Nov 30, 2005

existential blog dilemmas

Posted by Mary |

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.

Nov 25, 2005

consumerism 101

Posted by Mary |

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?

thanksgiving extravaganza

Posted by Mary |

It's just not Thanksgiving until someone cries " 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....

cabin tour

Posted by Mary |

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.

Nov 22, 2005


Posted by Mary |

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.

Nov 16, 2005

slow down

Posted by Mary |

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.

Nov 13, 2005

happy diwali!

Posted by Mary |

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.

Nov 11, 2005

heard at the breakfast table

Posted by Mary |

Tequila sunrises and Vicodin. Now that's a day!
-Don, who tore his miniscus,
tore his minescas fucked up his knee

One step at a time

Posted by Mary |


I am now going to talk about my cat. If you don't care to read it, please scroll down.

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.

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...

Nov 7, 2005

Look out! She's going to bitch!

Posted by Mary |

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!

Nov 6, 2005


Posted by Mary |

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.

Nov 4, 2005

Just can't get a break

Posted by Mary |

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.

Drag races

Posted by Mary |

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!

Nov 2, 2005

Home, sweet home

Posted by Mary |

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.