Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Makes you think ...

First sunrise over the compound for 2009!

...when your driving down the highway at midnight out plowing and the road just gets up 50 feet in front of you and walks off. ? Yeah, I didn't think that kind of thing happens either, but it did. A snow covered moose standing in the middle of the snow covered highway makes for an awesome deception....until it walks off! Gives you a real false illusion. Next thing I was looking for pink elephants! We did have a white Christmas. It snowed all day long and made for a long night and following couple of days out plowing. Nice Christmas present though! Our Christmas was
great with lots of food, and memory making. And so here we are on New Years Eve....woo-hoo. Past 2 days have been at a high of -11F and the nights getting down to -28F. Cold out.....yes! You learn of things not to do when your dealing with this kind of cold. For those with 'cold sensitive' gums.....don't smile. Most especially while you are walking. When you step out of a warm room into the outside....don't take in a breath. Do the inhale thing before you walk outside. If you are standing outside and you figure on farting....move over 5 feet after expelling. Gas is heavy and in the extreme cold will just sit there hovering like a bad cloud. Although you can use that to your advantage to really mess with others around you!! In general be patient. Alot of things just stop working when it gets that cold. What I enjoy is when it gets into the minus 30's, to throw a cup of water in the air and watch it shatter on the ground as the water turns to ice in freefall. Some people will be out snow machining all night tonight to celebrate, some will be watching fireworks....some will be launching those fireworks to be watched. I know I speak for at least one other member of this tribe...Maryann....we will keep our happy asses warm and in front of the fire tonight, as it is already -20F and dropping and it is only 6:30PM. Maryann did an oil change and tune-up on the electric blanket, so she is all ready for another cold one. I find myself with little words this evening, so I leave you with one thought. How can you make the new year better for just one person, excluding yourself? One 'act' can change evrything! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The darkest day...another year!

Once again we find ourselves at the darkest and shortest day of the year....winter solstice. And once again we find ourselves huddled mindlessly in the corner of the basement, aglow by a solitary candle.... Able to pull off for the 2nd year what many before us have vowed that they could never handle...what many look at as an insane form of grit or unbalance. Will we make it for the 3rd winter of this bitter cold obscurity...... ?

Looking out our front door. The sun's position this morning at 11:35AM! Notice how it is just barely skimming the edge of the horizon?!

On a much brighter of a note, or notes we find ourselves in celebration for a multitude of reasons. John is 18 years old this day of December 21st 2008. yes, bless his parents for they have survived his 18 year reign of dominance on our patience, nerves, and attention. We can now sit back knowing we have successfully raised him to be the wonderful man that he has become. Was it easy....seldom is parenting ever so. But the gratitude of watching him grow and the successes and challenges that he has conquered makes all of those moments that we contemplated pulling our hair out well worth it! What becomes of John now....for his 18th birthday we gave him $100.00 dollars and a one way plane ticket to a destination of his choice...see ya son! Actually I am going to pay him to stay home for a few years longer (snicker snicker). And as a pure example of this kids determination, when he returns to school after the "Christmas" break, he will be getting out of school at 11:30AM from now until he graduates. Why, because he only needs 22 credits to graduate, and as of now has 27 credits!! So he is going to skate the second half of his senior year, Kudos, young dude! Welcome to the real world! All joking aside, Happy Birthday! We are so proud of you John, and we love you, son!

Another of reasons for celebration would be the end of a long hard run for pops. As of Monday, my dad will be officially retired from the City Of Stockton. After years of "keeping em in line", and standing his watch to keep order and civility in the city, it will now be someone elses' problem! As a code enforcement officer, the man never held a lack of excitement in his days, and has done the best to his ability to keep the city streets abundant and rosy. Friends....he made many. Pissed....still others ended up! Jackasses, they were abundant, and ever present even amongst his ranks. But like a super trooper of sorts, he prevailed the daily grunt and grind and served his time well and with honor. What will become of his days now, less the excitement in the 'adventures of inspector Smiley'? Somehow, I tend to think the city has not seen the end of him. My father...sit still and relax....yeah, ok! But whatever his endeavours will become, we wish him the best and congratulations for all his persistence, hard work, and dedication through the years. They say life begins when you retire, so enjoy it dad, and find some comfort in your life now! We are proud of you!!

And so we find the end of our descent into darkness and mark the beginning of a new period of light. A time to let go of all that has held us back and bring in a period of renewed hope. We will find ourselves once again with healers, hippies and natives celebrating, singing, drumming and eating around the sacred bonfire of this days Winter Solstice, attending one of the many celebrations that will be happening around the peninsula. Hopefully a scoche warmer than last years festivities. Alaskans do take the Winter Solstice serious. So to everyone, let go of that which has burdened you and held your soul, and welcome in a new period of light. Refill your soul with the hope of a new year and the dawning of new light!

Friday night we went to Johns' High Schools hockey 'home' game. They have an ice rink here in Nikiski at the community center where they play their home games. This was our first, so it was a new and enlightening experience for Maryann and I. Enlightening because next time I am going to wear my insulated cover-alls! Mind you, we loved going to the hockey games at the Stockton Arena when we lived in Dorrington. We would travel the 2 hour drive in a caravan with a group of friends from Arnold and Dorrington, and always had a great time. It was cold...but it was an arena! I mean, we were in the warmth of a huge crowd in an arena, right! Short of pond hockey, this arena here in Nikiski is a 'rink' surrounded by a metal roof and 3 metal walls, open on one side. T.H.O.'s, man! For the most part it is standing room only, with the exception of a small set of metal bleachers. Metal bleachers, in a large walk in butt thinks not! Anyways, it was fun. Maryann as usual was more entertaining than the game itself! Watching her enthusiasm and excitement as faces were pummeled into the Plexiglas, and bodies slung across the ice into the plywood walls. Lets not forget the Zamboni! Yes, my wife is just hilarious when she is around hockey! And this night was of no exception! Johns team won with an amazing comeback the 3rd quarter. And I obtained an official souvenir! Yes, we were standing on the glass directly behind the goalie, and I watched in amazement as the puck was struck from about half way out and flew through the air, almost in a suspended animation, wobbling towards the goalie....only it was about 12 feet above the goal. As it came into the net at the top of the Plexiglas, two thoughts went through my mind in slow motion yet an instant, like this; "....this is righteous, if I was 12 feet taller and my head the goal, it would be a hole in one, or slapshot....or whatever they call it in hockey lingo....thank God there is a net between me and the puck...." Looking up as it made contact with the net, the second thought; "...Oh crap, there is an open slot between the top of the Plexiglas and the bottom of the net....I think I am about to...." Yes, that was the extent of the two thoughts that went through my mind, the second thought being cut short as the damned puck hit the net, fell through the hole and clobbered me on my head. Thankfully, the net dampened the sheer force and torque of the puck. Unfortunately, once again, my head found itself an unwilling victim of a 'gravity' related event! But, I got a cool souvenir! It's an official puck and was autographed by John's friend Anthony, who is #77 on the team! When the scouts find him and he makes the NHL and becomes famous I can say I have his autograph!! So for now we wish everyone well, and to make sure and have a very 'Merry Christmas'. Stay safe, be sober, and enjoy every ones love, comfort and company this 'Christmas season'! Good night to all.....and to all a good night.

-Our love.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pictures and a post.

I was out Friday morning at the crack of dawn (9:45 AM) and fortunately had the camera armed and ready. It was one of these mornings that I just needed to expand my thoughts and fine tune my hemispheres...and what better of a time or place to do so. I found myself blissfully wandering about, in a quest for early morning tranquility. This is what I found. I would have to say, thank you Barb for your beautiful comment, and this is for you....
The dawn alpenglow was beautiful on this usual, pictures do no justice for the real experience. An ocular orgasm, of sort...
Overlooking Russian Mountain, the sunrise spills into the fog rising above the Kenai river. This was truly an awe inspiring moment for me and I could not think of a better way to have begun my day!

This would look like snow on the trees but was actually 'Hoare Frost', a result of temperatures below freezing with a high humidity in the air. This was just minutes after the initial sunrise and you can see the alpenglow forming on the trees. I believe it was 86% humidity and it was -2 below 0 when the sun came up.
The illusion of blue was very apparent this morning overlooking the bay shortly after the 10:15 AM sunrise.

About a month back while doing the annual shopping run at Costco in Anchorage, Maryann had a pretty wild idea....let's build a gingerbread house! Sounded cool...but would it fly? Turns out the thought of building a gingerbread house for Christmas was a hit for John and a few of his friends....and Maryann! They all got into it the other night. I was strictly an observing bystander and Kenai milled around the action waiting for crumbs to fall to the floor. Since there was really no 'love' involved in it for him, Cherokee found little interest in the event and resided to his under the dining room table lair. All in all it was a fun night, and a chance for grown-ups and young people to bond and have fun. It was, as Jordan would say, legit!
Future engineers of Alaska....hard at work planning, framing, frosting and building.
The elitist "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" side....
The refurbished "Ghetto" (Mr. Roberts hood) side...
Jordan, Nina, Ian and John....and there award winning "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood/Ghetto" Gingerbread house.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Artificial last, controversy and hope.

Sundown from the road at 3:10PM

I am currently happy....happy I tell you! I think it could be my new 'Happy Light' that finally came in the mail. Or, it could be that eggnog latte I had a little bit ago from Starbuck's at Freds. Or both?! Yes, I find myself in a moment of utter bliss as I soak in the rays of my little fake sun, bouncing off the walls and hopped up from my latte high. Cool thing about my own little sun is that it's portable and can be moved anywhere for all occasions! I tried to expel some of my 'powered by latte' energy in sanding the walkway to the garage, and around the parking pad. It is that time of year again, where gravity is your nemesis and the Ice Capades have once again become a standard for life here. Our warm up the past week had found us back in the low to mid 30's and a chance for all the snow to melt just enough to glaze over. And to add to the fun, a lite layer of dry snow the other night to top the everywhere is just slick as all get go. Including our walkway to the garage! You know it is funny how my head is always a magnet to anything hanging low and my ass is utterly attracted to gravity pockets! I am the only one in this tribe that constantly finds myself in 'hang-time' and sliding on my butt. Oye! The dogs are too funny. They have permanent cramp-ons built into their paws, and nary will lose a wince when running across vast ice fields. We took a walk on the beach with them in Kenai the other day, only to find the dogs in a free for all romp on the icy beach as we were confined to limited areas that were ice free zones. They had fun! Speaking of beach I have found myself in thought lately.

Almost a year later, and many broken promises we in Nikiski still find ourselves without our beach. It was about this time last year that our public beach, which so many locals enjoyed daily was closed in the name of 'Homeland Security'. At least that is what we have been told. Personally I feel like that is a bunch of hokum. The more prominent rumor is that Peak, the company that owns the OSK dock which supplies the platforms out in the inlet (the "official" alegation is that Homeland Security is concerned about protecting the supply dock), closed off public access to the beach due to insurance purposes. Peak owns the access, through their yard, to the public beach and therefore shut it down about this time last year. Now we do have a few alternatives besides driving 15 minutes south to Kenai. We can drive 15 minutes north to Captain Cook beach. Or there is the new road that the Borough cut to a different stretch of beach (which is about a joke), on the taxpayers expense. Remember, the taxpayers lost the right to enjoy "their" public beach and now have to pay through taxes for access to a new beach... Or, if this isn't a poke to the 'Homeland Security' vindication, there is the stretch of beach that is still opened for public use behind the Conoco Phillips LNG plant. The beach that gives direct access to a number of Liquid Natural Gas holding tanks and complete exposure to the pipes that run out to the tanker loading docks off shore.....have I said too much! Opps. Apparently this security scenario isn't as important to Homeland....Arrgh! Just annoying. The closed beach was prime romping grounds not only for community but for local set netters who have been fishing those shores for generations. Funny thing is when the McGahan family who homesteaded that area sold that land to the OSK dock years ago, it was under the condition that right of way would be granted for public access to the beach that has belonged to the public since before statehood. Yeah.

On a happier note, Nikiski is the newly projected home for the a wind farm. That's right. They are going to put in about 10 wind turbines which will initially power the Tesoro refinery, and eventually may go on to add power to our grid down the line. Being right on the inlet, we do get some pretty heavy and consistent wind through here. The people of Soldotna are pissed. Apparently, since Soldtona is a little more inland and not as susceptible to wind as we are, they were not considered for such an experimental run. Whiners! This gig kind of ties in nicely to Palin's proposed plan to make Alaska an energy independent state. Makes sense. God knows we have gas! Despite the environmental controversy we do have a plentiful supply of tapped and untapped oil. As long as there exists nature we will have a good supply of wind, in many areas of the state.

We are adjusting to our second winter nicely. It is easier this winter to wake up and get going than it was last winter. Getting out of bed was a stinkin chore last year! Body just wanted to sleep what with all the darkness. That and having an idea of what to expect. I mean, last year was amazement and anticipation each new day. Kind of miss that feeling really, but I have to say it is a little easier going in this winter. Today the sunrise is at 10:05AM and sets at 3:54PM and if your not careful in planning your day, you do miss out literally on "the day". I have a small bizarre at the Aspen Hotel in Soldotna Saturday which I am looking forward to. Nothing as big as the Christmas In Kenai gig a couple weekends ago, but should be fun. Sad thing is that I ran really low on pottery inventory the last run. Still a good selection, just not as much as I would like... what am I saying!! This is a good thing from a sales point of view! Also, I am still tossing around whether I want to sit in a class for traffic school Sunday, or do the on-line course....decisions. Mike took the on-line course and is off the hook now. John opted for community service to wipe out the fine, but still has to do the traffic school thing.....bunch of scofflaws we are....oh the shame! For now, we strap down for the ensuing 'darkest day', excited that after that day passes we will find glory in gaining light, and the passing of another year. I put in a new link on our 'favorites'. The Boehme family lives "way out here" in Nikiski and is blogging their adventure in this new land, and God knows we love adventure! It is good writing and a humorous perspective on their story. Yvette, where have you been?? We keep checking and no posts... Hope everyone is well, and please do stay safe during this busy time of year. We miss family and our friends but still feel blessed to be where we are, as this is where we truly wanted to be. We are blessed and pray the same for all of you. Take care for now.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Today has found me, finding sanity, and some of the recuperation needed from a long and busy week! The lord above took mercy on my tried body, and countermanded the 6" of snow the weather forecasters had called for after Thanksgiving. Sad, yes, as the chance to plow had me excited as all get go. Happy, indeed, as I really wanted to focus my attention to the weekends' bizarre! Mind you, Maryann was ready to take the reins at the space in the event I had to bail to tend plowing, but it was alot, or would have been alot of work for one person, and on that note I am grateful she was there to assist. It was busy, busy, busy!! As well I enjoy being there to be a part of it all. It is always amazing and gratifying to watch people around pottery. I have to confess, I have the same fetish as most when it comes to pottery. The chance to feel each piece, the smooth and shining lines, the colors... When you actually find that piece that litterally calls out to you... It is just a very fulfilling feeling for me regardless if people end up buying or not. But hey, it is always good for the potter when people buy, aint it! Mind you I have never done the Kenai gig before so I have nothing to compare it to, but despite some of the comments on how the economy affected sales for alot of vendors, I feel like I did exceptional on sales! It is a good thing as I now am about out of clay and need to finance a shipment. Down in Dorrington I was spoiled. I had Quyle Kilns just 25 minutes down the highway who not only were potters themselves, but clay manufators as well. So clay was abundant, cheap, and readily available for me. Now I made sure to haul around 500 lbs on the moving truck when we came up, good thing. But that is dwindling now and it is time to anti up. Shipping will be twice as much as the clay itself, bummer, but after extensive research on shipping options and other logistical intell, there is really no way around the cost. So I prepare to bit down, hold my breath and just go for it! If all goes as planned I will have a pallet of 1000 lbs of clay here at the compound the first week of 2009. Is it just me or did the year fly?? Just doesn't feel right to me that 2008 is almost over. We were invited to our Realtors house for Thanksgiving dinner again this year. It was a fun time and nice to be with the closest thing to family that we have here. Lori is actually a gourmet chefette as well as a Realtor, and man can that woman cook. She added a flare to all of the typical dishes one would expect at a Thanksgiving feast. For example, yams au gratin as opposed to the yam standard! Oh I could go on, but it would simply make me salivate all over the keyboard. And the hor d vours (spelling?) were simply to die for. Fondue baked in pumpkin spread over peta crackers to name one! Lordy the scraping from the inside of the pumpkin was almost as good as the fondue itself! In fact, I was speaking to one of my clients this morning and he was asking me what we did for Thaksgiving. When I told him we had gone to Loris for dinner, he lit up and grinning from ear to ear said we are part of the 'secret hand shake' club if we were able to go to her place for dinner! He highly sugested that if I could get adopted by them it would be in my best interest. And no wonder as to why! She tells us to make plates to take left overs, right. I took que and got my plate to start serving the take homes. Maryann and John are sitting there smug, like, no worries, dad has us covered.... Bullcrap dad does! Call me a selfish tyrant but when it comes to left overs at Lori's it is each person for want left-overs you best be on it, man!! They figured me out real quick. Needless to say we all had a good celebration, and a good weekend and now I am out of steam. We were really surprised this last post to have found a comment from a 'stranger'. Apparently, she had gone looking for info on the "Christmas In Kenai" celebration and found our blog! Unbenounced to me until now (I have a low tolerance for technology), if you google "christmas in kenai" our blog posts rank 2 and 3 out of about 4 for the search! Cool beans, eah!? Anyways it was interesting as this family jumped off and did what we did, sounds like a year after us and conincidentally enough live in Nikiski as well. Not sure if they would want us to put their site on our 'favorites', but if they would not object to it I may, as it was good reading and a story right up our alley! Who knows, two books may evolve out of Nikiski! lol The sunrises are to that point now that I live for, and so wish I could see each and every one daily. We had a bit of a warming trend last week as it narrowed into the 30's but the night before last we were reading -0 on the temp gauge, and last night was getting there before we checked in for the night. Funny, we let the dogs out and their time in the exposure is alot less at that temperature. It's all about whizzing out a few ice cubes and "we're done, let us in". And who could blame them at that! John passed his E.T.T course and is now official, so he is pretty stoked about that and we are so proud of him. That is it for this round. I am still waiting for my 'happy light' to arrive, and bask in what little sunlight we get. It's a bit of a challenge when it is so cold your nose hairs freeze upon breathing, but the things we will do! Hope everyone is safe, healthy and ready to boot out the old for the new. Our love to all!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Petered out, or, be careful what you wish for....

And so we have come to the day of being Thankful, talking to family, being fat and happy....and the day before "Christmas In Kenai", the much anticipated show of the year. Being excited as I have been, I worked very diligently for the past month and a half, and more especially for the past 2 weeks, to make sure I was equipped, stocked and ready to go. And I am! However, not without hitches of which reach beyond my control, yet within my anticipation. As you know, besides being the Handyman and maintenance business guy that I am, I turn into Mr. Plow come winter. Snow plowing is the easiest hard work I have ever done! I mean, the cool thing is I am out "in it" which anyone who really knows me knows that I live for being "in it" when it comes to the elements. The heater in the cab is cranking, windows are usually down to see out the side view mirrors as blowing snow is always an element, especially when it freezes the minute it hits the windows....imagine snow freezing to the windshield upon contact! And you cant wipe it off with the windshield wipers!!! The stereo is going with the favorites, you find yourself soon enough in a zone with a big ol grin on your face, watching a wave of snow fly off the front of your blade, and the feeling of the final thrust as it explodes into the burm you've created...yeah! A thermos of hot cocoa is a plus, and I love making yellow snow everywhere my travels take me! Meeting up several times through the day and the comorodity with your other friends who plow, and conversing continuously with them via cell phone to find out what conditions are in certain areas, come help me I'm stuck, can you get so and so for me while your out in Sterling and yeah, I'll catch so and so when I get back over to Kenai for you... The flip side is a typical snow day starts at around 1:00AM and will sometimes ride through til 10:00PM that night, unless it continues to snow and then you only get a few hours of sleep before your up and out again at 1:00 AM to do it over again. By 10:00PM after that first run your eyes are caved in, your head hurts from turning your neck so much, like a 'Lazy Susan' at a free for all table food fest.... Then there is that feeling. You are standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of water and you feel your body gently swaying forward....backward....forward....backward, from all of the back and forth for the past 20 hours. But then the next day when you wake refreshed, and feeling somewhat hung over, you add up the coin for the previous days fare, and it is oh so worth it! So getting back to the point I was about to make, I have been really praying for the snow to fly. And so my prayers came true....oye. You see, the caveat has been "please snow, but don't snow during the two days of the show". Right. The call came in Tuesday night at around 8:00PM that we were expecting a dumping over night. Now the adrenaline is going, the excitement is mounting and you just cant settle in to sleep. Your up every hour peeking out the window to see "how much" like a little kid anticipating Santa's arrival. Before you know it it's 12:30AM and the alarm is going off. And so the fun run goes down. Fast forward to Wednesday night at around 10:00PM, I am home, eyes caving, body gently swaying, I still have hours of unloading the final kiln load, pricing and packing all of the new pieces, getting the tables and paraphernalia together ect, ect, ect. I just wanted to sleep. Bad. So Thanksgiving morning rolls around and I find myself sleeping in til 9:30AM, wonder why, and we have to be at our friends' for dinner at 12:30PM. I figure cool beans, we will be home early and I can price, pack, gather and load the truck. It will be a long day, but it's doable. Until I eat, and eat, and eat. Good food, good friends, good it's 6:30Pm and we are just rolling home. Hey, not to worry, I am only running on fumes as I am still tired, and have to do all of this in order to be up at 5:30AM Friday and off to Kenai to set up. All week I have watched the weather to make sure we would have no I have a definitive say in it...and that last blast came totally unexpected. But no worries, it is smooth sailing because as of Thanksgiving morning, there is no accumulative snow expected til next week. It's been a long haul but I can do it! Maybe?! I will be fine. So here we are, 9:30PM Thanksgiving evening, I am done with a little help from the family. Truck is packed, we are good as gold. And the forecast is now expecting 6 inches of snow by Friday night. The show, the snow....I am already petered out as it is, and can only say...."be careful what you wish for"... But the sick little monkey in me is saying 'giddy-up'! Interesting point to add. There will be the annual 4th of July fireworks display and festivities Saturday night in Kenai. We celebrate 4th of July here in November, because it is too light out to see fireworks on the 4th of July! Too cool, aint it!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The three boneheads and a S.A.D. realization....

Wow, where has the time gone? In fact where did the year go?? Where to start? We have actually heard from a few friendly and distant voices of late. Our friend and live-in companion Michelle called and talked with Maryann today. She is well and apparently misses some of the perks of living with the lack of population and all of it's adverse effects on ones psyche! She is well and back in California....'for now'. Michelle has an admirable quality in her, and this would be the desire to roam and roll unturned I said, 'for now!' She has a home in Alaska waiting for her return. We also heard from an old client of ours who is wanting to come up and experience Alaskan fishing next summer. And last but not by a long shot the least, we heard from our long time and dear friends Ted and Patty who are also looking into coming up for a possible visit over the summer. So some excitement hearing from missed friends and the like. Marynn is savoring the taste of working from home. She has not lost her mind as of yet! But the days are getting darker and shorter who knows!

I, on the other hand have stumbled onto the realization that I may well be suffering from the ill-effects of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Yes, I think the lack of light may have finally nipped me in the ass! I have started to feel as if I may be losing my mind and have been having the yearning urge to go to Hawaii or someplace sunny like that. In fact now looking back on it it is starting to make sense when I was younger with those long weeks of fog and dreariness in Stockton. Maryann has pulled through as my savior though. No, not to worry as she has mail ordered me a "happy light". Now apparently these light boxes have come a long way and now they have them as desktop decorative models. So me and my "happy light" will be spending some time together this winter, and hopefully I will not succumb to the relenting feeling of isolation and remorse....during the next 2 long and dark months! Maryann is talking to her mom in the other room right now, stating about how the lack of light has not gotten to her yet....yet!

Then there is the senseless acts of foolishness. You know, when you do stupid things, as we all do, you will almost always regret it. But it sure does feel better when you aren't the only dummy in the crowd. It started out last month when our friend Mike, who works at Maryann's lodge, pulled a 'California stop' coming from the lodge out onto the highway and got pulled over by Alaska's best. And surprisingly he wasn't let off with a warning, but a ticket. Now, me being the friend that I am couldn't help but feel for the guy. I mean, you are just going through your daily motions and then all of a sudden those red and blue lights, which are really kind of fascinatingly pretty, are in your rear view mirror. And the State Troopers here are very cordial and polite when they approach your vehicle. They always introduce themselves and ask you how you are doing, before they tell you why your being pulled over. How do I know this? Because being the friend that I am and feeling bad for the guy, I pulled a boner of a move two weeks later coming back from Anchorage in a rental car. Only I did one up better than Mike. Oh, I couldn't let him be better than me! I was doing 75 in a 55 zone. Shocked? Imagine that ol familiar feeling of my heart falling into my ass as I watched the Trooper coming at me and realized what I was doing! Mind you, the speed limit had just dropped from 65 to 55 less than a mile back.....I just missed the sign....stupid dummy me! So Mike walked away with a 2 point ticket, and me a 4 point ticket which the Trooper very considerately lowered to a 2 point by saying I was only doing 10 miles over the speeed limit. And if that dont just beat it all. Now, imagine the grin on Johns face when he walked in that night and saw my ticket glowing on the counter. "And here dad is always telling me to slow down", thought John. And I have to give the boy credit where credit is due, because a week later when he got pulled over in Kenai, he was in fact doing the speed limit. But being the sore loser that he sometimes is, he had to out-do Mike and myself by getting a 6 point ticket....whoa.....for following too close to the person in front of him, slamming on his brakes in icy conditions, and almost causing an accident! I think they call that reckless driving, eh John?! Good thing for John, he had a kind officer as well and lowered him to a 4 point ticket, because at 6 points it is mandatory court appearance and suspension of his license. He was even nice enough to call me at home at 10:30PM to tell me what my brilliant son had just maneuvered. And so we have the three boneheads, who had to support the local and state revenue, in a rather foolish and uncanny manner. Poor traffic school instructor who is gonna have to deal with us 3 jackasses!!

On a shiner and upbeat note, if you remember last year about this time, I was writing about my demise with the big "Christmas In Kenai" craft bizarre. Remember, I was scheduled to sell pottery there the day after Thanksgiving and the kiln took a crap just days away. That spawned me to buy a new updated and more reliable kiln, to which I have had very favorable and exciting experiences with since. So today ended a 10 hour glazing frenzy to begin the 2 glaze fires over the course of the next few days, that I will have to perform in order to have pottery ready for sale the day after Thanksgiving at the "Christmas In Kenai" show. Yes I am giving it another go! And this happens on the heels of a successful run two weeks ago at the Soldotna Bizarre I did, as seen in the photos. Sales were pretty darn good, and out of it came a gallery owner who has asked me to display pottery in her gallery, and as well, the continued request of the Soldotna Senior Center to sell pottery out of their gift store, which I have already displayed and am doing now. As well as good sales, I was shocked to have taken a 1st place ribbon on a teapot set I made and a 3rd place ribbon on a small vase! I had entered 3 pieces into the jurried show the third being the green bowl behind the vase which although it didn't take a ribbon, did sell before it was displayed! But just the excitement of so many avenues coming out of one show, was an honor. And another step closer to my dream! So I find myself busy preparing for the next gig and one more before Christmas at Maryann's former place of employment, as the hotel is having a Christmas Bizarre and has asked me to participate.

John came home tonight and was glowing. He is now certified in CPR! One step closer to his dream!! Upon finding out the good news, Cherokee promptly and on cue rolled over 4 paws to the ceiling playing dead. John wasn't interested in giving the dog CPR.....good thing Cherokee was only running through a crisis training scenario.... So there it is the latest and greatest, another month gone by, one more month closer to officially qualifying for the PDF, 27 more days to the darkest day, continued success in the pursuit of dreams and one tired Greg! Stay tuned as we find out whether or not the "happy light" will save me from spiraling into the dark abyss of yet another Alaskan winter...... If you look into my eyes you can kinda already see the twisted look of....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ok, we are losers!

Just like our friend Yvette, so to are we feeling the guilt of not posting as much as we should for those who are still with us. And like Yvette, we will at least get 1 or 2 in for the month of October! What to say. Winter is definitely upon us now. We have had snow on and off for a couple of weeks, and it is sticking around now. The daytime temps are not getting too much over 35, and the nightime temps dropping into the 20's and I believe the teens as of last night. The lake has began to freeze, and in fact the lite snow from this morning has stuck to the surface, rendering it lifeless until next spring. The ground is freezing up good as we were reminded 2 mornings ago at 6:00AM as the grader tried in vain to smooth out the potholes on our road one more time before heavy winter. It sounded like a 747 being pulled on its belly across a mile of pavement, or a train wreck in slow motion. Was horrifying! Even John who could sleep through the war came running out of his room in complete disarray!! Mind you it didn't do a whole lot of anything, because....the ground is frozen! That and with the days shortening comes the begining of the alpenglow throughout the sky. So cool! Fall did go by in a flash. Sun is rising at around 9:45 AM and setting around 4:30PM, and the darkest days are slowing coming upon us. All in all we are all ok, and keeping busy with work, school, and the like. Maryann is undergoing a realization of sort to just how much of a complete butthole she was working with this past summer. Yes, Sweet-Pea. I think in the past week and a half she has quit and come back 4 times, with one of those times being a real resignation, and still worming her way back into the scene. Oh, she is a snake that one. Alot of drama with her. As of today, Maryann is full on the boss of all bosses, and Sweet-Pea is now working under Maryann as solely the accountant, with the task of advising Maryann where advisement may be needed. Oh, the last episode before the resignation was a scene from Seinfeld. Apparently the president made the moronic decision for Sweet-Pea and Maryann to essentially hash out their salaries amongst each other, with each having an idea of what their responsibilities were going to be. However, Sweet-Pea was insistent that she wanted to remain on the top paying bracket, with giving little to no additional position to Maryann. Maryann didn't budge. This was where Sweet-Pea quit, I believe it was the second time, following up with a tear-jerking session with one of the other owners. Then days later she comes back to the table, still the same unreasonable little bitch, only this time with the President of the company on conference call with the two of them. I guess she made herself out to be a real winner with that conversation, and after the conference call was over, Maryann and the owner started a talking about how impossible she has been and continues to be. This is where it gets good. Apparently minutes later, Sweet-Pea calls Maryann on her cell. Picking up her cell phone, Maryann sees that it is her and says that it can't be that important they just hung up with her and so she silenced the call. So her and the owner continue just raking Sweet-Pea and her abrasive personality and rude behaviors into the dirt, most of it coming out of the owners mouth. He was pissed! A while later Maryann's phone rings yet again, and Maryann just ignores it, checking the voicemail an hour or so later on her way out. It was a message from Sweet-Pea. She proceeds to tell Maryann that she went ahead and forwarded some information that Maryann needed to her email. Then she continues to advise that in the future, Maryann make sure that when she goes to check who is calling to hit the 'silence' button instead of the 'accept' button because she heard everything that the owner and Maryann had said regarding her.....holy crap! In all of your days....! Unbelievable. This is what prompted her official resignation. But much like a sequel to some horror flick, just when you thought she was dead, the bitch came back to life! And so the latest....Maryann is full manager over her and even the other on-site manager, and Sweet-Pea is a lowly accountant, getting much less pay than she so heartlessly fought for. Best of all, Maryann's dream has come true, she is officially working from home now, with maybe a trip a week to the office. Yes, the good guy won! Bravo Maryann for sticking it out and growing the proverbial brass huevos! John is attending his E.T.T. (Emergency Trauma Technician) class in Soldotna several nights a week. He just finished working with an out of the area contractor on an addition project. He made good coin, and now is wanting more. I referred him to a contractor who is a friend of one of my clients who may need a skilled laborer, and John definitely fits that bracket. So lets hope. The dogs are elated to finally have snow again, and love running around playing 'grab ass' in it! And so the 2nd winter in the 'great land' begins. Ought to be a good one as we are much more prepared, have plenty of wood, a stocked freezer of fish and determination to make it so. Have a great weekend, and enjoy those warm temps!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Lovefest 2008" and the 2 Ho's.

Once again the time of the year, that once a year anticipated festival of all festivals....Lovefest! Ozzy won't be there.... there will be no farmers chanting, nor blood on the scarecrow..... not some setback revitalization of Woodstock. This annual event is in it's 13th year, yet not many have heard of it, know not of it's date each year, much less know just what Lovefest really is all about. 13 years ago, today in fact, 2 people tied that proverbial knot, made a vow, and got hitched. After a celebration with family, they hit the road for a Pacific coast run of sharing, excitement, adventure, fun and....Love, for a 14 day tour. And so it became unofficially carved in stone, that from this day forth, they would celebrate their marriage and all it stands for, by totally abandoning their family and dogs, their jobs, and all that meant something to them the other 364 days of the year, and would hit the road for another fun, adventure, and Love filled tour....somewhere.... and let it be known in their circle as "Lovefest". This 13th annual Lovefest found Maryann and I celebrating our anniversary in the 2 Ho's. Homer, and Hope. And I am here to tell you there is still no Hope for Homer. Homer is and will always be an island of "outsiderism" in the last frontier. Hope on the other hand is still the ultimate getaway for doing nothin, and loving the beauty and charm of the past in the present. And, your lucky if you don't have to use an outhouse. We will be lucky as the cabin we will be staying in is one of only a few available that have it's own facility and running water. Whoo-hoo! Our journey began in Homer 4 days back as we headed South down the peninsula and wound down after a long summer of hard and mind-bending work. It was great to relax, and the days were lovely filled with sun, mild temps....and Love! We came home last night to spend the night, re-group and are going to begin our trek back to the North to Hope. We will be re-packing as we expect little sun, lows in the 20's and highs in the 40's with a chance of snow the next few days in Hope. I Hope so, as we love the cold!

As you can see Fall has about come and is on it's way out. These picks were taken last week here at the compound and since then many leaves have blown off and things are starting to go from pretty to just, dead. We did get a chance to witness the annual migration of the Tundra Swans at the lake again this year. They literally only stayed the day that we know of this year and we watched them fly off. I think that they knew they had to get on if they were going to make it through Canada before the cold and snow set in. Other than that, it is getting cold, quick. I'm not native, but I can sense the event is coming in the air.... While we were in Homer we got to catch something that most people will relate to. With Crab season opening on October 15th, none other than the Time Bandit, from the seasonal series 'Deadliest Catch' was docked on the spit no less on their way to Dutch Harbor. The docks on the spit seemed like they were once again steaming to life, with 2008 Salmon season behind them and the 2008/2009 Crab season coming fast. We didn't see Captain Andy or Captain Johnathan...though we had a feeling we knew where to look if we wanted to. The Salty Dawg Saloon on the spit would be the obvious place....go figure. And I could swear, that that is a hot tub up on the top deck left corner of the vessel...?! Not sure how a hot tub is going to pan out in the Bering the 20 foot sea's....? Maybe I am missing something!?! Was cool to see something that has become somewhat of an American icon, proudly out of our great state. But let us not forget the souls that have been returned to the the sea. The men and women whom have lost their lives be it following their calls, their duty, or their destiny. The Seafarers Memorial is a tribute to these people, so that they will not be forgotten. The numbers grow each year, and the names added continuously as recent as this summer. As long as there is the ocean, as long as there is freedom, and as long as there is adventure, there will be memories and joys gained...and there will be lives given in their names. Take a minute and click on this poem to make it larger and readable. Not to end on such a solemn note, we are off to the second leg of "Lovefest 2008"!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall is in the air.

Yes, it is coming down to one thing......winter is within sight. One of the distinguishing things that we have taken notice to in Alaska is that when Fall arrives, it is typically short and there is no turning back. The temps will progressively drop both day and especially night, the trees they do everywhere in Fall! The temps are the real deal though. There is not any fluctuation as we often would see in California. You know, you think Fall is there and then the temps shoot up in the middle of September. They just keep dropping off here, and my nipples are definitely getting stiff in the night time air these days. Moose season has come to a close, or will in the next few days, so all of the float planes are especially active picking up the poor die hard hunters that were left out in the bush in search of the Bullwinkle, just flat getting soaked by the over abundance of rain we have had lately. This is not our lake, but a float plane lake nearby that I have been working on and have had the opportunity to watch them take off and land through the day. In fact this has been the wettest summer on record since they began keeping records. It has felt much more like Seattle, or down in the panhandle of Alaska than the peninsula we so much adored with it's mild and sunny summers. Nonetheless, short of changing shirts many times a day I/we have managed. Today was beautiful To illustrate today's beauty I have enclosed a pic of today. As you can see it is blatantly "blue"! There is no other way to describe the beauty....but blue! And considering we aint seen much blue, it was a damned fine sight. We were out loving up the vitamin D like no other this day! Even the dogs were in their glory. Who or what wouldn't be that has had more rain in the past 2 weeks that anyone or thing has a right to have. It has literally been anything from consistent downpours to drizzle for about 2 weeks straight now, and we just pray that this kind of deal sticks around for a little while longer. All in all we are looking forward to our second winter here, and at least now have a general idea on what to expect. The sun is coming up around 7:10 AM and setting around 9:00 PM now. Outside of that we are all well and between work, school and just getting the compound in order for the coming cold event, there is little time for relaxing...although we do find time to keep our nourishment! The early morning panty raids we were experiencing with our little bat creatures, you know, the ones that are supposedly our friends, are all but over for good. They are on their way back to Mexico for the winter, and with their migratory exodus, we are hot on getting all the bat holes and exterior cracks in the eves sealed with expanding foam, caulking, and shutting them out. Oh sure, they will be in for a surprise when they arrive next year to find their summer lodge all boarded up. Remember what it was like when you were a kid on a roadtrip with mom and pop and you had to potty so bad your eyes were floating, only to arrive at the only service station on the interstate for another 50 miles to find it closed.... Imagine..... Unfortunately there were several casualties with the little creatures over the summer. We will just leave it at that, but we are glad to see them off and gone and know that those holes in the house down the road will be up for grabs come summer 2009....whoo-hoo!! So hoping all is well in your world and wishing you a happy Fall. Take care for now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Money for nothin.....or, Christmas in September!

It could be construed either way. One remark I heard today at Home Depot from a work worn man was, "this is my money and I can spend it any way I want"....I think he was yelling that at his wife! Other proud women and men strutted by with carts loaded down with new vanities, toilets, refrigerators and other appliances. I mean complete remodel stuff. At Fred Meyers' last night people were strolling past with not one, not two, but three shopping carts of clothes, food....big screen TV's, you name it. The bars and liquor store parking lots were packed. Some have expressed the need to buy more guns....a constitutional right, God bless America... All in all, no matter who it was, there was indeed an absolute attitude of 'freedom to spend' in the air. If you haven't figured it out by now, yes, yesterday was the day all Alaskans wait so eagerly for throughout the year. PFD's were direct deposited into bank accounts throughout the state. In fact, this year was a month early. It is usually October that the PFD is sent out. Could you imagine how free money could be readily available from the state government a month early? Sarah Palin, that's how. Long before she was nominated for the Vice Presidential run, she determined that she wanted Alaskans to have their funds distributed early this year. Her thought simply, "why make everyone wait for the money they need now". What a fu*^ing concept! In fact our Governor, Sarah Palin, gave Alaskans an extra special treat this year. You see, Alaska actually has a phat 'savings account' if you would. Because the state has done so well at budgeting money, we have a huge surplus. So, she passed the 'energy bill' which entitled all Alaskans to a one time rebate of $1200.00 to help offset rising energy costs, out of the states surplus fund. As well, the energy bill suspended the state gasoline tax for a year which immediately brought down the per gallon pump price, and has also made way for the state to take up excess costs per kilowatt hour for every household after a pre-determined base amount. With the PFD being the highest yet in it's history at a whopping $2069.00 per Alaskan resident. So with the $1200.00 rebate built into the PFD the direct deposit yesterday was $3269.00 per person. So one could easily see where the term "money for nothin" could easily ring true. And I imagine statewide sales more than likely got close to if not topped annual holiday season sales with everyone eager to spend their free money. Are you wondering what we, the Phillips' did with ours? I will tell you this, we by no means went on any spending spree, nor did we spend a red cent of it. Simply put we didn't see one damned penny of it! As we are....or I should say, were not considered Alaskan residents for the 2007 year. Our official residency stint began this year, January 1 2008 and we will be officially qualified for the 2008 PFD on January 1 2009. So next year, we will be receiving the fabled 'free money' when the PFD is sent out in October 2009. Whoo-frigin-hoo, huh?! But despite the absence of our 'money for nothin', we are still quite impressed and proud at the way our state handles it's funding and budgets. Sarah has been successful in pushing AGIA (Alaskan Gasline Inducement Act) which is making way for a Trans-Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline....we have major gas, man....which would run paralell to the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, down to Valdez to be processed and stored to be shipped world wide. There is talk of two spur lines that will supply natural gas to the South-Central Alaska gas grid for affordable gas here at home, as well as along the AlCan, the Alaskan/Canadain highway, to the midwest in the lower 48. So we are excited to be looking at the prospects of a re-birth of sorts, of the gone by years that Alaska experienced when the oil pipeline was built from Prudoe Bay down to Valdez. It began an era that has lucratively produced oil for decades, and led to the spending spree that most every Alaskan, with exception of our lucky asses, got the joy of experiencing yesterday, today and more than likely days to come! But our future looks like it may repeat itself, if we all get wise to utilizing the unimaginable supply of natural resources that we have right here in our own backyard. So, Marry Christmas all of you happy assed Alaskans that have free money on your mind! We will see you next year!! Until then, the Phillips' will pucker and pinch, what pennies we got. Good night for now.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What's in a name....

It seems somewhat interesting that we have found ourselves gravitating amongst some pretty interesting, popular and impacting names of late. Of course the biggest of names of which we have recently found ourselves associated to is our Governor, Sarah Palin. Wow, what a great honor to be nominated as the Vice President. Now one thing I made a personal promise to myself upon starting this blog was to avoid the open discussion of politics, which for the exception of a few small comments, I have been fairly successful in doing. And so I will continue this course of semi-silence of political aire. However, I do have to say it is a bitter sweet moment for many Alaskans upon this announcement. We will truly miss her and the courage and stability that she has put fourth in representing all Alaskans, our economy here, and our safety and welfare. If she does become the Vice President and does as good as a job with this as she has done in governing our state, than this country will only be a better place for us all. Kudos Sarah, we will miss you but the best of luck in the stepping stone of your political career. We are proud to say your our Governor. Funny story. That morning that the news became public, Maryann was out on a fishing boat on the Kenai River doing some Silver Salmon fishing with some lodge guests. Coincidentally, she casted 'like a girl' yet pulled in her limit within the first hour long before any other guy on the boat even had a bite. Needless to say, her guide was dumbfounded and continues to tell the tale of the girl who casted like a girl, and made sissies of them all! She found it comical as in the early morning quiet cool on the river, all of a sudden cell phone started to ring from all of the other boats around them, including the one she was on. Soon, there was open chat across the water from boat to boat of, "hey did you hear the news...." Of course, there were also the comments from some of why a woman is unqualified. Hey, Sarah owns a gun, has guts, brains and lives in Alaska.....makes her a qualified woman to me! Remember the woman who skunks all of the guys on the boat....! Good job honey!!

Now Maryann and I....and for that matter John, who in fact had and still has no idea who in the world the guy everyone was making all of the fuss and "to do" about, was.....had the very distinct honor of meeting, personally, another 'big name'. Those of you who were actively aware of pro football in the early 70's will remember the Miami Dolphins' MVP and Hall Of Famer Larry Csonka. Maryann played host to Larry and his wife at the lodge this past week. It seems he is doing a segment on his Outdoor Life series North To Alaska on All Alaska Outdoor Lodge. With any luck Maryann and I may very well be on this tv show as the camera man had panned over to us while we were.....yes, doing what I do best....eating, at the weekly cookout the lodge sponsors for it's guests and employees. My uncle Honey would be proud! My fork and my mouth may make national attention. It was exciting for me to be able to shake Larry's hand, and chat with him even if for a moment. I have no idea who the hell he was mind you. I was young then. But I am sure at some point all of my uncles, dad, and older cousins were yelling and cussing at him through the tv just like they did every other football player whose presence was graced on the screen back then! So look for us and Maryann's lodge on the Outdoor Life Channel. When, not sure. Check out and click on his North To Alaska series, and maybe sometime soon it will be announced on his tv schedule.

It seems like Fall may well be here. We are starting to notice the colors changing, and the things that usually happen in Fall, beginning to come about. I have got the plow all oiled up and ready to go, and we are shoring up the last of the firewood under cover. Just waiting for the snow to fly, and watching for the termination dust on the mountains around us. John and Maryann are well, and for those who really thought John was getting married, it was an inside joke. HA HA!.....HA! Yeah. Alrighty then, take care and by for now. Our love!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hope, destiny and Winterland.

This morning we woke to a treat. Mama and her babies were meandering the compound. Actually, yesterday mama and her babies were meandering the compound until our little creighton, Kenai, decided to bark at them through the window and mama gathered the kids and split. You just don't think she will ever get it, do you?! But this morning we were able to hide their presence from her and enjoy their visit. Again, mama watched me come out just 20 feet away from her and the babies, but allowed me to stay and observe. The two babies were very giddy and playful, as they were galloping around mama and frolicking about. To cute! Apparently my dad experienced the same thing up on the driveway one morning on his way out for his daily regimen to get the newspaper from the road. He encountered them, sweet talked mama, and she allowed him to stay put and observe. Quit an honor. Our visit was enjoyable and the folks got to see more of the peninsula this time around and experience more of the splendor we live in. But like I told them, they....we have only begun to experience yet a fraction of Alaska. Coincidentally, it is official, our deep freezer is now 97% full of salmon, halibut, and cod. It gonna be a fine eatin winter! And I have an unofficial yet close account of this years firewood stock. I am estimating 10 cords as of now....simply meaning that we are good to go with what we have, but ya just never can have enough, when it comes to firewood!

So admidst the visit of my folks, Maryann and I found it imperative to do a roadtrip. Seems as "Sweet Pea" had gotten to Maryann one too many times. Oh yea, that's what I'm talking about, uh-huh!! Maryann ripped her a new rearend up down, sideways and in a circle, and the bitch gained unmentionable respect and effectuation for just where she stands in Maryanns office. Some just don't seem to get it. Anyways, after watching my wife deal so effectively with this ordeal, I just said, "let's go". "Where she asked?" "Let's go to Hope" I said. She looked at me with a scepticle look in her eyes and asked, "is there Hope". Yeah. Hope is a little town across the Turnagain Arm and downwind from Anchorage. As the crow flies it is probably only 30 miles from Nikiski. But the only way to get there is going the couple hundred mile drive towards Anchorage, and it is off the main road tucked away in the mountains, lining the water. When I say small, I mean Dorrington small, minus all of the vacation cabins. There are not many places with running water, and many accommodations there are still using outhouses or community restrooms. We were fortunate enough to find a tiny, old and cozy log cabin off the beaten path of the bustling downtown (sarcasm). The busiest we saw was some little coffee/gift shop with a couple hippies playing guitar on the steps and locals sitting around wasting the day away. Doesn't sound like anything ol Greg and Maryann would like, does it? We found ourselves in complete bliss just lounging around the cabin, doing nothing but unwinding and reflecting, something much needed for us both as it has been a very trying summer with work, lack of sunshine (oh cry me a river, aint it!), and the disappointment of a lousy salmon season for our son. As night began to fall around 7:00 PM, still light out like it was afternoon, we found ourselves wandering the streets of downtown Hope, trying to find a good eating establishment for some local fare. Keep in mind, downtown Hope consists of primarily a campground where the river pours into the Arm, the coffee/gift shop, a few houses and a small diner with a detached bar called the Seaview Cafe. Completely unaware to either of us at the time, it is this Cafe that would invariably impact the fun and loving sector of our souls forever....destiny, if you would. As we ate a quiet dinner with a few other diners, the cook was in the kitchen with his radio going, and conversation abound about the place. Maryann noticed I had a strange look on my face. Now most would of figured I was silently choking on some stray food and trying to conceal my despair as to not denote attention to myself. But no, Maryann knows me better than most and she realized that in fact I wasn't gaging but shutting out the white noise around me to focus and center in on the music I was hearing in the backround. The sounds that were just begining to eminate from the bar, out the back door of the Cafe and accross the outdoor patio separating the two. This music, this sound fading quietly in and out.... My brows frowed as I struggled, searching for the sound. As she sat in utter amasement at my illimitable focus, I found that I could no longer stand it. No, what I was hearing....what no other human in the diner was even aware of at that moment, was what seemed to be an acoustic version of "I Know You Rider", a Grateful Dead set opener, renouned to Deadheads for decades past. I found myself hurriedly yet coy like scrambling for the back door. As I stood in the doorway, my wife sitting there shaking her head with an acknowledging grin and amasement, I hear what I am believing to be, at that particular moment, Jorma Kaukonen, lead guitarist for the fabbled Jefferson Airplane, founder of the acoustic band Hot Tuna....the 'playin whore' of rock and blues..... Naah, although Hot Tuna was just in Anchorage back in May, I konw not of their presence I wander towards the back door of the bar with my pulse charging, my anticipation drumming. I enter the threshold to find a small acoustic band complete with percussinist...but is not Jorma, it is not Hot Tuna. It is a band calling themselves Winterland, and as Maryann and I paid our bill to go into the bar to enjoy what it was Winterland was to offer, found ourselves 2 barstools front row and inches from the band to dig in what would be an evening of Grateful Dead tunes. Yes, not the Dead but a very hot Dead cover band. Our first time in a bar either of us since we got together 15 years ago, we opened a tab and drank, rocked, shaked our butts and wiggled our heads to that band down there playin' the Grateful Dead. Oh what a night! I mean, it couldn't have been a better night for the type of time we needed. In other words, we couldn't bring about a time like this if we tried, and here it falls right into our lap. We made new friends, some locals, some tourists who glued to our every word of life in Alaska, listened to ammusing folklore of tourist antics from the bartender, carried on continual conversations with the band. Man, what fun. They played 3 sets of acoustic and electric instrumentation of many Dead tunes that night, a few even the Grateful Dead themselves had not done for decades.

But as all good times must, so too did this trip come to an end the following morning as Maryann had to get back to work by noon. Yes, just an overnighter, but a heck of a ride! We bared witness days later to a couple of breathtaking and amazing scenes on our way home from taking the folks to the Anchorage airport for their journey home. If you remember, the Turnagain Arm is the place of the 'Tidal Bore' wave, as well as tides that flexuate as much as 40 feet low to high. Here is a pic of that tide on it's way out of the Arm. Now mind you, it looks like a river, but is in fact the low area on this side of the Arm, draining to the Cook Inlet and out to the Gulf Of Alaska. Almost reminded me of a cork being pulled from a tub! If you look to the upper center of the picture, you can see the shallow area starting to expose itself as the water rushes outward. Look at the incredible lengthly swirl the water is making towards the bank on it's way out. Intense! And to top it off as we went through Moose Pass, we found ourselves pondering and again reflecting, only to be greeted by a reassuring glimpse of what could be construed as God himself. As usual, picture do no justice to the real thing, but what an awe inspiring moment it was for two sourdoughs, contemplating their existence in the 'great land'. A couple that took a chance, made a leap, and continues to work through all that comes before them. We are happy to be here with John and the dogs, and feel blessed to be able to continue to share our journey forward. Good night.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New arrivals to the compound.

Yet another glorious summer in the great land, and we find ourselves once again amidst the wild life that surrounds us. If you remember last year we commented on how the lake seemed to come to life with all the different animals, mammals, and water fowl that gravitated to it. This year seems no different as we essentially have what adds up to 7 arctic terns, a cow and 2 calves, 2 twisted loons, 1 tiny shrew (well, at least 1 that we knew of...."knew" being the key word here), and now 2 great horny owls...err, uh, 2 great horned owls. In Marlin Perkins' terms what would be possibly considered a "shrewminator". What is a shrewminator? What on Gods green earth is a shrew?? Lets examine, the shrew. They are quit similar to mice, only bigger, with long freaked out snouts, and are carnivorous. Scary huh. Owls like vermin....shrews are vermin....get the point?! Now back to the shrew we "knew". I was sitting at the dinner table one night a couple weeks back and about gaged as I watched a shrew frolicing across the lawn. We relocated it. Now with the 2 owls, I think the shrew existence is going to be limited from here on out. Anyways, we all got home tonight around 10:00PM after a long day of work for the 3 of us, and as Maryann was standing out on the back deck, she notices this huge owl in the thicket at the lakes edge, with the 2 loons 8 feet off shore almost as if they were just hanging out with the owl, and a moose calling from beyond the tree line across the lake. Keep in mind, again, the wild life around the lake almost chime in together like some zuluistic tribe of gatherers. Amazing really that they are all so in tuned to each other. Lets step back to this morning. I am awaken out of a dead sleep by an excited Maryann telling me that there is an owl on our property. Now I could barely open my eyes much less roll my naked ass out of bed to go see this spectacle. But somehow, the intrigue and sense of her excitement pulled me through the process. Sure enough, only visible through our binoculars was what she looked up as a great horned owl in one of the trees behind the sauna. Talk about big. This thing was huge. I thought the eagles were huge... And, judging by the size of the gargantuan crap on the deck, displayed next to a dime to illustrate its immensity, you can only imagine how huge it was! So back to tonight, after witnessing the one in the thicket fly off, she observed another in one of the other trees lakeside. Now it is just so cool to sit back and wind down to this kind of happening, ringside.

Another honor was our mama cow sharing her 2 calves with us for several days, despite the hun-like action of our knuckle headed Kenai a week earlier. They were literally hanging out along the side of the driveway for several days. We would leave in the morning....they would be there hanging out. We would come home in the evening....they would be there hanging out. Not sure what this meant. Maybe it was that enlightening chat of calm I had with mama after the near attack with the dog! Yea, right. Was strange yet as I said, a quiet honor.

Then there is the recent move on my part to expidite the collection of firewood. In an insane moment of reality, realizing that with our unusually cold and wet summer we would not have enough seasoned fire wood, I started eyeballing the house. I mean, it is seasoned wood, right. Our moto here is "wood is good"! Sick bas#^*d! Actually, Maryann got her long awaited wish. A window in Johns bathroom. Man did it make a difference not only with the light emitted into the room and it is so nice to have some air circulation. Bet we wont be saying that around January! I never realized how balding at the top I really have become. Incredible what age, wisdom, and the pursuit of happiness does to a guy!

We are awaiting the arrival of my parents for their annual pilgrimage to Alaska. They are scheduled to arrive Thursday night and we are excited. Most especially the dogs. Yes, the dogs....just like they know what a "moose" is, they also know what a "grandpa and grandma" is and as we pump them up to their grandparents' arrival they are stoked. They will be here at the perfect time this year as the fireweed is just starting to take off in bloom (if we could just get a little more sun), the moose are still present and visable all over with their calves in tow, the weather cool, silver salmon starting to come up river. Sad thing is the Fish & Game prematurely suspended the sockeye(red) salmon fishing for the season. Seems that the runs have been unusually small this year and with low counts they are concerned that the low spawning rate may effect future runs. I have to admit they do have it together with the management of fisheries here. Lets just hope the silvers are a little more abundant. Meantime, we did buy a deep freezer and have it about 2/3's stocked with salmon, halibut, cod, and some silvers. Ought to be a gourmet fish winter here at the compound. What has been in the past a rare delicacy has become here a main staple.

Meantime, John is faring ok with commercial fishing, although with the counts low he is feeling it in his cut of the share. He has also got a job as a groundskeeper, fish processor, and part time cleaner at Maryanns' lodge when he is not fishing. He met one of the housekeepers, fell head over heels in love with her and her with him and they are planning marriage when they both graduate next year. Maryann is also faring well....much better with her new position as operations manager. She has, lets say, dumped the fat, man, and is running lean. She had a little dead weight there in the beginning of the season, and realized that she needed to let go of a couple of these weight hangers. She found that all of a sudden with them gone, things run alot more efficient. It's amazing what a little diet can do, even when it pertains to staff! She is looking forward to assuming a bigger roll come this fall as her predecessor (remember "Sweet Pea"?) is on her way out on the short train. There are alot of staff and management who can't wait. Maryann has gained quit the respect from her staff and management team. We are very proud of her and know she will continue to kick butt with this thing. Anyways, it is late and I am beat tired. That early morning owl call wiped me out, but man was that a memory maker. What is that saying...."Those who soar with the eagles at night cant rise with the owls in the morning"....or something like that. We have had several friends and family come up to visit this summer so far, and hope to see more friends and "FAMILY>>>>HELLO" soon. Hope this finds everyone happy, safe and gitty. Our love to all.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thats what I'm talkin about!

Now could you imagine? This is a King salmon that these guys landed a couple weeks ago. Apparently it was within an iota close to making the record in Alaska. Yes, I guess they do come a skosh bigger. So here we are and almost the end of July, and again the failure to do any posts. What can I say but I guess what with so much daylight so late and all we are doing time just slips by. If I remember correctly, Maryann was going to follow up with some pics from our time with the Parisi's. She has been overly busy with her new position at the lodge. Right now is the time that it all comes undone as the fishing is kicking off full bore, and tourism is in full swing. She is doing ok with her new position It is a love/hate thing really. Her staff loves and respects her like no other. Something she is so deserving of as she has been on the other side of the proverbial coin and knows how to treat her staff properly. Something Maryanns predacessor never knew how to do as per the raw comments made by past employees, of her tactics. The way she ran everyone as Maryann has been told, says it all. For the duration of this forum, to further protect her real identitiy we will simply refer to Maryanns predecessor as....Sweetpea. One of Maryanns' office assistants is majoring in psychology, and has had some interesting observations and comments about Sweetpea. One of Sweetpeas hang-ups is that she is a control freak, of the worst type. This in itself amounts to 30 or more phone calls per exageration.... to Maryann, everyday, which makes Maryanns day counterproductive and throws everything in the office continuously behind. Another of Sweetpeas problems is she is in denial that Maryann was Sweetpea... to replace Sweetpea, and she doesn't want to give up her position now. Mind you, last year she chose to move her family back to Oregon, and now feels she can run the office from 3000 miles away by phone. The 3 owners don't see it that way, and Maryann is living proof that it aint workin. Thus the haberdashery that Maryann has to consistently deal with. This would be the 'hate' part of the deal. The good thing is that the 3 owners of the lodge see what is happening, love Maryann and know she is more than capable of running things, and they all want Sweetpea out. They all have acknowledged that Sweetpea made a descision to forfeit her position when she chose to move out of state, and after all, this is the whole reason Maryann was hired in the first place. But, Sweetpea is needed for a little while longer as Maryann is still learning the rest of the ropes. But, Maryann is top dog now, and has pissed on a few of Sweetpeas trees just to remind her of such. Slowly but surely Sweetpea is submitting to the inevitable change of guard. Sweetpea has some psychological issues, yes she does. Other than that Maryann is fine and knows in her heart that things will get better and she needs to keep sticking with it.

John is doing great. He is in full swing with commercial fishing now. He and the crew had a rare opportunity the other day to watch a humpback whale surface just yards off the bow of the boat and made about 6 launches out of the water for the crew. Do you think he was saying, "leave my dinner alone ya jackasses!"? Anyways, it was a sight, and John stated it will stick in his mind forever. John also had an experience that will stick in his mind forever, as will that of the minds of his parents. He arrived at the boat early a week ago, and at 10:00PM was getting things ready so that they could set out at midnight when the skipper arrived. He was the only one on the boat, and pretty much in the area at the time. Now you would think that after watching so many episodes of Deadliest Catch, he would learn. But then again, this isn't the Bearing Sea and it's not the middle of winter so why would such an important thing be addressed (sarcasm). He was undoing some nets and was working his way around a narrow section of deck by the netting wheel, and in the slime of the net his footing slipped and into the water he went. Now he said that he tried to scale back into the boat, but he just couldn't make it over. So he was finally forced to grab hold of one of the boats buoys and hold on and wait. He didn't allow himself to panic, but he said within a minute of being in the water he could feel himself weakening from the cold. The boat is moored at the mouth of the Kasilof river which is cold glacial runoff. Fortunately a skiff was passing and saw him yelling and flailing at the boat in his orange gear. The guy made it over to him, but after being in the water for 5 minutes John said no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't get the strength to pull himself into the skiff and the other guy had to pull him in. Why wasn't he wearing his life vest you ask? I guess John like most felt in his mind that this kind of thing doesn't happen often and especially not to someone like him. Will he wear his life vest next time??? He has gotten multiple lectures not only from us but others who know, and we can only hope he learned his lesson. But as parents I have to say it brought home the serious relization of how important it is to make sure to enjoy every minute and always tell them you love them and be careful before they walk out that door. Not that we dont already, because we always do. But now more than ever it means so much more. On a brighter note, he is also taking advantage of fishing the river on his days off, and the other night made his 3 per day limit on Red salmon within about an hour. Coincidentally, we bought us a deep freezer this year, and it is starting to fill up....woohoo! At this rate we will be eating salmon this winter like its hamburger.

I think in posts past I mentioned or maybe not, that this summer we have been honored with the presence of a cow moose and her 2 calves on the property. They have been hanging around here alot. When I had the tractor to pull the fuel tank last month, I also cut a little road down the back side of the property so we can get a little easier access down below. They have been spending some time on that road and enjoying foraging our lush greenage. Now despite our efforts to train Kenai to understand that "moose are good", she is insistent that she will not tolerate their presence. This bullheaded persistance led to a debacle a couple weeks back. All I clearly remember was that I was buns up with my head in the toilet cleaning under the rim, and I hear Maryann yell at Kenai. But this was no ordinary scolding or commanding yell. No, this was more of a yell of concern for her safety. And it was followed by 3 more yells of the same urgency only getting louder each time. As I came running out of the bedroom into the kitchen I watched in confusion as Maryann ran from the front door across the living room to the back door. As I looked towards the back door all I saw was Kenai flying past the window with her ass damned near in front of her, followed by mama moose hot on her tail. It turns out as we figured out later after piecing the events together, that ol Kenai who can smell a mouses fart a mile away, must have been aware...again....of the moose's presence. We think she inadvertently stumbled upon mama who was down in the thicket behind the woodpile, while Kenais' nose was vertical instead of watching what was in front of her. She startled mom, mom startled her, and the chase ensued. What we have learned about cows is that often times they will stache their calves while they are getting food. For obvious this protect them and keep them from harm. Or in this case Kenai. And so was the case here. The only smart thing Kenai did was run up on the back deck. Mom ran past the deck and waited frustratingly for Kenai to make her next move. But I got out, ushered Kenai in, and then went back out to a stressed mom. I held my hand out to her in a sign of friendship, she smiled, licked my hand and.....yeah, right. I did utter a few peaceful words to her though, and to this day it's your guess if she understood.... But after taking a minute to reflect, she did go back off and you could see her looking and listening for her calves. She instantly darted back down behind the sauna, and as I watched from Maryanns studio window saw her rendezvous with the calves and begin letting them feed from her. Was a Marlin Perkins moment, indeed! Since then, sometimes I will be out in the yard and see them. The calves will round up under mom, mom looks at me, I wave at her and smoozie "sweetie" to her and she will then usually go back to eating like I am accepted as friendly to her. After all, it was I who was the hero who called off that knuckled headed dog of ours!

Last week I did the craft show in Sterling again this year. Again I made some pretty good money selling pottery. I know I said last year that this summer I wanted to do it more often and got so busy making money with the maintenance business that I have made little time to do so. But I will start making it a little bit more of a priority as this type of thing really gets the motivation and the urge to create going. The second morning of the show Maryann and I were going to carpool out to Sterling since she had to work. She was in the shower and I was walking into the kitchen eyes still shut, when I thought I heard a foreign sound coming from the basement. As I made my way down the stairs I realized it was coming from behind the small door leading into the crawl space. As I opened the door, I was in complete disbelief as I beared witness to a hole in the side of our pressure tank spewing water. Now, like the water heater the month before....did I mention the water heater went out the month before? But like the water heater, I wanted to change out the pressure tank this summer. We wanted to get a bigger one because they are more efficient. But I didn't expect to do it the morning I was going back to sell more pottery. So we were without water for a couple days. Carrying buckets up from the lake to flush the toilets, and borrowing from the neighbor buckets of water to wash in. But we did get our new pressure tank. I had to relocate it out of the crawl space and into the utility room because of it's size. But it is great and we have such better pressure now. And, get this....our water no longer smells like butt! We think that because of the lack of use from the previous owner....jackass....that the tank had an excessive buildup of heavy metal and corrosion (obviously since the tank spewed a hole through solid steel) and manganesse which is very present in our well, and the bacteria buildup may have been causing that horrible smell. Overall, since we moved in, all that we have done to the water system has so improved it and it is so much better than day one. When our hot water heater blew last month we switched over to one of those 'on demand' water heaters and it is just tops! And we cut huge chunk out of our electrical bill. Woohoo again!

Well, thats it for catch up. John and I are about to go off and cut some wood today. A friend of his has some property with downed trees and his dad told us to help ourselves. We are at 6 cords here now and are looking to get at least 4 more to get us through winter. Notice how I said at least! Woodwhores take anything they can get. Have a great day and we'll try to send some pics here the next post.