Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Today’s Activities

Not only did I get a full day’s work in, I also managed to get several more items knocked off my to-do list!

One: I found out the other day that we have a wireless connection here at work, so I brought my laptop in and downloaded all the updates on it. The only way I know to do that is to turn it on, connect to the internet, turn the computer off, and allow it to update itself. Then turn it back on, connect to the internet again, and turn it off again to allow more updates to load. I did this about 12 times, each time loading updates, till finally it stopped wanting to load things. All together, I ended up with about 70 updates – yeah, it’s been a while…

Two: Last weekend, Rob had me order myself some boots & shoes for my trip from a website that he uses – using his membership for the cheaper price, and using his rewards certificate for an extra $10.00 off. The package arrived a few days later – and I absolutely LOVE the shoes! The boots, however, did not fit. So today, I packaged them back up and took it to the UPS store to return them for an exchange. I’ll try the next size up and hope that fits better. If not, perhaps I’m just not meant to wear those particular boots.

Three: I have my furniture all moved in and arranged in the new craft room but there are still needs a few things left to be done: one piece of trim still needs to be nailed down, he needs to install my closet doors, and he needs to put up the blinds on the window. The table and all 5 chairs need his attention, too – mostly just tightening up the fastenings and making sure they won’t wiggle free and/or break on me. Today at lunch I stopped off at the store and got two power strips so I can plug everything in and get it all going. Tonight I’ll have to get the tea cabinet organized. Then I think I’ll be set!

Anybody want to come play with me?

As an added bonus: I have a date with my niece to look forward to this weekend. She and I are going to go pick raspberries at my friend Rikki’s house. Katy wants to make jam, and I just love to pick berries. Plus, we’ll get to meet Rikki’s new baby daughter, Adina.

Splish, Splash

Saturday was such a nice day outside, Rob and I finally got around to tackling the moss on my roof. Last year we had taken a solution of bleach and water to it, so it was mostly dead. We just had to get up there with a wire bristle broom and sweep off the dead stuff.

Of course, Rob can’t do anything half way – so while he was up there, he took my garden hose and pressure-washed all the cracks and crevices.

I say “pressure washed” but honestly, the garden hose doesn’t have nearly the pressure you’d expect from a Pressure Wash… let’s just say he used a fairly strong stream of water to get all the dirt and whatnot loose from my shingles.

While he was up there with the hose in hand, he went ahead and washed my windows for me even! It had been more than a few years since that had happened, so the difference is very noticeable.

He also attended to my rain gutters, cleaning them out and making sure they’ll work properly. He even took care of my neighbor’s gutters since he could see that they needed attention too.

All the mud, moss, and junk that had been up on the roof ended up on my driveway, the boardwalk leading to my front door, and on the neighbor’s car, too. So we had to clean all that off once the roof was done.

All in all, it was quite a day’s worth of work, but the results look so good it was definitely worth it.

The bad news: we determined that I really do need a new roof. I should get it this year, even – but since I’m going to Peru this year, it will have to wait for next year.

Unless I can get a screaming good deal… know anybody who can replace my roof really inexpensively?

Burn Baby Burn

Woke up early Sunday morning and headed out to the property in Talkeetna to burn the old wood. It was a great day for it – wet, rainy, and overcast.

The drive out was uneventful. Rob slept most of the way, so I got to drive by myself. I must say, I was rather miffed at Rob: I was tired, too, but no – he had to be the one to doze thru the whole drive. Ah well, such is life.

We made one little stop in Willow to pick up the burn permit at the Fire Department. I don’t understand the whole “burn permit” concept: I thought it would mean filling out an application and turning it in to an actual person. At the very least, they might want to know who we were and where we intended to burn. But all it was was a piece of paper with some rules on it. No form to fill out. No human being attached to it anywhere. Absolutely no one to check in with or talk to about our intentions.

Very strange.

At least we got the paper required in case somebody happened by who cared. No one did, by the way.

Our first task, according to the rules, was to rake out the area where we intended to burn, making sure we had a fire brake of several feet worth of dirt and non-combustibles. The fire itself was to be no wider than 10 feet around and no higher than 4 feet high – so we piled up some of the wood, doused it with lighter fluid, and set it on fire.

It wouldn’t burn. We ended up using an entire can of lighter fluid on it, and it just wouldn’t burn!

Honestly, we were a bit stumped (no pun intended). How were we supposed to get the darned fire going when the wood was so wet you could have used it as a sponge during your bath? Maybe if we got some charcoal briquettes to start the fire? Or maybe cut up some of the dryer deadfall lying around? A trip into town and roughly an hour’s worth of work down the hill and finally, we got our fire going.

My, what a fire it was too! Of course, it got bigger than 10 feet around and 4 feet high. At one point it was so hot Rob singed his hair just adding more logs to the fire! We burned for 4-5 hours but only got about half the pile taken care of, so we’ll have to go back again to finish up.

Putting the fire out was interesting, too. It was so big, and burned so hot, I made Rob stop putting more logs on about an hour before we thought we’d want to leave – but that still wasn’t enough time for it to burn out. We raked the coals around to cool them off, then dumped 3 very large containers of water on it (I don’t know how big the container was, but I couldn’t lift it – I know that!), and finally – with a little help from the weather – it was finally safe to leave.

On our way home we stopped in at the Sheep Creek Lodge and had a really tasty pizza for dinner, along with a drink of some really good Alaskan made vodka (birch flavored even!).

And yes, he slept the whole way home while I drove again. But at least I now have a very impressive colorful bruise to show for my weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Again with the Roller-Coaster!

And here I thought I was done with the ride… but it’s the DOW that’s going up and down this time, not me.

Have you been watching? It’s been quite the ride, let me tell you. I don’t even want to know how much I’ve lost lately.

Monday it plummeted 634 points.
Tuesday it came back up 429 points.
Wednesday it sunk again, down 519 points.
Thursday saw it swing back up again, 423 points.
Today it continued on up, but at a more leisurely pace with a gain of 126 points.

According to the papers, this was “The wildest week on Wall Street since the financial crisis in 2008”

“The blue-chip index had four 400-point swings in a row for the first time in its 115-year history.”


My To-do List

     Install 5 or 6 bulbs

     Clean up excess glue
     Tighten up fastenings
     Sand and/or resurface table top

     Fix supports
     Tighten up fastenings

Glass Cabinet:
     Install1 light bulb
     Clean up glass
     Arrange tea accessories
     Set up Mrs. Tea

     Make sure it’s working

     Arrange monthly kits

     Determine sturdiness
     Arrange supplies

Digital Picture Frame:
     Load photographs
     Hang on wall

     Install doors
     Paint doors

     Finish installing
     Touch up with paint

     Install shades

     Arrange accessories

     Install weather stripping around door
     Sweep floor 
     Rearrange shelving
     Break down boxes for recycling

Dining Rm:
     Rearrange shelving
     Bring in 2 bookshelves (from stairs)

     Arrange bedding in dresser

The Second Helping

It was such a nice sunny day yesterday I figured it would be the perfect time to get the second coat of stain on the garage door. I had worked on it last year, sanding off the old stuff and applying the first coat. Over the winter that got soaked in, so it really needed another.

It’s a fairly easy job, and only took an hour or so. The hardest part was getting the weather stripping off prior to painting – it’s screwed in with like a million screws, and I don’t have the power tools like Rob does, so had to make due with a good ol’ hand powered screw driver.

The door really soaked up the stain, too. Rob says I should do it each year, but that each year it will need less and less.

I also need to do the walkway and entry way, but that needs Rob’s air compressor to blow away all the debris so I can get a good layer down without dust in it.

When I look at pictures from before and compare them to now – wow… it really needed attention, and looks so good now.

Oh So Close!

I made a huge leap of progress on my craft room last night! I’m so excited about it…

Rob came over last night (rather late, I might add) and helped me bring up all the furniture out of the garage and into the spare room. The table barely fit thru the door, but with some rather ingenious maneuvering he got it in. I have it set up with one flap down (against the wall) and the extra leaf put in, so that I can set all 5 antique chairs around it. Both the table and all the chairs still need some attention, but they are at least usable if I’m careful with them.

Next to be put in place was the glass cabinet that used to set next to Stan’s chair out at the farm. It needs a light bulb and a good cleaning, but is otherwise good to go. I’m thinking I will put my tea pots and china cups in there, and if I can figure out how to fit it in I may even bring up my Mrs. Teapot (by the makers of Mr. Coffee) so I can serve tea while crafting with friends and family!

I put the antique-looking radio/cd/casset/record player on top of the glass cabinet. Mother says it had been Grandma Dorothy’s, but she had never even taken it out of the box. Do you think it will be safe enough to place my Mrs. Teapot on top of the radio? Or should I scoot it over and make room on the cabinet itself? I’ll have to think on that a bit.

The craft cubbies got moved up next. Down in the dining room I had them set up in a stair-type format, but that arrangement won’t work up in the craft room – so they are now just two cubbies high and 4 cubbies wide, forming a nice low “shelf” under the window. I put my Goldfish Plant on the shelf, and will have other nick-knacks and supplies as needed up there. Of course, I shall have to leave room for the most important adornment: my girls will love sitting up there to look out the window!

Mother had also given me a tall shelf unit from the Amish Treeforms place out in Wasilla which now resides next to the cubbies. It’s a beautiful piece, and will hold all the monthly kits that I have. That’s tonight’s chore: get everything in place, organized and cleaned up – both in the craft room and in the dining room. I may even clean out the garage a bit.

The finishing touches included hanging up the clock and placing the lamp on the table. We talked about installing the digital picture frame on the wall, but I may get my sister Heather to do that for me. She has one herself, so would know how to load it up and get it going. Rob has a flat screen monitor he’s going to loan me (thank you Trey!) which can be hooked up to the cable outlet, and he still needs to install the window blinds and closet doors.

Oh, and I have plans for getting my artist friend Lorna to pain the closet doors! I’m thinking a nice garden scene, with fireweed and what not would look just wonderful.

So, now the real question is: Does anybody want to come over and play with me? We can have a Craft Day together!

Monday, August 08, 2011

What a Week I’m Having!

That’s actually my favorite line from that old movie “Splash” starring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks. The dentist who is trying to get proof that mermaids actually do exist has just been stabbed in the leg with the Novocain needle and is wobbling around with his arm in a cast and I think his neck in a brace even. Anyway, it’s a cute line.

In my case, it would be more descriptive to say “What a Weekend I Had!” but that didn’t really fit the movie reference.

Saturday morning, I was supposed to give the Discovery Tour at the zoo, but just couldn’t face dealing with tourists so was not looking forward to it. Thankfully, just as I got to the parking lot, I got a call from Rob who invited me to join them for a late breakfast.

After helping Rob cook biscuits and gravy for 4, we gathered up a few of the neighbor’s kids and headed out to the go-carts. The kids had a great time racing around the tracks while Rob and I had fun watching them from the sidelines. Boy, it was expensive, though! It’s only $5.00 a ride – but each ride is only about 10 minutes long, and there were 4 kids. They each went 3 times, so that was $60.00 for about half an hour’s entertainment.

But then it got REAL fun! We dropped the neighbor kids off back at their house and took off for a hike on one of my favorite trails: South Fork Eagle River! It was raining, so the parking lot actually had a few spaces open, and there weren’t that many people on the trail itself. I had forgotten to bring my rain coat, but since I tend to overheat when I hike anyway I was just fine with the waffle-weave Henley I had on and was able to give my button-down shirt to Trey, who was shivering in his t-shirt.

I had such a good time up there! My head was feeling good, my legs had just the right amount of burn to them, and the rain was just a light continuous misting. It was awesome!

We even made it all the way to the bridge finally! I’ve been on the trail numerous times over the past few years, but have never actually made it that far before. Although, truth be told, just the kids and I made it – Rob and his friend Dustin took a side trip up the mountain to see how far they could get in that direction.

On the way home, we all stopped off at a Japanese restaurant for some sushi and saki (okay, the kids did NOT get any of the saki – just Rob and I) then we stopped off at Freddy’s to get some movies and ice cream.

To end our day we all plopped down on various chairs & couches, ate our ice cream, and watched “The Adjustment Bureau” starring Matt Damon.

On Sunday, I got another phone call from Rob inviting me over for breakfast – this time we had sourdough pancakes with pecans and caramel cooked into them. Yum! The sourdough starter he uses is taken from my Mother’s starter, which is taken from my Sister’s starter, which is apparently taken from somebody else’s starter, and so on – and is supposedly a very old sourdough starter.

While they were getting things ready for the day, I borrowed Rob’s computer and downloaded the latest software update for my Kindle (my computer at home didn’t want to do it, for some strange reason) and even managed to buy some more gear (boots and shoes) for my Peruvian Expedition!

Once everybody was showered and organized and all that, we took off for downtown. Rob and Trey and the neighbor’s boy walked down to the Delany Park Strip to see the car show (over 300 cars expected to be entered this year!) while I took off to the 5th Avenue Mall with Sierra and the neighbor’s girl for some shopping. Two hours later, we regrouped in the Town Square Park to compare stories and make plans for the rest of the day.

This is where I threw in the towel. I really don’t enjoy shopping so had been rather worn out after two hours of it, and I knew that Rob really needed to spend these last few days with his kids by himself (no tag-alongs needed) – so I went home and they took off for dinner somewhere.

At home, I got laundry done, cooked up a batch of soup for my lunches, snuggled with my girls for a bit, and relaxed with a glass of wine and a so-so movie before going to bed for the night.

All in all, it really was a great weekend.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

I Changed My Name

Well, not really – although, to be honest, I’ve been thinking about doing just that.

What I mean on this posting, however, is that I’ve changed the name of my blog. Did you notice?

I have felt for quite some time that “Blog of a Zoo Volunteer” just didn’t accurately describe my blog – but it’s taken me this long to figure out how to change it.

Hopefully it won’t mess up all of my followers (to whom I am dumbfoundedly grateful – I have no idea why you follow me but appreciate the sentiment, and your comments too).

Le me know if there are any complications as a result – I’ll do what I can to fix them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pharmaceutical Scam

One of the more negative side effects of switching jobs is that – once again – I have to go through the probational period before my new insurance kicks in. Thankfully, it’s only two months due to Treeline’s very generous offer of extending my old coverage by one month. Still, two months without insurance can be… shall we say - a nuisance?

Case in point: my daily medication prescription is very close to running out - I probably have a couple week's worth left. As most of you know, the price of drugs can be astronomical without insurance, so I prepared myself for the sticker shock that I just knew was going to hit me when I refilled it.

I found myself at the grocery store the other day, so stopped by the pharmacy to ask exactly how much it was going to cost so that I could start saving up for it. I must say, I was stunned at her reply.

Care to take a guess?

I take a pill and a half each day, so a 3-month supply is 135 pills. With the old insurance’s 3-tier drug program, I paid just $10.00 a month – or $30.00 for the entire bottle.

The cost without insurance for the same amount of pills was…

Wait for it…

That’s right = $15.00!

I don’t even know what to say about that. I’m happy, of course. But come on: it’s actually LESS without insurance than what I’d been paying all along?

I suppose the lesson for everybody to take home here is = Check your prescriptions! You might actually be able to pay less by not using your insurance coverage!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Getting a Ticket

Once again, my big brother has saved the day!

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But really, he saved me well over $2,000.00 – and to me that pretty much counts as “saving the day”

He gave me 50,000 Alaskan Airline Miles so that I won’t have to pay for my ticket to Peru! I did pay for the transfer fees, but that was considerably less (like maybe a fifth of the cost) than what a round-trip ticket would cost, so I’m still way ahead of the game.

Now all I have to do is figure out exactly when I need to be in Iquitos, get the flights all figured out, and somehow get them to actually let me use the miles. I’m thinking I’ll just go to the airport and talk to a real person at the ticket counter. That is so much easier than trying to deal with it all myself, even if it will cost me an extra fee.

Me no hablo Espanol

As part of the preparations for my up-coming trip to Peru, I have decided to take Spanish lessons. I registered just last night; I’m so excited!

It’s an immersion program, as taught by Somos Amigos - I don’t know what that means just yet, but I’m sure it has some significance. I’m starting out in the Beginner’s class which meets each Wednesday night, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, September 14 thru December 7, with the week of Thanksgiving off.

The class cost $250.00 with an extra $35.00 for the book. I’ll have to go find a Spanish-English dictionary (they recommended the Oxford Dictionary) for the class as well. Hopefully Title Wave has a used one I can buy.

I didn’t think that was too bad a price: add it all up and divide it by the number of classes and it comes out to about $25.00 a night, or $12.30 an hour.

I used to speak Spanish back in my younger days, so realistically it shouldn’t be that difficult to find it again. That was a very long time ago, however – so don’t expect any miracles, please.

But even a little bit will help, I’m thinking.

And wouldn’t you know it – the teacher of the class is from Peru and has been to Iquitos numerous times! I totally plan to ask as many questions as I can think of during our time together.