One thing that has had me perplexed for some time, is the Alaskan and the absolute unconditional fascination with.....gravy! My first encounter with the overindulgence of gravy was at a restaurant down in Homer a couple of years back. Maryann and I were down there for a two day two night hiatus from life at the compound and some relaxation. It was the middle of winter and there isn't much of anything open in Homer, in the middle of winter, in the way of food establishments. Homer thrives off of the tourism of summer and provides minimal existence for locals in the winter months. So, hungry, we went to the first place we saw open, next to the bowling ally. Now this is an important fact, so, pay attention. It looked like a "locals" joint, that served good comfort food and as we pulled in the parking lot, we noticed all of the cars parked about which at least seemed to confirm our suspect, especially to be so crowded on a weeknight.
What we were soon to discover was that the cars in the parking lot were not there for the restaurant but in fact were all patrons, at the bowling ally! This factual light became solemnly apparent as we walked into an empty restaurant. Oh, we should have turned face and ran at this simple fact, but being the courageous and optimistic adventurists that we are, we took our chances. Maryann had ordered the turkey and mashed potatoes plate with stuffing and green beans, thought in mind being that it is really hard to screw this plate up so she can't go wrong! When the waitress arrived with our food, she put Maryann's plate down and submerged somewhere in the pool of gravy, lay sunk the mashed potatoes, turkey and green beans, with the lump of stuffing listing like a waterlogged buoy floating in the sea of gravy! This became the center of calamity for Maryann who found the whole episode a point of laughter and boisterous jokes! The girl just couldn't stop laughing! Such laughter and attention that we almost got 86'ed, which probably would have been the best thing that happened to us that night.
In short, dinner sucked, we walked out far from "happy, happy".....although we giggled on like kids.... there was absolutely no 'comfort' in the food and the only reason I asked for a box for my leftovers, was to keep it for valuable evidence...just in case I got sick or worse overnight! The one positive that came out of this night was our first example on the indulgent importance of Alaskans and their gravy!
I once heard a story of a bush pilot who got stranded out in the bush after his planes' engine leaked out all the oil. The one thing that saved him and got him back to civilization, was the the tub of his wife's gravy in his ice chest of leftovers for lunch. As folklore goes, he used the gravy to replace the missing oil in the planes engine!
This past weekend at one of my string of pottery shows, a woman walked up to my space and went berserk with glee, over one of my mix and pour bowls. You know, the ones you can mix about a gallon of batter or what not in and has the handy handle with the pouring spout. Only thing was, she immediately sounded out to her friend that she finally found something big enough to serve gravy in!! Of course this episode in itself brought about the need to tell my story of gravy. Coincidentally, the inside joke for the few that know the story of our gravy dinner experience is, "do ya want some food with your gravy"! One friend of ours heard the story and now every time Maryann see's her the woman starts cracking up and asks if Maryann has had any gravy lately! Another woman who heard the story last year, has seen us in public a couple of times and addressed us simply as..."gravy"! Frankly, I can't even make the comment that "at least it is a healthy habit..."
The other day we took two of the three dogs to the doggie wash to bath them. The doggie wash is in the back part of the pet shop, and much like an eager little kid, Kenai was absolutely intrigued by all of the little stuffed toys that lined the pet toy area shelves. When she was younger, she used to love those little stuffed squeaky toys and every time she would get a new one, she would kill it and rip out the squeaky! Referred to as "her babies", she had literally at one point a pile of dead and spent babies in the corner of the deck. John would even go so far as re-sewing new squeakers into her babies and bring them back to life. We were fortunate to have found a source that sold bags of 'replacement squeakers'! Apparently our dog wasn't the only animal with doggie psychosis! The age of the baby came to somewhat an abrupt halt around the time we adopted Seska. You see, Seska found the spent and torn carcasses of Kenai's babies as tasty treats. Keep in mind, she would eat anything. But this didn't fare justice to her digestive system, and after a few unfortunate explosive situations in the house overnight, we figured it was best to keep the babies away from Seska's insatiable appetite, which meant for poor little Kenai, no more babies.
Getting back to the pet store, me seeing her child like fascination with the toys on the wall, I bought and snuck out a little squeaky rubber duck for her being such a good girl during her bath. Later that night as I pulled out the toy and squeaked it, her reaction was priceless as she ran into the kitchen with her head bobbling on a 360 degree pivot, in search of this baby that needed her! Although her comical little ways with her babies haven't changed much, her demeanor and 'pro-life' stance towards them has! No longer does she kill the baby to get to the squeaker, but rather she carries it with her everywhere in her mouth, squeezing out little squeaks every now and then. She goes potty with the baby in her mouth. She lays on the floor with her head resting on the baby. She sleeps at night with her body inches away from the baby and positioned between the baby and Seska....who seems affixed on the potential appetite before her. All the while, Seska lurks and waits for Kenai to screw up and leave her little green rubber duck baby alone....just for a moment. Just long enough to snuff the squeak out of it and claim victory to a free meal!
Oh, to say the least, there hasn't been a dull moment around here since the baby came home. It's fate or survival will surely continue to be a menial doggial controversy! Our first snowfall came with a vengeance, as it snowed....and snowed....and snowed.... about a week ago. It was a wonderful shot in the arm for early winter plowing, and we only hope that it is the beginning of a bountiful season. John unfortunately missed the opportunity all together as he ran into an unfortunate chain of events with a bad radiator, and a new one that must have fallen into some strange vortex....or huge bowl of gravy... No, he was doing good getting the Dodge together, but learned a lesson about the availability of radiators in Alaska. Finally, after a long and depressing week for the boy, his radiator arrived today, and he also found a used set of marginal snow tires for the plow truck to get him through for the meantime. So, now....we wait. We wait eagerly for snow and the glory of white gold. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer....darkness is slowly beginning to rein and after a week of mild temps in the 30's we are experiencing single digits and teens. It's just beginning, man!