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.