Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hiking with Guns

Rob and I went out hunting this past weekend. It was more a hike with guns, truth to tell, but we had fun anyway. He’s been dealing with some nasty legal issues and just really wanted to “kill something” so we were on the lookout for “anything that hops or flutters.” Of course, we didn’t see a thing. Or rather, we did see it, we just didn’t shoot it.

We drove out way past Sutton to the old Gun Site Mountain Lodge, then turned off on a little side road to park the car and get out onto the trails. We had planned to eat lunch at the lodge but found it to be shut down, so our hike ended up being on an empty stomach. Neither of us had had anything more than half a pancake for breakfast that morning.

I say half a pancake: we had gone to Gwennies for breakfast on our way out of town. Rob had been raving about their sourdough pancakes on the way there, so we were both really looking forward to eating them. They turned out to be just awful = not even fully cooked and practically inedible. Oh well…

By the time we got to Gun Site Mountain it was well past lunch time and both of us were quite hungry. Thankfully, I had some power bars in my backpack: we each downed one of those and half a bottle of water, and we were on our way.

We walked for an hour or so through the frozen swamp till we found the perfect dead tree, then got busy with target shooting. Rob brought his .45 and his .9, while I had my .22 pistol. I hadn’t ever shot my pistol, so got a lesson beforehand. It’s a nice little gun, I must say. Old, too: my grandfather used to shoot it back in his Mexico days. Rob’s two pistols are much newer, and much bigger too. We had fun shooting off several rounds with each gun and completely obliterating the rotten stump we were aiming at.

Eventually we meandered back to the car, taking our time and enjoying the scenery. We drove down to the King Mountain Lodge for a late lunch/early dinner, then headed on back home.

Pumpkin Carving Party

I threw another Pumpkin Carving Party this last weekend. I’ve had them in the past and do enjoy having everybody over. Honestly, though – the real reason I have them is so that I can get everybody’s seeds to toast! I do love roasted pumpkin seeds…

This year, hardly anybody showed up so I didn’t get very many. But we had fun anyway. Mother and Heather both came in from Palmer, my hiking buddy Tina (we went to high school together, way back when) showed up, and Rob came as well.

Yes, that Rob. We’re still friends, even if we’re not dating.

Anyway, Mother brought 4 little squash thingies (what is the plural form of squash, anyway?), while Heather, Tina, and Rob each had nice big pumpkins. Heather and Tina each chose rather intricate patterns from the book Tina had, while Mother and Rob each carved free-style. All ended up with very cool jack-o-lanterns!

And of course, we had food. Can’t have a party without food! Mother made a big pot of chili with cheese and sour cream on the side. Tina brought a big veggie tray with ranch dressing to dip into. I had Hot Spiced Cider on the stove with some smoked salmon dip & little round bread pieces. Rob brought some rum to add to the cider even!

The cats even had fun, helping everybody with their carving and making sure we were all behaving properly.

Monday Night Dinner

I’ve been meeting my niece Lauren for dinner each Monday night these past few weeks. She’s back at UAA attending college again this semester, and this is my way of keeping tabs on her.

It’s been fun. We try to go to a new place each week, but since both of us are somewhat limited in funds, they have to be cheap places to eat. I also like to stick to this neighborhood so that Lauren might be able to ride her bike to any of the places we try later on, should she feel like getting a bite to eat on her own one day. We sit and chat about her school, go over her homework, study for exams, and catch up on each other’s goings-on.

I have a plan for keeping our spending to a minimum: with part of my dividend this year I am going to buy one of those big coupon books (The Northern Lights Coupon Book) that gives a bunch of two-for-one deals on restaurants all over town. Then, Lauren has said that she can contribute $5 for each meal while I can pick up the remainder of the tab.

The only problem with my plan is that the darned book hasn’t been published yet! Lauren’s semester at school will be over by the time it finally hits the shelf, knowing my luck. I’ll probably still get one anyway, in hopes that she’s able to continue with her schooling on into next semester.

Another Good Book

Here’s an excerpt from the book I’m currently reading. It’s quite good; I highly recommend it.

The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea
     By Philip Hoare

“Whales existed before man, but they have been known to us only for two or three generations: until the invention of underwater photography, we hardly knew what they looked like. It was only after we had seen the Earth from orbiting spaceships that the first free-swimming whale was photographed underwater. The first underwater film of sperm whales, off the coast of Sri Lanka, was not taken until 1984; our images of these huge placid creatures moving gracefully and silently thought the ocean are more recent than the use of personal computers. We knew what the world looked like before we knew what the whale looked like. Even now there are beaked whales, or ziphiids, known only from bones washed up on remote beaches – esoteric, deep-see animals with strange markings which biologists have never seen alive or dead, so little studied that their status is “data deficient’. New cetaceans are still being identified in the twenty-first century, and we would do well to remember that the world harbours animals bigger than ourselves which we have yet to see; that not everything is cataloged and claimed and digitized. That in the oceans great whales swim unnamed by man.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jury Duty

I got called for Jury Duty this week. Actually I got called for three different Jury Duties, but since I can only be in one place at a time they excused me from two of them. The one I ended up with was to serve as a petit juror for the Alaska Court System on a Criminal Case.

Free parking was provided for everybody called to serve but there was some confusion as the parking garage normally used by the court house is undergoing reconstruction at the moment, so they had to reroute everybody to different locations. Even though the instructions were quite clear as to where we go and how we handle the parking fees, there were still a lot of people who didn’t understand or got confused about what to do. I’m sure it caused no end of headaches to the poor clerks in the jury office.

Once I made it to the actual court house, I had to go through a security check. They had told us ahead of time not to bring any knives, guns, or weapons of any kind – but I forgot that I had my pocket knife in my purse so got flagged by the x-ray machine and was sent back outside to dispose of the knife. Rather than throw it away (it has a nice abalone shell handle and was my grandfather’s from way back when) I stashed it in a planter on the front lawn in hopes that it would still be there when my day was over. Thankfully, it was!

In the waiting room, I joined a throng of roughly 300 others waiting to see what the day would bring. We all filled out the required paperwork, listened to the instructions given by the clerk on duty that day, and settled in for the long haul. I brought along my Kindle and some tea, so kept myself occupied well enough, but it wasn’t too long before my name got called and I was sent up to a courtroom to begin the jury selection process.

I was joined by 49 other people, so the room was rather crowded. The Judge welcomed us and introduced the Defendant and his lawyer as well as the State counsel and the police representative charging the Defendant. He explained the process that was about to take place and had immediately excused 5 people from the case. I assume it was because of something they’d written in the paperwork we all filled out down in the waiting room. Then the clerk randomly chose the first 14 people and the selection process began.

They had a microphone that was passed on to whoever was called on to speak so that we all could hear. Each person was asked the same 9 questions to begin with:

     What is your name?
     What is your occupation?
     What is your spouse/children’s name and occupation?
     Where were you born and raised?
     What are your hobbies?
     Have you ever been in court?
     Have you ever served on a jury?
     Is there any reason you should not serve on this jury?
     Do you know any of the participants of this court case?

After each person answered these questions and the judge excused any who didn’t qualify, the lawyers each got up and asked their own questions. The State Counselor was first up since the burden of proof fell on him (the defendant is of course presumed innocent until proven guilty). He was easy going and not at all boring to listen to. His questions were voiced in a hypothetical voice and were easy to understand and therefore easy to answer.

That was not the case with the Defense Counselor: man, he was awful. He kept asking the same question 3-5 times to each person. They would answer him, and he’d say “OK, but do you think…” and then he’d ask that very same question again. They’d answer him again, and he’d say “OK, but do you think…” and then he’d ask that very same question again. It just kept going on and on, to the point where it was agonizingly ridiculous. If I were the Defendant, I’d be very worried.

Throughout all this questioning, we began to see what the case was about, and it was very disturbing to say the least. The Defendant was charged with Attempted Sexual Abuse against a Minor. It was even more disturbing when you take into account the Defendant was perhaps 45-50 years old and the minor in question was only 3.

Because the Defendant’s counsel was taking so long asking the same damn question 5 times for each potential juror (why oh why didn’t the judge put a stop to it?) the selection process took two days. Two days of agony sitting on an uncomfortable bench, listening to the same question over and over again, and waiting for my turn to be called up to the stand.

Finally I did get called and was excused almost immediately. I can’t say I’m sorry about that although this would have been the perfect time for me to serve on a case. Court is held only from 8:30 to 1:30, and since I work part time in the afternoons I wouldn’t have had to miss any hours.

I still have to call in for the remainder of the week, but the odds of having to go back to court are pretty slim. I think I just may be done for the year!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Doctors, Doctors, and More Doctors

October is the month for medical appointments, apparently. By the time this is over, I will be sick and tired of doctors I’m sure. But since I’ve been without for way too many years and it just kicked in on the first of this month, I’m having pretty much everything taken care of.

Tuesday was for the general practitioner. I had a physical, a pap smear, and a consultation on other problems. She gave me a prescription for anti-depressants (I am so tired of crying all the time, I just want this to be over and done with), a referral for counseling, marching orders for a mammogram, and instructions for taking supplements like Vitamin D and Iron. She also tested for just about every STD that’s out there, but that’s a whole other story and one I don’t really want to go into at this time.

Wednesday was for the dentist. My insurance only covers a cleaning at this point in time, so that’s what I had done. Once I’ve been on the dental plan for over 6 months I can get the rest of the work done: I need a crown and have a filling that needs fixed.

Thursday was for the eye exam. I don’t have insurance for vision but I do have my yearly PFD that just got deposited into my bank account today, so I’m using that to pay for it. I went to Lens Crafters at the mall and had an eye exam and bought my glasses that same day. Wouldn’t you know it, I need bi-focals. But hopefully, once my eyes get used to it, I will be able to see so much better and can possibly even get back into my card-making crafts. They were having one of their best-ever sales, so I ended up with almost $200.00 off.

Monday will be my first counseling session, assuming that I’m not called in for Jury Duty that is. I have my orders to call in that week, but my case number is rather high so I’m hoping that I won’t get picked for a few days at least. I really need to go to counseling way more than I need to go to Jury Duty.

The following Saturday is my appointment for the mammogram. The Imaging Center is celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) by offering free exams, so I am taking full advantage of that. One less thing for my insurance to have to deal with.

After that, we’ll just see how things fall out with all these appointments. I may or may not be done with most of it by then, and will just have to deal with the HRA plan at work to see how much I can get reimbursed after the insurance pays for their portion.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Black Widow Spider

Back in my college days (okay, it wasn’t really college: it was more like a technical school) I was bit by a black widow spider. Not a real pleasant experience, let me assure you. The anti-venom was even worse. I sported a dead spot about the size of a quarter for 6 months afterwards; yet now, years later, I have nothing to show for it. No scar, nothing.

So, I decided I should get a tattoo put on the spot where she bit me. It took me several years to find the perfect picture, but I finally did. Then I had to wait several months more for an appointment with the tattoo artist.

But now, finally – after all this time – I have a beautiful Black Widow Spider on my arm! I’m pretty excited about that, truth to tell.

Having a tattoo put on my arm wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It wasn’t painful at all, except towards the end when he filled in the body. I do have to admit, however, that 5 minutes in to the process my body started to go into full panic mode. He had to stop and go get me an ice pack for my neck and some apple juice to bring my blood sugar levels back up. I really thought I was going to pass out there for a few minutes, but managed to keep control of things.

20 minutes later, and he went back to work. I was fine for the rest of the appointment, and didn’t even have to wait on the chair for a while afterwards like I did for the piercing.

For the next week I am to wash it gently with mild soap and hot water and then rub Vitamin A&D Ointment on, it three times a day. I am to rub unscented lotion on it three times a day the week following that. The scabbing should be gone within 7-10 days, but I don’t even see any scabs yet – so maybe I won’t have any. It’s not that big of a tattoo, after all.

But it’s my tattoo, and I love it.