Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gues What

I got a job!!!!!

It's with GDM Architects; a smallish architectural firm here in Anchorage. I applied to them back in November, so was quite surprised to get their call last week asking for an updated resume.

Tuesday morning I went in for a brief face-to-face with the guy; he said that he'd get back with me for an actual sit-down interview later on in the week. Not two hours later, however, he called to say they'd decided to forgo the sit-down and just move straight in to hiring me.

It's 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, at a pretty descent rate of pay. I’ll get good medical, no dental, paid holidays and sick leave, a 401k, and all the other fringe benefits that come with a full-time job.

Best of all: I now get to go on another Earthwatch Expedition! Not right away, of course – but soon, I’ll be floating down the Amazon!

Giving my 2-weeks notice to Treeline Construction was hard. They really are a good company; I would have stayed with them if only they could have given me better hours during the winter months. The boss was very understanding, though. I offered to train my replacement, and even come in after hours and/or weekends for a while if need be, and he said they might just take me up on that depending on how the hiring process goes.

Oddly enough, they were just getting ready to give me a raise…

Monday, June 13, 2011

One Fabulous Weekend

I had such a good weekend! I’m quite worn out from it (I’m so old) - but it’s a happy kind of worn out.

On Saturday, I got to visit the Farmer’s Market just down the road from my house. It’s still early in the season, so there really wasn’t much to choose from. I did pick up a bunch of parsnips for this week’s soup pot, though; that should be interesting. I’ve never tried parsnips before: have you?

I headed off to the zoo once I took my parsnips home. The Discovery Tour starts at 12:15, but I wanted to get there early so I could browse the gift shop. I like to talk about some of the things available there in my tour, to encourage people to buy them.

My tour was really fun; I had one couple from Michigan and a single lady from Kansas. All three of them were in no hurry to go anywhere, so I didn’t have to worry about being on time. In fact, the girl from Kansas will be joining my family on our hikes this summer! It’s always good to find another fellow hiker.

Last year’s orphan brown bear cub was extremely active that day. I’ve never seen him play like that! He was in his pool, splashing around with his toy 50-gallon drum – then he’d jump out and race around the enclosure, attacking his ball or pouncing on the log – then he’d run back to his pool and do a belly flop into it. He was definitely enjoying the good weather we were having!

The tigers were fairly active, too. Normally you just get to see them napping up on their hilltop in a pool of sunshine, but this time they were up and walking around – even occasionally tussling with each other. They are such gorgeous animals; I’m always impressed with them.

Once I finally finished up with the tour, I drove out to my brother’s house in Palmer. I have a goal this year of climbing Lazy Mountain, and my sister-in-law is helping me get ready for it. We are starting small and working our way up: first was the Butte, next will be Flat Top, and finally I’ll tackle Lazy.

By the way, the name “Lazy Mountain” is a misnomer if ever there was one. Lazy Mountain is anything BUT lazy. It’s no Pioneer Peak, but still – it’s a major climb, especially if you’re not exactly in the best of shape (like yours truly).

So, anyway – my sister-in-law and I headed up the Butte that afternoon. It was beautiful out, with clear blue skies and all the lush green trees. It was also quite buggy: mosquitoes swarmed us the entire way. Despite the bugs, we managed to have fun – and made it all the way up to the top for a stunning view of the surrounding mountains & glaciers.

Sunday found me back at the zoo, this time for a special tour. My friend Kay is up from New York for a visit = she and I went to Africa together in November of 2009! It was so cool to see her again. We ended up spending over 4.5 hours at the zoo! She is a botanist (by hobby) so I was picking her brains on all the local plants while at the same time giving her all the information I had on the animals.

After taking a brief nap at home with my girls, we met back up again at the Snow Goose for dinner. We managed to spend another 2.5 hours talking, eating dinner, and just generally having a great time.

I had just enough time to give Djuna her IV treatment (all by myself this time!) before hopping in the shower and heading off to bed, exhausted but happy.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Baby Squirrel

I got to see the baby squirrel playing this morning!

The mother has been helping herself to my bird feeder all spring, eating 4 entire cakes of suit all by herself. It gets expensive replacing them all the time, but seeing the little one playing this morning made it all worthwhile.

Do squirrels have more than one baby at a time? And where do they nest: in a hole in the tree?

I know which tree it is now, assuming the baby was playing near its home: it’s a nice tall birch tree in the back corner of my yard. That’s not exactly the type of tree that is easily bored into, so perhaps the nest is more bird-like. I can’t tell.

The baby is cute as a button, and so tiny! It is very fast, too, giving its mother a workout trying to keep up with it. It’s not exactly graceful yet, either. I saw it fall once, bouncing off several branches on its way down before finally catching itself and scrambling back up to mother.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Life: As Seen Through the Eyes of Ruth

Djuna and Her IV:
I’m getting much better at this and was able to give Junie her fluids almost by myself last night. Rob only had to step in to help once, holding the bag up for me so I could see the markings on it. I’ll adjust things a bit in my procedure so that he won’t have to next time. Junie and I were both much more comfortable with it, and the whole thing barely took 10 minutes. She really does feel better now, and is learning all about the water fountain, too. She’s able to drink from it without getting water up her nose even.

2nd Hike of the Season:

The second “hike” of the season was not very well attended (again) but we had fun regardless. Mother met Rob and me up at Eklutna Lake for a nice leisurely stroll on the trails, and even managed to do some beach combing while we were at it. The weather was wonderful even though it was raining quite heavily in town that day.

1st Discovery Tour of the year:

My first tour was this Saturday. I was rather nervous, even after the training session a few days prior, but managed to remember most everything and gave a good run I think. There were 9 people signed up for the tour: a family of 7 from here in Anchorage, and two sisters visiting from Nova Scotia and Maine. I need to work on the route I take: I only have 2 hours to talk and simply cannot show them the entire zoo in that amount of time. We ended up having to literally run to make it to the shuttle bus at the end.

Zoo Update:

We have a few babies at the zoo this year, most of them orphans. The most popular one would be the baby polar bear that was found up north and brought to us a week or so ago. She is cute beyond belief and is settling in to life at the zoo quite nicely. She will be moving on as soon as we can find a forever-home for her, but for now she is recovering in the infirmary. We also have 3 baby moose, 2 baby musk ox, 1 baby yak, and a new snow leopard that is one year old.

There’s lots of renovation going on as well. Expanding the polar bear exhibit to accommodate their future breeding is progressing well. They have the plans drawn up and are now focusing on raising the funds to start construction. At the same time, they will be redoing the old elephant enclosure to create a new habitat for our moose, and will be turning the old moose enclosure into a bigger area for the musk ox. The snowy owl gets a new flight pen soon, too, and the mountain sheep pen is being rearranged to make room for the mountain goat to have half of the rock wall. Repair work on the seal/otter exhibit is scheduled for this summer as well, so the harbor seals may end up back in Seward for a while, depending on how that goes.

Remodeling Update:

The remodeling isn’t going quite as quickly as I’d hoped it would. I got all the trim sanded and painted (thank you, Lorna!) and have just one more coat of dark green left to paint on the walls. Rob promised me that he and his son would come soon to finish the painting and install the trim. That leaves just the ceiling to do – and that can wait indefinitely. I plan on working out the furniture arrangement tonight using my trusty graph paper and measuring stick, and will hopefully get Rob to finish fixing the table and chairs for me so that I can move it all up there in the next few weeks. It’s going to be great, if I can just get there from here.

Homework for Katy:

My niece has a writing assignment for one of her classes in college (International Political Economy) and has chosen to write about Earthwatch. Since I am quite familiar with that company she has asked me to help her out. So – I have a homework assignment! It’s kind of fun, actually, especially since I know I’m not the one who is going to be graded on this… Anyway, she sent me a list of questions and I am going thru them one by one, writing up my experiences on each subject based on the three different expeditions I went on.  Once her paper is thru and she’s turned it in I’ll post my answers here for you to read: I think you might enjoy them.

My Job:

Today is my one year anniversary working at Treeline Construction! It’s a good job, despite the lack of hours during the winter months. I am hoping to fix things somehow so that I can continue working with them and not have to worry so much about paying bills this next winter. With a little of what I call “creative banking” I think I may actually be able to, but I’m still checking the papers each day for a part-time job, just in case. Maybe I can talk my vet in to letting me help out each morning?