Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ready to Peddle

Got my bike all fixed up for the season!

Rob got me a basket for it: it’s a cute little white wire mesh one that attaches to the front handlebars. It’s removable, even, so I can take it grocery shopping with me. I plan on stringing some colorful ribbons on it, with bows and streamers.

Because, you know, that’s what you do with a white wire mesh basket on your bicycle.

The same day he installed the basket, he also installed the water bottle clip for me. The only problem I can see with it at its current location is that if I should happen to ride through a mud puddle (which of course I would never do as it would muss up my pretty purple flowered bike!) the mouth piece of the water bottle would get all grungy. Rob suggested banding a plastic baggie over the mouth piece to protect it – but then what do I do if I need to take a drink? Not quite sure how I’m going to deal with that. I may end up just putting the water bottle in the basket and foregoing the clip altogether.

Last but certainly not least, he aired up the tires – they had gone a bit flat over the winter months. I have a little foot pump for it, but it’s rather a bear to use so we opted for his big air compressor. I will not always have access to that, however, so I need to get familiar with what I have and make do with it.

I had planned on riding to work at least three times a week – but honestly I don’t see myself actually doing that. I just do not feel like riding a bike that early in the morning, you know? I’m more likely to take it out for a spin after work, when it’s nice and sunny out. I printed out a map of the area I live so that I can plan out my rides, starting small and working my way up to the longer routes.

For the real bike rides, I am going to get a bike rack for the car. Rob has a friend who is giving one away; he says he’ll snag it for me. We just have to wait for her to come home from her year in Spain. Once I get it, I will be ready to ride, if anybody cares to join me!

Just please take it easy on me. I’m not the best bicycler in the world…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Lorna picked me up Saturday morning at 9:00 and we hit the road running! I so needed this – to just get away from “life” and have no agenda. It was perfect.

The weather was certainly less than perfect, although I do love a good rain storm. That’s what we had: a good rainstorm. The windshield wipers could barely keep up with it along the coast between Anchorage and Portage. The wind was blowing fairly well, too.

We made it all the way to Sterling before pulling over to stretch our legs and fill up with gas. We considered stopping at Fred Meyers in Soldotna a few miles down the road for another stretch and a mocha, but the parking lot was crammed full of cars so we just kept going on in to Homer.

It was around 2:00 by the time we made it to Homer. Neither of us had eaten anything yet that day so we stopped off at the Two Sisters Bakery for a bite to eat. That’s a cool place: I do recommend it, if you’re ever in the area. It actually reminded me of a place I’d eaten at in Ketchikan a long time ago.

The Homer Library is quite famous for being one of Alaska’s first LEED Certified buildings, so of course we had to stop by and check that out (no pun intended). Wouldn't you know it, they were having a book sale! We spent a good hour browsing all the books before purchasing our finds and heading on up to our next stop.

The Bear Creek Winery: my new favorite place! We sat down at their counter and proceeded to indulge in tasting a variety of their wines while snacking on fresh parmesan cheese and crackers topped off with a salmon pate. I don’t have a list of all the wines we tried but did manage to walk out of there an hour later with two bottles in my bag: a bottle of their Pomegranate Wine and one of their Black Current Wine.

I’m not a huge drinker; normally a glass of wine will last me all night. But that wine tasting – they poured two fingers worth of about 10 different wines for us, which we sampled in the space of roughly 45 minutes. That’s a lot of wine, and I was definitely feeling it.

So our next stop was the Spit. We pulled off on the side of the road, clambered over the rocks down to the beach, and walked along the shoreline. It was overcast and windy, as is usually the case for Homer, but was still quite beautiful. I just love beachcombing: poking through all the kelp and seaweed looking for whatever critter didn’t quite catch the receding tide.

Walking 4 miles on sand, however, is very taxing. By the time we got back to the car we were both feeling it. Thankfully, our next stop was Fat Olive’s for dinner.

I had the best sandwich: 3 types of Toasted Cheese with Apple Smoked Bacon and slivers of a Granny Smith Apple. Who would ever think to put apples in a cheese sandwich? I’ll be doing a lot of that now, I can tell you.

Finally we headed on up to Lorna’s cabin. It’s quite a drive, so we saved that for last. It’s a cute place; rather a shame she’s planning to tear it down, but it really does need to go. There is so much wrong with it that it’s actually cheaper to just start over brand new.

We did a few chores around the place: put together the new weather station Lorna had bought, replaced a circuit breaker, worked on the water pump, and walked the property line to see what was what out there.

The next morning we kind of just took it easy and relaxed for a while. Neither of us was in that big of a hurry to get home, so during the drive back we stopped quite a few times to just take in the scenery.

Eventually we did make it home, where I settled in for some snuggle time with my girls.


I found myself with some time on my hands so stopped in at The Hole look, where I got my piercing and tattoo done.

I told the lady at the counter that it seemed as though my piercing was moving and I was wondering what was going on. She immediately said, “Take it out. Now. Your body is rejecting it.”
I was stunned. I had no idea that could even happen, and for her to be so bold and blunt like that. Wow.

But, as she explained, if I were to have left it in it would have eventually been pushed out and I’d be left with flaps of skin on my eyebrow – whereas taking it out while it’s still a hole means that it has a chance of healing completely without a scar. So I paid the $10 fee and had it removed.
It’s strange. I’ve haven’t even had the piercing a whole year, and yet I find that I’m really missing it. I feel somewhat incomplete now.

Once it heals thoroughly in a couple months, I may consider trying it again. The lady behind the counter told me that if they pierce it deeper, going behind the previous piercing, the scar tissue might act as an anchor keeping the ring in place. She also recommended a different ring – one with less of a profile to it.
Of course, my body could just reject that one, too. We’ll have to wait and see.

The Price of Gas

What is the price of gas where you live?

Here in Anchorage, Alaska it’s averaging around $4.11 per gallon, but on my recent road trip we stopped in Sterling to fill up and paid $4.65.
It’s a wonder we’re all still even taking road trips, isn’t it?

Oh, and what kind of gas mileage do you get? I drive a 2001 Nissan Sentra and average around 30-35 miles per gallon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Mad Dash for Freedom

I was standing at the door last night, talking to the missionaries, when Djuna made her mad dash out the door. I was shocked: she’s never done anything like that before!

She slipped though our legs and made it all the way down the steps. She didn’t even slow down; she just made a bee-line down to the bottom, then turned around and ran right back up the steps and into the house again. I had just enough time to say “Hey! Get your butt back in the house, young lady!”

The look on her face was priceless. I could just tell she was thinking “Hah! I made it all the way down the stairs! Beat that if you dare, Thing! I am a Fearless Warrior Cat!”

Yeah, I’d say the antibiotics are working. She definitely feels better.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Update on Djuna

Well, she’s definitely feeling better. This morning she was racing around the house, showing off how fast she can run. The antibiotics they gave her on Saturday really made a difference, thank goodness.

Her doctor called first thing Monday morning to check up on her. Looks like my little June Bug has a fan at the vet’s office! I reported that although she was still very sleepy, she was being social and wanted to be where everybody else was.

The doctor told me that the specialist had studied the x-rays and couldn’t find the other kidney, either. It is either simply not there or is hiding behind some other organ. The one kidney they could find is definitely not a healthy one. They suggested a sonogram to get a better picture of what’s going on in there.

My financial situation being what it is, I am hesitant to pay for a procedure that would not add to or change her current medical plan of attack, although it would be nice to actually know for sure. I may have it done anyway, regardless of all the other bills I have waiting to be paid.

In the meantime, Djuna is fighting off the last of the infection (I hope) and will just have to be careful in the future so as to not jeopardize her defective kidney any worse. She only has one, so has to take care of it!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Djuna is Very Sick

I took her in to the vet's on Friday because she has been very lethargic and won’t wake up even when I come home from work. When I do get her up, she just wants to be held so she can sleep in my arms. She tried to jump up into my lap once and didn’t make it.

The vet weighed her (5lb 4oz), checked her heart (good), poked around at her tummy (all good), cleaned out her ears (gunky black tar, as always), took blood and gave her fluids subcutaneously. She told me I should make sure she pees/poops and eats/drinks (she is/does).

Saturday (today) the blood work results came in = not good. Her white blood cell count is through the roof, indicating a severe infection. I took her back in for x-rays and a urine sample.

The urine sample came back VERY infected. The vet says it’s highly unlikely that an infection that bad isn’t in the kidneys, too. They gave her a mega-shot of antibiotics hoping that it will work, but went ahead and sent a sample of the infection off to the lab to make sure. If the shot doesn’t work (lab will tell) I’m to bring her back in on Monday for another type of antibiotics.

The x-rays came back inconclusive, to say the least. First, they could only find one kidney. They don’t know if they’re overlapping each other in the x-rays or that she simply doesn’t have two. And the one they could see was not the shape they expected to see. It’s supposed to be shaped like a kidney bean – hers is more like an orange. They’re going to send her pictures off to an expert to see if he can determine what’s going on.

Back at home, Djuna is sleeping again. I've made her as comfortable as I can, and will try to get her to eat some canned food tonight.

Thing is very worried.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Too Much Food

Back when I had a roommate, it was our agreement that each would only eat the food we ourselves bought. Apparently she had a hard time with that concept: she kept eating my food!

Eventually I just stopped buying food altogether because I didn’t want to pay for her meals (petty, I know… but that was just the tip of the iceberg with her).

Now that she’s gone, I am really enjoying food again.

In fact, it may become an obsession with me. I find that I keep going to the grocery store and buying more food – even though I have enough at home to last several weeks.

Just this week alone I’ve gone three times, each time carrying home several bags of groceries. My freezer is stuffed full to capacity and the fridge is not far behind.

Who knew having too much food would ever be a problem?

Monday, April 11, 2011

It’s All in the Detailing

Rob and I spent the weekend out in Palmer detailing the Nissan so it can be sold.

That’s hard work! I can’t believe how exhausted I am - and I have some very strange bruises to show for it, too.

But we did get a most excellent meal out of the deal: Mother made meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, biscuits, and a wonderful Portobello mushroom side dish especially for me. I ate so much I was barely able to go back to work after dinner.

Here’s a brief list of what we did:
     Pressure wash the exterior
     Pressure wash the engine
     Soap up and hand wash the exterior
     Polish and wax the exterior
     Add pin striping for extra “sex appeal”
     Clean the glass & chrome and blacken the trim
     Fix the camper shell
     Vacuum the interior with a shop vac
     Dust and clean the interior
     Haul all the trash out
     Change the oil & filters
     Air up the tires
     Replace the floor mats
     Clean & polish every surface with all types of cleaners

So, if anybody wants to buy a beautiful purple ’97 Nissan pickup, 5-speed, 4-wheel drive, with a camper shell – we have one for just $2,700.00. It would make the perfect graduation gift (hint, hint).

Friday, April 08, 2011

What Are You Reading Now?

Read any good books lately? Post a comment and let me know, please. I love to hear what people are reading – who knows, I just might find my next favorite book!

I’m reading At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson which is a really good book. Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors; I’ll read pretty much anything he’s written.

Here’s the review by for the book:

Bill Bryson turns his attention from science to society in his authoritative history of domesticity, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. While walking through his own home, a former Church of England rectory built in the 19th century, Bryson reconstructs the fascinating history of the household, room by room. With waggish humor and a knack for unearthing the extraordinary stories behind the seemingly commonplace, he examines how everyday items--things like ice, cookbooks, glass windows, and salt and pepper--transformed the way people lived, and how houses evolved around these new commodities. "Houses are really quite odd things," Bryson writes, and, luckily for us, he is a writer who thrives on oddities. He gracefully draws connections between an eclectic array of events that have affected home life, covering everything from the relationship between cholera outbreaks and modern landscaping, to toxic makeup, highly flammable hoopskirts, and other unexpected hazards of fashion. Fans of Bryson's travel writing will find plenty to love here; his keen eye for detail and delightfully wry wit emerge in the most unlikely places, making At Home an engrossing journey through history, without ever leaving the house. --Lynette Mong

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Hold On To Your Hats!

Wow, the winds are really blowing today. There’s a High Wind Warning in effect with winds up to 75mph possible. The weather service described it as "a dynamic and dangerous storm" that has moved into the Central Bering Sea.

The power was down earlier this morning – about 5,200 people were without for a couple hours. Oddly enough, it was right here in this area where I work (and live) and yet the office wasn’t affected. Don’t know how we managed to avoid that one…

The really exciting place to live right now is False Pass. You might remember that I spent some time in False Pass last year during my job with the Census Bureau. They are experiencing winds exceeding 100 mph down there! I can just imagine how that must look.

"Damage reports include...public safety building roof partially blown off," the weather service reported. "Several other buildings have lost parts of their roofs and some have completely collapsed. At least 2 homes have completely lost their roofs. The medical clinic windows were blown out. A 4-wheeler spotted tumbling down the street."

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Spring is Coming

Spring is just around the corner: you can feel it in the air, despite the new coating of snow we’ve accumulated these past few days. People are getting antsy and restless, eager to get outside and start DOING STUFF. Like hiking! And bicycling! And camping!

The Family Hiking Series for 2011 has been set. If anybody is interested in going hiking with us this year, just let me know. I’ll add you to the distribution list so you’ll get the email reminders containing the instructions on how to get to the trailhead. We’d love to have you join us!

My personal goals this year are 1) climb a mountain (Lazy Mountain, in Palmer) and 2) walk the entire coastal trail in one day. Both goals aren’t that big when compared to World Peace or Curing Cancer – but to me, they are both things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. This is the year I’ll actually do them. Hopefully.

I have great big plans for my bike this year, too. I fully intend to ride it to work at least three times a week. I acquired a hand pump in case I get a flat tire, even - and best of all, Rob got me a basket! It’s so cute; it’s a white wire mesh one that attaches to the handlebars in front. It’s removable, even, so I can go shopping with it. I’m going to decorate it with colorful ribbon even.

Another sign of spring: my work hours have gone back to full time. This is a good thing on so many levels: it means the company has so much work they need me for a minimum of 8 hours a day, AND I get an actual paycheck with enough money in it to cover all my bills!

Won’t that be nice for a change.

The Craft Room

Mother and I came up with the great idea of hiring a contractor to re-carpet and re-paint my spare room, so I called around and had one come over to give me an estimate. The man was very nice and had a lot of information to share with me about my ideas. We took measurements, talked paint & carpet colors, and came up with two plans of attack: Plan A (my preferred design) and Plan B (in case the first one was not doable). He left an hour or so later saying that he’d email me the estimate and let me know when the job could be done.

It took over a week, but finally I got his estimate. To put it mildly, let me just say that I was shocked. Stunned would be more like it. Plan B came in at $4,000.00 while Plan A (the one I really wanted) came in at close to $8,000.00! For paint! And carpet! In a very tiny room! With hardly any funky corners or odd cut-outs!

I think not.

Once again, Rob came to my rescue. He agreed with me that there was no way in h*** I would be hiring a contractor to do the work for those prices, and assured me that he & I could do the work ourselves. Well, except for the carpet. He doesn’t know how to do carpet, so we’ll just shampoo the existing carpet really well and call it good. The rest of the work is definitely do-able with minimal effort.

We even came up with a cool design for the ceiling, since I won’t be getting my Plan A design. We’ll call this Plan C, I guess. I’m happy with it; it will look very cool once we’ve finished it.

We’ve made a start at it already. He and I bought paint, painting supplies, and window blinds the other day. He got started on pulling off the trim, and I plan on taking the nails out tonight so that I can sand & paint them over the weekend.

Funny story with the blinds: we’re at the store, wandering the aisles to see what we might need to get our job done. We don’t have a cart, so he’s just carrying the blinds in his hands. We end up at the trim & molding section and he sets the blinds down so he can look at the various trim available. Not 5 minutes later, we turn around and discover that my blinds are gone! Our first thought was that a clerk had restocked them back in their “proper” place – but no, they said they hadn’t done that. So what the…? We walk up and down the aisles again, and eventually find them = in a cart, in a random aisle, just sitting there innocently with no one around. So we take the blinds back, and take the cart too.

So there!