Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I’m Famous!

I was contacted thru my blog the other day by the author of Paw Talk (see link below) who asked if I would mind being interviewed for a posting on her blog.

Of course, I said “Not at all – ask away!” I think the resulting post is quite nice. What do you think?

Oh, and poke around her blog while you’re there – she has some really good stuff there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The First Hike of the Season

We had our first Family Hike of the season yesterday at the Ship Creek Trail – and what a great day for it! Well, okay… it was a bit windy at first. But once we all got to walking, it warmed up considerably.

We had Mother, Noel, Hank, Lauren, Roxy the dog, Heather, Tina and her son Michael, Me and Rob this time. A bit later on, we ran in to my roommate and her nephews – if I had known she was planning on joining us, I’d have waited for her at the beginning! But at least she got out and enjoyed the trail on her own.

Summer is just beginning to get going: the trees all have brand new leaves on them, and the grasses, flowers, and shrubs are stepping up as well. Soon enough it will be lush and gorgeous, but for now it’s still a little bit sparse.

The local wildlife was enjoying the day, too. We saw hundreds of sparrows out feasting on the bugs. We saw lots of ducks in the creek paired off and getting their nests ready. We also saw tons of seabirds waiting for the fish to arrive.

After our hike, most of us decided to visit the Saturday Market (which apparently is open on Sunday as well) for a bite to eat: corn fritters, halibut chunks, and fresh lemonade.

That’s Just Wrong

I saw something very disturbing yesterday. Rob and I spent the weekend going to various pawn shops and antique stores; he’s looking at guns, I’m just enjoying his company. Yesterday we stopped in at William’s Antique Gallery off of 4th Avenue.

They have some really nice stuff in there: lots of old guns, native art, bone carvings, paintings in ornate frames, etc. In the back of the store, however, we found something that almost made me want to throw up: an elephant’s foot.

An actual.      Elephant’s.      Foot.

Apparently they used to cut off the feet and turn them in to footstools and whatnot (pun completely intended). This one was – of all the stupid things – a ketchup dispenser!

When we asked the proprietor if it was even legal to be selling such an item, she said “Well, the Marine Mammal Act took place in 1972, but this item comes from the 1960’s.”

First of all – what the hell does the Marine Mammal Act have to do with anything? Pardon my language, but come on…

And second – I don’t think the age of an item has anything to do with the legality of it. Even if it does, it’s still just not right. Morally, it’s simply wrong to profit off of the pain & suffering of any animal, particularly when it’s for such a STUPID item as a ketchup dispenser.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Electro Girl

Move over, Wonder Woman – there’s a new girl in town:

Electro Girl!

Dressed in an Eco-Friendly, Sustainably Harvested, Fair-Trade, Non-Latex body suit (yes, Electro Girl is allergic to latex) Electro Girl is out to save the planet, one beleaguered critter at a time – no matter how many legs it may have.

Wherever you see a tiny caterpillar trying valiantly to cross a busy street in downtown Anchorage – there you’ll see Electro Girl, stopping rush hour traffic to carefully pick the little one up and gently carry it to the other side.

If you should happen to see somebody throwing perfectly good recyclable material into the regular trash bins; stick around – Electro Girl will soon be there to dig it out and place it in the proper receptacle.

But watch out! Electro Girl has a dark side. To borrow the immortal words of Bruce Banner (aka: The Incredible Hulk) “Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

Electro Girl has the power to fry electronics from as far away as three whole paces if she’s angry enough. Heck, she just recently got upset at her computer and had to buy a new one because she fried the old one. She even fried her camera which just happened to be sitting nearby, innocently minding its own business, so now she has to buy a new camera as well.

It’s not easy being Electro Girl.

So now it’s time for my confession. Brace yourself. Are you sitting down? Yes, it’s time to come clean. I just can’t hide it anymore and have finally found the courage to come out.

I am Electro Girl.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

I had the best birthday ever this weekend! A very big Thank You to Rob for inviting me out camping with him.

We spent the day Friday getting all the gear in order: camping gear, fishing gear, clothing & food stuff, the truck, the licenses – all of that stuff. It’s actually rather amazing how much stuff is needed, and it was only an overnight camp!

Oh, and I want to send out another big Thank You to Shelly for sending me that cool little identification pouch thingy: our I.D.s and fishing licenses fit perfectly in there so neither of us had to bring our actual wallets or purses.

Saturday morning saw us on the road by 9:00, with only a brief stop at the Sports Authority to get some long underwear for Rob. The weather forecast called for rain the entire weekend, so we had to be sure we’d both be warm enough. As it turned out we didn’t really need them after all, but did wear them to sleep in at least. I mean, he did… I wore my own.

Anyway, we drove about 3 hours south of Anchorage, to just past Sterling. We turned off on the Swanson River Road, and then turned off again onto Swan Lake Road. Somewhere about 8 miles past that turnoff was a small parking lot (maybe 4 cars can fit in it) with the trail head we were looking for.

It took us a bit of organization to get things worked out just right. We had the canoe, Rob’s big pack with all our gear, my smaller pack with all our clothing & food, two fishing poles and two paddles – all of which had to be hauled up the trail which was just over a mile to Nest Lake. Rob originally planned on carrying the canoe and his pack, but decided that two trips was a better idea – so he dumped the canoe on the side of the trail and came back for it later.

Nest Lake is a pretty little thing, and somebody very kindly built a little dock leading down into the water so launching the canoe was easy as pie. A nice big female moose was right on the other side of the lake, munching on the grasses in the water. We got some good pictures as she was not bothered in the slightest by us being there.

The portage across to Duckling Lake was easy to navigate. Rob had thought it might be choked off with water lilies, but the local beaver had kept it nice and clear. We only had one log jam to maneuver thru and we were on the other side in no time.

Duckling Lake is a little bit bigger, but just as pretty as Nest Lake. Right away, we saw a pair of loons – the nice big ones with the beautiful voices. I do love a loon! There was also a pair of ducks flying about, as well as a big beautiful eagle overhead. A pair of swans had a nest with two little ones on one side of the lake, and the beaver was busy on the other side. It was so peaceful and beautiful.

We found our camping spot right away, and got started on getting things set up. The tent Rob has is a really nice one, and very easy to put together. The last tent I helped put up was much more confusing (remember that, Elizabeth?) but we had this one up in no time. Then we scoured the area around camp, looking for firewood and cleaning up trash from the other people who’d camped there (which is really annoying: why can’t people take care of things?).

Finally, we got back in to the canoe and headed out for some fishing. That’s when we realized that the person who had put the fishing line onto his poles for him (they did that at the Sportsman’s Warehouse) did not know what he was doing. Rob had specifically asked for line that wouldn’t get all tangled up, and the guy assured him that the one he used would not.

He lied.

It got tangled up each time we cast the bait out. Poor Rob had to untangle the line every time, and was getting more and more frustrated the longer we were out there. So, we finally just headed on back to camp.

I fished for a little while longer, mostly because it was my first time and I was having fun despite the tangles. It’s so cute to see that little bobber out there. Each time the fish got the bait, it would travel around like a little train engine. The fish were too small to actually take the hook – but they took almost all our bait.

Since we didn’t have any fish to cook for diner, we ended up eating our breakfast instead: bacon and eggs cooked over the fire. There’s just something about eating food cooked over an open flame – even a vegetarian has to admit that bacon and eggs taste really good in the right circumstances!

Sleeping in our mummy bags in the tent that night was a bit chilly, I have to admit. I had my long underwear and several sweaters on, as well as a wool blanket over the top of me. But I only woke up once or twice, and ended up getting a fairly good night’s sleep. It did rain during the night, but the tent held up quite well with no leaks or anything like that. We actually slept in a bit in the morning: it was just so nice and comfy lying there all snug in our bags. Plus, it was just so cold neither of us wanted to face the cold clothing waiting to be put on. Eventually we had to, though. It was just too pretty out to be holed up in our tent.

After our breakfast of apples, cliff bars, and coffee/tea we decided to break down camp and load up the canoe to go off and explore the lakes.

Paddling, by the way, is hard work. And I had the easy spot up front – Rob got all the hard work of actually keeping us going while I just did the steering and navigating. Most of the time, he’d just tell me to stop paddling while he got us going. That gave me time to watch all the goings on, though.

Getting all our gear back to the truck took a bit longer than expected – I think we were both a little pooped, although I really don’t know why. But we finally did manage, and got the truck loaded up again. We stopped at a pizza place in Sterling for a bite to eat, then took our time heading on back to Anchorage. We pulled over several times just to see what was there, or to take a break for no other reason than that we felt like it.

When we finally got home, my roommate had a home-made Chocolate Birthday Cake waiting for me: what a great surprise that was!

Yup, it was a Great Birthday this year.

I’m 45, by the way.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day

I feel bad – I’m actually not going out to Palmer today.

But I am going out there on both Wednesday and Thursday, and will spend quality time with Mother on both of those occasions: Wednesday to have lunch, walk with the family, and see her new home – Thursday to help her move a bunch of stuff out of the farm.

Does that count?

And I did send a hand-made Mother’s Day card that was pretty cool if I do say so myself. I had sent flowers earlier as a house-warming gift. Her birthday is this week, too – so I’ll send another hand-made card.

So what is everybody else doing to celebrate Mother’s Day?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

My First Day On The Job

My first official day on the job was actually quite nice. I had about 33 homes to interview; got 5 done, with maybe 4 being vacant. The rest I just left notice that I’d been there. I’ll have to keep going back to those till I get them.

I started at 9:00. Went to the base and picked up my base pass, then headed on over to Muldoon and got to work. I got home by around 2:00, then cleaned up the paperwork and got organized again for tomorrow.

The neighborhood I’ve been assigned to isn’t so bad. There are some really interesting homes, lots of apartment buildings, and a wide variety of ethnic races.

At one apartment, a very young little guy running around in his diapers opened the door for me. Unfortunately his father was in the shower at the time. I know this because the bathroom was directly across from the front door - and its door was open, too. I quickly told the little one I’d come back later and closed the front door again. I could hear the father yelling out to the kids as I left “Who was that?” I wonder if he knows his kids are opening the door to just anybody?

Another house had me interviewing this 89 year old Eskimo woman. She was a sweetheart; told me all about her 8 sons and 1 daughter. She’s been sick lately, but is finally starting to feel better again. Her cousin from Kodiak came to help her out. As I said, very sweet.

To make the whole thing an experience I won’t forget soon: I managed to lock my keys in the car. I had to call a cab to come break in to my car for me. Last time that happened to me was back when Little Debbie’s husband was killed – we were at his funeral… Back then it cost me $10 - this time it cost $25.

Here at home, Rob came over and fixed a few things around the house. He fixed the bathtub in my roommate’s bathroom (the overflow drain cover had come off), he put the rack on my new bike (had to manufacture special brackets out of scrap metal), he fixed my computer desk in preparation for my new computer (drilled air holes so it won’t heat up so bad and got the file cabinet drawer to work properly), he tweaked on my dishwasher and fridge so that I am now able to actually open the door (the fridge got moved over slightly and the dishwasher is now at an angle), he took apart my microwave fan & grill thingy and cleaned them (years and years of grease, grime, and dust), and last but not least, he started building the birdfeeder that I’ve been wanting (took the broom handle, made a hook out of the remaining sheet metal scraps he’d used on my bike, screwed in some smaller hooks to hang feeders off them). I guess guys are good for something, after all.

I ended the day by making a huge pot of soup. It’s a Butternut Squash soup base with tomatoes, corn, and black beans from my pantry downstairs - plus red, green, and yellow pepper strips from the frozen veggie isle at the store – and I threw in some freeze-dried veggies, rice & onions from my stash of soup makings. Then I added some fresh ground pepper, allspice, and a dash of cinnamon. Oh, and lots of garlic.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I Got a New Bike!

I hadn't planned on buying a bike. In fact, my sister has one she said I could borrow. But it was such a good deal, I just couldn't pass it up.

Regular price: $379.00
Sale price: $159.00

And it's pretty, too. It's got purple flowers on it! That's important in a bike, you know. One must always be pretty.

Anyway, I'm excited about it. I have the possibility of getting a job not 2 miles from my house, so could quite conceivably ride my bike to work each day. Not to mention going on bike rides with Rob and his kids.

Now all I need are some accessories: a helmet, a bottle holder, a rack so I can carry things, and an arm-band for my iPod.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Home Again - This Time For Good

I haven’t been updating this as religiously as I did while out in the field, so thought I should get you all up to date on what’s going on in my life. I’m sure you’ve all just been dying to know…

I did make it out of False Pass finally. The plane flew in on Friday and got me as far as Cold Bay. I flew out of Cold Bay on Saturday and was home in my own house by that evening. I must have smelled something awful, because Rob lasted all of maybe half an hour before he very kindly suggested I go take a shower and change into something clean. Oh well, at least I was home!

I didn’t do a whole lot that first week back in town; mostly just relaxed and got settled back in to my routines again. The girls were beyond happy to have me back: they were like Velcro and wouldn’t leave my side no matter what. They have calmed down since then, so are now able to enjoy the pools of sunshine all over the house.

The second week home I ended up back in the classroom being trained for a new position with the U.S. Census Bureau = I am now an Enumerator, which basically just means I’ll be the one going door to door to interview people, and won't have to worry about supervising anybody. I’ll be working at the military bases picking up all those people who didn’t mail in their form for whatever reason. It’s a reduction in pay, but at least I’m still employed – and even the reduced pay rate is more than unemployment was.

Things are picking up again at the zoo, getting ready for the summer season. I’ve had several Tour Guide Training sessions to refresh my memory banks. The way my schedule is right now, I should be able to do several of the Discovery Tours a week: I do love giving that tour. And soon – please, God, let it be soon! – the green will arrive and we’ll actually have leaves and grass and flowers. It’s kind of hard to give a naturalist tour when everything is still in its dormant winter stage.

The Cascadia Region Green Building Council – Alaska Branch (of which I am president) was honored recently by ALPAR (Alaskans for Liter Prevention and Recycling) and received an award for 2009 Leadership in Education "for exemplary efforts to raise awareness and educate Alaska's design and building industry about LEED building standards and incorporating recycling and reuse practices." I attended the banquet along with Lauri - one of our board members, Mark – our State Director, in order to receive the award. It was held at the newly remodeled AK Railroad Historic Freight Shed, which is Alaska’s first historic LEED building restoration.

We also had a Guest Speaker come up from Vancouver (although I suppose that should be “come over” since they are basically right beside us) to give a lecture on The UniverCity Project at Simon Fraser University. That was a really interesting talk, but I have to say I’m not happy with the attendance. There were only about 20 people in the audience! Seems like kind of a waste to bring somebody up here and not have a full house. I blame myself, really. If I’d been at home, I could have sent out a few reminders like I did for our last lecture. That one had plenty of people attending.

Today I’ve been keeping myself busy with yard work, house work, and computer work, and even have a job interview scheduled for later in the afternoon. I’ve had a bit of an emotional upheaval lately, and am really trying to think of ANYTHING ELSE.

On the positive side, I have discovered that I have some really wonderful friends who go out of their way to comfort me when I need it the most.