Thursday, October 25, 2007

I want to be an airborn ranger.

Well, not really. I want to be a Real Estate 'agent'. But then again that would be verbally incorrect. Because in the day of the ever changing 'job title' so too has the term 'Real Estate agent' become extinct. Just as an auto mechanic is preferably a 'performance technician', a credit card customer service rep is now a 'customer excellence assistant', and the janitorial profession has become an art form, so too has the term 'Real Estate agent' become a 'Real Estate licensee'. It doesn't sound right to me and is somewhat disheartening for someone who has always just wanted to become 'an agent'. Now, on the brink of achieiving my dream of an agent, I have been reduced to a licensee! "Hi, I am Greg Phillips, and I will be your licensee on your search for your dream property". Oye. If it was me on the receiving end of that introduction, I would turn and run! Especially if I was looking for the time honored 'agent'. Carol, is this just an Alaskan thing? Or have you also lost your title as 'agent' to a 'licensee'? Should I be moving back to Cali to obtain my dream of agenthood? Honestly, we are only required to take 20 hours of pre-license course here, as opposed to....100 0r s0 there??? Guess you just don't need as much training to sell igloos to Inuits! "Take this 1000 acres of barren, frozen tundra. Your dog team will love stretching out and spanning here". Where is all of this leading? Merely that I started my pre-licensing course this week, and am on my way to obtaining my become a licensee. Excited.....I am. Despite the title travesty, I am on my way to achieving a goal I set when we moved. This is what I have wanted to do, secretly, for a while now. Naturally, I would choose when the market went belly up to do it! But, there is still hope. The market will turn around in time, and I will be seasoned and ready for it when it does. 'Quinn' will be knocking at my door for that dream piece of permafrost. Actually, the market here, is not near as bad as what I have heard of other parts of the nation. A little slow, yes. Prices being reduced a little....not near as severe as in California. Until then I will work diligently at continuing to grow my maintenance business, and pursue my pottery....and boldly pot where no man has potted before... I start next month in fact at a Christmas gift bizarre in Kenai. I have a booth for two days and am spinning wares as we speak!

In other interests, Maryann is lovin her job. It is looking very good that her proverbial move up the ladder will come soon. They are very impressed with her abilities and performance. Our belief is that no later, if not sooner than spring, she will be at the Kenai operations as it is slated to be open by then. It will be alot easier of a drive for her, and less spent nerves for me. Until then, shes enjoyin' the ride, ice or snow....moose or not, and keeps on smilin'! John has been working with me for a few weeks now, and it is looking like he has some other opportunity to continue working for himself, for a much better than minimum wage. I think he would prefer to just retire.....but if I can't neither can he! He has his toy to support now, and all of the joy of bills and the gas it sucks, to contend with. Retirement for him is unlikely anytime soon. He has a hockey game to go to this weekend with the firefighters from his department and fellow Explorers. They have graciously invited me, but I have class until 5:00 that night, and there's a 'hippie' festival in Kenai going on til 7:00 that night which I want to make an appearance at. So who knows if I will make it to the hockey game. But I was honored all the same. However, I remember the last time they invited Maryann to one of their outings, they dressed her up like an umpa lumpa, took her out on a speedboat and flipped they could rescue her..... I think I'll stick with the hippies! Much more passive!!

In still other interests, Maryann once again made the paper. If you recall, a few weeks ago a write up was done on her and her piece that is being shown in the gallery now. Unfortunately this time was not as glamorous. In fact 'she' wasn't in the paper so much as the accident that she held front row seat to on Tuesday. We had snow Monday night and as a result the roads were frozen Tuesday. She was on her way to work that afternoon, the roads still frozen, and was passed rather foolishly by some idiot who was in a hurry. Trouble began when Maryann pulled out her concealed weapon, and blew out the rear tire of the passing.....not my little Maryann! On a serious note, as the idiot passing her came back into her lane after 'the pass', she cut Maryann off due to oncoming traffic, and lost control....(now lets think about this for a moment. Do ya think?!?! The road is frozen....duh!)... did four 360's before slamming head on into an oncoming vehicle who had nothing to do with any of it. Innocent victim. He ended up being airlifted to Anchorage and as of yesterday, when the State Troopers called Maryann regarding the investigation, was in bad condition. The idiot turned out to be a 20 year old girl from Kenai and is in the Soldotna hospital doing fair. Apparently it was very surreal and horrifying for Maryann, as after the crash she heard the girl screaming and as much as she wanted to run over to her, couldn't. Thankfully there were several others who arrived at the same time and aided as much as they could until emergency units arrived. Needless to say, be it California or Alaska, it takes some 'set in' time for people to remember it's winter now and time to slow down. It was an unfortunate parable to the absolute need to think of those around you, and slow down. Hopefully, a parable, not to be spoke at the expense of anothers' life. Of course with Arnold being 75 the other day....who needs to slow down for winter there!

I leave you with a picture I took the other night. This is Alaskan moonshine. It'll get ya lit!
Have a great rest of the week. Oh, and speaking of Carol. Carol, congradulations on your book deal. Gerion wrote us the other day and mentioned it. How exciting! Best of luck for whats to come! Take care.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A micro world of life.

One thing that I have taken more of a notice to lately is the life of the lake on which we live. Not that I never noticed the lake, but more of now that our world is slowing down and we are becoming what we can call "settled" in our new life, I have found the lake calling more to my attention. As I have mentioned in posts past, there seems to be a world of a different level within the confines of this wetland sanctuary. We have noticed an unspoken oath between the various water fowl and other creatures that frequent the lake. One of peace, sharing and communication amongst those that gather about it. An interdependence on each other. It is a serene feeling actually to watch and listen as a silent observer and yet as such, these creatures are very aware of us onlookers and willing to go about their doings despite our presence. During the summer months we had 2 loons who lived on the lake, and it was a daily spectacle to watch them float around and chatter be it to each other or the moose, or when they would be airborne and coming in for a landing it was like watching a float plane skim the waters surface to a splash of a stop....just to go on like it's no big deal for them. Playing. Just like children. I am not sure where they have gone, but I am sure it is wherever loons go in the onset of winter, and something tells me they will be back in Spring. Of course on a larger scale were the antics of the neighborhood moose's, their swims across the lake, and their howling both day and night. The way the moose and the loons virtually communicated with each other. The moose are still quite present here, and as the lake has somewhat quieted down for the winter so have they. The howling and swimming has turned to shoreline grazing. Almost like the party's over and the guests all went home, so they will settle down to a casual lull. And so on the wing (pardon the pun) of a new season arrived two very majestic....not stoically, rather, just majestic....Tundra Swans. Oh these two fowl are just beautiful to watch. Their regimen consists of a stealth-like landing into the lake...which is amazing to me when you look at their size...and what would appear to the layman as just a mere floating about. In reality these two are swimming the shallows where they dip their long necks into the lakes bed to pull out worms and other food from the silty bottom. If you watch long enough it will appear as if they left, but they are really just somewhere else along the lakes shore. Then, almost as if they are preparing for take off like a couple of jetliners in a hold pattern on the tarmac, they will start to shake off and rustle about, and with almost precision timing will begin to sprawl their wings into the lakes length, slowly lifting their mass from the water and into the air. They will circle the lake twice as if to gain altitude to clear the tips of the trees and then it seems as if they have chose their flight path right over the house. Let me tell you, even the dogs stare up at them as they fly past! Their wing-span has to be at least 5 or 6 feet. They have visited the lake twice now that we know of in the past 3 weeks. Apparently they choose their mates and this mate will become a lifelong mate. They will always be together. We have also taken observation to two other species of new arrivals to the lakes scene. Now Maryann is more on to what they are called than I. Both are small duck-like fowl. The first set of arrivals seemed to just enjoy appears to me at least that that is all they do is float. They do occasionally dive under the surface of the water, only to reappear yards from where they submerged. More than likely diving for food. What was particularly funny was the other day when Cherokee and Kenai were having their daily session of 'grab-ass', and ended up in the back chasing each other around the swing. One of these mini ducks was close by and literally turned to see what the commotion was. His curiosity got the best of him as he began to float towards the direction of the noise. Now the two dogs are completely unaware of it's presence and the proximity to the shore, and ensue chase down the trail towards the lake. It took only the sight of the onslaught of flying fur for this little guy to casually and nonchalantly turn his rudders to head out for deeper water! Wanted nothing to do with these two and their trickery. Also as of the other day has been the arrival of another small white and black mini duck. Seems to be the same ritual as the other variety of mini duck....just enjoys the passivity of the lake. Last week came the beginning of the freeze over on the water. All the time, these visitors undeterred by this. To be able to watch all of this can't be described in words just have to come and visit to see it for yourselves! All I know is that it is very peaceful to observe and can bring the busyness of the day to a complete halt at the chance to settle into the surroundings of the lake. My favorite mornings are when we wake to find fog settled above the water, or even better was in the early fall when the fog would blow in from the beach and drift the length of the lake. So awesome to watch. Mind you these mornings are becoming few, for me at least, as it is still dark when I leave for work. With the sun rising at around 8:40AM now it is getting tough to wake up! Any way you look at it, the lake has a life of it's own, and one can see how it would be easy to let this feeling of quiet lucidity take you into a complete sense of 'oneness' with the lake and the world that relies on it's presence, within yet a larger existence of being.
Yesterday was the opening season for Bearing Sea crab fishing. You know what that means....fauder for the upcoming season of deadliest catch. As you may have figured by now what with this post is, that I am not on those crab boats as some predicted may come about. No, I have developed a love affair with the land and a warm fire to come home to at night. It is not likely that this will ever happen for me! Apparently the number of fishermen lost during the crab fishing seasons in the 1990's is down in the past 7 years. Something like 70 deaths in 90's and if I remember correctly it is under 10 the past seven years. The weather to start this season is relatively mild. As mild as mild is on the Bearing Sea. Dutch Harbor is coming in with lows in the mid 30's and scattered rain and snow throughout the night. So it will be interesting to see how brutal.....or not, this season is for those brave and hard working men and women. God bless them, they will be in our prayers. That's all for now I suppose. We are all well and making an earnest go at it these days. I finally got the reverse osmosis water unit installed so we have good, wholesome drinking water now that doesn't smell like butt! At least in the kitchen. The rest of the house is another story. Argh! Nasty! Take care and have a positive filled week. Our love.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Have I expressed how much I love living here? The past week we have had gorgeous weather. The days have been sunny, seldom creeping above 30 degrees, and the past couple nights have been down to 15 degrees. What was really nice was when the breezes were whipping through here the other evening when the sun was going down and it was 22 degrees, and that's not including the wind chill. I can't tell you enough how great it is to be in cold, crisp, Alaskan air. And whats really exciting is soon it will be getting down -20 below 0 at night and in the teens by day. Crazy....maybe, elated about this.....very! I have started to plug in my rig at night. It has an engine block warmer built into the engine that I plug into the outside socket to keep things from freezing, and to keep the oil from becoming jelly. Makes it nice to fire up in the morning, when even the decking you walk on is so frozen that it sounds as if it will snap as you walk across it. John and Maryann will have theirs installed by next week. Another nice feature that John and I have, and is a very big deal here, is 'remote auto-start' for the rigs. Never have to go outside to start it up in the mornings, just hit the start button from the warm house, and your ride is warmed up and heated when you are ready to go. Maryann is being humble, telling me she will do without auto-start in the name of saving money, but I feel it is essential and will be getting hers in here very soon.
We had our resident mama moose and her calf visit this morning. We have noticed that the

moose are becoming very sluggish with the cold. In fact their metabolisms slow in the winter due to the lack of food. Often times in the winter when the snow flies, you will find them using the roadways to do their walking. It is less energy for them to expel on the road since the roads are kept plowed, as opposed to trekking through the snow. The challenge is that they....although sluggish...tend to make sudden 'lane changes without signaling' if you know what I mean?! So you have to really slow down and be wary of them while you pass. Then we here about those foggy days when they stand in the middle of the road...... Oh, it may make for an interesting winter! They are peaceful, majestic creatures, and when they stare at you it could well make one soil ones self due to their stoic immensity....but they aint the sharpest tool in the tool shed when it comes down to it! Just never thought I would see the day I would share the road with a moose! I leave you with one for the road. This is a shot from the Gulf Cross Ferry 'Kennicott' of the sun setting over the Gulf of Alaska at 1:00AM back in June. Maryann and John took this one during their 'fateful trip...aboard that rock'in ship' of the final leg of the move. You remember the one. Where I was laid up in a cush hotel watching tv, while they went through a seafaring nightmare ?! That one. Not sure if we ever posted this pic, but I find it quite beautiful, especially when you think of the emotions running through us all back then, and what it all signified. One more thing before I check in for the night. Scott and Phyllis, congratulations! What you two have just done is huge. As scary as it was/is, it is obvious that it was meant to be, or the good lord wouldn't have put you in such a wonderful place. You two have enjoyed Dorrington for years now as your place of respite and escape, and now you can call it home. Once living there ourselves, I can truly say what a beautiful place for you to live now. Let go of your fears and inhibitions now, and lavish in the world that God has put before you. The opportunities you will discover and the peace that is yours to enjoy is what you have to look to now. Don't look back on what was....look unto what is now. It is amazing to me how many friends as well as ourselves have taken or are taking such huge, and faith filled jumps of major change in their lives. My sister Julz has just made a similar adjustment in her life, and we are very proud of her and her accomplishment. The bravery and courage it takes to step out into the unknown and leave behind your cushion of comfort is a huge thing. It is amazing! But after experiencing what we have just recently, and seeing our friends prepare for similar experiences of change, I have to say....and this means you too Yvette.....just let it happen, and cherish every moment of the experience. Your fear and insecurity, or unsureness will want to take the front stage, I think this is natural. But relish the moments of this change, because you will look back on it all some day, maybe not far from now, and wonder what all of the worry was for. In a weird way you will wish that you had just let go and watched it all happen before you. I have always believed that if it's Gods will, than thy will be done. Interesting. Maryann just walked in from work....say, "hi Maryann".....and handed me this little bit of inspiration. Ironically the timing of such is impeccable. It goes like this, "Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results!" Wow. Have a great day, live today to it's fullest, and walk with the confidence that change is healthy. Change happens for a reason! Go with it, and enjoy.

Thursday, October 4, 2007!

Those were about the only words heard standing outside the compound, 11:45 PM on Oct 2nd.....while the dogs sat and looked at us thinking we had lost our minds! What they didn't realize, these two dogies, were that we were witnessing a spectacle which we have waited for, for a very long time. You see every night since Maryann started swing shift, it is a custom that Cherokee, Kenai, and myself go outside around 11:30 and wait for Maryann to pull in. I love the Alaskan night, and they love waiting with 'alpha', so it is a much anticipated ritual for the 3 of us. On this night though, the temp was already down to 28 degrees at 11:30P, and the patio chair I usually sit in was frozen solid. So instead of sitting I chose to walk around a little on the wooden walkway that goes around to the back of the home. The dogs followed along with wagging tails and happy that dad was on the move....they love doing dogie stuff, like walking around with dad! As I got to the back of the house I wandered across the lawn and was looking over the lake, admiring the reflection of the moonlight. I noticed some clouds in the clear and starry sky which were reflecting the light of the moon. But was thinking that it was odd that a particular long cloud was almost a greenish tint, as opposed to some white lit clouds closer to the moon. As I was watching this greenish cloud, wondering, Maryann pulls in and of course the dogs go charging to greet her. But I am still admiring this cloud. Then as Maryann is coming around the corner of the garage I watch in complete awe, as this green cloud explodes into a marvelous array somewhat reminiscent of fanning stage lights from long ago Grateful Dead concerts. As I look back at approaching Maryann, she says to look, and as I turn again, watch a magnificent curtain of ruffled green light ripple through the sky. And so it was....the Aurora Borealis! Our first sighting ever, and oh so spectacular! Now mind you, Cherokee is vivaciously chasing Kenai through the night air, barking and nipping at her butt as she runs with utter bliss, loving every minute of the attention her brother is giving her. This kind of thing is a blast for these two....they live for it! And of course with all of their growling and barking during this nights session of 'grab-ass', they wake John up, who comes out to see what the commotion is all about. So there in the back overlooking the lake in 28 degrees of nipple-hardening chill, is me in my tie-die skivvies and a tee shirt, John in his underwear with no shirt, Maryann dressed up in her work uniform, and the two dogs beside themselves that the family is standing there in short order, staring in the sky. You don't see a visual like this too often! Now you here alot of stories similar to this, where people will come out in the elements for a long duration of time to sit and stare at the Aurora. And after what we watched that night, it's no wonder! In fact we had to all but pull ourselves away at 12:20AM to get back inside and hit the sack. And the amazing thing of it is, aside from a little 'shrinkage factor' was like we were oblivious to the fact that we were freezing! It was very hard for Maryann and I to go to sleep, as all we wanted to do was go back outside to watch. The next morning we looked at each other and found it hard to believe what we had just watched. What we saw in the daily papers' "Aurora Watch" was that we were seeing the low horizon version that night. In other words the further north you went, the more vivid and active the colors would become. So if that was a "mild" night of activity for us....I cant wait to see a full on display!!! So frigging cool.

It was those Artesians! That is what happened to our art website! But it is back on-line again, and although still in need of some updated material, we hope you will check it out. Two days ago all Alaskan residents got their P.D.F's direct deposited into their bank accounts by the state. A P.D.F. (Pipeline Dividend Fund)....not to be mistaken for a P.F.D. (Personal Floatation Device), is the payment that every Alaskan who is a permanent resident for at least 1 year, receives from the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Now the prerequisite is that you don't get the P.D.F. until after you have been a permanent resident for 1 year. That 1 year goes from January to January, with the P.D.F. coming out that following October. So we wont even begin our official '1' year until this coming January since we got here in the middle of the calender year. Then we will make one complete year, and October of 2009 we will get ours. It was over $1600.00 dollars per household member this year. That is, $1600.00 dollars for each person living in the house (kids included....we are thinking of popping out a few more... =) .......). The amount varies from year to year according to production, oil prices and stocks. Pretty cool huh. Not one of the listed reasons for moving here, but definitely a big plus. And so I leave you with this thought.....what would you do with your P.D.F.?
-Good night

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Have we been hijacked?

Have we been? You know, just 5 days ago when I put our art website address on the blog under 'favorite links', our website was there. Today we find out some recording studio has taken it's place?!#%# That sucks! Maryann, being the investigator that she is, is on the job as we speak. Some kind of spacial anomoly, or warp in the space/time continuim has left us websiteless. It is annoying, and we will get it fixed as soon as possible. So stay tuned. My finger is doing great. I no longer have good reason to fly the birdie, but I will manage. Other than that I put in a 12 hour day today.....oye.....and am dead beat, as tommorow may well be the same. It is getting quit cool in the morning. Down to 29 this morning when I woke, and I don't think it got above 50 today. The sun is breaking horizon at 8:05AM now, and setting around 8:30PM. We are loosing light, but we are ready, man! Anyways, this is short because I am wanting to go to bed. The most exciting thing that happened to me today....I got to bring Taco Bell to Maryann for dinner at the Hotel, and we ate together in the lobby between guests and the phone ringing. Not really too romantic, but sure was nice! Can't think of anything better than time spent with her. Goodnight for now, and have a good tommorrow. Oh, the D.E.C. man is coming out tommorrow for a re-inspection. Ha, hee, ha.....