Thursday, August 30, 2007

You know your an Alaskan when... witness Marlin Perkins' Wild Kingdom unfold before your eyes right there in your backyard. After a long day of work and chores we decided to unleash a soak in the hot tub and as we usually do were enjoying the sights and sounds of days end on the lake. It is interesting actually because many times we have noticed that the different animals/waterfowl that reside and loiter around the lake kind of 'talk' with one another. I mean literally we have noticed that things tend to happen when you here more than one species of wildlife babbling at the same time. Such was the case this particular night as the sun had set over the horizon and dusk was abound.
One of the local Loons came in for it's last splashdown for the day and the other was up in a tree squawking away and wouldn't stop. Almost like it was trying to say something. Indulged in the moment I was oblivious to Maryann seeing what she figured was a dog running along the shore on the other side of the lake. As I looked to see what she was talking about I am thinking to myself that this is too big to be a dog, and its running on all fours so it isn't Sasquatch. Through what little light was left I make it out to be a moose. She shuts off the jets and you can hear the brush and grass crunching as it runs....kind of a cool sound. Being in the midst of open season, I honesty expected to see Elmer Fudd trailing in hot pursuit! It eventually disappears from our sight through the trees and we settle back into the water. Then she wisps me out of my oblivion again and asks if "that is a loon" she is seeing floating rather rapidly across the lake. I look and think to myself that looks like a dog.... Then I realize, no, its a moose head! Now they have seen moose swim the lake before, and up to this point I haven't. So I am intrigued at watching how graceful this huge animal is in the water and am impressed to say the least. In our focus on the floater we failed to see that the moose whom had already run past is now also in the water and about to the shore below the house....ironically where this other moose is swimming to. Now the chatter from the Loon has seized to exist and it is dead quiet. You picture in your head the Loon at full attention in the tree watching the calamity unfold. Moose are in fact very quiet swimmers except for an occasional grunt they expel as they swim along. And they are pretty darned quick. The first moose lands on shore, gets out and does a quick shake off and starts running again, heading up towards the back of the sauna. About this time the other comes up on shore and does the same shake off and starts a full run through the trees. He....and about this time we realize by his girth that in fact he is a bull...isn't running towards the back of the sauna like the other one did. No, he is running right towards the hot tub! I am a little startled and am starting to think things. Like how the hell are we gonna get out and where are we gonna go when he gets there in a few more seconds. Maryann...well, I am not sure what she is thinking, but find out later that she wasn't thinking. She was observing the wildlife action as Maryann does! =) The bull gets to about 20 feet from the hot tub and stops. We are quiet....very quiet and I am still thinking. Maryann goes to peak up over the hot tub cover which is leaning against the outside of the tub and makes a little water splash sound as she does, and he is now looking right at us. About this time I am thinking oh, lord please no, and as suddenly as he he came, he turned and ran off past the sauna after the other one. Now needless to say we are a cross of excited that we just witnessed another episode of Wild Kingdom and excited that we didn't become pulp in the tub! Which is where I thought we were headed the way this thing was urgently coming up on us. Turns out that as well as being in the middle of moose hunting season, we are also coming up on the heals of moose mating season. Ahhh, love is in the air! And so we will leave you with the lingering question that we ask ourselves after such an evening. Was it love and hornyness that propelled our moose's in motion, or in fact was it Elmer Fudd that they were running from. We can only go on wondering!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What wonder beholds.

It has been 2 1/2 months since we landed on Alaskan soil now and I personally can look back and see the changes which have taken place both in the physical sense of "being here" and the relocation process itself, as well as emotionally or within my being. It is kind of weird actually in some senses. For example, 2 days ago I finally had to change the ring tone on my local cell phone. I got it so I would have a local numbered cell phone for new clients here, and of course didn't start using it until about the time we arrived in June. But I realized the other day that every time it rings now I would feel an uncalming feeling about me. It dawned on me that when it rang, I would here the same ring tone as I heard when times were a little insecure a couple months ago. I was mentally drifting back to a couple months ago when all I wanted it to do was ring as a ringing cell phone meant business and business meant money. A time when my Psyche was most vunerable to the 'vacation syndrome' (for those who have never experienced it, it is the feeling that your just on vacation and it will be over soon.....just sucks!) and the fear of "what if we cant make a living here". In general just the feelings of being out of place, not having your normal ties and life just being like living on a thread essentially. Yes....I was feeling that at times back then..... But now I am feeling much more secure, faith has kicked in full throttle and it was just time to eliminate those creepies from my head and change the ring tone. You start, new ring tone! Other things are more in your face. Like the ability to see what my dashboard lights look like on my 2 month old new truck. Something I hardly had the experience of seeing because it didn't get dark 2 months ago. Being able to finally figure out what outside lights are burned out, and which of the hundreds of light switches in our home activates those many outside lights. The compound can be lit at night! Again, it is just hard to do when it doesn't get dark out. I even discovered that at the end of our road, someone installed one of those mercury lamps up on the power pole, so when you come off the main road onto ours you can see the turn off. I guess I never looked up enough at that intersect, but now that it really gets dark....baddabing! There it was....the light! Anyways, there are alot of neat things in that respect. Some are nature oriented with fall upon us. Like earlier in the summer when you heard a moose knew it was a moose. Now with open season here, when you here a wonder if it is a moose or Jedediah's moose call. I am not sure if the moose have figured out the difference, but I have! Then there are spiders. They must spend the summer fornicating, because they are out like no other now. I mean in the past few days it's like spider webs everywhere. I mean those really cool geometrical ones! With the somewhat warmer days the past couple days and the dropping temps at night the fog is rolling in off of the bay at night and it is just like a scene out of on of those fairy tale/fantasy movies. Just awesome. I actually got to plug in my fog beams on the truck last night and level them. And, we got to see the full moon the other night as it came up on the horizon. Was spectacular. John says that he specifically wakes up at night so he can go out and look at the stars. Try to imagine not seeing any stars since June. Oh it's a trip man! It is just a neat experience to be able to be so involved with the changing season and all of the wonders it is bringing about. Cool thing is that this is just one of several more to come. Mind you, we did our homework long before we made the move, and also visited a couple of different seasons. So in some senses we kind of know what to expect, but that aside it is totally different to experience it first hand. You can only simulate so much but usually have to 'live' it to experience it. My folks are coming up to visit here in the next couple of weeks and that ought to be fun. Although I somewhat know what to expect of our new surroundings come that time....I really don't know. I wonder what range of the senses they will get to experience while here, and feel really blessed knowing that we as well will get to experience those senses for the first time. Really is spiritual when you think of it. This morning it is fogy at 47 degrees with 14 hours and 50 minutes of daylight. Hope you will find some serenity in your world today. It just takes the peace in your soul to feel it sometimes what with the quick pace and frustrations that life will throw at you. God bless, and we love and miss you.


Friday, August 24, 2007

My LoveJoy is worn out....but the sun is a shinin'

Yes it happened to me finally. I mean the way we were working it, it was bound to happen at some point and it did. We worked my LoveJoy down to a nub, just to the point that it wouldn't function anymore. And it would have to happen right when I need it the most! Production came to a sudden halt, and we just wrapped it up for a few days....which is good I suppose because it has been raining since. Now it is indeed a funny name to give to such a thing....why I don't know. I personally refer to it as a 'coupler' because after all that is it's function. All I know is that without it, life as a wood whore would be daunting. You see, the LoveJoy is a part that couples the shaft from the motor to the hydraulic pump on the wood splitter. It "is" what allows the splitter to split. There is a rubber insert that sits between the 2 halves of the LoveJoy that over time wears out or just breaks. This actually began to occur back in Dorrington towards the end of the wood run with friend Scott, I think, as I do remember that the splitter was starting to make a weird noise....kinda sort of. It held out this long and we are going into our 8th cord of wood now....and still growing.... and for this I am thankful. But the summer season here is short and we are starting to see signs of Fall coming and desperately want to get as much wood split as possible while the sun is still shining and the warmth lingers in the air. So for the LoveJoy to fail now is just plain not good. I was able to get a new one in Soldotna though and with it mounted again this afternoon the machine is humming and the beautiful sound of cracking and popping wood is filling the air! The sun did come out this morning finally and man does it feel good! You don't know how much you come to appreciate days like this until you have experienced many without it. But all is good nonetheless. We are going to make one last good stand the next few days to get all we have here split, and then start hauling in more to either continue to build this seasons stock, or begin the run for next season, however you want to look at it. Keep in mind we do have a central furnace so we won't go cold. We are just really trying to preserve the cost of fuel for the furnace and burn what we have come to know so well and depend on for so many years in Arnold and Dorrington....wood! And you wonder why I adopted a name such as "the wood whore"?!

Pay it Forward.......

Have you ever thought of how blessed you are that life is so wonderful? Now I know that we all have our days of woe but for the most part we're not laying up in a hospital with some terrible disease or cancer. We all have a purpose in this life. What that purpose is, I don't know. I think our purpose is to be the best human we can be toward others or other living things. Greg and I have always been blessed to come across whether it be people or situations that make us leave scratching our heads and having positive thoughts. Why is this? I think it's because we're supposed to learn from these situations and somehow return the favor to someone or something else. I don't know if this ever happens to you but for Greg and I, it happens alot. Greg and I have always thought that we were put in whatever path because it was meant to be. We generally live life to the fullest and take responsibility for any consequenses when they happen. Meanwhile trying to be a kind and considerate person whenever and however we can. Karma, basicly. Your asking yourself, "Why is she using this as a topic." I don't know, maybe because I feel blessed to live here. I meet amazing and truly inspirational people everyday that for the most part have terrific words of inspiration or feel that I need a little info on Alaska. Maybe our guardian angels... I don't know. I wake up every morning feeling well (except for the last several days I've been fighting a cold) and wonderful that Greg, John and I took such a sudden and risky jump to be here. I love being here. Yes, I miss my family and friends. I miss being able to jump into the car and drive the few hours to Pacific Grove and watch John surf or spend time with Greg, but something keeps pulling my thoughts back to the beauty and bedazzlement of Alaska. I can't tell you why, yet. Maybe I will have the answer soon or not at all. I truly do think that there is a reason I am here and why Greg and John are here. Taking this jump has been a healthy risk. It has shown John that he can do anything. I truly think that this experience will make John a terrific person. It has just been my experience meeting and talking to others who have spent their entire lives here that we are somewhere special.

So wherever you are, you can make life special as long as you enjoy where you are and be kind, return wonderfulness to the next recipient whether you know him/her or not. Karma does exist and it is fabulous. So with that, have a terrific weekend and know that we love you. M.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

It looked at me and I at it.....

....and then my heart stopped, I damned near crapped myself...again... and yelled out something like "here we fu*^in go!"

It was around 10:45 PM last night as Maryann and I made our way back from Soldotna. A night out together and some needed groceries. We are looking at 15 hours and 27 minutes of daylight today, so around 10:45P it is pretty much that fine line between dusk and dark. We decided to take the longer way home as we were engaged in a pretty debatable discussion and wanted to continue it, which may well have been our demise. The next thing I know she is saying " away...." and I see a bull moose in her headlights barreling towards us from across the highway. Actually by now he is in the middle of the highway and still going, with us right about beside him. All I remember for sure, as it will be forever imprinted in my minds eye....forever....was his eyes making contact with mine, a look of befuddlement on his face and as I was already adding up the damage costs to the truck in my head, his eyes kind of rose in an upward direction above the truck. No, he wasn't leaving the ground, we were getting closer to this behemoth and seeing the full extent of his mass! Now were looking at the ticks in his chest hair as Maryann manged to slow and swerve, and he the same. Now mind you it would have been a slow speed accident at that point as we had been engaged in braking to a stop and also veering away from the ensuing mass of bull. Not sure what he was doing.....I don't think he was either. They just run until they get where they're going or run into something....whatever comes first. All I know is it was a close call, and there would have been huge damage more to us than him at that point. Maryann asks me if she can pull over.....she was in a bit of shock, as he would have come in her door had he made impact. The first thing one might think is, look at all that moose meat we could take home! Unfortunately, Alaska law requires you to contact authorities after hitting an animal, and they then arrange for the animal to be taken for donation to a charity for the meat. People have said constantly that you have to watch out for moose at night because they have a tendency to run out in front of cars, and many get wrecked...and the animals dead. In the winter it is even more of a trick, as they tend to walk along the road. They don't like walking through the snow as it expels too much of their energy in the cold months, and due to a lack of a food source for them they need to preserve all of the energy they can. So you really have to come to a slow as you literally share the road with them.

Subsistence living in Alaska. It is a huge thing here. Natives have been doing it for centuries, and even today many tribes and villages rely on it, especially those on the far reaches or out in the bush. Which is a large area of the state. I have done alot of reading and research on it long before we made the mind to move here, and have nothing but respect for those who hunt and fish to sustain life through the long cold season. Even the great white Nikiskan hunter who only has to go 20 minutes into Kenai for meat! =) In fact we moved to Alaska for many reasons. A more mild and colder temperature range was a huge one. The other day it got up to 75 degrees in Soldotna. I would walk into someplace and comment on how warm it was getting and these folks would look at me and say, "son, it's hot out there!" To these people 75 is a hot day and thank God for us all there aren't too many days like that! More freedom to do what we want without so much regulation telling you you can't is a huge one. Whether your in the bush or Nikiski, subsistence is a way of life for many here. I can only relay the humor to those who can't experience it first hand that I find in certain situations, as the last time I saw someone riding an ATV along Sierra Parkway on a dirt trail with a cross bow, was never. In all of the years we lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains we never saw some of the things we see here. And it is great. This is one of the special things about living are free to be 'you'. We would have it no other way, believe me! In fact number one on my wish list is a deep freezer. We don't have one yet. Yet. We moved up here in somewhat the middle of the summer season in some respects, and there was and still is much to stabilize to prepare for our first winter here. Snow and cold...we fear not these things. Those who know us know that we did nothing but bitch because it was not cold enough with too little snow in Dorrington. It's true the winters are longer and way more colder. We are preparing. These important things were a first priority upon our arrival. I intend to be able to do more fishing next year, and maybe pursue the hunt. Personally speaking....I like is people I generally have a bigger qualm with! That fact aside, the subsistence way of life appeals to us, and the liberty to be able to pursue such a living is one of many reasons we chose to live here. Maryann did a batch of sourdough starter today, and will probably do more. She has also made some berry freezer jams, and John did smuggle home a bevy of fresh salmon, which he filleted himself, from work the other day. The smaller ones aren't keepers for processing, and he got in with the main filleter. Good contact to have! Silvers will be running soon as well, so we may have that freezer this year yet. I also will be pursuing canning as this is something I have always wanted to do. We will be doing work on the greenhouse to prepare it for a spring crop. And there has been chatter down the pipeline here at the compound of getting chickens for fresh eggs....and a periodic chicken dinner....bach....bach! The cool thing is that we are here, and we have nothing but time now to pursue our dreams. We have already found much of our dreams coming true here and are so content on the move we have made. We are personally finding content with what we wanted and have now begun to find. As I have said many times, no regrets. We look forward to the coming months and welcome the challenges they may bring. After all, after coming this far....litteraly....there isn't much left to scare the beegeses out of us at this point in the game! It only continues to get better, and with the help of the lord above, we will get by....we will survive. No doubt! High five.....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

That is what I thought I saw....

I was driving back in from the market in Nikiski tonight, after buying a bottle of milk and enjoying a cookie out on the beach. I have Jimmy Buffet's "Wasted Away In Margaritaville" cranking on the radio, in my own little world and I see a guy cruising slowly the ATV path ahead of me. You remember the ATV paths I told you about a few weeks ago, that people usually fly like Evil Knievel down. Anyways, as I come a little closer to the rider I am singing to myself and notice he is scanning the forested area beside him. As I come up a little closer I notice a huge cross bow across the front of his rail. It occurs to me that he is hunting the proverbial 'Bullwinkle'. So I continue by and wonder to myself, how in the hell is he going to haul a huge bull moose home on that little ATV? Now mind you, they know what they are doing, I mean they probably have a system worked out and it is no big deal. They do it every season....right? Then I wonder about the fool who comes across the poor dead carcass while die-hard the hunter runs home to get his rig to gather the thing, and if anyone has ever come across an abandoned kill and taken it. Imagine the shock of the hunter to return and find his game snatched. Now Maryann has claimed sanctuary to moose here on the property, and that is fine by me. I am too busy with trying to secure the compound before winter to have too much time to even consider or think about the perspective of the hunt. Besides, what is hunting when you are just cruising down the road waiting for an unsuspecting animal to stumble into your sites. Survival I suppose, as the nearest market to buy meat is a whole 20 minutes into Kenai. What cracks me up is that this guy was dressed to the 'T' in camouflage. On the side of the road on an ATV, with cars and trucks driving by. Yeah! Ya ought to blend in with the scenery just fine there Jedediah! Besides, I don't have a deep freezer yet, and my kitchen freezer is too small. I guess for the time being I will remain amused by the cunning tactics of the great white Nikiscan hunter, and honor Maryann's open invitation to the many fleeing moose of the area, offering them sanction and some free grass and wildflowers to chew on. Speaking of wildflowers, the Fireweed here is starting to come to the end of its bloom. It is a tall beautiful chartreuse colored flower stem which starts blooming from the bottom of the stalks tip, up to the top over the course of a month or so. It is said that when the flower reaches the end of its bloom there is 3 (or 6, as there is a controversy of the right story here in the house) weeks before winter will set in. Oh, and today I saw the shiny new sand/snow plow truck in the maintenance yard out by the highway. Who knows man!
Just a footnote before I check out for the night. Scott, Phyllis.....I passed you up on the wood. That's right. You thought you had a lot of aint got nothin on me! And its still growing. Next post I will tell you about the other wood whore. He makes both of us look like the amateur hour. If I can sneak a photo of his pile without being detected and looked upon as a potential 'wood rustler', why then I will and share it with you. It's impressive! Good night.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Open Season

I have to first start this blog off with a message to some friends in Dorrington (Yvette & Dave Jenkins), we don't have your email address. Please email it to me. It was great receiving your comment, glad to hear from you, but where are you moving to? If you call my old number you will get my Alaska number, please try, I want to TALK TO YOU!!!! :0)
Ok, as of today Johns truck it fixed, yaaaaaahhhh....... We're very happy. As John calls it," The Chic Magnet". It's now ready for the first day of school. We're happy for him. He's been without for nearly a month, but very patient, what a great kid we have. He is currently winding down at the fish processing plant (as Red Salmon isn't coming in and Silver Salmon will not be coming in for a few more days) with school looming ahead he will be working with Greg to keep him caught up.
We're still bringing in firewood for the season and this is also taking precedence, good thing. The wood for now is being stored in a portion of the greenhouse that is closed off by itself since we do not have a woodshed to store it in. It will probably hold up to 4 cords or more in it. The rest of the wood will be stacked on the deck close to the front door as this will serve to be beneficial in the winter.
It's amazing how fast summer has come and how close fall is here. The leaves on the fauna are already turning colors, colder nights and the slight loss of daylight remind us of what is ahead. It's going to be great! If not an adventure, right? :0) You will all be laughing your fool heads off at us when we start describing a horrible morning like the trucks would not start due to the fact that we forgot to plug them in.... yeah, we know how you are..... Well, we will all do just fine, you'll see. :0)
So besides that, my job is going great. I have excellent co-workers and am realizing how happy everyone is in their jobs. I have met 4 people that have come back to work at the hotel from previous positions because they loved working there and missed it. This is a good sign. Everyone does there job and has a fun time doing it. Besides all of the great people you meet (from other countries). And when have I ever complained about a job that was fun and I got paid to have fun? NEVER!
Moose are constantly grazing around our property here and don't quite mind Cherokee and Kenai barking at them. And Cherokee and Kenai do not mind them cruising around our property as long as they do not come up near the house, we're good with this too. Hopefully the bears will feel the same. The dogs always have this expression on their faces like, " What the heck is that? And why does it walk so slow? Why are we here? " It's quite comical. We've watched 3 moose swim across our lake, very funny. It would be even more hilarious to see what they look like from underneath. Right now our neighbors target shoot (with real guns) for the upcoming opening hunting season of Moose August 20. So I've made sure to let all of our moose know that they can come to our house for shelter. :0) Yes, when you live in Alaska and it is Moose season and a moose wanders into your yard you can kill them. Surprisingly though I've heard that this never happens... smart moose. :0) When will we ever open hunting season on the hunter? Give the gun to the animal and lets watch the hunter run.. Oooops, did I say that? :)
Take care, we miss you and love you all. the Phillip's Family in Beautiful Alaska. M.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Buying Stock in Caulk!

It's been a week since our last post. Sorry. We've been really busy. Searching, hauling, cutting, splitting, stacking of firewood. Michelle and I are currently stripping the kitchen cabinets of the old stain, gregs hanging new light fixtures in the kitchen, for some of you that saw the pictures, we replaced those ugly white disco globes that were hanging over the kitchen with some recessed halogen lighting. I had to make Chocolate Cake for Greg in order for him to replace the lights. :0) The kitchen cabinets are going to be a loooonnnggg process, the pine cabinets were stained a dark 70's finish and we're trying to lighten them, so hence the stripping process. We shall see where that gets us. We still have to patch holes near the old fireplace and paint the livingroom, change out some other lighting and we're pretty good to go for winter. The lighting is an issue because once December rolls around, with only 5 hrs and 34 minutes of daylight we'd like to see some light in the house. Some locals cut down alot of trees around there house for the added light but you know us-we love our trees and the protection they provide so we're replacing lighting instead.
As of this October we will be buying stock in Caulk! ;0) Since we've been here we've realized we've got quite the colony of bats in the eve's again. We had to fight with this at the Dorrington house the first year we moved in. Don't get me wrong, we love bats, I just want them living somewhere else other than my house. Bats in the Belfry again. As of October (when the colony leaves) we will be caulking holes and cleaning the logs around there newly departed homes and hopefully next summer they will find refuge in Johns Boy Scout made bat house that we so pleasantly provided for our Dorrington Bats (when we finally removed them.)
Life here is getting more and more comfortable. After Greg installed the halogens in the kitchen last night and turned them on for the first time, Greg expressed how it felt like the Dorrington house again. That comment alone feels good. Slowly but surely these little things are being accomplished and makes the house feel more like home, if that makes since. Along with all of these items we've finally managed to get the lawn around the house GREEN again. When we moved in it was YELLOW, no joke. Greg and I are just finding that this house that we fell in love with back in November just wasn't loved but maybe by the original homeowner/builders and it's just now getting the love it deserved. So with that it just keeps getting better.
John and I went to Nikiski High School for the first time Thursday to get him enrolled. Yes, John has changed his mind about homeschooling so we saw the school for the first time, very cool. It's totally enclosed except for the track, soccer and football fields. The school itself reminds me of the movie, The Breakfast Club. I could swear that the movie was filmed in the Nikiski High School. John said it looked like a Mall. :0) He's never seen a school completely enclosed but it's in part due to the weather conditions that it has to be that way. Although he does have the option of leaving campus for lunch which he didn't get at Bret Harte.
I just learned again that I do not like staying at home. I've been here at the house since we moved in and it has been driving me nuts, to say the least. Don't get me wrong, I love my house and the beautiful surroundings but I've once again learned that I like to be out and about. For my sister who is a housewife and loves to stay home with the kids, I commend you. I could not do it.
So on that note, we will be home today stripping cabinets, watching the moose play (we saw a moose swim yesterday, hilarious) and enjoying another beautiful day in Alaska. Will the smiles ever wash from our faces? I hope not......
We miss you and love you.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Wanna sauna?

What a glorious experience! We got to use our sauna today for the first time. Mind you, it was the first time either of us ever did a sauna. I think personally I am hooked! Maryann, Michelle and John made the fire in the saunas wood stove, and about 45 minutes later, John comes in and tells me it's ready if I want to come out. I told him that's great but I aint going in clothed...... He looked at me as if I was loonie in the head. Obviously his first time doing a sauna, eh! Maryann and I did go in for almost an hour, and Michelle after. John did venture in....clothed! Mind you, Michelle is an old veteran with the sauna scene, as she did saunas when she lived in Canada. Now we have been told that after a sauna, it is best when you can go jump in the lake. I don't think I would be frequenting that ride anytime soon, as there is a matter of a 'shrinkage factor' involved in such an antic! OOOWEE!! It will be nice when the temps are in the minus though to come home and do a sauna at days end. Kinda cant wait! I did give a photo tour of the fabled sweat lodge. It sits below the actual home about 12 feet from the lower door so it is very acessable year round. It has an entry area for disrobing and such, and also serves as a room to come out into when you just need a moment of fresh air, as the steam does sometimes overwhelm you. Then you go through a little narrow door into the actual sitting room that has elevated benches which could comfortably fit up to 6 0r 7 people at once. 2 is cozy though! It is fired by a wood stove with small to large rocks that sit on the top of the stove. A simple watering can is used to douse the hot rocks to produce the steam, and depending on the amount of steam is how often you douse the rocks. Ya just sit and sweat out all that burdens you, and you feel so relaxed afterwards. And very toasty! =)

To update the money eating mongrel of ours. John felt comfortable today with pulling out the cash from the deposit after it was rinsed with 3 days of rain. Although nobody has yet to put it into their wallet! He yielded exactly $1.00 which leaves $9.00 unaccounted for. In the mean time, Kenai woke today looking a little peekid and not doing much in the way of moving around all day. We are thinking the 'roughage' is a little more than her innards can handle! We aint seen the other 9 bucks, so it must be movin through, right?! The sun did finally come out today after 4 days of clouds and 3 of rain. Felt so good to be out in it. There was a strong sea breeze that came in with the sun and a mild temp of 60 degrees. Mike, there are many prerequisites in moving to Alaska, and the tolerance for eccentrics may just be one. Being eccentric may also be just one. Being Artesian......get back to me on that! We have found our peace here so far though, and if nothing else, we cant see the eccentrics....and they cant see us! Being on 5 wooded acres has it's advantages. Thanks for keeping up with us. Happy Monday to all.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

We've been suspected of being Artesians!

Just like the 'bearded lady' or the 'circus midget'....or the rouge clown, we have been being looked upon as some questionable race. In our case not circus freaks, but Artesians. Now we had no idea that anybody in or out of their right mind would be thinking such a thing of us. I always thought that Artesians were those people who made Olympia beer?! You remember, the big Artesian craze of the 80's. It has long since been put to rest along with the hype, shirts, bumper stickers and many commercials....although I did know a friend in Arnold who has an old worn bumper sticker on his snow cat which reads, "Artesian Search & Rescue". Obviously a collectors item! But yes, we have lived here for almost 2 months now and mystery, intrigue, and desire to just know, "what does an Artesian look like" has loomed thick in the air here in our neighborhood. That question and the twisted mind of that which wondered such curiosity finally surfaced in a brief and non-introductive encounter yesterday.

We have been blessed to have lived around some pretty interesting people in the past 17 years. It started when I moved into the apartment on Santiago in Stockton. The old guy in the 4-plex unit across the driveway from me. No matter how friendly I was, no matter what 'good day' greeting I sent his way...the guy was a jerk. Never said a word, always just stared at me, or shot dirty looks. I'll never forget the friend of his that pulled up to his place in a Cadillac one day and was slumped over the seat for almost half an hour. We called 911 because we thought he was having a heart attack or something. Turns out he had a physical handicap, and he had to get over the exhaustion of driving before he could muster up the energy to get out of the car and walk to the front door! Then we moved to Arnold. We lived 2 doors down from 'Nick the Greek'. He was a hot headed biker, of Mediteranian blood who was always pissed off at something or someone, chased down snow plow drivers for burming up his driveway in the winter, was constantly arguing with his girlfriend....outside his house, ect. I remember one time sitting on our little upper balcony enjoying the day, when Nick and Katrina came outside their house and sat and argued for what seemed like an hour. The last words that we were able to make out were shouted by Nick as Katrina slammed the door going back inside. Then exactly 4 and a half minutes of silence......followed by the front door slamming again. The next thing we see is Katrina's Jeep Cherokee backing down the driveway to the road...and backing....and backing....and backing right across the road, down the embankment across from their drive, bouncing off of trees as it made its way to the next road down below. Turns out Nick caught her cheating and decided to take her rig out of drive while it sat on their sloping get the picture! As it was, Nick was really a pretty nice guy once you got to know him. Just had a reputation as the 'loose cannon of Grenoble Dr.' Come to think of it, the Sheriffs Dept, and the CHP sure did love to visit ol Nick. He always had them over day or night. Then we move up to Dorrington years later. Did you know that when we moved onto Shoshone, we were the only full-time people for a half mile or more either direction? We were! Except for the old retired Postal Worker who lived on the road above us. Al was a nice guy. He always referred to anyone who had anything to do with politics as a 'commie pinkie'. Didn't like to have anything to do with many folks, just wanted to be left alone. The interesting one was the guy and his wife who lived right behind us. Mind you, it was their vacation home, so we only got the opportunity to deal with their crap once a month or so....if we were lucky. He thought he was the mayor of Dorrington....and if anyone knows the size of Dorrington, it doesn't even have a town forum. He used to leave his dog out all night in the summer and the thing would bark for a half hour, every few hours throughout the night and he wouldn't shut the thing up. When Maryann called him on it one day, he tells her as a matter of factly, "he (the dog) keeps the racoon's away". Yeah! Interestingly enough, that all came to a halt when I started aiming the stereo speakers out the back windows cranking out Ozzy Osbourne during his Sunday barb ques out on his deck, enjoying the mountains. Do ya think he figured that out?!?! Then there is the time I am home one morning. It had snowed over a foot or so over the course of 4 days, and I get a call form Al asking me if I could come up to his place for a minute. So I gear up and walk up behind the cabin on my way up to his and find him standing out in the snow, completely befuddled, staring down at the snow, which is smouldering..... I am thinking, what the hell?..... Turns out the ding dong behind us, you remember him....the Ozzy fan, had dumped his hot ashes from his wood stove on his and Als property line several days before. Apparently he didn't realize that the snow acts as an insulator, and when he thought he was doing right by dumping hot coals into the snow.....they actually melted through the snow and down into the soft, dry, rotting duff, where they smoldered for days until this particular morning when now, a large Douglas Fir tree was being slow burned at the base. It took Al and I an hour with a frozen hose and a shovel to completely extinguish the area. Thank god Al was full time, or we would have had a wild the middle of winter! Don't worry Phil and Leanne, Ken has long since moved to another unsuspecting neighborhood in Dorrington. Last I saw, they were clear cutting the forest right across the road from his new house to start building a new subdivision! I particularly love the story of 'crazy Dave' and 'crazier Dave'. Bob and Joann will have to hopefully comment on the blog one day to tell that story. Something about their neighbor whom was known as 'crazy Dave' up in British Columbia. Until they met their other neighbor who became known as 'crazier Dave'. I have heard the stories. Oh they are hilarious man!

Which brings me back to our confusing title of being Artisians. See, we met the guy down the road, Scott, a couple weeks ago. Really nice guy. He is the one who coaxed Maryann into burgering Bullwinkle. Anyways, he tells us of the guy who lives down the road from him who has been deemed 'crazy Jack'. Oh dear. One of the reasons we moved to Alaska was to just get away from eccentric neighbors. But, here we are, back into our ever so familiar world of ....well...yeah. Maryann and Michelle are out at the end of our drive yesterday shoveling up some of the gravel burm the the borough grader had made when it came down our gravel road to try and smooth it out. They do that several times a year. We needed some of the road base to help fill some pot holes in our drive. Maryann notices these 3 dogs coming down the road towards them, and recognizes them as crazy Jacks' dogs. So she tells Michelle to head off the dogs as she sprints down our drive to put up Cherokee and Kenai, whom would most certainly start a bru-haha with crazy Jacks' dogs, given the chance. In the mean time Jack is yelling down the road for them to come back. As it would, Jacks dogs don't listen to all! He ended up having to get into his truck and come down to get them. Meanwhile Michelle is distracting his dogs while Maryann gathers ours to put them in the house. Mind you, other than a few stories, this is our first act of any communication with Jack. He parks the truck and jumps out telling the dogs to go home. They aren't listening a bit. Mean time he looks at Michelle and says something like, "yeah, I heard that Artisians moved into this don't look like an Artesian".... Michelle is wondering if she should use the shovel, or just drop it and run. After a very brief contact, maybe a minute or less, Maryann is coming back up the drive and Michelle shoots her a glance like..."help me" he attempts to round up his dogs while wildly looking around like some confused buffoon, explaining to Michelle that they aren't really his, but that friends keep leaving their dogs with him to look after. He tells Michelle to have a nice night, gets back into his truck and drives back down the road to his place, with his dogs....rather his friends' dogs.... following behind. Now Maryann hears of all of this and is rendered somewhat speechless.....she thinks to herself, what is an Artesian? Being the research hound that she is, she immediately goes back into the house and gets on the computer and Googles the word "Artesian". Of course, all kinds of Olympia beer propaganda pops up. But after sorting through the junk, she finally finds out that the word refers to 'artists'. Artisans! Not Artesians!! We figured out that crazy Jack misunderstood our other neighbor Scott, who had heard from the former owner of our house, that artisans from California were moving in. Somehow the line of communication got all bent out of shape, and he has been in suspense the past month wondering what an Artesian was, and why did some live on his road! Aye, aye! Mind you, Jack does wave to John, Maryann, and myself when we pass on the road. He just couldn't wait to meet an Artesian. Of course, doesn't it figure that the 2nd week we were here, I was getting gas in Nikiski, and watched Jack pull up, go inside to buy BEER, and then leave. Wonder if Olympia is his beer of choice?! So brings new meaning to the expression "the squirrel collects nuts in the woods"! Have a great weekend, and tell us a story Bob and Joanne!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Talk about a pricey piece of sh^#!!

Oh, this one is a kicker. In leau of the sensitive subject matter....if the word 'matter' is the right adjective......we decided to put a caveat with this post:

Not suitable viewing for those with sensitive stomachs, or are eating while viewing this.

You see, the other day I had taken off my pants to throw into the wash, and left my pockets' contents laying on the carpet next to my side of the I always do. Amongst the contents of my pocket was about $10.00 in ones, and a five. The next night, I went to get a few bucks out of that pile of stuff to give to the girls because they were going to go buy some chocolate chips at the Nikiski store, to bake...chocolate chip cookies. Yummy, yummy! I was a little rattled when I found my money gone. I mean, I know I put it there the night before, and was sure I never spent it, like it was suggested to me. But it was gone. I dwelled on it for a couple days, thinking maybe I actually left it in the pants and the cycle of wash sucked into the vortex where 'things left in pockets' go during such cycles of wash. Maybe it got kicked out of the scattered pile and was under the bed? Not to be. I was bummed. I mean, money is money, and when you aren't making much, every little bit counts. Although I wrote it off as an unsolved mystery, it was in the back of my mind and I couldn't help but wonder where it went.

Days later I am sitting at the PC and I hear Maryann in a loud and drawn tone yell from outside very as a matter of factly..."you have got to be kidding me....". Now I knew that Michelle was out helping Maryann pick up the lawn, as Maryann was getting ready to mow it. But then if you know Maryann, it doesn't take much to amuse I figured nothing of what I heard. Within a minute of her befuddled cry, she comes in and tells me she realizes I am busy, but I have to come and see this. She promises me it is well worth it. I made the error of doubting her on that promise. I didn't leave my chair. A minute or so later, she comes back in with Michelle and a shovel. There on the shovels head is a ripe pile of dog pooh. And there, stuck right in the middle of that ripe pile of dog pooh, is what resembles a crumpled up wad of money...... Oye. As it would become obvious to us, our little 'eat anything she finds' rat dog Kenai, hoovered into our room, and for some unknown reason ate....., no, consumed my $10.00. And of course did what dogs do, crapped it out on the lawn the next day, where Michelle found it, cleaning up the pooh piles for Maryann to mow the lawn. Now hows that for a solved mystery Scooby Doo?!
As of tonight, the evidence sits next to garage, still encased in its brown tomb as you see in the photo, because nobody has the stomach to dissect it to find out just how much money is that there turd! Believe me you, I have never seen people so observant of picking up dog pooh as they are now, knowing that the next pile may be that "million dollar baby"! It just keeps getting better, here in Alaska!!