Jul 31, 2005

Photo update: Part 2 - The cabin

Posted by Mary |

And now, the long-awaited photos of the cabin.

When we returned from camping in Denali, we found that the cabin had acquired walls for a second floor. We discussed it with Robert, and agreed to add side walls as well, thereby totally encasing the second floor.

A few days later, and presto! Side walls and a roof. Tom and I also spent a long time at Home Depot playing with their paint computer before selecting "Hazel Woods" for the exterior. It will blend into the surroundings in the summer and totally stand out in the winter. The paint computer, I should note, gave us absolutely no options remotely similar to the cabin to try the colors on. They should really add a shed to the list, as all their houses are McMansions.

Here's a lovely dark look at the interior. It keeps getting wet from the rain. This is where a roof will come in handy. It will also be brighter once all the windows are installed.

From the bottom of the hill, the cabin looks pretty big. All the scaffolding helps to enlarge it as well.

Since these pictures were taken, the window and door holes have been cut out, and the cabin is now throughly green. We realized that the stairway opening is not large enough to get the bed through, which prompted plans to hoist it up the side before the walls were enclosed. Instead, we are going to build a platform for the bed and just use the mattress, which can be squished through the hole.

Tom and I spent more time with the paint computer to pick out interior colors. Again, I don't believe we'll be having high ceilings or crown moldings in our cabin, and there were no other options. I've found a lovely fabric for curtains which Tom doesn't like. He's gone from not liking it to agreeing to use it for the bedroom curtains. With persistent nagging, I should be able to get it downstairs as well. Unless he's reading this, in which case I totally respect his wishes because he's an intelligent, handsome man with great taste in interior design.

While picking up my film, I noticed that a major mass market retailer had a twee little digital camera for $21.67. I was briefly tempted, but realized that it would likely take horrible pictures.

By some estimations, Denali is only visible one out of every three days. Campers were likely disappointed for six days after we left, because the mountain was out every day we were there.

Since it was nice and sunny on the morning of Day Two, we decided to head for the McKinley Bar Trail for a hike. First we suckered some guy into taking our picture. It was by the sign for Wonder Lake, which is a very novel idea that no one probably ever thought of before.

After battling mosquitoes for more than an hour, we arrived at the McKinley Bar. Please note the following things:
1) It was warm. Tom is wearing a hat for mosquito protection.
2) I seem to be allergic to 100% DEET. My fingers were little sausages.
3) Despite the name, there is no actual bar along the McKinley Bar Trail. Unless you count the river bar, which, frankly, I wouldn't want to belly up to a drink.

Tom looks short in this picture, and that's funny.

The famous Wonder Lake. Note how I carefully used the little spruce tree in the foreground to draw emphasis away from the lake. That's the stuff they just don't teach you in photography class.

I'm not saying anything, but it looks like some people from Connecticut do come to Alaska to visit people. Hint. Hint.

Jul 30, 2005

Stupid major mass-market retailers

Posted by Mary |

I dropped off some film earlier this week so I could try to update the cabin progress with some pictures. Apparently, "two-day developing" doesn't necessarily mean two days. For instance, if I drop the film off on Tuesday after 11 a.m., they won't pick it up until 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Now, one would think that this would mean two days after Wednesday, namely Friday. No. Saturday. But Saturday after 2 p.m. I'm downtown now. I'm not coming back after 2 p.m. just so I can get the pictures and post them. You'll just have to wait.

Man, I've got to get a digital camera one of these days.

Jul 29, 2005

A work in progress

Posted by Mary |

Hmmm. No comments. Except for Dillon, who told me last night he didn't like it. He said the text was too hard to read. So I toyed with the HTML to make the text larger and a different font. Then I started adjusted the colors of the navigation bars. Then I began adding links. Then I put in a comments field and a hit counter. Oddly enough, I also told Dillon last night that I'm not a computer geek and don't know much about Web sites. Guess I was wrong. Maybe I ought to help him with that webcam after all.

Jul 28, 2005

New look # 1

Posted by Mary |

Before I go tweaking all my settings, what do you think of this look? Leave me a comment to let me know.

Fickle is my middle name

Posted by Mary |

Actually, it's Virginia, but don't distract me. I'm bored with this blog. I must change it, somehow. This is probably all because of stupid Tom liking stupid Dillon's stupid blog. See? I told you I'm fine with it.

Anyway, if I can change my hair almost as often as I change my clothes, why can't I change my blog just as much?

My boyfriend read my blog last night. For the very first time. I was wondering why his phone was busy for 90 minutes. Apparently he also read Dillon's blog, and said he likes it better. It has something to do with all the pictures. That and a general disregard for my feelings. I think the only thing that will make this better is if I buy a digital camera and start posting daily pictures. Isn't it enough that I dropped off another roll of film to be developed yesterday? I'll have more pictures by Sunday, dammit!

I guess the only thing I can do is accept the fact that Tom prefers Dillon's blog. It wouldn't be fair of me to attack his blog or attempt to disparage it in any way. I can accept that Dillon and I are different people, and we have different blogs. But ... NAMBLA. That's all I'm saying. Dillon is a friend of mine, and I'm totally not jealous that Tom likes his blog better than mine. Even though I am his girlfriend and Dillon is just a guy who blew us off for dinner the other night. I'm fine with it.

Just fine.

Jul 26, 2005

I'm speechless

Posted by Mary |

Everytime I vow to stop posting news stories, something like this comes along...

HUNTSBURG, Ohio - Callers complaining about loud music coming from a buggy led deputies to charge a 19-year-old Amish man with stealing house numbers and flower pots. David Byler was charged with theft and underage consumption of alcohol, both misdemeanors.
Callers to the Geauga County sheriff's office told dispatchers early Sunday about a buggy playing loud music and stealing items from outside houses in a rural area of northeast Ohio.
"When our officer caught up with him in the middle of the road, there were flower pots and house numbers in the buggy," sheriff's spokesman John Hiscox said.

Jul 25, 2005

A shout out

Posted by Mary |

It's come to my attention that a friend of mine often reads this blog, though she hasn't admitted it to me. So I just want to give a shout out to Midge After Midnight. Yeah, you know who you are....

Stolen picture

Posted by Mary |

I took this picture off of Dillon's blog. It's a quite shameless bit of copyright infringement, I'm sure, but we look so darn cute that I couldn't resist. It's nice to see that Tom always, um, supports me.

Jul 22, 2005

Hoarding tendencies can go too far

Posted by Mary |

I know I've been posting lots of news stories lately. And I swear I'll try to cut back. After this one.

We've all seen stories about people (usually elderly women) who have about 150 cats in their homes. But this is a new twist.

LONDON - An animal welfare group confiscated 550 gerbils that had been kept in stacked containers in a small house in southern England, and asked the British public for help in caring for the animals.
The gerbils were found in a variety of cages and makeshift containers, including badly ventilated wine boxes, stacked to heights of more than 6 feet throughout the one-bedroom home in Portsmouth, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"The hallway was full, and there were about 35 containers in the bathroom alone," group inspector Mick Garrity said. "The male and female gerbils had not been separated, so they were continuing to just breed and breed."
Many of the animals were in poor condition and needed veterinary attention.
The owners of the house agreed Tuesday to hand the animals over to the animal welfare group, which took them to a nearby animal shelter in Fareham.
"Many of the females will be pregnant, so it is possible that we will see the number of animals double, creating even more of a problem," shelter manager Mike Ward said. "With so many gerbils to care for, our staff have been stretched to the limit."
The shelter has called in volunteers, and was appealing to the public for help in caring for the animals.
"We are running short of suitable temporary accommodation and food for these animals, so we are hoping the public will be able to help," he said.
"Many of these animals have come to us in a poor state and will need ongoing veterinary attention," he said.
"Others are in good condition," however, and could go to new homes "as soon as

Now I think I may have come up with a very practical solution to finding a place for these 550 gerbils and their soon-to-be offspring. I'm sure that someone, somewhere has an excessive number of pet snakes in their house. And the snakes probably aren't too healthy, since they guy (And yes, I'm going to assume that this one is a guy. In Florida.) probably can't afford to buy them all food. Do you see where I'm going with this one, people?

Had a lovely time biking to see Shakespeare last night (I totally predicted the pratfall into the fountain onstage, too). I even almost made it all the way back on the bike. Then Jen told me that the QIRs (Quakers In Residence) will be arriving on Saturday. That's 8 days before they were supposed to arrive, 8 days in which I had hoped to pack and move. Me, happy? No.

Jul 21, 2005

I fail to understand this

Posted by Mary |

Are our children not coddled enough? They already have complete control over thier lives and the ability to compel their parents to buy them all manner of expensive, unnecessary items. Cell phones and sneakers come to mind.

And then I see this:

LONDON (Reuters) - The word "fail" should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing pupils, a group of teachers has proposed.
Members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) argue that telling pupils they have failed can put them off learning for life.
A spokesman for the group said it wanted to avoid labeling children. "We recognize that children do not necessarily achieve success first time," he said.
"But I recognize that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary," he said.
The PAT said it would debate the proposal at a conference next week.

Words fail me. Or rather, my words have deferred success.


Posted by Mary |

At our Monday rehearsal for Tundra Caravan, Terri suggested we get together for a fun dinner - no troupe business, no practice, just enjoy spending some time together and have some good food at Bobby's. So at 8 p.m. yesterday, I met up with Terri, Teresa, Susan, Suzn and Barbara (the other understudy).

At the table, Terri stood up and started to pull out gift bags. I thought, Man, it's someone's birthday, and I didn't know it. I didn't even sign the card! Much to my surprise, the bags were for Barbara and me, along with cards and crowns. The troupe had agreed that it was time to move us both up to full membership, so we are now officially members of Tundra Caravan!

In celebration of this, I am posting some pictures of myself in costume.

I don't think I really need to say how happy I am, but there's an added bonus. The troupe performs at Bobby's frequently. Bobby's is a great Greek restaurant in downtown Fairbanks that will be celebrating its second anniversary with a private party next week, and I'm invited. Oh, free Greek food..... I hope I can still fit into my costumes.

Jul 20, 2005

Everyone has their limits

Posted by Mary |

I have a certain line that I've drawn about what I will and won't take from a transfer station (that's essentially a dump for those of you who don't live in Alaska).

  • Furniture - Yes
  • Appliances - Yes
  • Outerwear - Yes

And I don't normally belittle people who choose to take other things. But today I stopped at the Chena Ridge transfer station, and no sooner had I set down a bag of my old underwear (clean, mind you) then a browser swooped in on it. At least it was a woman, not one of the old men I always see at the Farmers Loop transfer station.

Smurf movie on the horizon

Posted by Mary |

This is some smurfin' good news.

Fans of a certain animated tribe of small, blue woodland creatures haven't
gotten a lot of love lately: No new TV episodes, no old TV episodes on DVD
(outside of a couple of import releases), no real news on a long-rumored movie.

Now, finally, things are looking rather smurfin'.

A 3-D, CGI-animated Smurfs feature film will bow in theaters in 2008, Daily Variety reported Tuesday. The extravaganza from Paramount's Nickelodeon Movies will be the first in a planned trilogy, it said. According to Newsweek, the project has been trying to get off the ground since at least 2003.

Word of the done deal comes a week after DreamWorks and Paramount set a July 4, 2007, release date for The Transformers, another animated TV series due for a big-screen makeover. But while Transformers fandom has thrived, fueled by new series and product, the smaller legions of Smurf faithful have waited.

"Dude, a Smurf movie?" went a message-board post on TheMovieBlog.com last month after Newsweek noted a film was nigh. "That's the smurfing best thing I've heard in smurfing forever."

Like the Transformers, the Smurfs were a phenomenon of the 1980s, unless one lived in Europe, where the characters have been mainstays since 1958, when Belgian artist Pierre Culliford, better known as Peyo, introduced them in the comic pages. The new movie's planned release date supposedly is tied to Smurfdom's upcoming 50th birthday.

Peyo's creations--the aforementioned small, blue woodland creatures who lived in homes shaped like mushrooms, whistled happy tunes, conjugated the word "smurf" in any way they saw fit, and named themselves Ramones-style (Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, etc.)--blew up as big as any Transformer robot in 1981 when The Smurfs debuted on NBC. The Hanna-Barbera-produced series won two Daytime Emmys, moved much merchandise, from Smurf-Berry Crunch cereal to countless figurines, and dominated Saturday morning TV until 1990. A 1983 big-screen adventure, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, grossed $11 million, per the box-office site The-Numbers.com, even though it was nothing more than a retitled, redubbed version of a 1976 Belgian-produced movie.

There was no word on voice actors for the new film. The Smurfs' family recently lost Gargamel, the bad, and Baby Smurf, the good, in the death of performer Paul Winchell. Don Messick, who voiced Papa Smurf and others, died in 1997. Smurfette, meanwhile, lives. Lucille Bliss, who gave high-pitched voice to the tribe's lone female member, is 76, and still working.

As for Peyo, he died in 1992. His progeny, however, has kept right on their merry way.

Only someone trapped in the 80s (like myself) could be thrilled by this. I suspect I may be drunk or stoned when I go to see it, though.

Jul 18, 2005

They like me....they really like me!!

Posted by Mary |

So, I checked my Gmail today, and found an e-mail from an unfamiliar address.

Coldfoot said...
Just found your blog. Keep up the good work

It seems that someone has found my reviews at Deft Palate and liked them.

So, what do I know about this mysterious Coldfoot? Well, he lives in Fairbanks and has a blog. That's about it.

To flatter myself, I'm going to pretend that he was so smitten with my writing that he's taken to prowling around area restaurants, looking for someone scribbling furtively under the table. Yep - you heard it here first. I have a fan.

Jul 14, 2005

Extra, extra!!!

Posted by Mary |

I found the following item in the June 25-July 1, 2005, issue of New Scientist. I've highlighted what I feel is the important part.

Brain scans find the penis at last
At last we know where the penis is represented in the male brain.
The genitalia's location on the 'homunculus', the brain's map of body parts, has been in dispute since the 1920s. Now Christian Kell at the University of Frankfurt in Germany has put eight men into an MRI scanner to help settle the question. Using a soft brush, Kell stroked parts of each volunteer's body while recording brain activity.
Each man's penis was represented in the same place - flanked by the areas for the toes and abdomen - Kell told the Organisation of Human Brain Mapping annual meeting in Toronto. "The only depressing thing," he says, "is that the representation is very small."

Well, no shit it's a small area. But perhaps Mr. Kell should have investigated whether it was capable of blocking off functions of other areas. And is that the best gay pickup method you've ever heard of? I'm a scientist. I'd like to put you in an MRI scanner and stroke your body with a soft brush.


Posted by Mary |

Let's ignore for a moment that 'purplicious' is not a word. Let's try to overlook the fact that Hostess is, slowly but surely, turning into a specialty marketing tool. Has anyone forgotten what they did for Shrek 2 ?

No, I think what upsets me most about these sugar-laden treats is the fact that the Web site is claiming that they are 'making magic in stores nationwide.'

All complaining aside, do check out the Hostess snack cake recipes. I'm just itching to debut the Twinkie-misu at my next dinner party.

Heard around the News-Miner

Posted by Mary |

Drag isn't just for Halloween.
-Dillon, explaining his desire to wear high heels

I returned home on Tuesday at around 1 p.m. Tree still on lines, no electricity. With a heavy heart, I dialed GVEA (again) and asked in a small voice if it might be possible to maybe get electricity back perhaps by Wednesday. The man on the line said he'd look into it and asked for my address. When he told me he also lived on Goldhill Road, I said, Well, Roger, can I come over to your place for dinner? Because I haven't eaten at home for a few days. He laughed, and said we'd probably have power back later that afternoon.

I tried to distract myself with cabin painting, but hunger began to gnaw at my stomach. My master weight-control plan is to only buy food components, with the idea that I won't snack if I have to cook something. This plan was working against my current situation. In desperation, I rooted through James' section in the main cabin and found some pilot bread, which I ate. You have to be pretty desperate to eat pilot bread.

Finally, at 3:08 p.m., more than 48 hours after we lost power, GVEA took down the tree and restored our power. About 15 seconds after the power came back on, thunder rumbled across the sky. Always polite, I yelled Thank you!!! over my shoulder as I ran to the building site to cover the stacks of plywood and move the painted boards to a covered area.

I believe I watched lots of TV last night, just because I could. I may have also turned on lots of lights, used a space heater or two, and used an electric pencil sharpener to fine-tune my collection of writing implements, but I'll never tell.

Jul 12, 2005

Step 1: Admit that you are powerless before GVEA

Posted by Mary |

Tom and I returned to Hidden Hill Sunday morning after a pleasant brunch with Amanda Bohman and Dillon, only to find a large spruce resting on the powerlines. No problem, I thought. Sure, the power company is busy, since the 60-mph winds are knocking down lots of trees, but I'll just call and let them know about it.

I notified Golden Valley Electric Association, then put some pink streaks in my hair and read myself to sleep with my headlamp on. Monday dawned, but the power remained out. Not to worry, I said. I'll just put a hat over this head full of Saran wrap and hair dye, and go shower on campus.

I returned home after my teleconference and was a little perturbed to see the tree still laying across the power lines, but I called GVEA again. No, we're not a business, I reminded them. We're a group of residences with no power. They reassured me that my power would be back Monday night or, at the latest, Tuesday morning.

I spent the night at Tom's and stopped home on my way to work. You guessed it - tree still on lines. No, we're not a business, I said once again. Yes, you may have received several calls, since there are 8 people living here (now technically that's a lie, but since there will be 8 residents by September-ish, I don't feel too bad) The nice lady said that I was on the list and that power would be restored later Tuesday morning.

I sincerely hope that GVEA keeps track of who gets their power back last. Because the next time the power goes out, I expect to have mine turned back on first. That seems only fair, as it will balance out the electrical power karma in Fairbanks. I wait 48 hours this time, Ralph Seekins can wait 48 hours next time.

Jul 10, 2005

Quote of the day

Posted by Mary |

Well, I could swing the other way if I had to.
-Dillon, on being told that his new Audi is more
likely to attract men than women in Alaska
Dillon likes to quote people, especially Amanda Bohman, in his blog, often in embarassing ways. Mmmm...revenge is sweet.

Jul 7, 2005

Just because I'm a dork

Posted by Mary |

No one else may care, but 'permafrost' is now an official Library of Congress term. Until now, I've had to use 'frozen ground', which doesn't really sum up permafrost.

Other fun LOC tidbits:

hovercraft is known as ground-effect machine
taste test is known as food--sensory evaluation

Jul 6, 2005

My weekend, in pictures

Posted by Mary |

I sent my friend Dillon a query about whether it would be morally wrong to take pictures from his blog for the express purpose of featuring them in my blog. His response?

I don't have morals. So go for it.
Therefore, with great pride I show you my weekend.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Justin Boucher threw quite the party on Friday. As usual, no one could stop Melissa Hart from playing whatever damn music she wanted. Not even if the stereo was all the way on top of the bookcase. Nothing stops Melissa, the party Nazi.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Even though I had put on a nice sari, I wasn't above rolling around on the floor with my good friend, Amanda Bohman. See what too many Margarita Surprises can do to a girl?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
On the Fourth of July, I joined Deirdre Helfferich and Kate "Bonecrusher" Billington in the Ester parade. We proudly represented the Ester Republic, the finest newspaper in the borough. I rode in style as my alter ego, "The Deft Palate." I feel the stuffing in my bodysuit was an accurate representation of what I'll look like when my metabolism catches up with me.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
We gave out candy and copies of the newspaper. Calypso Farm gave out radishes. I thought we'd be a crowd favorite, but it seems my boyfriend is taking this 'healthy eating' stuff too far. Uh, Tom, it's a holiday. If you don't eat candy, the terrorists win!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Melissa and I were jubilant at the end of the parade. We won the award for best float, though that may have been a pun, since we stopped in front of the judging booth and bribed them with root beer floats. Throughout the day, I alternated between inviting people to punch me in the stomach or clasping my giant gut tenderly and cooing "I felt it kick."

Who gets paid to come up with this stuff?

Though it does lead me to ponder making Pot Peeps. And I'd have to be really stoned to eat a Peep in the first place.

And speaking of mind-altering substances...

Sex on the Beach sno-cone, anyone? Of course, one could just use an ice crusher, but is it really any fun without the Kool-Aid man? This is a great way to get kids to drink, by the way.

Jul 3, 2005

Picture time

Posted by Mary |

I finally got the first roll of pictures for work on the cabin developed. This would be a lot faster if I had a digital camera. I've taken more as the work has progressed, so stay tuned.

Did you ever wonder what 11,100 pounds of concrete looks like? Robert and I moved this down to the site in one afternoon. Paul showed up to help for a few hours, and Don kindly lent us some of his carts from work. We broke the hitch off one cart halfway through the effort.

The cabin site as viewed from the path. Note William's cabin in the center background. We're going to plant some trees for privacy. The cabin will be in the area defined by the wood stakes. As you can see, this goes right over the ski path. Not my idea. Also visible on the left is the whelping pen for William's dog yard.

This will be our view from the cabin. Ester Dome is rather nice to look at, no? The view will be even better when I cut down some trees.

Our outhouse, actually left over from William's cabin. It has a lovely view across the valley to Ester Dome, but no door. It also may be rather, um, "full." Fortunately, Nancy dug a new hole before she and Jay moved to Tamarack Knoll, so we can pick it up and move it over 5 feet if we need to.

For those of you in the Lower 48, this is the blue foam seat, which doesn't get cold, even at 50 below. Unfortunately, I believe my ass is bigger than the seat, so I will make contact with those wood triangles. Brrr!! Also note the dubious quality of the floor and the nasty orange carpet. We will be working on those.

And just for fun, here's a moose I found eating the trees outside my apartment. Possibly the same moose that has been eating those trees all winter. Maybe even the same moose we found standing in the middle of the cabin site when we started moving the concrete down.

Jul 2, 2005

Time for a change?

Posted by Mary |

I think it may be time to go back to being interesting. I mean more interesting than I have been of late. Perhaps the first step should be some Run Lola Run-style hair.

Then maybe I'll start running around Fairbanks trying to round up $100,000 to save Tom from drug dealers. Or just get another nose ring. Whatever.

Scenes from a B movie

Posted by Mary |

It's Saturday morning, and I'm all alone in the UAF library, which is closed for the holiday weekend. I had to walk down long hallways, through the stacks and descend several flights of quiet stairs. And I'm wearing a sari. I expect any minute now that a strange man with a big knife will find me and kill me.

On the bright side, since no one else is in the builiding, I used the bathroom with the door open. Ha!