Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let us recap 2009.

I was thinking of a unique post to signify the end of an old year and the bringing in of the new. However, I find myself constantly annoyed by all of the recap, memorable pictures, best looking people, famous quotes, and all of the rest of the memorization of each year past. I mean, "I was there, man!" Why in the name of Pete would I want to re-live it all at the end!!

So I will deviate from the regular 'year past' protocol. Instead, lets look at 2010, and all the promise, disappointment, and potential excitement it has in store:

- Depending on what cultural ancestry chain you follow, there will be only 2 more years until the world comes to an end! That means this is the second to the last for those who are counting!
- Congress will be coming up to the fence post this year. Hopefully there is a Vaseline shortage!
- We have only to hope for a strengthened economy, and hope the job rate heals itself. With all of the free money that has been injected into the system, one can only hope.... John seemed unfazed when I informed him that his kids and their kids would be the ones to pay off this one.
- June will mark the 3rd consecutive and most successful year of the loading. Mind you, we hope the remaining 6 months will continue to be successful...
- I have been feeling a major twitch lately. No, not that. I mean similar to the one that has preceded every major 'life change' we have encountered. Hmmm, what could it mean. There may be a huge opening in the vortex of possibilities for us/me in 2010.
- The Chinese food restaurant will re-open in April!
- I fear we may fall into a new tax bracket. And gone are the glory years of claiming John as a dependent.
- We are hoping to continue new and bigger renovations here at the compound. Well.... "well" being the key all depends on whether we sink a new well, in which case our hopes for the finances of renovations may not 'hold water'....this year.
- John is planning on finally pursuing his career as a line firefighter.
- Ted and Patty will be coming to Alaska!

The list could go on and on. I suppose 2009 had it's weak spots, and it's triumphs. But we are looking to a bright year in 2010. We feel pretty blessed and pray for those near and far who have suffered loss, faced adversity, dealt with the unbearable. I guess the most important thing is to look for a promising future. Words cannot always take away the frustration, or the sorrow.

As for resolutions....resolute if you feel the need! I look at them as "diets". It is easy to do something that is good for you. And easier to get tired of it and let it slide leeway. Maybe a better way to see it is to look at what you can personally do to make life better be it for yourself or someone else. If any of you are loaded with excess cash, giving me some would make it easier for me to travel more! I see things in "me" yesterday and today that could use some phase-in. And I am sure, these things will be there tomorrow. I highly doubt during sleep tonight the 'resolution pixie' will magically transform my will. It is always work in progress! Maybe suggesting that we will do something about it in the 'New Year' substantiates some kind of profound inner will....I don't really know.

Dick! What ever happened to Dick Clark? I find myself going to bed well before midnight the past 3 or 4 years. Does he even drop the ball anymore? Speaking of balls.... Ahh, never mind.

Here are a few pics I took the past couple of mornings. Just another reminder of winter and it's beauty! And for those intrigued or bewildered by this past summer's events with Mt Redoubt, it seems she is getting restless once more. The other day after a series of small quakes, the AVO Alaska Volcano Observatory - Redoubt - Activity Page put the volcano back into a 'Yellow' status. Nobody really knows, but there is some speculation that it may erupt again. Or, the dome just may collapse....keep in mind it grew over the summer. So, we wait and hope that it will simmer down. In any event, our love goes out to Michelle and her family, and we ask for your prayers for them as they are dealing with a pretty serious situation. Our heart is with you Michelle. To everyone else, may the new year bring you all that you hope for. In defense of my feelings on the issue, and in regards to new years, I do recite a verse that sums it up for me....

New ones comin' as the old ones go,
Everything's moving here but much too slow now,

A little bit quicker and we might have time,
To say "How do you do?" before we're left behind.

- Robert Hunter

Moon setting around 9:30 AM.

Spectacular 'alpenglow' upon sunrise. Notice the pink hue on the snow.... More morning 'alpenglow'. Pictures do little to tell the color spectrum!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ho, Ho, Huh....

Besides wanting to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas", at the risk of offending those who don't want to hear that phrase, I thought it appropriate to post some interesting photo's that signify the sign of the times. These are all hand picked and real time originals, not Internet pics. This is how the days leading up to Christmas have come down at the compound.
This was a gift a friend of mine received for Christmas from a mutual friend of ours. Twisted sick little monkey he was, but I have to admit this Barack Obama Chia Head was a novel idea that every household should be required to have!

As you can see, my friend had his own message to send to our mutual friend. Good thing he has a cool sense of humor. I wonder what Chuck thought about gratitude when he received this 'Thank You' card?!

This is a gift we received yesterday. When Maryann walked out of the Post Office with it, the 'uni bomber' came to mind. Redneck wrapping paper: for those economically oppressed times! I have always said duct tape is all purpose.

Hmmm. When I walked in the other day, I thought to myself, "cool, Maryann ordered a pizza for dinner". Imagine my total astonishment when I saw the sticker in the lower left corner, telling me I couldn't have my pizza until Christmas! We do love and appreciate resourcefulness!! Guess what I'm having for breakfast this morning...

After nearly aborting the whole concept of a Christmas tree this year, a last minute 'Festivus Miracle' transpired, and this cute little tree appeared in our 'go-go cage'. I was hoping for a partially clad Rockette up in the cage this Christmas, but the cutest Christmas tree ever will do just fine! Guess it's time to put the 'pole' away for another year.

Yes, this was an interesting Christmas. The first as official empty nester's and definitely entertaining from where I sit! Make sure to check out this link to my latest Stage Of Life Christmas story.
A hopeful Christmas - Retirement Blog - Stage of Life - Stage of Life - Rewards for Life's Journey > Stage - Retirement > Posts
A special thanks goes out to the United States Postal Service for doing an exemplary job at essentially screwing it all up once again! The word down the pipeline is that people all over the nation have fallen victim to the inept inabilities for the Postal Service to efficiently deliver Christmas joy. And, for those mail loving sympathizers out there, let me comfort your doubt by reminding you that the Postal Service can't even deliver a letter in August properly. So the whole "their overwhelmed at Christmas time" crap doesn't fly here! This will be the first Christmas ever that I will not have the delectable honor of snacking on the seasonal anticipated 'Holly Grail' from pops. Thanks suck! Maybe we should have overhauled the Postal system as opposed to non existent health care.....

To everyone both far and near this season, we wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter solstice 2009....and smiling....

For those who have looked forward to the scowling, sinister, twisted grin each winter, and the stories of huddled bodies hunkered in front of candle light in the deep corners of the basement...

Kenai Alaska or Bust: The darkest day...another year!

Kenai Alaska or Bust: The darkest day, celebration, and reflection.

Those days may well be behind us now. As we turned the corner of Winter Solstice today and celebrated the darkest and shortest day of the year, we find ourselves happy and content. Gone are the virgin days of fear, depression and cabin madness on this day. Yes, our minds, bodies and souls have adapted to the oddity of minimal hours of daylight. It may have something to do with the daily oral injections of vitamin D....boy does it make a difference... and the blessed happy light as well! At 5 hours and 41 minutes of daylight, the sun is at the point on the horizon where we see no visible signs of the sun from the compound. Elsewhere the sun is a mere fleeting light that rises, briefly dashes the alpenglow horizon, and just as quick is setting once again.

It is really amazing how these few things could play such a difference on the psyche. But then again, our metabolisms adapted after the first winter and our second winter became so much more tolerable to the cold. Now, 15 degrees is short sleeve weather, and as soon as your nose hairs freeze upon exiting the door, you know automatically that it is below zero outside!! In similar fashion, the body and mind adjusts to it's environments as well. The snowfall has been significant this past week, and although we were in the teens to 20's last week, we are now hovering above freezing and a gloss of wet covering the ice and snow, so once again we will deal with serious ice up as the temps drop again later this week.

Today also marks Johns 19th birthday! Woo-hoo!! We had a nice dinner out with him and Jen to celebrate, and embarrassed ....or rather amused him as we told stories of when he was a little hellion. And other stories....hee hee..... Is he happy to be 19 you ask?? Well, he didn't say. But he looks happy, and that is all that counts.

The final pottery gig was this past weekend. It was ok. Ok it sucked! The turn out was incredulous. The fact that it was the last weekend before Christmas I feel was one reason. Everyone was tapped out on shopping. Also the fact that it was on a Saturday Sunday, as opposed to a Friday Saturday didn't help. You see, especially being at a major hotel, Sunday check-in's are traditionally deader than a doornail this time of year. And, it didn't start until noon on Sunday. By that time all the check outs are gone, nobody new is checking in. Kills the foot traffic, and the rest of the world is either at home resting or at church functions....not shopping. On the other hand, Saturday started at 10:00AM so there was alot of foot traffic from people checking out of the hotel and stopping in to see what was going on, as well as the same principal for those checking in throughout the day. Friday would have been the same. What are you gonna do? I think they learned a lesson in simple economics, and have stated that next year will be different. Overall, this spring summer and fall were pretty successful with pottery sales, and I walked away pretty content with it all. Now back to the studio to start turning it out for next years events.

Maryann is plugging away. It is a relatively easy winter for her so far. Especially that she is now fully in charge and has all the process down. She is enjoying the comfort of the new den as her winter office. Nothing left to do but smile smile smile! Hope this finds all adorned with a bounty of daylight and health and happiness. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Part 1: The ensemble of chaos.

If you followed me to this point, then you will be intrigued to know that 'Part 2' was only the beginning.....or rather the end.... Depending on which way you turn it, the prelude is still to be told. So tell it, I shall.

It was the onset of the weekend of the big event. The day after Thanksgiving, the first of two days at Kenai High, selling pottery at the peninsula's biggest Christmas event. Last year was exceptional. Sales were awesome even though I had no previous sales to this event to compare them to. Mind you the year before, if you remember, would have been my first year doing this show but the old kiln died just days before and completely shot any chance I had to participate. It led to the reasoning that if I was going to do this on a regular basis, sell pottery at local gigs, I needed new and more reliable equipment. That first years' conundrum led to the purchase of a new kiln and a new more modern and precision potters wheel to add to the fleet.

On the way home from a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner at our friends house, I felt a little rattled. Subtly, I told Maryann that I was all set for the early rise to set up the following day. And, I really hope mother nature is kind to me tonight. "No snow, please!"

Oh she is a character that mother nature. Sure as poky, it snowed overnight. Fortunately, being the day after the day of gluttony and overindulgence, most businesses were closed and I did not have to do my regular plow route. At least out the door at 1:30AM. However, I did have to be out by 4:30AM to plow, and if the snow continued, which it did, would be out pretty much the rest of the day plowing frigging snow. But not to fear. Maryann, the blessing that she is was ready to take the tables at the high school and cover me while I plowed. We had a plan!

Part of that plan was that I would call and wake her so she could meet me at the high school by 8:00AM so that I had plenty of time to set up before it opened to the public at 10:00AM. The night before, I had loaded everything into her rig, for no other reason than it is equipped space wise to accommodate everything and keep it all dry. That portion of the plan had nothing to do with forseeing snow in the forecast.

6:20AM: I am done plowing any commercial accounts that need to be opened by 6:00AM or later. Sigh of relief. Phone call from John, stating that I better get out of bed, it snowed overnight and I should be plowing. He didn't realize that I was already on top of it. I invited him to join me for an early breakfast in Kenai if he had time on his way to work. Being the one who sleeps in until two minutes before he has to leave for work...he laughed and declined. His loss, my gain...saved me some money!
6:35AM: I pull into McDonalds to grab some breakfast, call Maryann to wake her and decide I will just wind down and kick it for a while, since I have plenty of time to kill before I have to meet M at the High School. And so I did. It was a McKickin' good time (sarcasm).
7:30AM: I decide to head over to scope out a parking space at the high school to make for easy unloading. I find a place and sit to wait for M.
7:40AM: I get a phone call form Maryann. As I go to answer the phone I think to myself, 'oh please tell me you are on your way'....I am getting a little anxious. I answer. Very calmly she informs me that Seska is gone. Seska is gone.... Seska is gone!! Holy crud!! It seems that the knucklehead decided to go 'nomad'. Maryann has called her name and looked all over the yard but she is nowhere to be found. Do we bail on her and have Maryann just bring down the stuff so I can start to set up, and she can then go back home to look....or do I forfeit and head home to help? What do you do?!
7:41AM: She is our dog...she is our family, and she has never been off on her own while she has been with us. I throw it into drive and begin the journey back home. What would normally be a 20 minutes ride seemed like and eternity as my mind wandered, my heart raced, and my nerves came apart. Not to mention the ice and snow on the road and ealry morning Black Friday groupies out to make savings.
8:05AM: With lightning speed and precision maneuvering. I arrive home. Maryann has already been up and down the road, and talked to a neighbor down the way to alert her of our lost dog, in case Seska wandered into her area while she was out clearing her driveway. Where to even begin! It is still dark at this hour, it is snowing, and she has been gone for over a half an hour now. I decide that the best thing to do is track her. The snow is fresh enough since the dogs were let out earlier, and I know that the other two dogs didn't follow her, so it should be easy to find some fresh tracks. Within seconds, I find her trail leading off into the bush. At this point it appears that she was hot on some tail. The tail of a rabbit that is. I follow the haphazard path through thicket, snow covered holes and everything else known to man and after winding around for a bit, it shifts down towards the lake. "Crap", I say. The hill at that area, is too steep to do without me breaking my ass. I is quiet...I listen. Nothing. Out of sheer frustration I yell her name. It echos across the lake and I head back to the house. The lake is frozen now, except for possibly around the edges. I am worried a little, but not too much. Again, I didn't hear anything. This is a good sign. Besides, a rabbit is going to stick to the cover of brush along the side, not make itself vulnerable in the open of the iced lake.
8:15AM: I get back to the truck in the driveway. I am exhausted, cold, pissed, and trying to maintain poise as I look at the clock, knowing where I have to be and knowing where I need to be. I tear out of the driveway in a gust of white dust. My plan is to drive the main road around to the access road that traverses the area above the other side of the lake. It may be gated becasue it is private property, but if she did make it to the other side, she would have had enough time now that I may be able to literally run into her....if she went to the north. If she went to the south, I am screwed, because that is a backtrack and more time the opposite driection. If she kept going straight through to the east, then it is done. I pray she went to the north.
8:21AM: I am cruising down the narrow unplowed trail scanning through the dark, looking for meat head. I see nothing. Then, I come to the gate and as I suspected, it is locked since it is private property. I cannot get any closer to the other side of the lake now by truck. Only by foot. It would take 15 minutes of walking through untamed bush, and where would I go then. She could be anywhere, and in any direction. Feeling forlorn, and as if I have failed, I begin back home. Why did she bolt. M had only turned her head for a minute, and she usually stays with the other two who are both well trained and never leave our immediate sight.
8:30AM: I pull back in the driveway. I am sad. I don't know what to do. I am also devastated that I will miss the show. I decide that maybe I will just send M to set up and do the show and I will wait until it is light out and begin canvasing the area when I can see better.
8:31AM: I get out of the truck and out of the corner of my eye see one of the dogs flash past the front of my truck. Even they are freaked out over Seska's disappearance. As I walk towards the house, there on the snow looking frisky and's Seska! "Oh, thank God", I say. Happy, pissed and tossed, I go towards her and she begins to bolt. Bad move. I begin to take 3 huge strides across the snow as I will chase her ass down and pounce on her if need be at this point. Keep in mind...she is big, clumsy and tires easily...I already know from experience I can out go her. Before she even gets 10 feet, she turns, see's me hot on her and just stops, drops and rolls! "I give up dad....ya got me" she says. With one felt swoop I grab her and lead her to the door, at which point Maryann comes to the door and is rushed over with a look of relief.
8:32AM: With little time to waste, I pat her (the dog) on the butt, Maryann ushers her into the crate, and like flies late for a picnic we dash out the door. We will be really late....and it will be cutting it close....but I think we can still make it. We move!
9:05AM: Drained, loaded with adrenaline, and happy the dog came back, we arrive at the high school. Without wasting a moment or motion, we get her truck unloaded and begin the process of setting up tables and me unpacking boxes and crates of carefully wrapped pottery to begin displaying it all.
9:20AM: The tables are up, the table clothes properly placed upon the tables. For's show time! I begin the process of unpacking ware. Maryann steps back to finally breathe. She needs to. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a recovering addict. Many years ago I fell to the grasps of eggnog. It took over my life every year from mid November until the end of January. I have kicked it many times, but constantly through the years fall off the wagon.
9:40AM: Maryann arrives back at the high school and hands me an eggnog latte! Oh bless you mama! I proceed to get high.
10:00AM: Loaded on espresso and under the influence of pure eggnog, I arrange the final pieces. We did it! We found the dog, made the show, and set up for opening time. I think, but may never know, that when I stopped at the hillside above the lake and yelled the dogs name, she was somewhere down below or across the lake, heard me and decided that she had enough and it was time to go home. I have heard that Malamutes have a bad habit of doing what she did. A friend of ours has one and he does this kind of thing all of the time. She doesn't worry though....when he is hungry or thirsty, he will always return home! I am in the wrong line of life!

Set up, with people wandering in and finally able to sit and put my hemispheres back into phase, I realize that this day is just beginning. Yes, it is by no means over. With daylight dawning, and the snow starting to tapper off, I have a job to do! YouTube - homer simpson Mr Plow

M and I make a plan. She will watch the tables and I will go out and plow. It is a great plan. However, I am torn. One thing I absolutely love is being able to meet with people who love pottery, see the following of customers who are now looking for my work at these gigs, watching people fondle different pieces...almost like a certain piece calls out to them. It is all a very touchy feely, and visually stimulating thing really. When I stop and think of how many people all over the place have a little piece of me in their homes. I truly enjoy not only sales, but the satisfaction of what I have created, and how it affects so many different types of people. And, lets face it...I love plowing. So today would be an exceptionally difficult day for me.

In the end, I plowed throughout the day. I was able to stop in at the show for a little while, several times throughout the day, but was not able to really focus on pottery. Maryann had an enlightening time of it, and although she was worn out at days end, she went like gangbusters, and in the end, 'Black Friday' had made an impressionable mark on my sales!! And of course, while she was cashing in pottery, I was out raking in 'snow dough', or, 'white gold' which is always a welcomed income.

Later that night when I finally made it home, Maryann shared the days stories, and we were able to sit back and take a breather, reflecting on the drama that encased the day. Meantime, Seska was her happy ol meat headed self, and the other two elated that we were all once again a complete pack! That is the one thing I have to say about my wife. When things start to go down, she is always there 100%. We are always like a team. We take it head on back to back, beat it down, sort it out, and always come out the winners. This is what teamwork does! Our partnership rocks, folks!

Saturdays sales started out slow, but did ok by days end. I did get to experience all that I love about the scene...but not to the extent and magnitude that Maryann did on Friday. She was swamped with activity that day, and was my savior. And, I got to finally meet Erin, the author of 'Adventures On E' (see link at 'Our Favorites' top of page). Ironically, one year to the day, she stumbled upon our blog while searching for info on this Christmas event. We email back and forth from time to time, follow each others' in the same area out north.....but never met, until that day. Too cool.

Unannounced to me at the moment, I would get about two days of mental rest. Then, with little would all cut loose again. Tuesday would dump uncontrollable amounts of snow keeping me in plow mode for the next several days, all the while being held hostage. So would begin the antics and drama, of the lunatic..... YouTube - Pink Floyd-Brain Damage/Eclipse

Monday, December 7, 2009

Part : 2

Simply put! Sometimes it just makes sense to start from the present and not look back. Yet, it would be a shame to not tell the full story of 'My Incredible Week, 2009'! And so I will start in the middle. Like an Oreo.

And just when I thought it was all simmering down, and a sense of normality would prevail, I found myself once again, looking into the face of an ensuing shit storm. The day I had somewhat dreaded for some time, had finally come to life. The day I would begin work for the client which I had been skeptical about since October. Before vacation, I had looked at a bathroom renovation for a kindly woman. Friendly, seemingly sincere... You see, I have these internal alarm bells...a sixth sense if you would. And every time I listen to them/it, I come out amazed at myself and happy. And every time I don't listen to them/it I come out disappointed and kicking myself in the ass. When I tried to explain the parameters of the job and she would constantly be all over the conversational 'board', I should have known....I knew, it was going to be a challenge. My iner self was saying don't take it on, man! And so the signs would continue to mount. Then vacation. A reprieve from life, a chance for the powers that be to intercede and save me from this job of which I was really starting to doubt. Something would happen and intercede stopping me from having to carry through with this job. But I am positive. I keep thinking, it will all be fine. Fool!

But no. No, I came back and behold, she was still full of spunk and ready to go. The next give away was that she knew the business of remodeling. She was experienced and would help to cut costs everywhere she could. Now to some you may be saying, "so what is the significance in someones ability to perform a job, to your utter failure which is looming on the horizon?" All I can say to you is, walk life in my shoes for a few years and you wouldn't ask! Remember the part I mentioned where I stated that I knew it is going downhill when I tried to set the parameters and she was doing everything but listening? Well, it was about that point that she failed to hear the part when I told her that upon returning, I had several jobs I had to take care of that were in front of hers, I would have several pottery shows that I would be working and that it is snow season, therefore snow days will always take precedence with plowing. Unless of course you are willing to pay me in a day the money I could make plowing, to do your work! Highly unlikely!! Mind you, I didn't say this to her. In leau of these two simple facts, I would be able to comfortably start the job beginning of December is what I told her. Right on cue, I started Wednesday. Remember this date as it will become an important focal point in a couple of paragraphs.

In my opinion, things were going well actually. I had given her a time set of 2 weeks from start to finish. She was acceptant of this. Yet, from the get go, I just wasn't doing good enough. "ya gotta do better, Gilbert"! And, her true knowledge of the business really started to shine. Like two black pearls on the shady side of a dark rock. Which is fine. I am patient. Until I start getting told what I should be doing. And how I should be running my plowing business. Like this is any relevance to her. Or like I asked! But because she is an expert at plowing as well... This is what I call micro managing. It is usually a deal breaker for me.

You see, it all went wrong this week when I told her on November 28th that I would start on December 1st.

At 2:00AM, December 1st, I woke (I am pretty precise with my timing) to take a whiz. As I climbed back into bed, I had this feeling that I should look outside. I argued with myself as I climbed back under the covers, but I won, and out of bed I went. When we went to bed, It was raining, and there was absolutely no forecast for snow. This is why I always say that being a weatherman is the best job in the world. You get paid for always being wrong! As the rain had turned to snow, 5 inches high and rise'n. I start to plow at 2 inches. Oh crap, I say! Jumping into my ready suit and becoming superhuman, I raced out of the house I began what would be a hard 18 hour plowing run. The snow was very wet (sierra cement) and difficult as all get go to push and manipulate. It made for a really tough day with snowfall continuing all day and I was simply floored when I finally got home that night, well knowing for sure, there would be more plowing to come on Wednesday. This would be the first major issue with my newly acquired micro-manager. I didn't show up to the bathroom renovate because I was plowing snow. According to the expert, I need to plow at night so I can work during the day. Hey Erin, no worries....I will plow your driveway around midnight tomorrow, 24 hours after the storm, after you and your family have lodged yourselves in your own driveway....a half a dozen times through the day. And hey, don't worry Erin, I don't mind losing you as a client because you found someone who could plow you out earlier in the day when you should rightfully be plowed out. And who cares if I lose those commercial clients who need their parking lots cleared before 8:00AM. And forget about rest or sleep. Who needs it! This is what happens when you don't listen to what people are telling you (sarcasm). And it all went down hill from there, man. One incident after the other.

It all funneled into the event of Friday night. The smack down. The pouting, the scowls, the bad all came down to a head in the kitchen as I was leaving that night after plowing all morning and putting in an afternoon of labor in the bathroom. She began questioning the hours, less than 3 days into the project, with everything on schedule, and the budget at 100%. Mind you....she was there the entire time i was working all 3 days! That is another deal breaker, and I must admit that I never saw that coming as she understood and agreed to the bid price. Only twice in 18 years have I ever had someone start to nit pick the hours. Both ended in near tragedy. This being the second time. Mind you, I was nowhere near going over budget and nowhere near any kind of short fall on time. Did I mention that she seemed a little scattered in the head which had me wondering earlier on? Anybody who knows me knows that I am a diplomatic and reasoning person. Quit like Bro 'O', you just cant reason diplomatically with a self absorbed idiot! Am I being hard on another living Am I being inconsiderate to a persons shortfalls....not really. I am just telling it like it is, and in the end I really do feel sorry for her, because I know for a I am not the first and wont be the last and life in her shoes must be difficult I am sure. But in my defense I did try and did give it a fair chance. After a 10 minute debate which went nowhere and proved not a thing, I offered her her full deposit back and I would walk off the job. This wasn't good enough, because she told me it was in my court. Hey, I love a good challenge and some heartburn from over stress.....why wouldn't I be back to work on Monday!? HA...hells no!! My mom always told me to walk away and sleep on things, And so I did, well knowing that there was no way I would be back.

When I woke Wednesday morning from a long day of plowing on Tuesday, I began my first day of work for my pain in the butt. But not without having to plow on as the calls still were coming in for clean up from the storm the day before. But I did accomplish quit a bit there at the ol bathroom. Walking away mid afternoon, with it gutted and ready to begin putting it back together, I began plowing again. The same deal went true for Thursday. Got all the units and materials on site, and managed to continue to plow as yes, the calls just kept coming. When I got back out north, I picked up M and she went with me to do some plowing way out at the end of Taurianen Trail...the far reaches of Nikiski....where I swear, if you listen carefully you can hear banjos.... We were gone actually for several hours, a little longer than I expected to be, and upon coming back into town, I offered that we grab a late dinner at the Italian restaurant. We finally got home around 8:30PM and M continued to make the casserole she had began hours earlier, thinking we would have dinner already done for Friday night. Good plan...however.... Neither one of us stopped to think, as we were both very tired and worn out from 3 busy days, that we really should have thrown out the chicken. As it had sat,out on the counter, cooked, for over several hours. This would be a really big mistake.

We would realize our demise as first Maryann woke at around 11:30 PM Friday night blowing chunks, with me soon to follow. And it all just went to hell in a hand basket from there. By Saturday morning we were both barely hanging on to life. Lifeless, almost motionless and staring to became dehydrated from a night of Olympic Hurling, I called Jennifer and thank God she came to our rescue with soup, ginger ale, apple juice, and all of the necessities for someone who is dieing, minus the clapboard box. I have to say, when you are sick as we were, you usually have the other to care for you. Unless the other had the same meal as you. I have to say that the highlight for me was when she stumbled out of the guest bathroom and sat down on the dining room chair, starring at me as I mumbled my story to her, moaning in agony. She wasn't hearing me. The lights seemed on but nobody was home. With no warning, her eyes roll back into her head and she faints into the wall, and starts to do the 'fish', slumped over almost upside down against the wall. I freak, jump to life which to this day is amazing to me because I was near death. Adrenaline does wonders! I grabbed her and pulled her up yelling at her to wake up and shaking her. I realize she is gaging on her vomit and wont open her mouth. Her fricken jaws are locked shut, I mean tight as a drum and I cant pry them open. I tell you, my world began to spiral, and finally she came to and allowed me to force open her mouth, thus relieving the issue at hand. After which the poor woman layed down on the carpet and didn't move for a couple of hours. In fact, we would both find ourselves not moving for hours, many times through that long, painful and unbelievable day. And amongst it all.....the village idiot calls. I am relieved from the job! Now she cant afford to finish she claims, but what do I care. She just saved me from having to back out! Sick, weak, and wanting to just end it all....I am elated. For a brief fleeting moment, I feel full of life....relieved.

This was Saturday morning. Tonight is Monday night. We are finally eating normal and feeling close to 100% better. It was nasty. It was a very nasty, and frustrating event, but we pulled through. Since Saturday, during my brief fleeting moment of elation of being relieved from the hell job, I have received a total of 8 phone calls from this kook, mind you I am sick sick sick each call, and I ignore them all. Then finally, I return the 9th call this morning. She starts in on me again. I had had it. I was really at the end of my rope with her. You layed me off I remind her. To make it precisely clear, with no room for misunderstandings, I told her I would refund her the deposit for my labor (1/4 of the total labor cost), and that our business relationship would be done. Forever I said. You see, I lost my ass on this whole thing literally. I put in a full day and a half of labor (spread over the 3 days) and lost it all. But what I really did was I bought my freedom. You see, I paid her to get out of my life forever. It is so worth it to have this psychotic loon out of my life! Now she has absolutely no reason to ever call me again, and I no reason to return any calls or answer should she feel compelled. It is a worthy investment if you ask me. So I have healed in two ways tonight. Relief! Because the difference to me between hugging a toilet amongst 'see food' and working for a bag of nuts....well, it really isn't much of a difference really! Stay tuned. Oh, there is more to come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Well?! that's a deep subject. Actually, around the compound that particular subject is shallow yet 'full' of controversy. Still it is a worthy subject and is a never ending conversation piece in the household!

Anyone who is aware of the problem here knows that Chinese food is a scarce commodity on the peninsula. Now there are Chinese food joints both in Soldotna (personally, I have tasted dog food that is more palatable) and two in Kenai. One is less than ok, and the other is actually as far as I am concerned, the only one I have found since moving here that is simply to die for! Here in lies the issue. She is closed for the winter because she went back to Korea to see family and should be back to open in spring when she returns. But there is talk that she is wanting to sell the building since her and her husband are ready to hang it up with the business after so many years. Of course, this funnels down to one sad fact....I am devastated! The next best Chinese is a 4 hour drive to Anchorage.

There is one Chinese restaurant which I have not mentioned in my honest yet partisan 'Chinese food review' (mind you there are many people here who swear by, say, the yuck palace in Soldotna, but then they may have never really tasted real Chinese food to differentiate the difference!) . There is a restaurant just outside of Soldotna, which we have only eaten at twice. Once, the first time, we were mixed. "This was ok...that not so much....but the other was really good....". Man, I am here to tell you they are really friggin expensive! Not yet sure why, but it is one of those, 'when you are really wanting to support the weak economy', dinner nights out. Being in the generous mood that I was Friday night, I decided that Maryann and I would splurge and go out for overpriced Chinese. The actual night out was fun, however the dinner was... it was interesting! Still very much overpriced, and I believe more so since the last time, and the food was a mixed bag. More so than the last visit. In any event there were plenty of leftovers, and what is more fun than leftover overpriced Chinese food, for lunch the next day?! Especially when it is sub-zero out and lunch is in front of a warm toasty fire!

But Chinese food is not the point of this chronicle, but rather what followed during lunch the next day. I was hungry, and actually looking forward to the Chinese leftovers, after all it was better than no Chinese at all! Maryann had let the dogs outside and I sat down to eat. After a few minutes, I got up and let the guys back in and returned to sit down to my leftovers. I notice that Seska brought in her bone from outside. No big. But it dawned on me during a bit of almond chicken, that she had her bones inside, and to my knowing which was pretty good, she had not taken any out. After realizing that it was no bone, not a shrew, and no toy....I repulsed. It was no other than a frigid Mr. Hanky...a frozen turd! Her little poop-pop put an end to my meal. What started out as a somewhat surreal evening in an overpriced chophouse..... We'll leave it at that!

What does this have to do with our well? 'Well'....nothing! But in regards to our well, it is still after almost 3 years a hot topic of controversy. For those not familiar, let me give you a quick crash course on our well water. Here on the peninsula, it is not uncommon for wells to have high levels of iron, arsenic, and other natural occurring minerals that can foul up the water. Alot is in part to the fact that we are surrounded by volcano's and volcanic matter. Our water was crap when we moved in. How the previous owner lived with it is an ongoing question that will probably never be truly answered. For the record, we have tested for arsenic twice and have none, thank God. The iron on the other hand is huge.

We thought we had it licked in the first months of re-initiating the system failures that we had bought into, by replacing the debunked softener with an expensive unit which supposedly would work so much better. And it did. For the past 28 months it has kicked some serious ass with our iron laden water. But a few weeks back after the softener regenerating one night, we woke to seriously brown and bad smelling water. Now first thing I thought was that the softener wasn't working properly. So we called out the technician from the company that sold it to us.

Now I don't want to speak bad of any company by mentioning their name, so I wont say who it was. When Culligan...huh...sent out their guy, new since the original installation, I felt like I was being taunted over the fence rail. The long and short of it is that for 28 months it has worked and given clear water. The stink is a little more active in the summer but we knew from day one the only way to get rid of the sulfur smell is with a $3000.00 filter and we decided to live with the smell 3 months out of the year. I have smelled a whole lot worse than ours, water wise, here on the peninsula. But the bottom line is for 28 months we have had clear usable water, and now, we are being Culligan, the same company who sold us the original unit...that with our iron content, we should have never been sold the unit we have and they are now trying to sell us a new set-up that will run us about $3700.00 dollars, not including the original $2000.00 we have already paid on the unit we have now. His reason for this conclusion: "Greg, your iron is off the charts!" But there is no clear answer to why the water has been ok for 28 months and now it is touch and go from week to week. One week it is clear, the next mucky. But we cant really say why of course, we just need a new softener/filter system listed at $5800. which we will give you for $3700. since you already unjustly paid $2000. for one that wont do the trick...even though it has done the trick for 28 months.... and that will do the job.

Mind you, dude is willing to swing us a deal. Actually, in his defense, he gave us at no charge a newly bedded tank....or at least he states it is new... You see, I just am having a real funny feeling about this guy. The alarm bells are ringing folks! And I could go on about the escapades, the numerous service calls he has made in the past 3 Our iron content is the same as it was from day one, and now it is this huge dramatic revelation, that we have an "iron content off the charts"! Well, news Holmes....damned near everyone does around here! Personally I want a second opinion before we invest another red cent. Honestly, it is hard for anyone to make a whole lot of sense as to what the problem really is. The water table could be fluctuating....the lake was higher this year by 15 inches so the water table may have risen above its usual level which may or may not have anything to do with it. Even the well drilling company cant 'guarantee' better water, but can drill a deeper well and test as they go, giving us their opinion as to what depth is clean water as they drill. But they still cannot guarantee anything better. The only real praise we were given by the drilling company is that since the folks near us do have clean water at 140 feet, then we should be able to tap into the same aquifer hence, clean water. Right now our well is at 43 feet. Hence....crap!

So the choices are: Re-drill at a cost of aprox $5000.00. Or go with Culligan, who I really feel shaky about with this guys frigging answers and solutions....which don't always hold water...pardon the pun. That will cost us an additional $3700.00 plus of course the already $2000.00 we paid for the existing unit which they will take on trade in. Hmmm . $5000. for a new well which will more than likely yield good, clean, non stinky water....... A $5700. investment for equipment....after I feel I am being screwed...which will clean the water and stink but will not take care of the well if say, in a couple of years it dries out because it is so shallow. A new clean source vs. bandaging the dank hole we have, with a company which has already tested my trust in them.

'Well', I gotta tell you. It is making for a really 'deep' subject these days.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things. Most especially that my internal 'bull crap detector' is in good working order. ..."your iron is off the charts". Give me a break!

And for all medicinal purposes, the reverse osmosis system that we installed at the kitchen sink, independently of Culligan and any of their equipment, delivers intensely clean, clear and tasteless drinking water( as water should have no taste) 100% of the time. It's the rest of the house which is in question these days.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What was I thinking?

The other day I commented to Maryann that I was going to start writing my memoirs. She laughed at me! Why for, I know not. The point I was making was that I am forgetting things the older I get....don't worry, I haven't forgotten you...yet. Anyways, it just made good sense to me at the time I made the comment. I don't know, maybe I'll put it on hold! In the meantime.

Halloween went off with no incidents. No smashing pumpkins, no tricksters....actually no treaters either! Trust me when I tell you, nobody wants to come out Northroad to trick or treat. And why should they when they can all go into Kenai or Soldotna?! Interesting. When Maryann and I went into Soldotna, Hallowed Eve, to have dinner with none other than Sarah Palin. That's right, Sarah Palin for dinner. We passed the Boys & Girls Club in Kenai, and they were holding their anual Halloween tradition cleverly named, 'Trunk Or Treat'. Volunteering parents line the side of the street and parking lot with their vehicles and open their trunks and tailgates and hand out candy to the gathering masses of little ghouls, goblins and vampirette's. I guess part of the logic is that houses are spread out so far between each, the cold and snow that traditionally plauges Halloween Eve as well as the fact that is a safe session of fun. Ironically, against all reputation of didn't snow on Halloween.

So getting back to Sarah Palin. For those who haven't yet figured it out, it was our friend who is in fact a pretty spitting image of Sarah, who dressed up as Sarah to go out to the Duck for the Halloween bash. Hardy ha ha, eah! That was the extent of our Hallowed eve. A fun time out to dinner with a few friends and a nice evening at home in front of the fire. The next night, John and Jennifer came over and the four of us had a cool carving party. Enclosed are some pics of the outcome of our creativeness.
In relation to winter.... it's here,man! This morning we woke up to -10 below. For about the past few weeks, almost since we got back, we haven't really seen a day over 28 degrees, with the past week dipping into teens and single digits. It started snowing earlier in the week, so we are trully in business now with the winter weather. And after spending 2 weeks in sultry, sweaty,'s a damned welcomed sight!

I spent the later half of the summer really pumping out production pottery, and by the time we went on vacation, I had a huge inventory, racks full, of pottery ready to be glazed and high fired upon return. At which point we returned and I have had my kiln running weekly since. With one more high fire glaze load left to go, all in anticipation for the string of shows I have, am, and will be continuing to do til Christmas. Four weekends definitely, with one possible weekend gig on the rail, pending the extent of inventory when we get to that point. With last weekend being my first of the series and this weekend being at Soldotna High, sales have been excellent! It has been a hoot, as just as much as the money, I really do enjoy the scene, the smiles, and the satisfaction of knowing that a little piece of me has gone out to so many families and people. It is a real satisfactory feeling really. Maryann has been my definitive 'right hand' so far, as it is alot of work setting up, breaking down at the end of the weekend, and being there for those times that my tables are mobbed. Thanks to you my sweetest!

Now you see, I had a funny story to tell and I have forgotten what it was! And sure as toot I will remember when I sign off and crawl into bed. I guess that may be some fauder for the next post. With sunrise at about 9:15AM and sunset at 4:30PM, we are continuing to lose about 5 minutes of sunlight a day. And so we bid you goodnight, and leave you with the anticipation of the coming literary development....of my memoirs....if I dont forget first! (snicker) You never know! I always have said a book is in the future, and my mind hasn't changed on that. Our love to all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"Home". A word that has multiple meanings.

Vacations are always a good and refreshing thing but as Dorothy once said..."there's no place like home." unfortunately unlike Dorothy, we cant just click our heels to be home. And so we find ourselves within the confined adventures, debacles, and joy of "the trip home". Fortunately our trip home was somewhat uneventful. We only had to brave one nights stay a mile from the San Francisco airport in a really nice and amazingly affordable a room that was next to the train tracks (which we did not see due to the fact that we checked in after dark) which ran commuter trains that honked at that intersection every 20 minutes....all night long. Maryann's dream car for the 16 days. Little 'Farverg'!

However, we did have a really good and again amazingly affordable breakfast at the hotel restaurant before we headed for the airport the next morning. Once at the airport we checked in, declared my firearm and ammo with no events or issues and had plenty of time to sit at the gate and do some serious 'people watching'. People watching at SFO is really an intriguing pass time. You do see all kinds!

As well as seeing all kinds, you also have a chance to experience the big city first hand. Take for instance the 'Flu Shot Booth' at the gates, waiting to welcome you to California as you get off of your plane. Hmmm. If this is not a blatant suggestion of 'welcome' for weary travelers! The city by the bay is doing an absolute superior job at taking away the freedoms of it's citizens that most people take for granted, each day, as well as successfully chipping away at the 2nd amendment. The swing side of it is that the 1st amendment is alive and well in San Francisco, with this being most evident in the airport terminal. The 'Free Speech Booth' is a visible presence to all who are arriving and departing. I decided to take advantage of this and exercise my right to tell people what exactly was on my mind as I began my journey to home. Not many people were really interested in what I had to say, but as you can see, I did tell one gentleman where to go!He had just arrived in America and was looking for the rental car facility!! I was happy to help him as we had just come from there, and he gave me many thanks. I wonder if he is thinking of me tonight?! Now it may seem like I am a little hard on poor ol San Fransisco but really I am not. I love the place....or at least loved it a couple of decades ago. but it has changed there and I have now, only fond memories of what it once was. Coincidentally, we decided not to attend the West Fest concert the day before in Golden Gate Park. We had something come up that was much more satisfying and fun.

We were invited Saturday night to dinner at the home of our new found friend from the band Quicksilver Messenger Service. It was such a great night with him, his wife and a couple of his life long friends. The guy is a hoot and has some really great taste. At one point in the evening I had to pinch myself.... you wouldn't understand unless you are one of the few people who really know me. Great stories were exchanged, lots of laughs were had, good music and harmonies were shared.... cant think of a better way to spend the nearing end of our trip. After a very late night at his place we ventured back and stayed at my folks' house.

The following morning found me doing the ultimate packing adventure. It was a feat, but I managed to pack 80 pounds of sh*! into a 50 pound sack. It is amazing how much you pick up on vacation, and due to weight restrictions, extra baggage charges from the airlines and the like, weight and space was a huge issue for us. We ended up going out and buying a new carry on. We had only brought one carry on bag on the trip down so we were afforded the ability to carry one more on board with us. I kept that one in the bag (pardon the pun) for such an occasion as overweight. All the weight went into the carry-on's and clothes went into the checked bag where the weight was scrutinized! Stuck it to the man!!

Our last hours were spent out on the coast Sunday visiting our old a dear friends in La Honda. it has been around 5 years since Maryann had seen them, just a few months for me since they were at the wedding anniversary I attended in June, and we all had a nice visit before heading into SF to stay the night at the "commuter train inn"! Hoot hoot!!

Speaking of a hoot, Disneyland was grand! Dinner at the Blue Bayou Room at Disney's New Orleans Square.

The weather sucked...way too hot and muggy, and there were alot of people, but we managed to knock out all of the rides we loved, took in a couple of shows, and really had a great time. We lucked out and caught our friend and lost family member Michelle, as she was staying with her folks in LA just 10 minutes from Disneyland. In honor of Halloween, the haunted house and much of the park was decked out to celebrate!

So not only did we get the chance to visit with her, but we were able to stay at her folks' place with her which was so much nicer than a hotel. Turns out her parents live literally around the corner from Karen and Richard Carpenters' house there in Downey. She took us on a walk after dinner the night we got there and we were able to see the house and hear Michelle's stories of young groupie ism with Karen!! lol Too much Michelle! Personally I loved her music and was truly saddened by her death so many years ago. What happened to Karen Carpenter was tragic and it felt really weird to be there at the house she was in when she left this life. What a great talent and warm soul she was.

Prior to LA we spent a good full week in Pacific Grove, our home away from home. I have to say that we both absolutely enjoyed our stay in the cottage by the beach, and just cutting loose for the week. The top secret nuclear sub base down the coast from PG. In our younger and more adventurous years we did a sweet hike to the top and over the right side to the light house.

A chance to see old friends and just relax! Have to say that Pacific Grove is our favorite place to be....suits us well for a fun and subtle time!!

The trip began with an awesome visit with family and a stay in Dorrington where we only saw a couple of friends....not nearly all that we would have wanted to see. But time is so short and hectic when there is so much to do. Hopefully next time we can see more of those we missed, but they are in our hearts none the less. Odd....I just noticed that I went backwards through our vacation. See what time off of life does to a guy?!

It is interesting to me how some acted in regards to our visit. I mean, you would expect a warm welcome....especially from family. I have to say that most were very receptive to our arrival and it was apparent that they were really glad to see us. However, the few that didn't really seem like they cared either way..... Hmmm. I sure don't know. I just got the feeling that there was either a little animosity that we moved so far away, or maybe.... who knows. We just shrug it off and try to take it for face value. This is where we wanted to be. Maryann was every part a part of the decision to move here as me, and I have to clarify that for anyone who may have differing ideologies about that whole process. True, we do miss our loved ones, but that is where the visits should be a chance to catch up and enjoy the time that has been lost. It is a shame that any other feeling or emotion should get in the way of this time. But I learned a long time ago that you can't please all of the people all of the time. And frankly....we don't even try! Those who are happy will be happy no matter the odds or circumstances, and those who carry a grudge or some kid of burden will always have that to some extent, no matter what.

All in all we had a great time, and did what we love to do. This was a time for our vacation, a time to get away and enjoy ourselves, God knows after all we have done I think we were entitled to it. Now we are home....where we absolutely love to be...and I suppose we will just move on and hope those who felt less than excitement will move on as well. Life is too short! To everyone who we were able to see, thank you for all of the hospitality and the good visits. And to those we missed, we are sorry and will try again another time. And to those who have come to visit us up here, thank you and we are so glad you have had the chance to see a few of the reasons why we love it here so much. And to those who haven't made it up here.....we really hope that someday you will. It's not really a desolate and barren wasteland! It is beautiful, peaceful place where we are free to be who we are and love every minute of it!!

If home is where the heart is, than we surely are home. Tough as it is to swallow sometimes, we both made this happen for the better. And better it has been. There truly is no place like home!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On the road and in complete amazement!

It is true. We are and have been officially in the wonderfully vibrant and free spirited state of....California! Maryann went into somewhat of a culture shock upon arrival. Fortunately she recovered really quick when we surprised her and rented a new Volkswagon convertable for the trip. Funny how "farvernugen" goes a long way at brightening someones day! Let me say we have seen some things, man! Really freaky things!! I wish I could say more but am restricted to time, as we are at Kinko's in Monterey right now racking up computer time. Long story for another day. All has been great though. The kids have pretty much been living at the compound taking care of the dogs and keeping things under control for us.

So far we have spent time visiting family, and seeing a few friends in the mountains and living in our second home in Pacific Grove. ......Verizon doesn't know it yet but they are about to get a huge and vibrant earful!!! Jackasses!! .....Anyways, it has been very interesting to get some feedback and vibes from family and friends. Very interesting! Also another story for another day. Lets just say, we quickly learned who was truly happy for us, and who expected us to fail and come running back home tails tucked. Fools! We did research, upon research and made a calculated risk which turned out to be overly successful and I have to spell it out for the doubters....NO REGRETS! We will be back, only to visit but will not be moving back anytime soon...or possibly ever....well, never! lol

Tomorrow will be the last day in PG and then off to the happiest place on earth. It is odd. The temps here have been...well, hot really. I mean to people who have not spent a day in temps over 76 degrees for the past 3 years it has been really balmy and hot. I talked to John the other day and he told me that the high at home was 35 degrees. Hmm. Call us a bucket of nuts, but that sounds so nice!

So for now, I am checking out but felt compelled to say, we are having a great time and are amazed that we actually once called this place home. Lets just say, like it or not.....Alaska is another country. Thank God! So for now, reporting live from Kinko's in Monterey, where the guy in back of me is yelling at his computer.....bye for now!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stage Of Life

So, I was approached the other day and asked, "Greg, why don't you link the posts you do for Stage Of Life on your blog so it is easier for the readers to find?" After giving it significant thought, I really came up with no real significant answer! So for those of you who have the time and stomach to read such posts on Stage Of Life, I decided to link all of the posts I have done so far, and in the future will do a post here on kenaialaskaorbust with a link to each new Stage Of Life post I do. However, since it is late and the couch has been calling me for a while now, I am going to start a little backwards and post the link to tonights latest SOL post, and in the next few days when I have a moment, I will list all of the other links. I hope you will check them out and look into some of the other writers and the great discounts the site offers. I just saved close to $300.00 by booking rental car reservations with Avis through this site, as opposed to the Avis site without the Stage Of Life discount. Hmmm, really sucks saving money, aint it!? (wink) And you dont have to be a writer to take advantage of these kinds of savings. Just sign up with your email address to the site. you are under no obligations nor will you receive any solicitations or spam. Just become a member and take advantage of what the site has to offer!
News, news, and more news. - Retirement Blog - Stage of Life - Stage of Life - Rewards for Life's Journey > Stage - Retirement > Posts
Make sure and check out the fuss and all of the rave!! And if you know of any good writers...Erin (hint, hint)....the site is always looking to recruit good writers and their stories....Erin....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The announcement.

Every year in the third week of September, each Alaskan waits in anticipation for an official announcement. And for the past two years, we cringed every time that came. Primarily because it didn't apply to us since after all....we really weren't considered Alaskans yet. At least by the state Pipeline Fund Dividend board. However, we are on the other side of the fence this year, so we have been eagerly awaiting. Early speculation was coming in with all of the, super calibrated calculated percentile flowchart calculus genius guesswork, at $1500.00. Then some self proclaimed financial guru low balled at $1100.00. But, the official amount announced by Governor Parnell is going to be.....$1305.00 per Alaskan resident.

When asked what we will do now that we have won 'residency' in Alaska and the combined $2,610.00 PFD.... "we're going to Disneyland!"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Worthy of telling....

I have to say that I thought of all of you this morning! So I figured that this would be worthy of a quick post. If you remember, the post from the other day I mentioned our anticipation of the annual migration of the 2 tundra swans to the lake, and the lack of presence of termination dust. Well, the next day (yesterday) we came home from work to find the 2 tundra swans out floating on the lake! Woo-hoo!! And, we woke to the news that there was snow overnight in the mountains. So, it's on!

This morning we woke up to 25 degrees out and frost everywhere. Not quite adjusted to the coming season of cold, my nipples where pert as I walked out in the morning nip. And last but by no means least, some yee-haa from Florida called Maryann this morning at 4:10AM about making reservations. Thank God and thankfully for him she turned her phone down last night and we were both so asleep we didn't here it. With me burning the wick at both ends right now with work and probably would have gotten ugly! (hee hee) Gotta run!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Airing of grievances.

Yes, it is a time for reflection. With fall in the air, the colors turning, birds and water fowl....and bats...leaving, and the ever present anticipation of winter how could one not sit back and reflect!? This years 'fall reflection' however, is bitter/sweet. In fact, for those who tune in to this site for sugar coated stories and tunes of might want to check out, here! But don't fear, it isn't all bad but it is reality and sometimes, reality bites!

This summer started out with a howl. After a long almost 2 decade 'tour of parent-ism', we had a turn around here at the compound. John announced that he was moving out before graduation. Now, as great as this seemed to him, at that moment, he failed to see the disadvantages and risks he faced by doing so, and we had to pull rank on him and lay down the law. "Not until you graduate"! And so, almost on cue he did. He graduated and decided to move out. Only he drug his feet a little. So one night after I gently inquired what his plans were (not asking for a 2 week notice, just a little courtesy), several nights later we woke to a strange noise in the house at 12:30AM. Alarmed and reaching for the gun, I roll out of bed and tippy toe to the bedroom door, slowly opening it to see his friends' girlfriend snacking on the cake on the counter, and he and his friend tip toeing through the kitchen with his mattress. Now, I really had to sit back for a moment to pinch myself and make sure I wasn't dreaming, or hallucinating (second making more sense) and when I went to peek out the bedroom door again, they were all gone and the lights off. Scratching my head and confused, I hear an engine fire up at my front my front door. Now I am pissed! I run to the window to look with concern to see my sons truck driving across the lawn with his mattress hanging out the back like he had just conducted some kind of covert recon raid on his bedroom! Yes, this is how our son chose to leave the nest and spread his wings.

Since that night anger turned into disappointment, disappointment turned into concern, concern turned into a prayer, and a prayer turned into a laugh. Anger that he was so disrespectful that he never bothered to tell us he was leaving and woke my tired ass out of bed in the manner that he did. Disappointed that he really had no plan and just jumped into the world with no parachute (but hell, at least he had his mattress to land on). Concerned, as any parent would be when their young does what he did. A prayer that he would figure things out quick and be ok. And finally a laugh that I could say to him, "welcome to the real world kid!" Since that night he has moved out of his friends' house and now lives with his girlfriend. Oh, we are happy! Happy that he followed suit and "grabbed life by the #@**!" and seems to be content with what he is doing. Happier that we have peace in our house and the whole house to ourselves to do and be what we want. Happiest that "John's room" is no longer "John's room" but now a newly renovated "den", a space of peace and comfort. And of course, sitting back watching to see how and if all that we instilled into him for 18 years will make a difference in the success of his independence.

But not to quell on the subject of John too much. This summer was the end of my 'two year program'. The day we moved out of the cabin in Dorrington, I vowed that I would not be doing any kind of renovation, remodeling or design of any kind for two years. After all the work we did to the Dorrington cabin and the many years it took (and those who were there for the show know where I am going with this) I was done and needed a break. If the house we bought wasn't good to would sit for 2 years. Minus all of the work we did to get basic necessities up and in running order at the compound....and there were many...not a finger was lifted to update or redesign. Until back in June. And it started with the departing of our son and the birth of the 'clubhouse/workout room/music room/winter office/den'. June was also a kind of an initiation of reality of sorts. You see, when we bought this house back in June of 2007, we were bent over the fence with the interest rate, since we had "SUCKER" written on our foreheads, and moved here with no real verifiable income. At a whopping 8% 2 year fixed ARM, we kind of walked around for the first two years leaving it all in the hands of God. So when we were able to pull ourselves off of the fence and tell Wells Fargo to take a flying walk (after they denied us a re-fi....?@!#) we went with a local and stable institution and landed a 30 year fixed at 4.78%. So you could see where we finally felt a sigh of relief that the house was ours and is now "home".

The summer was filled with lots of activity. One such event was the ringtone of Maryanne's work cell which I have forever engraved in my brain and find myself throughout my days, singing and humming it like some nostalgic song or the theme song of your favorite tv show. Oh it was grand, man. If I could have a note for everytime I wanted to throw it into the lake, I could quite possibly retire. And the calls at 11:00PM by the president of the lodge, hopped up on vitamin D wanting to run down the flyout schedule for a half an hour with her. Or their river guide calling at 4:30AM to find out why he is sitting in an idling boat and the paying guest is not there for his fishing Maryann is supposed to wake up and make the poor sap just appear in the guys boat. And then, my favorite...the airheads who are oblivious to the time difference and call at 3:00AM to book their 'dream Alaska vacation', because they just saw the lodge on Larry Csonka's show at 7:00AM eastern time. I will never forget the morning one excited woman called Maryann at 2:30AM to tell Maryann that her family just pulled into the lodge..."they were here!" Woo-hoo man, lets grab the keg, the pole and go party!! Or the time I had just had e-pickin-nough and grabbed her phone before she did at 4:00AM and got some guest on the other end who crapped himself and hung up on me. He denied that he called to Maryann later that morning! lol

We bucked up and the two of us pulled in 12 cords of split and stacked wood for the winter, and proved to ourselves that we are capable of driving home a bust of sweat and hard work...without the unpaid slave labor of our son....(serious sarcasm) We did get more time to fish together. The late nights ass-high in glacial run off in the Kenai river at 1:30AM with the sun still out was so much fun. The night Mike and I went out and shored the boat in the river which was at flood warning stage due to glacier out bursts and heavy rains at one of the high land lakes that feeds the Kenai. We limited out on our sockeye's in less than an hour, but paid the price of water filled waders, cold and wet boobies, and alot of laughs....and golf ball sized eye's a few times at the strength of the current!! Maryann and I spent more time traveling around and seeing new sites and making new memories. An evening with Hot Tuna in Anchorage was one highlight. The hike up exit Glacier was another for us. Maryann's fly out into the untamed 'bush' was spectacular for her, and the stories abundant and vivid. Successful fishing trips for halibut and king salmon were a hoot! It wasn't the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, but the Sealife Center in Seward was good fun and very interesting. The list could go on really. But we did take a little more advantage of what the great land has to share, since we were a alot more stable and now rooted in this new life.

See, that wasn't so bad for those of you who braved my prior warning! All in all it has been a great summer and much progress was made both on the home-front and in our social and martial lives. It will be interesting to see what winter has in store. We are waiting in anticipation for the annual migratory arrival of the tundra swans on the lake, and have said a sorrowed good bye to the loons for the winter. With open season on moose done as of yesterday, Bullwinkle is breathing a gentle sigh of relief, and many will benefit from the meat they harvested. And many will cry as they go into Safeway's meat department, for the 'big one they missed'. Personally, unless someone can prove to me different with their culinary skill...the animal looks alot cuter than it tastes! With the sun rising at 7:47AM and setting at 8:06PM, the temps beginning to fall, and to my knowledge no termination dust as of yet...we wait. But rest assured, we are happier than clams in sand and grateful to be here and doing better than we could have imagined. What a great place to live!

Here are some pics from our July hike up Exit Glacier. Was spectacular! The air down below was dead still, very muggy and warm that day and smokey from all of the fires that were burning. Yet, as we got closer to the glacier, a very cold and powerful wind was being generated from what is called, 'catabatic winds' which the glacier's actually produce!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Marlin Perkins hour.

A little late but nonetheless I figured a descent topic. The Sockeye salmon run has come and gone, with a two month window now for catching silver salmon other wise known in the fish world as Coho. The Sockeye salmon run took place in a few week period back in July. Sockeye's are referred to as red's, due to the rich red color of their meat. They are a very abundant species, but the key is to catch them in their run up the rivers to spawn. And, that only takes place in that two or three week window.

After they hatch, Sockeye's will spend several years in their freshwater spawning grounds before they migrate to the sea. There they will spend up to four years in the salt water before returning to their original spawning grounds to lay their eggs. Yes, they return to their original place of birth. It is believed that they have some kind of smell for the stream in which they were hatched. Once they lay their eggs, they will die. Now, Imagine not just a few but thousands of these fish at a time making their run upstream. this is where it gets good!

These runs of reds in this window of opportunity will range from a mere few thousand, up to a range of 50,000 in a single day. And this will go on for the duration of the few week run period, daily! There is actually a little man that sits underwater, at the bottom of the river near the mouth of the river. He has a pencil and a pad of paper and he counts them! Actually, modern times have evolved from that little guy at the bottom to an actual sonar that counts each days total.

During the period of Sockeye run there are two sure fire ways to limit out on your daily catch of reds. Dip netting is a phenomenon that occurs every summer. This is accomplished by wading into the river and extending out a net attached to a 10 - 15 foot poll and waiting for the fish to literally swim into the net. Families will drop everything....literally....and flock to the banks of the rivers to catch their limit of 25 per head of household and 10 for each other member. This fishery is only for Alaskan residents, and many people will fill their freezers and stock their pantries by this method.

The other is the old fashioned way. A stick with a line and hook! This is often a phenomenon in itself as out of staters, locals, and about every other type of person you could think of line the banks...and this is no joke, elbow to elbow to catch their 3 per day limit. unlike most fishing that one would experience, reds fishing is not done with bait, spinners, or any other kind of sexy set-ups. In fact, these are all illegal methods. And no wonder when the only thing on this fishes mind is getting upstream to fornicate! So, how do you catch a red your asking?? Take a moment and do this exercise. Say out loud (so your spouse in the other room or the guy in the cubicle next to you can wonder what in hell you are doing) the word....DUH. Seriously, lets all say it..."DUH!" Now keep the position of your mouth in the "uh" position and hold it. "UUUUUHHHHH". This is what a sockeye looks like while swimming upstream. Now my daddy always told me to keep my mouth shut while running up anything, but apparently this is not so with the sockeye. The method used to catch these amazing species of fish is to just hope that while it is swimming with the "uhhhhh" going on, is that your hook will be in the right place at the right time to go right into it's mouth! or rather, it's mouth go right into the hook. But remember, as you are thinking that I am totally screwing with you, your odds are 5,000 to 50,000 that you will snag one. Imagine a school of wall to wall reds swimming just feet from the shore. It is almost like, pardon the pun, shooting a fish in a barrel.

We were blessed with using the lodges boat and our buddy Gilligan, to travel up river and find good areas along the banks that were inaccessible to most people "just out to fish", thus avoiding all of that hub bub of combat fishing and elbow to elbow gig. We often would go out in the late evenings. Remember, with it staying light out until 2:00AM that time of year..... And so we would, fish out in the Kenai until midnight or in some cases literally until 2:00AM! There really is no better feeling that I can think of off the top of my head, than to be butt high in the rush of glacier run off, casting and reeling in repeatedly patiently waiting for the "duh factor" to snag you a Sockeye. Keep in mind, on those days where the counts are 50,000 or better, we would cast in and within the first few casts would have a fish on the line. Seriously. The absolute rush of having one of these huge fish snag onto your line is something that you have not experienced until you have felt the sensation. It is a fight between you, the fish who is not real enthused about running into your hook, and the current. Often times the fish and/or the current will win, hands down. But with patience, a good jerk back on your pole when you feel the strike and a net preferably with a buddy to maneuver it, you will surely land your red. I thought a trout on the line was a rush! Nothing compares to this. Oh, that is the other have to hook it in the mouth. Any other place than the mouth is an illegal catch, and the fish will have to be released. And Fish & Game do hide in bushes, and cruise the river with binoculars and photographic memory to make sure that you are legally catching, and aren't limiting out in one place, and then moving down river to limit out in another in the same day.

Mind you, this is only one aspect of the many fisheries that the great state of Alaska has to offer. Maryann landed a King salmon last month on a boat on the Kenai river. Now this is a whole other program for another day. These species are gargantuan and like in her case took 20 minutes to reel in. Snap! She also had the opportunity to fly in to back country lakes last month. Places that are only accessible by float plane! She had the experience of catching and releasing Grayling and Arctic Char to name a couple. The trip in itself was a true experience for her. Not only in itself, but also because she was abe to experience it with only the pilot, and our new found friend of 'Quicksilver Messenger Service.' She even got a chance to fly in to Dick Proenneke's remote cabin located in the middle of nowhere...the bush. This man is an amazing part of the Alaskan dream and I included a link that I highly recommend you take some time and read about. It is an amazing story of true grit, skill, survival and determination. Alone in the Wilderness, the story of Dick Proenneke, by Bob Swerer Productions

It's true that this great state is truly the 'last frontier'. And the beauty and fun that it has to offer is such a great opportunity. Am I trying to sell you on visiting Alaska....well, the Alaska Division of Tourism would certainly appreciate it! But seriously, it is something to see. My parents, for example, made the time during their visit in June to take the train up to Fairbanks, and to this day still talk about it. What an experience! So save your pennies, save your dimes....come to Alaska! Experience life in the 'great land'! As you said Erin, and I quote, "why would anyone want to leave this place"! I guarentee you....we aren't anytime soon. Why would anyone want to?!!