves or the ladder, but she got up to the bedroom and decided to hide under the shelf at the end of the bed.
At some point during the night, she got herself back downstairs. Since the noise woke me, I'm guessing she descended in a rather spectacular fashion. She also got herself back upstairs again. It seems our little feline can be taught.
Now if only I could figure out why she's got a shaved spot on her stomach...
Yes, I work at a university library. Things are a little different here than at the borough library. I'm hidden down on the second floor (actually two floors below ground level), but there are signs pointing to my office indicating that patrons can find help in my office. This however, does NOT mean patrons can help themselves to whatever is in my office. Such as the young man who just walked into my office, walked over to the coat rack, grabbed a hanger and said "Can I have this hanger?" Yeah, that was a big fat NO. He tried to tell me I didn't need my hangers and that he would bring me another one, but I stood firm. "Unfortunately, I can't give you a hanger." He left muttering nasty stuff under his breath. Don't piss off a librarian - we have hangers and you don't!
I finally reached my breaking point yesterday. Naturally, it has to do with the cabin. It's hard to pinpoint any one thing that was so bad, but it just all kept piling up over the months. When I got back from bellydance rehearsal and found out some things still hadn't been done, I went over the edge. I could almost feel a tic starting up under my eye, so I just threw my head back and began screaming. Tom was caught a bit off guard. I then proceeded inside and crawled up into the loft bed, where I proceeded to have a good cry.
After calming down and drinking a fair portion of wine, I felt a bit better. Miraculously, Don showed up then to work on the floor. Not only did we get all the tile down, but he finished the carpet. And today several Quakers rallied after Meeting and brought the refrigerator down to the cabin, then moved both dressers to the site and got them up into the bedroom. I started waxing the new floor to seal it, and the man making our ladder showed up with it. So in less than 24 hours, we got the floors finished, the ladder delivered and the refrigerator running. I guess crying and getting stoned worked out rather well for me.
Things have been moving along rather smoothly at the cabin. By Tuesday, Don and I had picked up the carpet, padding and the refrigerator, and he had most of the carpeting in place, if not finished. He also got a jump on the tile floor, starting to figure out a layout and prepping the plywood. But when I came home on Thursday, something about Don seemed a little bit different. Probably because his leg was broken. Just a guess.
He'd been limping at the beginning of the week because of an industrial accident at his job the previous week. It involved improperly secured scaffolding, a great height and a big jump to the ground. And it apparently fractured his tibia. Or maybe not. The doctors disagree, and he'll have to get an MRI.
Not to be self-centered, but it is my blog. This puts me in a bit of a spot. You see, some of the Quakers have been not-too-subtly hinting that they want their room back for meetings. But I can't exactly move all my stuff to the cabin until the flooring is done. So I'm going to try to hide on Sunday to avoid their prying eyes. Tom and I are trying to work out a management-and-labor arrangement with Don where he can sit in a chair and tell us what to do. Maybe we'll even give him a little table and a beer. But one thing's for sure: We need to get that floor done.
Tom has been in plays for the past two Halloweens, preventing me from getting him all gussied up for the holidays. But not this year.
This year I got us all dolled up as Sonny and Cher. Our friend Brandon was at the FDA showing of Dracula Monday night and snapped a few pictures of us. Come to think of it, complete strangers were also snapping pictures of us. And someone put an ad in the fbx square for Tom. And those catcalls we heard as we crossed the theater to find our seats? Well, I'm pretty sure they weren't for me.
Next year I get to be the girl!
Tom and I faced the prospect of spending our first night in the new cabin last night. We'd been staying in Jacob and Gretta's apartment while they were Outside, but they returned yesterday. The TOYO was on the fritz again in the main cabin upstairs, which meant we couldn't sleep in my room, so our other option was to sleep in the loft in the main cabin. We opted to end our vagabond lifestyle and start settling in. It helps that Don started laying the carpet last night.
We folded the mattress in half, tied it shut, and used a sled to get it down to the cabin. Once we'd managed to get it up into the loft, we got it onto the bed platform and dressed it up real pretty in some sheets. We snuggled down for the night, hoping to sleep like babies. Early this morning, I started to see the flaw in our plan. It was cold.
The TOYO was set well below 60 degrees F after it was installed because we were not living in the cabin yet. I turned the heat up to 65 degrees F over the weekend, but that wasn't enough to warm the cabin up yet. There's a ventilation fan that should pull warm air up into the bedroom from downstairs, but the downstairs air was still cold. Plus, I should mention that at 11:30 a.m. today it was -11 degrees F on some thermometers. All of which made for a chilly morning.
Tonight, we'll try keeping the setback on the TOYO turned off and maybe turn the heat up a little. Just to be safe, we'll also bring my space heater down to the new cabin, too.
Nancy came over and helped Tom and I build a bed in our cabin yesterday. Not just any bed, mind you, but a giant, hulking, massive, behemoth of a bed. It's for a queen mattress, so it's about 5 feet wide, but we attached the platform directly to the walls, so it's about 9 feet long.
Underneath the bed, we installed two shelves on the long wall, and Tom put up two dowels on the short sides to serve as a closet. This would so much more sense with pictures, but you know I'm not that far advanced in my technology. Shit, I still use an outhouse for the love of Pete! And you want me to get a digital camera? OK, we'll compromise: I'll take some pictures tonight and get them developed soon.
Today we pick up some carpeting remnants and the refrigerator, plus finish moving stuff out of Tom's apartment (or our city place, as I like to think of it. Goodbye, toilet! Goodbye, shower!). Our tenuous link to free carpeting has disappeared, as the bank seems to have foreclosed on the house which contains said carpet. So we buy!
I've been tense and irritable lately. I thought it was just some sort of female hormone thing, but Tom finally called me out on it the other day: I'm worried about moving in with him. It's true: when I think about living with him, fear clenches my gut. What will happen when I need my alone time? How will I handle having to sleep with him every night? Is he going to mention it every time I bring home new clothing? Am I going to have to start being tidier?
Don't get me wrong: I love Tom with all of my heart. I don't think anyone else could be more right for me. Especially since he's been putting up with my freaking out over this. I can get a little...snappish when I'm upset. I'm just scared because I've never lived with someone before, and it feels like this is a big step toward commitment with a capital "C." Which is weird because I don't think I'm scared of the commitment to Tom, just of the commitment in general.
It doesn't help that we have to get everything out of his apartment by tomorrow and the cabin isn't quite ready yet. It still needs a few things. Like flooring, a refrigerator and lighting. All in due time, I guess, but I'm not paying rent on it until I can actually move in.
And to top it all off, I can't even call my sister to express my panic because she went to New Hampshire for the week. I need someone to talk me off this ledge!!
Now I'll have that song stuck in my head for a while. My point was that the heat is hooked up and on in the cabin. Last night Phillip and James hooked up the TOYO, and it is running just fine, though it does need one new chimney pipe.
As a thank-you, I invited Phillip to stay for dinner. I'm not sure what he was expecting, but he seemed quite pleased. I served a mixed lettuce salad with roasted pears, blue cheese, toasted pecans and a raspberry balsamic dressing. The main course was a lasagna of portobello mushrooms, mashed potatoes and goat cheese with a basil-scallion sauce. For dessert, I made a hazelnut-pear torte with vanilla bean ice cream. Yeah, I posted that just to make you hungry.
Now that the cabin has heat, we can get ready for flooring. Don is busy putting in new flooring over at Aliy Zirkle's kennel, but hopefully he'll be able to work on it this weekend. Nancy and Jay will be helping us build the loft bed on Sunday. At this rate, our housewarming party may not be premature after all.
Today is the day I officially broke out the long underwear. It's actually not that cold - about 20 degrees F - but I think it's time. For that matter, it may be time to give up the illusion of moving into the cabin anytime soon. I should probably dig my winter coats out of storage and start wearing them.
I am a creature guided by Circadian rhythms. Even more annoying, I am a morning person. Not one of those people who wakes up early, has a cup of coffee and then faces the day. No, I like to bound out of bed (when not snuggling with Tom, the ultimate de-motivator). I'm bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, chipper and LOUD. Statistics show that people want to strangle me in the morning a full 57% more than they want to strangle me in the afternoon. But dammit, I like the mornings! Which brings me to my problem: Alaska sucks.
I find it increasingly hard to get up early and face the day when the sun won't show up until, say, 9 a.m. Actually, I'm not even sure what time the sun is rising lately because I work two stories underground at the university library in the morning. As a result, my body gets confused every winter and I don't know when to wake up. I moved here in January 2003, which was a shock to my system. In January, the sun isn't up until around 10:30. Even worse than the sun coming up late is that it then has the nerve to set in the early afternoon. If it isn't difficult enough getting up in the pitch dark, you then have to try to stay awake at 8 p.m. when it's already been dark out for several hours.
Fortunately, Alaska has a good way of keeping you awake in the winter, and that's the cold. You don't think the cold can wake you up? Try going to the outhouse at -30 degrees F. And that's on a warm day. You'll be singing the praises of blue foam on when it's -50 degrees F. (Yes, I am going to keep writing the temperatures in AP style, because I'm
a dork precise.)
However, before you go thinking Alaska is a horrible place, here's a list of why I stay here each winter:
- Aurora borealis Known as the northern lights. They're there in the summer, too, but you can't see them. Because it never gets dark.
- Cross country skiing I don't know why I never tried skiing before I moved here, but it's great to throw on a pair of skis and take off into the darkness after dinner. This year will be even better, because the new cabin was built
nearover the top of the ski trails.
- Sauna It's just not as much fun in the summer.
- Mushing Totally not a plug for the magazine. I may not mush, but I like being able to watch the races.
- Moose They're around in the summer, but hunger drives them closer to us in the winter.
- Chena Hot Springs Like the moose, Chena is also there in the summer. But so are 276,982 tourists, which makes for a mighty crowded lake. In the winter, all you have to worry about are Japanese couples fornicating.
- Bragging rights Hey, I don't see you peeing in an outhouse at -50 degrees F.
Besides, summer will come back eventually.
Sex worker Camille Cabral, representing French prostitutes, poses next to a European Union flag after a press conference organised by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE), at the European Parliament in Brussels, October 17, 2005. The ICRSE wants to end the criminalization of the sex industry and give prostitutes the same social rights as other workers.
For the love of God, this woman's face should be enough to convince men to get their sex the old-fashioned way. With alcohol and lies.
By MELISSA NELSON, Associated Press Writer
Johannah Faith Duggar was born at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and weighed 7 pounds, 6.5 ounces.
The baby's father, Jim Bob Duggar, a former state representative, said Wednesday that mother and child were doing well.
He said Johannah's birth was especially exciting because it was the first time in eight years the family has had a girl.
Jim Bob Duggar, 40, said he and Michelle, 39, want more children.
"We both just love children and we consider each a blessing from the Lord. I have asked Michelle if she wants more and she said yes, if the Lord wants to give us some she will accept them," he said.
The Discovery Health Channel filmed Johannah's birth and plans to air a show about the family of 18 next May.
The Learning Channel is doing another show about the family's construction project, a 7,000-square foot house that should be finished before Christmas. The home, which the family has been building for two years, will have nine bathrooms, dormitory-style bedrooms for the girls and boys, a commercial kitchen, four washing machines and four dryers.
Jim Bob Duggar, who sells real estate, previously lost his bid for the U.S. Senate. He said he expects to run for the state Senate next year but isn't ready to make a formal announcement.
Michelle Duggar had her first child at age 21, four years after the couple married.
Their children include two sets of twins, and each child has a name beginning with the letter "J": Joshua, 17; John David, 15; Janna, 15; Jill, 14; Jessa, 12; Jinger, 11; Joseph, 10; Josiah, 9; Joy-Anna, 8; Jeremiah, 6; Jedidiah, 6; Jason, 5; James, 4; Justin, 2; and Jackson Levi, 1.
You know, I'm going to leave the whole "J" name thing alone. Jedidiah. Dammit! I tried.... I'm also going to try to mention that it takes a man named Jim Bob to believe that it's perfectly natural for his wife to breed this much.
No, my main beef with this story, with this family, is that they're really screwing up the whole "zero population growth" thing. I mean, it's all well and good for me to say I'm not going to have any kids. I'm not adding to this world's population issues. But when Ms. Prolific Uterus here says maybe 16 isn't enough, it really stymies my efforts, and leaves me no choice but to go out and kill 16 people. Possibly 17, depending on how fast Jim Bob can impregnate her again.
By HELENA SPONGENBERG, Associated Press Writer
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Smurfette is left for dead. Baby Smurf is left crying and orphaned as the Smurf's village is carpet bombed by warplanes - a horrific scene and imagery not normally associated with the lovable blue-skinned cartoon characters.
These are the scenes being shown as part of a new UNICEF ad-campaign on Belgian television.
"It's working. We are getting a lot of reactions and people are logging on to our Web site," UNICEF Belgium spokesman Philippe Henon said Tuesday.
The Belgian office of the U.N. children's fund said it has decided to use the creations of late Belgian artist Peyo to shock a complacent public into backing its fund-raising efforts for ex-child soldiers in Africa.
The 20-second video commercial clip now being shown on Belgian TV aims to show that war can happen in the most innocent of places, Henon said.
"We get reactions from all over the place," said Henon. "People are shocked and want to know the reasons behind this cartoon image."
The appeal is meant to raise money for UNICEF projects in Burundi, Congo and Sudan, Henon said. However, due to its graphic and disturbing scenes, this cartoon is not for everyone. The advertisement is aimed at an adult audience and is only shown after 9 p.m. to avoid upsetting young Smurfs fans.
The video is peacefully introduced by birds, butterflies and happy Smurfs playing and singing their theme song when suddenly out of the sky, bombs rain down onto their forest village, scattering Papa Smurf and the rest as their houses are set ablaze.
The bombs kill Smurfette leaving Baby Smurf orphaned and crying at the edge of a crater in the last scene of the video and finishing of with the text "don't let war destroy the children's world."
It calls on viewers to donate.
UNICEF traditionally uses real life images of playing and laughing children but decided to change it for something that would shock people, Henon said.
"We wanted to have lasting effect of our campaign, because we felt that in comparison to previous campaigns, the public is not easily motivated to do things for humanitarian causes and certainly not when it involved Africa or children in war," he said.
Henon added that UNICEF would never cross the line and film real-life war scenes in its appeals.
The UNICEF campaign was launched Friday with the Smurf TV spot and will last until April.
"We see so many images that we don't really react anymore," said Julie Lamoureux, account director at Publicis, an advertising agency that drew up the campaign for UNICEF Belgium. "In 35 seconds we wanted to show adults how awful war is by reaching them within their memories of childhood."
The Smurf ad will be followed by similar ad in November to promote UNICEF's "let children live in peace" campaign.
French children's program Martine and the children's song "Au Clair de la Lune" will be presented with changed lyrics.
In honor of your nuptials, I have changed the color of my text. Maybe now you can read it. Or maybe you should've just figured out what was wrong with your computer, as every other computer didn't seem to have a problem with it.
And in honor of your special day, I give you a very special blog quote:
I know I haven't been posting much lately, so here's a little look at why I've been so busy:
On top of all that, I was sick the week leading up to the workshop, and we've still been working on the cabin. The drywall is all up, mudded and taped. We started painting this week and have a first coat on everything except the ceiling. Tom now admits that all of my color choices were great, but he still won't agree to my fabric choice for curtains.
Is this fabulous or what? He says it's too dark and brown. Pshaw.
For a color update, here's what we've got so far:
Arctic entry inside and out is Sonata, a light blue. Sonata also graces the triangle of wall above the kitchen.
Downstairs is Day Spa, which is supposed to be a very light blue. It's pretty much just white. Boo!!
The bedroom is Mystic River. From my experience growing up near the Mystic river, this should be a muddy brown. But it's a lavender/purple.
The bedroom ceiling will be Enlightenment, a creamy pale yellow. The other ceilings will be plain white.
The loft bed, ladder, arctic entry door and anything else I can think of will be Plum Raisin, a dark reddish brown.
You know what would be even better than these descriptions? Pictures. Which I will get done and up here ASAP.
I do hate the throw around quotes from Blue Oyster Cult, but:
History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man
This story, to be fair, has nothing to do with Godzilla. But I predict that things will go awry due to a wacky series of events. The virus will be released upon the world, and Freddie, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy will have to hop into the Mystery Machine and investigate. Eventually it will turn out that old Mr. McGrady just released the virus in order to scare away the real estate developers who want to buy his farm and build a WalMart. And he would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids.
Researchers Reconstruct 1918 Flu Virus
ATLANTA - Scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918, the first time an infectious agent behind a historic pandemic has ever been reconstructed.
Why did they do it? Researchers say it may help them better understand Â and develop defenses against Â the threat of a future worldwide epidemic from bird flu.
Like the 1918 virus, the current avian flu in Southeast Asia occurs naturally in birds. In 1918, the virus mutated, infected people and then spread among them. So far, the current Asian virus has killed at least 65 people but has rarely spread person-to-person.
But viruses mutate rapidly and it could soon develop infectious properties like those seen in the 1918 bug, said Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger of the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
"The effort to understand what happened in 1918 has taken on a new urgency," said Taubenberger, who led the gene-sequencing team.
The public health risk of resurrecting the virus is minimal, U.S. health officials said. People around the world developed immunity to the deadly 1918 virus after the pandemic, and a certain degree of immunity is believed to persist today. Also, in previous research, scientists concluded that modern antiviral medicines are effective against Spanish flu-like viruses.
The virus recreation, announced Wednesday, is detailed in the journal Science. The completion of that gene sequencing was announced in the journal Nature.
The virus was made from scratch, but based on a blueprint from Alaska.
Taubenberger's team sequenced genome information recovered from a female flu victim buried in the Alaskan permafrost in 1918. Then, they shared the data with researchers at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Using a technique called reverse genetics, the Mount Sinai researchers used the genetic coding to create microscopic, virus-like strings of genes, called plasmids.
The plasmids then were sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where they were inserted into human kidney cells for the final step in the virus reconstruction.
"Once you get the plasmids inside the cell, the virus assembles itself," said Terrence Tumpey, the CDC research scientist who assembled the virus. "It only takes a couple of days."
About 10 vials of virus were created, each containing about 10 million infectious virus particles, Tumpey said in an interview with The Associated Press. More may be created, he said, to accommodate researchers' future needs.
The virus particles are being stored at the CDC, and there are no plans to send samples off campus, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, the agency's director.
However, the genetic information sequenced by Taubenberger is being placed in GenBank, a public genetic sequence database operated by the National Institutes of Health.
Scientists need access to the research as they try to develop vaccines and antiviral medications against potential future pandemic agents, said Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science.
"We carefully considered the implications of publishing this research and concluded that the knowledge we're gaining to potentially protect public health far outweighs the risk of working
with the virus," Kennedy said.
The Spanish flu of 1918 was a terrible pandemic. In a few months, it killed more people than any other illness in recorded world history Â an estimated 20 million to 50 million worldwide,
including roughly 550,000 in the United States.
In severe cases, victims' lungs filled with fluid and they essentially drowned in a disease process that took less than a week. It was known for being particularly dangerous to young adults, a group usually less susceptible to flu complications than younger and older people.
A flu virus has eight gene segments. Taubenberger and other researchers previously had published the sequences of five of them, but they accounted for less than half of the virus's total
sequence. The new work completes it.
The three new segments appear to be crucial in explaining how the bird-based virus became adapted to humans, Taubenberger said.
Tumpey also confirmed the 1918 virus's avian-like characteristics by injecting it in fertilized bird eggs. It killed the eggs, just like the Asian bird flu does. Other modern-day flu strains that are
human-based don't kill fertilized bird eggs, he noted.
The researchers also refined their focus on one gene, the HA gene, that encodes the hemagglutinin surface protein that help the virus attach to cells and multiply. The 1918 virus is deadly with the HA gene, but when the gene was replaced, it was not virulent, Tumpey said.
The virus's genetic properties may explain why it was able to settle deeper in the lungs than most current flu strains, causing the drowning condition, he said.
Virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo called the work important.
"We need to understand why this virus was so pathogenic," he said.
He also noted that Tumpey's work had to go through a variety of scientific reviews and approvals Â a process Tumpey said took about three years.
"If there was any concern about safety, the experiment would not have been approved," Kawaoka said.
Two people have now come into my office and said that the snow is sticking on the ground. I work two stories underground, so I cannot confirm it at this time. It did snow in August, but so far no snow has been sticking in the lower elevations. The hills along Chena Hot Springs Road had a light dusting of white yesterday, though. Is it time to accept that another Alaska winter has begun?
Dutch Reporter to Use Heroin, Pot on TV
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A field reporter for a new Dutch television talk show plans to use heroin and other illegal drugs on the air during the weekly program on issues that concern young people, producers said Wednesday.
The announcement of "Shoot Up and Swallow," scheduled to premiere as a late-night show Oct. 10, sparked an outcry.
Even in the liberal Netherlands, where marijuana is sold and used openly, the proposed drug use by reporter Filemon Wesselink is illegal.
"This is dangerous and it sets a bad example," said Pieter Heerma, spokesman for the governing center-right Christian Democrat party. "We're going to ask the justice minister for his view on what the law says about this, and his view on the dangers and risks involved."
Justice Ministry spokesman Ivo Hommes said it was not immediately clear whether Wesselink could be prosecuted. Possession of any amount of heroin is illegal, but in practice police usually do not arrest anyone with less than a half gram of the highly addictive narcotic.
"The actual taking of drugs is a health problem, not a criminal act, though it's obviously hard to take drugs without possessing them first," Hommes said. "In any case, it's not something we endorse, and doing it on television is undesirable."
The show's in-studio host, Sophie Hilbrand, will interview guests about drug use and abuse, while Wesselink appears in segments taped in the field as he experiments with drugs and liquor. Another reporter, Ties Van Westing, will do segments about engaging in sex acts, but not on camera.
For one episode, Wesselink, 26, plans to smoke heroin, said Ingrid Timmer, spokeswoman for the show's producer, BNN. For others, he plans to go on a drinking binge in a series of pubs and to take the hallucinogenic drug LSD — on his couch under the supervision of his mother.
"It's not our intention to create an outcry. We just want to talk about subjects that are part of young people's lives," Timmer said.
The Netherlands is known for its lenient marijuana policy, under which the sale and use of the drug in small quantities are not prosecuted even though technically illegal. Other drugs, including heroin, LSD, cocaine and Ecstasy, are outlawed, and dealers are prosecuted. The legal age for consumption of alcohol and tobacco is 16.
According to the Trimbos Institute, a Dutch group that monitors international drug use, the Dutch are about average among industrial nations.
It says 6 percent of Dutch have used marijuana recently, compared with 8 percent in the United States, 8 percent in Britain and 9 percent in France. For cocaine, it was 1.1 percent in Holland — and rising quickly — compared to 1.3 percent in the United States, 1.5. percent in Britain and 0.3 percent in France. Comparable data for heroin were not available.
BNN has drawn viewer complaints for previous shows, including one that included a segment on how to have sex in a nightclub.
It's got nothing to do with the intriguing Inuit movie. It's got everything to do with Tom and the Equinox Marathon.
Tom has been working hard and training all summer for the marathon, which follows a particularly grueling trail to the top of Ester Dome and back. Some call it the second-toughest marathon in the United States. Part of the course runs along Goldhill Road. Since Hidden Hill is about 3 miles from the finish line, I decided to gather a crowd to support Tom. We met with chairs, barbecue and keg in Susan's driveway and settled in around 10:30 a.m. to wait for the runners. We didn't have to wait long.
We were joined at various times by James Savage, Gretta and Jacob Stone, William Walters, Scott Bell and his daughters, Melissa Hart, Ian Burcroft, Nancy Fresco, Jay Cable, Jen Wenrick, Don Crow, Margaret Friedenauer, Justin and Sofia, two women we didn't know and two guys who stopped their car to see if they could have some beer, then gave it to their friend who was running.
I had made signs to encourage Tom, since I was sick and couldn't yell much. We clapped for all the runners until we saw Tom coming down the road. Then we started yelling and cheering. He was about 20 minutes ahead of his projected schedule, and looked like he was in great shape. He called out to us as he went by, but didn't stop for a hamburger or a beer.
Melissa lent me her fancy digital camera so I could head for the finish line and capture Tom in all his sweaty glory. As the clock ticked steadily closer to 4 hours, Tom appeared out of the woods and headed for the finish chute.
At 3:46:32.5, Tom crossed the finish line in 22nd place. He was in suprisingly good shape considering what he'd just put his body through. After numerous congratulations, I left him to shower and headed back to the party.
With only Bob Eley left to root for, we started offering up beer to the runners along with the water and Powerade. Only 14 people took us up on the beer offer, and none would go for a kegstand. Bob Eley passed up the offer of a beer and finished the race in 6:57:47.1, a great time for someone who was not exactly active until a year ago.
I hope Tom plans to run the race again next year, because we had a great time encouraging all the runners. I'm grateful to all my friends who came out to help support Tom, and I'm incredibly proud of Tom for blowing a lot of the competition out of the water in his first marathon. Way to go!!
Did that get your attention?
Wis. Librarians Pose for Sexy CalendarWAUPACA, Wis. - Projecting an image very different from that in which librarians are usually portrayed, six area library administrators have produced a sexy calendar they are selling to raise money for their libraries.
The idea for the "Desperate Librarians" 2006 wall calendar came about because Craig Lahm is retiring after 32 years of running Kaukauna's library, and his colleagues in the Outagamie Waupaca Library System wanted to come up with a different kind of gift.
Twelve of them decided they would use photographs of themselves to make a simple calendar that they would print at a Walgreens. But after the librarians took their idea to Countryside Photographers in Seymour, they decided to professionally produce a calendar and sell it as a fund-raiser.
That's when six of the 12 librarians bailed out. But five middle-aged library directors and a 32-year-old assistant each put up $200 and posed provocatively, using oversize books to cover what their clothes usually do.
Proceeds benefit the public libraries in Weyauwega, Clintonville, Marion, Seymour and Manawa as well as Waupaca.
The women appear to be naked in many of the photos, but all were at least partly clothed during the shoot, said Ellen Connor, Manawa's library director.
The six who took part in the project posed for two months each.
Connor said the women knew their idea was offbeat, so they decided to put up their own money, rather than ask their library boards to foot the bill. But they all got permission from their boards to participate and agreed to donate any profits to their libraries, she said.
As part of my indexing work at UAF, I've been working on the 1974 issues of the Pioneer All-Alaska Weekly. I came across this in the police blotter and, well, I just found it interesting.
25 bears?An Anchorage man reported taking seven bears in defense of life. The man said he and a companion had shot the seven bears at Dot Lake where he said 25 bears had attacked him. He said he didn't know whether or not he wounded any bears.
Troopers investigated, reporting they searched the area and found no sign of bears - that they found only some empty rifle casings and some trees had been shot up.
The troopers concluded the men were either having flash backs or were on some kind of drug trips.
Ah, Fairbanks during the pipeline heyday.
Since I moved into Hidden Hill, I've seen Hillbillies enjoying alcohol,
For anyone who's been living under a rock, Lost is an ABC television show that started last year. It tells the story of 48 plane crash survivors who find themselves trapped on an island with many secrets of its own. Sound like any other stupid plot? Well, it's not.
For starters, the first season focused on 14 of the survivors. Yes, 14 main characters. Despite the huge number of characters, nearly every one was fully developed, usually through a combination of island scenes and flashbacks. Some you love, some you hate, but you'll get to know all of them.
The island itself can almost be considered a character. Like the survivors, it has secrets. Early on, viewers learn there's something large and dangerous that lives on the island. There's also a polar bear and mysterious transmissions from a French woman.
Even if you've watched the entire season, watching it again is a new experience. Once you know a character's background, you can see new meanings in the way they act and react.
But the proof is in the pudding, so I put the DVDs on in the main cabin Monday night. Jen, Don and I started watching, then William wandered in and got caught. After 3 episodes, I tried to draw the line, but William and Don were demanding more. Tuesday night William returned, and Jen and Don soon wandered in. Savage derided us, then sat down, then started asking about the different characters. Again, I stopped them after 3 episodes.
Wednesday night I had burlesque rehearsal until 10:30, so I spent the night at Tom's and stopped by Hidden Hill to change in the morning. Don was not happy to see me. It seems William came over again Wednesday night, and the first thing Don said was "She's not here." Since the DVDs were locked up in my place, they couldn't get their fix, and they were jonesing. Bad.
I've promised more episodes after dinner tonight, but I'm not sure if they can handle this. They're screaming for 2, 3, 4 episodes a night now. What am I going to tell them when Season 1 is done and we only have 1 episode a week for the new season?
One of the best parts of Mondays is reading the list of births in the local paper. Many an extraneous 'n' or 'y' appears in those names. This week featured the following monikers and my best guess at the sex of the babies:
Lillian Katelyn: girl
Konnor Vincent: boy
Aurora Berlin: girl
Jenna Raelyn: girl
Chay'ne Michelle: girl
Gideon Lehui: boy, perhaps
Cheyne Lucas: boy
Ryder Carson: boy, maybe
Kylar Rain: girl
Colt Augustus: boy
Kierra Naomi: girl
Serenity Divine: stripper, I mean girl
Amaya Naje': girl
I found this article yesterday, which proves that odd names happen around the world.
British office complies list of odd names
LONDON - Horatio Hornblower is an odd name, but consider his siblings: Azubia, onstantia, Jecoliah, Jedidah, Jerusha and Erastus. Rene Jackaman, archive assistant at Cornwall County Record Office, found all those names after coming across a real-life namesake of C.S. Forester's fictional naval hero in county census records.
The Hornblower name has been on record for centuries.
Inspired by that discovery, staff and researchers at the Cornwall Record Office compiled a list of more than 1,000 unusual names found in censuses as well as in births, deaths and marriage records going back as far as the 16th century.
"My all-time favorites are Abraham Thunderwolff and Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane," she said.
Other discoveries included Boadicea Basher, Philadelphia Bunnyface, Faithful Cock, Susan Booze, Elizabeth Disco, Edward Evil, Fozzitt Bonds, Truth Bullock, Charity Shilly, Gentle Fudge, Obedience Ginger and Offspring Gurney.
Levi Jeans was married in Padstow, Cornwall, in 1797.
Other remarkable duos in the marriage records included Nicholas Bone and Priscilla Skin, joined in wedlock in 1636; Charles Swine and Jane Ham in 1711; John Mutton and Ann Veale in 1791, and Richard Dinner and Mary Cook in 1802.
Tom decided to work on the outhouse yesterday. Probably because I volunteered to be the one, to, um, scrape and level the shit in there. That's the job he definitely did NOT want to do. We started ripping out old boards before I had to go to burlesque rehearsal. After my rehearsal (OK, after the kegger I went to after my rehearsal) Tom couldn't wait to show me his handiwork.
May I just say he kicks ass? I didn't really want to use the outhouse at all before, but he put in a new floor, added supports under the deck, fixed up the foam seat, put up a squirrel-proof toilet paper holder, cleaned out all the mess, replaced the broken boards and hung some record album art. The outhouse is now a pleasant place to sit and read for a while. Pictures to come. Shit leveling to come, too. I'm trying not to think about that....
While looking for information on bird feet baskets (don't ask), I learned some new proper terminology.
Bird, Flipping the is written Middle-finger gesture
I've recently applied for a job with the borough library, and I do hope I get to show off my useless knowledge if I get an interview.
I've been slow on updating the blog lately. My only excuse is that it's autumn. Autumn inevitably makes me depressed as I realize that another glorious summer has passed by, and therefore I am one year closer to death.
After a busy Saturday of burlesque rehearsal and bellydancing at an outdoor Renaissance wedding, I decided to take a break on Sunday. Tom and I headed out for the White Mountains and hiked out on the Wickersham Dome trail. It was overcast, which kept most other people away, but it didn't rain much. The colors are as glorious as they get in Alaska, which is still nothing compared to New England. In Fairbanks, there are birch and aspen trees, which turn yellow. No trees turn red, but some bushes on the tundra do. We found several blueberry patches that were still quite tasty, so we spent some time collecting berries.
My attention is now focused on the rest of the month:
* Equinox Marathon - Tom will be running on September 17, and I am hosting a party, since my driveway is only 3 miles from the finish line. Unfortunately, the race starts at 8 a.m., which means I've got to rouse some people and get them out there for the barbecue and keg by 11:30-ish, when he should be passing us.
* Dance workshop and hafla - I am stuck in one part of my new choreography. I need to finish it so I can get everything nailed down. This is why I don't like choreography.
* Burlesque - Fleurs du Mal will be performing the weekend after the hafla. Which means I need to create another bellydance choreography, plus learn all the other routines I will be dancing.
I got back the roll of film I had developed yesterday and began to flip through them. Lo and behold, some of the pictures were from back in early June! So here's a little trip from June to August.
A man, a platform, a dream: Tom surveys the start of our new home. It was just some slabs of wood back then.
A few days later, framing went up for a wall.
And the next thing you know, you've got four wall framed! It looks small, but remember there will be a second story.
Tom has been a very dedicated, if not experienced, builder. He especially excels at painting, since I refuse to climb up on scaffolding to do it. I'll make up for it by painting the interior. Purple.
There's some sort of tradition, possibly Norwegian, that builders must put up this small tree on the roof when the roofing is done.
This interior wall will be part of our Arctic entryway, and will also hold the circuit box.
If you look past the grinning Tom, you can see that there are no exterior walls in the second story. Nor is there a ceiling.
Ahh, what a difference a few days makes!
In order to get electricity down to the cabin site, a big ditch had to be dug from Savage's cabin. Tom's foot is in the picture to give you a sense of scale. Bear in mind that's a size 15 foot. The ditch was two painful feet deep.
Normally you can see for miles. But then the smoke from wildfires rolled in. Unlike last year, it rolled back out after only a week or so.
We prefer to smoke ourselves the old-fashioned way: In the Hidden Hill sauna! Savage destroyed the MacGyver stairs this summer, so I am building new ones.
There's a family of grouse that hang out between Savage's cabin and the building site. They're not smart, but they're too fast to become dinner.
For right now, I'm living in a room upstairs in the main cabin. Fortunately it's a big room.
Unfortunately, I live in it with all my stuff, so it's also a very messy room.
Life in the far north is not always all it's cracked up to be. I can't see Russia from here, but that's probably because of the ice fog.
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