Dec 30, 2006

alive in fairbanks

Posted by Mary |

Sigh. Is it time for another one of those "so sorry I haven't written in a while" posts? Once again I'm out of excuses. I was busy getting ready for the holidays, experiencing the holidays, experiencing the holidays all over again when my Christmas gifts arrived on Dec. 27, getting mentally ready for Texas, blah blah blah.

First: My parents rock for listening to my Christmas desires: No knick-knacks to clutter up my cabin, and an iPod, please. I finally joined the iPod generation (I've had mp3 players, but never an official iPod). I've spent the past few days browsing through my 2,000+ cd collection, trying to select music for it. At first I was being choosy, not wanting to take up precious space with songs I only sort of kind of liked. Now that I'm three days into the process and still have about half the storage left, I'm just throwing songs in willy-nilly. Plus, I got the Belkin car charger/FM transmitter, which leads to this:

heard in the car

Thank you, miss. What the hell are you listening to?
--A grateful, yet curiously questioning hitchhiker

Yeah, good stuff. It was Bollywood, by the way.

So now I'm getting ready for Texas. By my rough estimates, it will be 4 days, 11 workshops, 2 performances and 2 parties. Throw in an overnight visit to Boise (Town motto: Yeah, it's in Idaho. You got a problem with that?), a night spent in a Motel 6 near DFW to try to avoid a 4 am taxi ride to get to DFW and a 7-hour layover in Seattle, and you've got my trip in a nutshell. Fortunately, Heather is moving to Seattle on Jan. 1. I presume she won't have a job by Jan. 8, so she can meet me and we can roam the city together. I'm saving money by shacking up in Fort Worth with some strangers I met over the Internet. Sounds kind of sketchy, so investigate them if I die. Here's what I know: Kyla Khan of Phoenix, Zuza/Valerie of Minneapolis and Andrea of Dallas. I also found another stranger in Boise to meet up with. Ah, the powers of the bellydance network.

As I often do, planned my trip around food. To be specific, I found an Indian lunch buffet in Boise. I shall eat my fill, and then some. Remind me not to have breakfast before the flight.

Dec 15, 2006

famous in fairbanks

Posted by Mary |

Yesterday Dara and I met up to attempt to scale the mountain of cookies we had baked with Jennie on Wednesday night. Somehow simple math eluded us, and we decided (OK, I decided) to get together and bake our cookies. Three bakers, two types of cookies each, one oven.... It was a hellish evening of juggling cookie sheets. And we still had to frost the suckers. With much patience and wine, we finished them off.

Dara also informed me that a client of hers knows me, somehow. Apparently the topic of bellydancing came up, and when Dara said that her friend Mary dances, the woman exclaimed, "Mary Haley? She started the tribal fusion group in town. I love them. Their choreographies are great! I love their costumes!" *ahem* I'm famous!

Last night we had the odd experience of interviewing a potential satellite resident at Hidden Hill, only to decide that the fit and the timing wasn't quite right. It's strange, because it's not like we have an empty cabin that we need to fill. Being a satellite resident means joining the community for meals, socializing, helping with the weekly cleaning, using the shower and laundry facilities, etc. We don't need satellite members, but having them can enrich our community. After he left, we discussed it as a group, and many of us were unclear on why he wanted to join and how much he would be able to participate because of his erratic work schedule. It's worth noting that he moved to Alaska only knowing one person in the area, so one resident felt that we should reach out to him to give him a kind of home base. Personally, I moved here not knowing a single person in the state. It's a choice we make, and I don't know if we should feel obligated to help every new person who arrives in town. Another resident made the point that we have to balance out his needs versus our needs as a community, and that right now we're struggling a bit as a community. In the end, the group seemed to agree with her, and we decided that we may invite this person over to socialize a bit, but that we need to work on our community before we can start to help others. At least, that's my interpretation of it.

In other news, tonight is the annual Hidden Hill bonfire. A word of advice - stay away from the eggnog. Hopefully I'll be in better shape the next day than I was last year.

Dec 6, 2006

heard after dinner

Posted by Mary |

We had one button and we liked it!
--Kyle, griping about kids today
and their fancy video games

Take my check, please

Posted by Mary |

The IRS keeps trying to give me money, and quite frankly I don't trust them. A few days ago they sent me a check for around $400. This time I'm wising up. Instead of cashing it, I'm going to frame it and hang it on the wall. Why you ask? Because they'll be asking for it back soon enough.

It all started around this time last year. I got a letter from the IRS one day saying that I owed them for taxes. As it turns out, I did in fact owe them.* Thus began a series of letters, all informing me that I owed them around $200 and that they would send a bill. After a few months, they actually sent a bill and I paid it. A few months later, they sent me a check for around $400 for "overpayment." Ka-ching, right? Not so much. In August they sent me a letter saying that the check was a mistake and that I needed to repay them $600. For those of you doing the math, that means I essentially had to pay them another $200. I bitched, but I sent them a check. They turned around and sent me a check for $400.

Now if the check were actually mine to keep, I would be just about breaking even. Follow the math:

0 - 200 + 400 - 600 + 400 = 0
But I'm pretty sure they'll realize their mistake soon enough. And if not, there's no expiration date on the check.

*Nah, I didn't deliberately cheat them. I did some work in Connecticut that ended in December 2002, but never got paid until well into 2003. They never sent a W-2, and when April 2004 rolled around, I filed for the work I did in 2003, forgetting that late payment.

Nov 30, 2006

heard in the kitchen

Posted by Mary |

We've been out-dorked.
--Tom, on Jennie (who else?)
after she compared the baby to a
villain from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Nov 21, 2006

well played

Posted by Mary |

Audio conference this morning. Yawn. Boring. Until one guy tickled my fancy by calling the planned reorganization fatuous*. Good word usage! Well played!

*1. foolish or inane, esp. in an unconscious, complacent manner; silly.
2. unreal; illusory.

Nov 15, 2006

how to waste time

Posted by Mary |

Since I don't really feel like redoing my blog at the moment, here is a list of great ways to waste time on the Internet *

The 30-Second Bunnies Theatre: See your favorite movies re-enacted in 30 seconds. By bunnies.

List of Unusual Deaths: Famous people who died in odd ways.

The Brick Testament: An illustrated Bible. Done entirely in Legos. Rated for nudity, violence, sexual conduct and cursing.

* without resorting to porn

Nov 9, 2006

how to deal

Posted by Mary |

While Tom spent election night particiapting in a virtual Big I with Marmian and friends, I worked on decorations for our Christmas tree. Behold, the little blingy Army ornaments!

Our, um, angel? Why, Beach Fun Blaine, of course!

No, Mom, this does not mean you can buy me decorations. Don't even try it. I'm perfectly happy with decorations I make out of things from the $1.50 store.

Nov 8, 2006

it could be worse

Posted by Mary |

Hey, at least our new governor is pretty. And as Tom said last night, "I don't think she knows anything, but I think she could learn."

So, good news for the rest of the country: The Dems take over! Some good news for Fairbanks: Kawasaki, Thomas, etc. But bad news for Alaska: Palin, Young.

But like I said, she's sort of pretty. Which almost makes up for her other shortcomings. Case in point: her appearance at a debate at West Valley in Anchorage.

Nov 7, 2006

from the inbox

Posted by Mary |

Spam: Earlier this year we wrote to you about our Knowledge Based Degree Program (KBDP). We thought we would follow up and see if there is any reason why you have not called our registrars office. 

Me: Well, I don't usually trust schools that can't figure out how to punctuate a possessive, but go on....

Spam: Most people don't realize that these degrees are completely valid, and only our staff and yourself know that they are based on knowledge of the subject.

Me: Really? So you're accredited, then? And FYI, it would be "only our staff and you." But maybe you're not trying to offer degrees based on your knowledge of English.

Spam: If you are still interested in obtaining a degree then please give our counselors a call at anytime during the week.

Me: See, there's a punctuation problem there, too. And I care about these things.

Spam: Counselor Office:

Me: OK, you got me. I was expecting a number from the Virgin Islands.

Spam: Regards
Shirley Mitchell
Valentinus 0nline College

Me: Hold up, Shirley. First, use a capital "o," not the number "0." Second, you don't even have a Web site so I can mock you more in my blog. Won't you please put up a Web site extolling the virtues degrees based on the knowledge of a subject? Pretty please?

Nov 3, 2006

what this week would have been like

Posted by Mary |

I would have blogged this week. I would have returned to my picture-filled posts of days past. I likely would have started off the week with a picture of the local gas station marquee urging drivers to "Try our pure Colombian." Alas, by the time I got back with a camera, it had been changed. I probably would've referenced Tom's jokes about marching powder when we saw the sign.

I would have told you all about my trip to the chiropractor last week. I would have likened cracking my back to driving a motorcycle over a mile of bubble wrap. Then I would have crowed about how my insurance is paying for massages. I would have assured you that they are desperately, medically needed.

I would have updated you on the happenings at Hidden Hill. That includes the dinner conversations about people who can't let different foods on their plates touch each other. I would have quoted Russ, who used to be like that but has since reformed. It would have looked like this:

I let my lettuce come to the front of the bus.
--Russ, on getting over
his food segregation issues

I would have told you how I can't quite figure out how to best take advantage of the free tuition, but am leaning toward just amassing a wealth of additional bachelor's degrees. I probably also would have mentioned how my boyfriend rocks because even though he had a stomach virus, he installed my new battery and pad in my vehicle. In the dark. In the cold.

I would have done a lot of things, if only I'd had the time.

Oct 26, 2006

heard at the birthday dinner for James

Posted by Mary |

You're not chewing on my bone.
--Tom, to James

They're outhouses, Russ, not vomitoriums.


I'm not quite a man.

--Don, on not
finishing his steak

Next year if you go binary, you'll be 10,000.


You can't stop me; I'm an eating juggernaut.


Oct 19, 2006

it's show time!

Posted by Mary |

A picture is worth a thousand words. Plus, this picture has words on it! So, in short, I say:
Saturday night.
8 p.m.
Ken Kunkel Community Center.
It's in the Goldstream Valley.
Yeah, it's the one next to Ivory Jack's.
Experimental bellydance.
Be there.

Oct 12, 2006

want hot meat orgy pictures? click here!!!

Posted by Mary |

That's the sort of post title that gets you banned in middle America. And yet, there is a grain of truth in that post title.

You see, once upon a time, there were two aging and cranky vegans (their words, not mine). These two aging and cranky vegans decided to move to Alaska for a year and impose their dietary restrictions upon a perfectly nice set of omnivores. And though the omnivores suffered greatly, they made the effort to feed the two aging and cranky vegans for a year. When the time came for the two aging and cranky vegans to leave Alaska, they left behind a gift and a request. The gift? A generous gift certificate to Big Daddy's Barbecue. The request? Full documentation of the carnivorous orgy.

We invited all and sundry to join us, but in the end it was just the five of us who suffered the most vegan food who showed up. Clockwise from left: Don, Jen, James, Mary and Tom. Not pictured: Salak, who remained under the table in her baby prison carrier.
First up, we had appetizers. That's a big old basket of meat, yes indeed. In the background, you can see the cleverly named "Moose Nuggets." This enraged James, who kept saying, "Hush puppies."
Tom and I raise a chunk of meat to our two favorite aging and cranky vegans.
Drop some sauce on your shirt? Not a problem if you're James. This may be why the two aging and cranky vegans often said he wasn't quite housebroken.
Tom's plate of brisket before.
Tom's plate of brisket approximately 7.8 seconds later. "You finished that thing?" James asked incredulously. He sure did. We spent the rest of the meal listening to Tom say, "Are you going to eat that?" and, "I'll take some of that."
Jen and Don opted to horrify the two aging and cranky vegans as much as possible, and ordered the aptly named Pig Out Platter.
Mmmmm.....pulled pork. I love pulled pork. Wait a minute, is that corn on the cob? That's vegan, right? Hell no! It's a cobbet, a piece of corn on the cob that has been flash-fried in garlic butter. Delicious, delicious garlic butter. Even the bread isn't vegan.
James figured since he wasn't paying, he might as well order the whole rack of ribs. We also attempted to pad the bill with vegan-approved beer, and lots of it.
Brownie sundae? Not vegan.
Flan? Not vegan.

Yellowy-white cake? (Yeah, that's what the waitress called it) Not vegan.

Baby Salak? Not vegan.
Cheesecake? So not vegan.

The residents of Hidden Hill express their thanks and best wishes to the two aging and cranky vegans. If we had known about the happy hour special, we could have spent the gift certificate on 40 appetizers. As it was, we returned to Hidden Hill with a balance left on the gift certificate. I predict pulled pork will be making an appearance at a dinner soon.

Everyone has something that they need when they're sick. A big glass of Alka-Seltzer? Massive doses of Vitamin C? Their mom? For me, however, it's a shirt. But not just any shirt. It's my 1985 Grateful Dead t-shirt, which has clearly seen better days. Like the days in 1985. In 2006, the shirt is definitely looking a little ragged.
It's the sort of vintage look you just can't buy in the stores. Sorry, hipster kids. I pull it out about once a year, which is about how often I get sick. The faded graphics, transparent yellowing fabric and numerous rips give me some sense of comfort. As soon as I'm feeling better, I'll pack it away again, and feel safe knowing it will be there for me the next time...

Oct 11, 2006

on the road again

Posted by Mary |

As promised, I have resurrected the camera. Behold, the power of digital technology!!!! (And behold my new vehicle, too!)

A lovely little Suzuki Vitara. 2000, 87K miles, 5 speed, 4WD, PW/PL and all the other acronyms you can throw in a classified ad. Though it's a small SUV, the interior is quite roomy.

For instance, Tom can sit inside (in the passenger seat only, of course!) and his head isn't even close to hitting the roof. The back seats fold down for extra cargo space, though I don't think I'll be able to move a refrigerator in this vehicle.

For scale, this is how tall the vehicle is:

Tom is 6'5". This is the sort of vehicle you step into, as opposed to sitting down. I am now level with drive through windows. I feel powerful and mighty as I cruise down the road towering over puny cars (well, as powerful and mighty as one can feel with a four-cylinder engine).

And on a side note: I'm getting sick. Coming down with something nasty. I can feel it. Not good. I'm a baby when I get sick. Pretty soon I'll be drifting about the cabin, hoarsely proclaiming, "I'm dying!" to anyone who will listen. It's probably better to avoid me entirely until I recover.

Oct 4, 2006

brave new territory

Posted by Mary |

You'd think that since I got my digital camera back I'd be snapping and blogging much more frequently. Yeah, you'd think that....

The picture above was taken at the Morocco workshop, featuring once again the lovely Joanna. Her loving, trusting (and foolish) husband stayed in Anchorage while she came to Fairbanks for a few days of dancing. At the end of the workshop, I did, in fact, quit my dance troupe. Scary new territory - I'm trying to develop a troupe of my own. In the end, though, Rachel Brice was right: I need to be true to myself and let go of a situation that was no longer working. For now I've got four other dancers who are working with me to develop the troupe and see where tribal fusion fits in Fairbanks.

Despite all our big talk in the past, it has become clear that Tom and I are not destined to be a one-car family. I mean, he's unemployed a freelance journalist, and we still can't hack having just one car. I'll pick up the check from the bank today, and get my new car this weekend. Pictures to come. I promise.

Shed? Done.
Deck? Done.
New trail since the deck covers the old one? Done.
Having Tom home to do lots of work? Priceless.

Sep 20, 2006


Posted by Mary |

Long time, no post. So here goes:

* I officially got a new job at UAF. My new title is Graphic artist. I quit the library, but will continue to work at Extension. I started the job yesterday, which consists of editing and making changes to math textbooks aimed at elementary school kids. The textbooks use Yup'ik legends and traditional knowledge to teach math. You know, counting berries and recognizing patterns is parkas, etc.

* I may have found a vehicle to purchase. In fact, I put a deposit on it. However, the owner needs to get me a copy of the registration in order for the bank to lend me the money, and he doesn't know where it is. That may be a possible snag.

* The non-cooker at the commune has signed up to cook twice in the 4 months since moving in. Both times I had other obligations and was marked for a saved plate. Both times there was no saved plate.

* Tom returns Friday night. If the cabin's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'.

* The meth house on my road (OK, maybe not an actual meth house, but people sure seem to know which one I'm talking about when I say that) has a dog kennel in their driveway. The kennel contains not a dog but a full-grown pig. I sense a barbecue coming on.

* My cabin has a roof. It even has a shed (which hopefully will have a door knocked into one of its solid walls today). And work has started on a deck.

* I think I'm going to quit my dance troupe.

Sep 12, 2006

car goes boom

Posted by Mary |

My car, it seems, has died. RIP, dear Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon. Well, it's not dead-dead, it's just in need of $900 or so to fix it, which seems a little silly to sink into a 91. I'm trying to find a mechanically inclined person to buy it from me so they can fix it. The car would be worth about $2,200 in the Fairbanks market, due to the All-Trac, and the parts are estimated at $400. I'll bet you could even find used parts for less. So come on, now, who wants it?

Once again I am car shopping. Sadly, every time I go into a dealership armed with breasts and a uterus, I get shoddy treatment. Such as "Well, we've got a nice car over there - oh, wait. It's a manual." Hi, jackass, I've driven stick for 15 years now. (Yes, the math doesn't add up. Blame my sister for breaking the law.) Or "How much can you afford per month? Because you may be able to get a car that's worth more than X amount." Yes, but then I'd be paying more than X amount, wouldn't I? And then there's my favorite "What would it take to get you in a car today?" You, two bottles of lube, a video camera, a small rhinoceros and a very open mind.

In my limited price range, there hasn't been a whole lot. There's a nifty '99 Subaru Legacy Outback that's rather cheap, but the '99s had that whole exploding-head-gasket issue. Much like my old '97, which I ended up putting a new engine into. I'm trying to stick with AWD, yet avoid the gas-guzzling small SUVs. Fortunately more manufacturers are moving into AWD territory these days. Unfortunately a car that has been made in the past year or two is still generally out of my price range.

Sep 8, 2006

he's famous

Posted by Mary |

Tom has finally gotten the attention he deserves.
From west to east with pedal power
There's nothing quite like a small-town newspaper write-up to really make your journey complete...

Sep 6, 2006

i need a new commune

Posted by Mary |

One resident refuses to cook, and everyone else responds by constantly asking him to join their meals? Four people sign up for dinner last night and not one of them shows up?

I'm over it. And by "it" I mean giving a damn. No more cooking for a while. No more asking people to do their dishes, or park properly or anything else. I'll take their rent checks to the bank. Other than that, I'm going to take a cue from others and mentally check out of the commune for a while.

Sep 2, 2006

a solitary (wo)man

Posted by Mary |

Yeah, I put some Neil Diamond in my post title. What are you going to do about it?

I promised last week that I would post again to explain my little-sleep weekend. Sadly, it's taken me a full week to do it. It all began back in February when I was hired by Cooperative Extension Service. One of my many duties was to help plan and coordinate a conference for foresters, which finally came to pass two weeks ago. While I tried to plan ahead and get all the details lined up so that the actual week of the conference would go smoothly, things rarely seem to work out as planned. The end result was Mary storming around campus for a few days, cell phone ringing, barking orders like: "Those sandwiches need to be ready for the break, which starts at noon!!" or "You'll just need to JV the funds from our account. I e-mailed you the numbers last week and we faxed over the signed contract yesterday." I mean, I don't even know what JV stands for, but there I was talking into my cell phone like a yuppie day trader, throwing around the acronyms.

By the time the 2-day conference was over, I was tired from putting in 10+ hour days. I thought that joining the foresters on the 3-day field trip to Toolik Lake Research Station would be a relaxing time, and moreover I would be on the clock. To top it off, I got to use a bullhorn. How could that go wrong?

DAY 1 dawned bright and early as I finished packing and headed to the hotel to meet our charter bus at 7:30 a.m. The bus didn't show until 8, but that's OK because I had my friend, Motorola Razr, to keep me company. I got to say bon mots such as: "No, I ordered five 6-foot sandwiches, and they need to be ready by 8. I need 30 feet of sandwich on this bus before we leave." Lunch dilemmas aside, the bus set off on a rainy day and headed for Coldfoot Camp. Coldfoot was fun, mostly because they don't seem to get many single women under the age of 60 there. I amused myself by sitting in the bar alone, drinking beer and reading a book while men circled me like sharks. When the foresters returned from their presentation, there may have been a dramatic reading of a Robert Service poem, but I'll never admit to it.

DAY 2 arrived and was decidedly sunnier.
I bundled the foresters out of the romantic ATCO units that had served as our quarters for the night, and we hit the road. We stopped in Wiseman for an hour to wander through the town and interact with the locals. We asked one gentleman if the trading company could be opened, but he said (and I quote) "Well, 8-Ball isn't here today, and he's the one with the keys." A man named 8-Ball. How charming! Either he's good at pool or has a serious cocaine addiction. The locals also had made some unique choices in yard decorations. And they never let pass a chance to truly shine. Back on the road again, we continued north on the Dalton Highway. Have I mentioned the Dalton? No? Well, imagine a dirt road. Yeah, that's about it. It's probably one of the few highways in this country where you can stop a tour bus, let foresters wander about in the road, and then gather them together for a picture - in the middle of the road, mind you - without ever seeing another vehicle on your 30-minute break. As we continued up the Dalton, I kept trying to steal a little sleep. The foresters kept trying to spot wildlife, and would awaken me with cries of "Moose!" "Wolf!" "Sheep!" The 'sheep' usually turned out to be snow on the side of a mountain, but they did get to see some moose and wolves. After we climbed Atigun Pass and were officially on the North Slope, the weather turned against us, and we proceeded to Toolik under the cover of clouds. What can a girl say about Toolik? Well, it has a sort of Mad Max, post-apocalyptic feel to it. A motley collection of wall tents, trailers and heavy machinery, perched on the edge of a lake above the Arctic Circle. As I stood on the boardwalk by the lake, chatting with some foresters, I half expected the bad guys, who would of course be wearing dusty leather with odd metal embellishments and sport some scruffy facial hair, to appear over the edge of the hill, racing toward us on ATVs. We would scramble for the safety of the camp, possibly losing one member of our party off the boardwalks as we ran for safety so we could protect our precious oil. Other people just saw it as an opportunity to fish. and of course we can't forget the opportunity to use those Arctic outhouses. The university plans to operate Toolik through the winter this year. And if they're serious, they'd better invest in some blue foam. Because plastic toilet seats weren't cutting it in August.

DAY 3 was still cloudy and a little rainy. The bus, not to mention the foresters, had taken quite a beating on the trip.

Some helpful souls decided to clean the windows. This effort lasted about 17 seconds once we were back on the dirt highway, but it was a glorious 17 seconds. The trip was cloudy and gloomy until we got to Atigun Pass, where we left the cloud cover behind as we climbed. The mountains had gotten more snow overnight, signaling the end of summer, but the sunny weather held for a good portion of our trip home. We lounged around Grayling Lake, enjoying our lunch in the sunshine. We continued on with the long trip back to Fairbanks, but we were making good time. As the made the transition from the Dalton to the Elliott (which means the transition from dirt road to paved), the skies darkened and the bad weather returned, but still we pressed on. We kept going all the way to a hill at about 30 Mile of the Elliott. And that's where the bus stopped. Stopped dead in the middle of the road. 45 miles from town. On a hill. On a blind curve. On a road that sees frequent truck traffic. Dead. Our driver used Bob's satellite phone to call for a replacement bus. That proceeded to look for us at 30 Mile. Of the Steese. Which is not the Elliott. Several of the foresters got out with walkie-talkies to try to signal vehicles on the highway and prevent our imminent death from the collision of two tractor-trailers trying to pass us. The replacement bus finally arrived, which is when the luggage chain formed as we tried to transition from one bus to the other as quickly as possible. At this point, I was a little tired of the foresters. Nice people, but I'd just had a little too much of them, you know? As we pulled into an area with cell phone reception, I scrolled through my phone book, searching for a friend - any friend - who drinks. I made a call, ran from the bus once it stopped, hit the store for liquor and personal supplies (because nature has a funny way of reminding you that you're female when you're stuck on a broken bus full of foresters) and high-tailed it to Dara's house, where I relaxed, resplendent in my Alaska-woman glory of cargo pants, Xtra Tuffs and a bullhorn, and guzzled red wine.

Aug 26, 2006

best trip ever?

Posted by Mary |

Much to say, but little sleep keeps me from being too eloquent. A picture is worth a thousand words, so let's just say that the trip to Toolik Lake went from this:

To this:

All will be explained later.....

Aug 18, 2006

not again...

Posted by Mary |

Every time I think about getting another pet, I manage to talk myself out of it. And then I see something like this:

Why would you name a female dog Alfonso? And why do I keep thinking about getting a dog when I'm also trying to plan a trip that will take me out of the country for more than a month?

Aug 17, 2006

the brownies find more victims....

Posted by Mary |

If you don't already know, I posess the recipe for the best brownies in the world. And no, I won't share it with you.

I whipped up a batch (a 4-hour process, mind you) as a way of thanking a friend who recently gave me an mp3 player. The Hillbillies cried foul that I was making them but wouldn't share any. My friend confided that they disappeared in two days, especially after she ate three of them on the second day. Since I had a few left from her batch, I gave some to a coworker who came into my office the next day to sigh about them.

Tonight is Russ's birthday, so I think I will spend my afternoon making another batch for dessert. Although it is not my night to cook, Jennie graciously offered to let me make them, which is quite sporting of her. Perhaps tomorrow I will parse out the leftovers to select people, much like a mafia don hands out favors.....

Aug 15, 2006

heard at the commune

Posted by Mary |

I wish I had breasts.
--An anonymous man, while
watching his wife nurse two babies

Aug 11, 2006

melo love

Posted by Mary |

Joanna was right - real Melos are worth it. I found out yesterday when the package arrived. $70 worth of purple sash goodness. Now if only I could find the excuse to wear them, say, out to a bar....

heard at the fair

Posted by Mary |

He clearly comes from excellent genetic stock.
--Jennie, who was not
commenting on the livestock

Aug 9, 2006

the makings of a runner

Posted by Mary |

When I decided back in January to run some triathlons, I was not exactly what the kids these days would call "in shape." Sure, dancing keeps me active, but I've always been on the voluptuous side (and I'm not complaining), so the thought of swimming, biking and running was a little intimidating. Running, especially, is hard on my knees and feet, and those first few winter runs along the ski trails left me in pain for days.

Yesterday afternoon, I was feeling frustrated about things, and found myself strapping on my running shoes and filling my mp3 player with fast songs. I turned out of the driveway and headed down Goldhill Road, planning on just doing a quick mile. I figured I needed a little exercise and some distraction. When I got to the turnaround point for a mile loop, I didn't want to stop. I kicked up my legs and kept going down the road. I reached the powerlines and didn't want to stop, so I kept going further. My one-mile run turned into something a bit longer, and I found myself pressing to run faster.

Today my legs are delightfully sore, and I'm looking forward to both a relaxing afternoon at Chena Lakes and signing up for the Northern Alaska Environmental Center's Run For the Refuge next weekend. Am I am fast runner? Well, no. And I never will be. Frankly, a 10-minute mile is my goal, not my starting point. But at least I'm getting out there and enjoying myself.

Aug 7, 2006


Posted by Mary |

Every once in a while, I check out the latest results over at Googlism. And while today I yielded nothing but boring Googlisms, Tom was a different story.

The very first result:
tom moran is again crafting his own brand of rod magic

And they say this blog has sexual content.....

Jul 28, 2006

big brother is watching you....

Posted by Mary |

Tom, as you may know, is on a cross-country bike trip. He was recently in the heart of fly-over country (Monon, Indiana) where he tried to read my blog on the library computer. You know, to keep up with my busy life and all. When he tried to load the page, he got this message:

PureSight for WinGate: Access denied
PureSight for WinGate has determined that the requested URL ( is at least 69 % likely to contain prohibited content.
The content has been blocked because it is of a sexual nature.
If you have any queries with regards to this, please contact your system administrator.

Is it ironic that my blog is 69% likely to be sexual in nature?

This reminds me of the time I discovered that the Eudora e-mail program would put chili peppers on my messages if I used certain words. In my defense, bitch is acceptable language when you are the managing editor of a magazine about dog-powered sports. Even better, Eudora would also send me a pop-up to remind me that I had used some choice language and make sure I really wanted to send the message. I had great fun playing with that program, although Tom probably wondered why he got e-mails that said "shit piss fuck bitch cocksucker damn." He probably thought I had Tourette's of the fingers.

I'll bet I'm up to 70% prohibited content by now. I won't rest until I reach 86%. Damn right. Damn. Right. Damn.

Jul 24, 2006

It's not what you know, it's who you know

Posted by Mary |

Several months ago, Pernon Ricard started marketing Soho, a lychee-flavored liqueur. I love lychee, and especially love lychee martinis, but have never been able to reproduce them well at home. Perhaps trying to puree vodka and lychees in a blender isn't the best plan, but you can't blame a girl for trying. Of course, when I heard that someone was distributing lychee liqueur in the United States, I was all over it. Well, I was all over it in a roundabout fashion.

The manufacturers decided to begin test marketing the beverage in Philadelphia in August 2005.. They then expanded to San Francisco, and that's where the lychee trail came to a grinding halt. Although the company promises a full national rollout by the end of 2006, I'm nothing if not impatient. And so, a plan was formed.

I convinced a friend [we'll call him "Jake"] who was going to the Philadelphia area to bring me back two bottles. When he arrived, he proceeded to the nearest state-run liquor store only to discover that Soho had to be special-ordered and would not arrive before his return to Fairbanks. Boo!

And then came the second plan. "Jake" would be traveling to the West Coast in June, along with another friend we’ll call "Stanley." Moreover, one of "Jake's" friends would be traveling out to meet them. ["Jake" has a friend named Cookie. No quotes because that is apparently her real name. That has nothing to do with the story.] And so it was decided that "Jake's" friend would smuggle out two bottles of Soho, and "Stanley" would become the mule who carried the bottles across the Canadian border and deliver them to me in Fairbanks. It is worth noting that there's nothing illegal about Soho, I just happen to like pretending that there is.

Several months after the plan was hatched - Sunday, to be precise - my doorbell rang. "Stanley" stood, there, bearing my contraband. Four months. $40 (I'll send you a check, "Jake"). Patience far beyond my natural capacity. It will all be worth it when I mix up a lychee martini tonight.

Jul 21, 2006

heard at fairbanks summer arts festival

Posted by Mary |

I didn't know you cross-stitched.
--Dancer 1
Yeah, don't tell anyone. It kind of ruins my street cred.
--Me Dancer 2

How did this happen? How did I allow a colleague to talk me into judging fair entries for 4-H? Maybe, maybe, on a good day when I was half-asleep or drunk I would be an adequate choice to judge livestock or something. But on a sober day? Not so much. And sadly, I'm not even going to judge livestock. (You got a real pretty mouth, pig...) No, I get to judge the creative entries. You know, photographs, poems, essays, etc.

You must bear in mind that I'm very familiar with these types of entries. When we go to the fair, Tom insists on reading each and every one. It's that same sort of sickness that forces him to read every interpretive plaque he encounters. Every. One. But back to me. Tom reads all of these entries, and I stand next to him and try to offer constructive criticism.

  • "Using the same word twice doesn't count as a rhyme, Brianna."
  • "Maybe when mommy was helping you pick out fonts for your essay, she should have been running the spellcheck, Dustin."
  • "Iambic pentameter? I don't think so, Hailey."
  • "Dear God in heaven, do you really think that looks anything like a dog, Khrystal? It looks more like Sloth in Goonies."
  • "I find your use perspective quite interesting, Madison. Was this your view from the window in your short bus?"
  • "Well, that's certainly one way to draw the trees, Aaron. But perhaps, as the saying goes, you couldn't see the forest for the crap you were scribbling on the paper."
And, occasionally,
  • "NO! Just...NO!!!!"

Judging, of course, is horribly biased toward the kids. As I was informed, we use the Danish Method. This does not involve any sort of pastries, so I was already feeling cheated. Then I discovered that the Danish Method means, basically, everybody wins. "They should call it the Lame-ish Method," I muttered, sinking deeper into my chair. There are four levels of awards:
Blue: Given to those projects that most nearly meet the standards for the project. Please note that the highest award possible can be given to a project that doesn't even meet the standards. Social promotion, methinks.
Red: Given to projects that rank good in relation to the standards. Or, as the Web site says, "the general level of the accomplishment is less than excellent." Well, there's my answer. Bill and Ted are making these rules.
White: Given to projects that are found lacking. WTF? You get an award for this? In that case, I have known a lot of white-ribbon people in my days.
No ribbon: This may be given if an exhibit failed to produce a level of achievement. In all my days at the fair, I have never seen something without a ribbon. Every piece of crap gets a ribbon. Every child wins because the contest is rigged!

It should be an interesting Saturday....

Jul 20, 2006

texas here i come

Posted by Mary |

Found two people so far who are willing to share a hotel room in Fort Worth....
Booked the hotel room....
Registered for 9 of the workshops and the two shows....
Will book flight/find out options for Vegas....
Will start perfecting choreography for performance....
Will add Fort Worth to the list for my world tour T-shirts....

Jul 19, 2006

jumping through hoops

Posted by Mary |

I'm trying to figure out the best way to get from Fairbanks to Fort Worth for some workshops in January. Unfortunately, since they are in early January, it seems that I will be flying during a 'peak' time for the airlines. That means it will cost me 40,000 miles to fly there. I wonder if it's worth saving 20,000 miles to fly to Las Vegas, catch a connecting flight, then spend a night or two in Vegas on the way back? I can't get back-to-back flights back from Vegas, or I stray into the 40,000 mile territory again. Is an extra $350 worth the 20,000 miles? I think it might be...

Jul 18, 2006

baby's momma drama

Posted by Mary |

OK, no actual babies or mommas, I just like the rhyminess (totally a word) of the title. There is plenty of drama, though.

Let's start with the greater drama, which came in the form of a string of vicious e-mails unleashed over the weekend. To be fair, everyone has their own side to the story, but this is my blog, so you're going to hear my opinion, got it? It all started innocently enough with a dancer sending out a mass e-mail asking what other dancers thought were the qualifications of a Middle Eastern dance teacher. That's it - it was literally one sentence. That might have stayed innocent if she hadn't forwarded another e-mail precisely two minutes later that named the teacher she had an issue with and called her "nasty and unprofessional." To be fair, that was said by someone else, but she chose to forward the inflammatory statements on. The e-mail cycle continued, mostly with anger towards this teacher. (Shall I add fuel to the fire and point out that this is an attractive young teacher, whereas some of the e-mailers are of a more mature stage of life? Yes, I shall.) They mostly seemed to be upset that she didn't have enough of a background in bellydance, not to mention that she *gasp* runs a go go troupe. [sarcasm] Surely go go dancing is nothing more than stripping, so how dare she teach bellydance as well and bring down the stature of our amazing, powerful dance that is Sacred and grounds us to Mother Earth, allowing a greater bond with our Dance Sisters (not to mention causes irrAtionaL CapiTalizAtion)? [/sarcasm]

So clearly this got me dander up. Got me in a tizzy, if you will. And I finally chose to fire off a response. Did I mention that I wasn't included in the original e-mail loop? Don't feel bad for me; lots of people weren't included. Plus, even though I've danced with a troupe in Alaska for over two years, most of the other dancers still regard me as a child and speak to me accordingly. (Awwww, you did vewy good in your solo! Yes you did! Yes you did!) In my response I chose to address their issues with the teacher, pausing occasionally to educate them about what go go dancing is and query whether or not any of them had actually taken a class from the teacher in question. I might have also likened our dance community to a lunch table in junior high.

Well, as soon as I sent my e-mail I got a response from the original e-mailer that the question was about the qualifications, not about my personal opinion on the teacher. Um, yeah. That's why you forwarded an e-mail calling her nasty and unprofessional. I have two points to make:
1. Libel. Look it up. In that thing called the dictionary.
2. Spellcheck. Actually that goes for almost everyone who replied to the e-mails. (Even I am not immune, as my trembling, angry fingers misspelled one word. Unless we can all agree to go with "attck" from now on.)

Some dancers have sent me private notes thanking me for having the courage to rudely say what they were trying to nicely say. I wasn't friendly with a lot of the dancers before, so it's no skin off my nose. Others have replied that those who defend this teacher are merely sheep, fawning over someone who is a liar and a fraud. Well, to you I say Baaa! I took the stance I did because it was childish and wrong to engage in sneak attacks behind someone's back, not because the teacher is a friend of mine. In fact, if she had been the one to start the e-mail chain, I would have said the same things. It's all about the action, not the target.

And on a lesser note - my personal drama. Ever have a friendship that died? Let's not point fingers, as both of us were to blame, but the friendship has been good and dead for a while. In fact, neither of us has spoken to each other since December, even though we occasionally attend the same functions. Therefore it struck me as a bit odd when she started talking to me at a party on Sunday night. It's not that I harbor bad feelings about her or wish her ill, but the entire experience left quite a bad taste in my mouth. As James has said, "That ship has sailed. To Antarctica." But there we were, on opposite sides of the kitchen. Taken aback, I replied with my usual sarcasm, which probably just came across as bitchy. That happens a lot. But if she's reading this: I wasn't trying to give you a bitchy reply, I was just surprised that you spoke to me after 8 months of silence. Let's let sleeping dogs lie. Lay? Lie? Damn, I can't remember how that saying goes....

Jul 17, 2006

what i did with my weekend

Posted by Mary |

Lesson 1: It is possible, if properly inspired, to create a new choreography in about four hours.

Lesson 2: If you borrow a camcorder from the UAF library to attempt to videotape yourself performing said choreography, it is likely that they will give you a camcorder with a dead battery, thus forcing you to instead videotape yourself at home after the performance.

Lesson 3: Final Cut Pro is not as easy as the For Dummies book makes it out to be. Seriously.

Jul 13, 2006

my life is jinxed

Posted by Mary |

After a string of hot, sunny days, I finally made plans to go to the beach after work today with Susan G. So what do I wake up to? A cold, rainy day. Dammit, it's not supposed to get cold and rainy until August!

Trying to look on the bright side, we have made plans to go to Value Village and then drink some wine this afternoon. I'll also bring over my newest cd, "Shimmer Sustain" by Maduro, which has been rocking my world since I got it in the mail on Friday. It took me two days to figure out a new choreography to one of the songs, which I will perform at this Sunday's show at Pioneer Park.

Jul 12, 2006

bad run

Posted by Mary |

If there's one thing I truly love about Alaska, it's the summers. They make up for the cold dark winters, but all that daylight can set a pretty frantic pace. For example, today the sun rose around 3:30 a.m., and will set around midnight. This gives me plenty of time to get lots of things done, especially when I get to work by around 6:30. Skipping my lunch break means I'm free by around 2:30, leaving me plenty of free time in the afternoon.

Lately I've been trying to go running as soon as I come home from work, but yesterday I had an inexplicably crappy run. Not even my secret weapon (cheesy rap music - I'm currently loving "Shake that ass" by Eminem and Nate Dogg) could motivate me to continue running the gentle hills of the Doc John-Wecota loop. Instead of forcing the issue, I decided to just give up and walk. I'd try for another run today, but I've got a cooking class tonight. I'll try for another run tomorrow, but for today I'll just have to stick with yoga and dance.

Also topping my "to-do" list are choreographies and other dance business. This Sunday I'll be doing tribal fusion instead of cabaret at Pioneer Park, so I'm trying to whip out a quick new choreography. I got the new Maduro album "Shimmer Sustain" last week, and it has been rocking my world ever since. Spooky electronic rhythms interspersed with straight drumming - genius! My dance time will be cut short, however, as I'm headed down to Denali on Saturday to meet with Danielle and Amanda. We've got to work on two important things: the Anchorage/Fairbanks Haflaween showcases and planning next year's workshop. There goes my free time over the weekend. Oh well, maybe I'll get more free rafting out of it.

Jul 11, 2006


Posted by Mary |

It has come to my attention that I need to get the hell out of Alaska. To be more specific, I need to travel Outside (Yes, that is supposed to be capitalized. We have our very own AP Stylebook up here.) for a dance workshop. Or weekend festival. Or maybe even a week-long intensive. While the Denali Belly Bash in June was fantastic (lovely time spent with tribal fusion dancers....see the photo of Riz, Amanda and me above), I crave more. I want more tribal instruction, which I frankly can't get here. So I'm starting to plan my next trip to the Lower 48 (Again, the capitalization is correct.) to coincide with a workshop or festival. The problem is, which one do I choose?

Tribal Fusion Faire
pro: December in California, Rachel Brice, Kami Liddle, Rachel Brice, DaVid, Rachel Brice, Boom Boom Bollywood
con: it's this December (which isn't a whole lot of time to plan), I may act like a screaming groupie around Rachel Brice

Tribal Fest
pro: the granddaddy of them all, rural northern California location
con: no instructor list yet, rural northern California location

3rd Coast
pro: Houston in January, organized by Sahira, Sharon Kihara, Sharon Kihara
con: I don't think I know any couches to crash on in Houston, I may also act like a screaming groupie around Sharon Kihara

Spirit of the Tribes
pro: Desert Sin performed there last year - yum!
con: April in Florida? really?, no teacher list yet

Tribal Quest Northwest
pro: Portland is closer than the rest, I should be able to score a free couch somewhere
con: it's in August (which means waiting more than a year), no teacher list for 2007 yet (though 2006 features Elizabeth Strong, Suhaila Salimpour, Sam of Boom Boom Bollywood and Urban Gypsy [organizers of 3rd Coast])

Northern Migration
pro: Niagra Falls isn't far from my parents (using the Alaska sense of distance)
con: June date means I'd have to wait a year, no teacher list for 2007 (2006 had Frederique, Jill Parker and Unmata)

Some of these are happening later this year or early next year. Others wouldn't be until almost or more than a year from now. My decision may very well come down to whether or not any of the Anchorage dancers can come along for any of these workshops.

Jul 10, 2006

happy monday

Posted by Mary |

Watch the Hoff. Why? Because I said so!

Jul 6, 2006

mindless e-mail

Posted by Mary |

Sometimes when I clean up my Yahoo! e-mail, I find stuff that is too priceless to actually trash. I'd like to preserve the following e-mail exchange here on my blog. It's kind of an homage to my relationship with Tom.

From: Mary
To: Tom
Subject: don't freak out
OK, so Hope and I were just discussing weddings. And I was thinking, if we ever get married, can we rent out McDonald's and have Mayor McCheese officiate?

From: Tom
To: Mary
Sometimes "no" just isn't a strong enough word. Besides, I don't think Mayor McCheese actually has any legal authority, even in Playland.

From: Mary
To: Tom
It would be nice if you could be more supportive of the things that are important to me. It would help me feel that this partnership is a two-way street.

From: Tom
To: Mary
Fine, but Grimace will be my best man.

From: Mary
To: Tom
And Birdie shall be my maid of honor.

From: Tom
To: Mary
Grimace Crowe?

Grimace Crowe is a reference to our attempt to name Jen and Don's unborn baby.

Jul 5, 2006

give it a tri or give it a rest?

Posted by Mary |

The weather has, not surprisingly, been cold in Alaska this summer. Cold enough to make me wonder about entering the Chena Lakes Triathlon this weekend. Sure, I have a wetsuit, but a 2mm shorty is good for surfing and not much else. I just don't know if I'm up for a 500-yard open water swim (especially since I've been running more and swimming less lately. It has something to do with limited pool hours but unlimited daylight). In order to avoid the late entry fee, I need to decide in a few hours, because open registration is from 4-7 today.

I keep swinging back and forth. I could just go do it. I could post a bad time. I could enjoy the race. I've got no one to cheer me on from the sidelines. It's good practice for future triathlons. I could skip it and focus on my running and enter a few road races. I like multisports. I haven't been biking in a while. I had a good run yesterday. The water might be painfully cold. The weather might warm up before Sunday. It doesn't matter how fast I go. There could be lots of really competitive people there. So what's wrong with a little competition? I hate to lose.

You see what the voices in my head are saying?

Jul 4, 2006

patriotism hits a snag

Posted by Mary |

Dear Sir or Madam Who Is Setting Off Fireworks Somewhere In The Swamp Behind My Cabin,

Hurrah! It is, indeed, the Fourth of July. And patriotic sentiments are everywhere (as evidenced by the clerk in Old Navy who kept trying to sell me a flag T-shirt "because they're only $3" or some such crap). Now don't get me wrong. I, too, am patriotic. For instance, I loved Team America. Especially the unrated version. But fireworks? In Fairbanks? For the Fourth of July?

a) Most of the people in the rest of the United States think we're part of Canada.
b) It's the Fourth of July. In Fairbanks. Alaska. Don't you think those fireworks might be better saved for some celebration that occurs when it actually gets dark at night?


ps You're the person who's always firing his or her guns back there, aren't you?

Joey Chestnut, left, points to returning champion Takeru Kobayashi during the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition Tuesday, July 4, 2006, in Coney Island, New York. Although Chestnut came close to beating the champion by eating 52 hot dogs, Kobayashi won his sixth straight title by beating his own record and eating 53 and 3/4 hot dogs.

Since my camera is currently riding around somewhere in North Dakota with Tom, I'll just have to make do with pictures of grown men gorging themselves silly in eating contests.

This weekend started off with a bang on Friday, when fellow indexer Hope rented a stretch Hummer limo (because who cares about mileage when gas is hovering near $3 a gallon?) and we hit the town for her bachelorette party. It may be the first time the Midnite Mine has ever had a limo parked out front. For some reason, three guys from the bar hopped into the limo with us, and we had trouble ditching them for a while. We finally shook them loose at Kodiak Jack's. Yes, it's true - I went to a country western bar. After an eventful ride home, I grabbed a few hours of sleep before heading off to dance rehearsal.

In the late afternoon, James called my cabin to see if I wanted to join him with some steaks at fellow blogger Super Smooth Andy-G's cabin. My parents didn't raise me to turn down a free rib eye, so I readily agreed. What followed next was several hours of orgiastic eating and, well, nothing. We met at the cabin, then decided to travel over to visit The Deekers and avail ourselves of his sauna. A mighty fine sauna it was, too, until someone threw a little too much eucalyptus on the rocks, and I had to run outside to breathe. Around that time we started firing up the grill, then stood around staring forlornly at it until we decided that rare was good enough because, dammit, we were hungry! Fully sated on steak, pie and ice cream, we went back to Andy-G's cabin. Around the same time, James and I realized that if stayed out any longer, we'd be sucked into an all-nighter. Since we're getting a little old for that, we high-tailed it out of there and back to the commune.

I awoke on Sunday and peered at my clock. It seemed to say 7:25, and I cursed getting only 6 hours of sleep. Then I realized it actually said 1:25, and spent some time trying to figure out if that was a.m. or p.m. until the realization dawned that I had just slept for 12 hours. I usually get by on about 6, so that was a good sign that the night before had wrecked me. A downpour forced the dance troupe to move our Sunday evening performance inside the Civic Center at Pioneer Park, where they had trouble figuring out the lights and sound system.

Monday was somewhat cloudy, but Amanda and I decided to brave it anyway, threw on our suits and headed for Chena Lakes. When faced with the beach full of kids or the alcohol-free but deserted beach, we made the smart choice: We took the empty beach but drank our beer regardless. The intermittent sun made me wish for a good warm day back in New England, lounging on a beach in Rhode Island. Instead, I listened to a little girl scream as she found a leech on her foot and got caught up on Amanda's life.

Today actually marks another day off for me, but I needed to catch up on some work at the office, so I popped in. I needed to get at a fast computer anyway. The new Johnny Cash album was begging to be downloaded.

Jun 29, 2006

long weekends

Posted by Mary |

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Joanna is confused as to why I haven't been posting. Me? I'm just shocked.
Are you as shocked as I am that I've been so darn lazy in posting? To be fair, I was trying to hold off on writing about the Solstice Belly Bash until I got the pictures, but there has been a slight technical hitch, so the blog must go on!

On the weekend before Solstice, I packed up the car with food, clothes, a sleeping bag and Heather, and headed down to Healy for the first Solstice Belly Bash. This was the first tribal fusion dance event in Alaska, featuring talented instructors such as yours truly. Classes included Bollywood Combinations, Tribal Hip-Hop, Oriental Fan Dancing and Fire Dancing, featuring guest instructor Riz, who traveled all the way from Florida.

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I had the immense pleasure of finally meeting Danielle, the host of the event, seen here teaching the Tribal Hip-Hop class. She went all out for the event, offering us free rafting, free lodging at the Boat Camp (AKA Testosterone Central) and providing the inspiration for future events. Moreover, I had the chance to bond with the tribal fusion girls from Anchorage. I do love me some tribal fusion girls! Joanna may be my soul mate (she appreciates AP style and font selection! Too bad she's married), Amanda is a driving force in the Anchorage dance scene, Kathryn is a quiet ball of fire, and Danielle is an inspiration to us all.

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See? Joanna+Danielle=Yummy!

After that fun weekend, I returned to Fairbanks to prepare for the next weekend and the Amaya workshop in Eagle River. Amaya is an amazing dancer who just doesn't give up. She has a unique Spanish gypsy fusion style that I've never seen before, and an amazing stage presence.
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Susan, Nicole, Teresa and I spent the weekend in Eagle River dancing, eating, relaxing, eating and eating. Well worth the trip. Amanda did not attend the workshop but met up with me in Anchorage on Monday for some quality time together.

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Even more importantly, Maya brought a pair of Melodias to the Saturday night performance for me to try on. All hail the Melos! I think $70 is a bit high for a pair of pants, but when they make the entire room fall quiet and comment on your, um, assets, they might be worth it.

So there you go - a quick list of my recent activities. In reference to my recent post, Tom has chimed in against the idea of another cat. Apparently Nibbles is more than enough for him. SO now I'm thinking of a new tattoo. Is this some kind of midlife crisis?