Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Christmas Day was fabulous!

I woke up around 8:00 ish, and snuggled with my girls for a while. Then went downstairs and did some stuff on the computer. Around 9:30 I put all my cold weather gear on and headed outside to deliver gifts to my neighbors – but had to make a bit of an unexpected detour to avoid the Moose that’s been hanging around the neighborhood lately. Apparently she was helping herself to a Christmas Meal consisting of my neighbor’s expensive shrubbery.

Once I got all those packages handed out (and even got a Christmas Hug) I headed on down to Palmer.

Oh my goodness, what a gorgeous drive that was! The entire way I kept having to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road because they kept wanting to stray off to take in the view! Thankfully, there was not a whole lot of traffic on the roads. The temperature was WAY down, like in the minus-twenties – so everything was Crispy Cold and Clear Blue.

I arrived at my sister house with plenty of time to hand out gifts, open the ones received, and help out with cooking the meal and setting the table. I even got to chat with Lauren for a while before everybody showed up.

Our guests for Christmas Day were: Stewart & Julie (my brother and his wife), Martha & Henry (Noel’s in-laws), Katy & Daren (my niece and her boyfriend), Lauren & myself, and Noel & Hank (my sister and her husband). The meal consisted of Prime Rib and King Crab, with green beans and mashed potatoes. For desert, Martha brought Pumpkin Pie & Pecan Pie.

After stuffing myself full of crab (sorry, Prime Rib is NOT my thing) I headed over to Mother’s house. She is sick with a cold, so I found her on her couch with a kitty, a blanket, and a book. We chatted for a little while, but I left fairly soon after – both to give her time to rest, and to get me home while it’s still daylight.

I spent the rest of the evening watching movies, snuggling with my girls, and making cards.

The PERFECT holiday.


I got a text from my sister the other day saying: Did anybody get Ruthie a strainer?

I replied with this text: Not yet, but I really need one.

To which she replied: Oh pooh. That was supposed to be for Lauren!

Imagine my surprise come Christmas Morning when I opened my gift and discovered – You guessed it!

A strainer!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vehicular Incident

I’m alright – nothing to worry about. But I did have an incident today.

I was driving south (towards Girdwood) on the Old Seward around 1:00 this afternoon. Just as I went through the intersection of O’Malley the back end of the truck in front of me popped open and a car battery flew out and hit me in the front, down low. My car then bounced over it and drug it underneath me for quite a while before it worked its way out.

The driver of the truck had no clue that anything had happened, so I followed him to his destination (he was taking a load of scrap metal and old batteries to Total Reclaim for recycling). He was very nice, very polite, and took responsibility right away. He gave me his name and phone number as well as his company’s name and phone number (he was driving the company vehicle) and told me that he would pay whatever it took to fix my car.

At that time, I had no idea what or even if any damage had been done, so I took it immediately to Kendall Toyota and had them look at it for me. Turns out, there was damage: the front grille was popped out, the bumper has a thumb-sized dent with chipped paint, the skid plate right behind the bumper has two or three very large dents/cracks, the oil pan is dented – but not yet cracked, and battery acid was sprayed all over the undercarriage of my car.

The mechanic washed all the acid off and then advised me on what I should do to fix it. The estimate he wrote up for my insurance company is for $533.50 plus $55.60 for the estimate. I still have to take it to a body shop to see how much it will take for them to fix the bumper, but I’m guessing it will be another $500.00 or so.

While at the shop, I called my insurance company and filed a claim. Once I got home, I went on-line and filled out an accident report with the police. Tomorrow I will call the body shop and see what they tell me. THEN I will call the guy and let him know what’s going on.

Hopefully, this will continue to go smoothly and not have any unpleasantness or I shall have to eat a lot of cookies.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Who Needs a Smartphone?

At dinner the other day, my brother went to look something up on his phone only to discover that the battery had run down.

So, he turned to me and said “Herman Melville

And I replied, “Moby Dick

A while later, amid all the chaos that two toddlers can create at the dinner table, he turned to me again and said “The Old Man and The Sea

And I replied, “Ernest Hemingway

He then looked at his wife and said, “Who needs a smart phone anyway? I have my sister!”

Winter is Here

Walking back to my house from the mailbox the other day, I came across some broken glass in front of my neighbor’s house.

In disgust, I said to myself, “Oh my gosh – would you look at that. How awful that they can’t even keep their own driveway clean.”

It actually took me several minutes to figure out that it wasn't broken glass at all: it was ice. The puddle had frozen over and then broke apart when they drove through it.

It’s going to be a weird winter, I’m thinking.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Just A Swangin!

Back in the mid-80s John Anderson came out with a song called “Swingin

There's a little girl, in our neighborhood.
Her name is Charlotte Johnson, and she's really lookin' good.
I had to go and see her, so I called her on the phone.
I walked over to her house, and this was goin' on.

Her brother was on the sofa, eatin' chocolate pie.
Momma was in the kitchen, cuttin' chicken up to fry.
Daddy was in the backyard, rollin' up a garden hose.
I was on the porch with Charlotte, feelin' love down to my toes.
and we were swingin' (swingin')
yes we were swingin' (swingin')

You know that one I’m talking about? I hated it. I mean, I really hated it. He sings it with a nasally, twangy voice that just grated on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. All I had to hear was the first few notes of the song, and I’d switch stations immediately.

Fast forward about 30+ years to last night, and I found myself at the Egan Center listening to none other than John Anderson live on stage.

It’s Mother’s fault – she bought the tickets as a donation to the Fraternal Order of the Alaska State Troopers (affectionately known as FOAST) and then gave them to me. I agreed to take them before I knew who it was I was supposed to go see.

I actually had a pretty good time, despite that horrible song – apparently, he had numerous other hits as well that weren't nearly as annoying (although he does sing them all with that voice…). And I have to admit: the man can play a guitar! Damn, he is good. He also puts on a good show, too – joking and telling stories in between the hits.

His opener was really good. I had never heard of Thom Bresh before, but now I do believe I’ll have to look him up and see if I can get a CD or two. He is what they call a Thumb Picker (“Not to be confused with a Nose Picker.” he said) which is a style of picking the guitar that makes it sound like three different instruments (drums, a base - one of those big violin-looking things, and guitar) all at the same time.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Wish I Had A Job Like That

As most of you already know, I had the opportunity to participate in the Denali Road Lottery this year. I’m currently working on a write-up for it to be added to my Travels page on my website. 
In the meantime, I crunched a few numbers… Wow! The Denali Road Lottery really pays off for the park!
According to what they told me, 9,340 people entered the lottery at $10.00 each.
That’s $93,000.00
They awarded 1,600 “winners” charging them $25.00 each.
That’s another $40,000.00
Only 1,420 actually participated however. Assume 2 people per car (could be more, though) at the park entrance fee of $10.00 per person.
That’s another $28,400.00
That’s at least an overall $1,618,000.00 for the park!
Which doesn't even include the fees you have to pay to camp there: The fee I paid was $44.00 – multiply that out by 1,420.
That’s an additional $62,480.00 for a grand total of a whopping $1,680,480.00
Assuming, of course, they all stayed inside the park and that each campground cost the same – which I’m pretty sure they do not.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Go Shopping!

Quite some time ago, I was “approached” – via email – and asked to write a posting on a company that I’d never heard of. Apparently, they got my name and contact information from a post I had written about Women for Women International – a company I not only have heard about but stand behind 100%. It is also a company THEY stand behind 100% - hence their contact with me.

Anyway, the company in question is called Uncommon Goods ( After doing a bit of research on them, I find them to be a very interesting company. They sell “handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people.”  

We can certainly use more of that objective in the world!

Here is a quote taken from the PR material they sent me:
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is a privately-owned retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. We run all our operations out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including our warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage. We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials. At the core of our company is a great respect for the integrity of the creative individual and the belief that it is our responsibility to use our business to impact the world in a positive way.

Getting back to the connection with Women for Women International and the whole reason I was contacted: Uncommon Goods has a program they call Better to Give. Just go to their website and do your shopping as usual. In the check-out stage, you will be given an opportunity to request that a donation be made in your name to charity.

Again, here’s a quote I’m taking directly from their PR material:
Better to Give: As an independently-owned business, we have the freedom to support causes we believe in and to impact the world in a positive way. With every purchase you make, we’re proud to donate $1 to the non-profit of your choice. Since we started the Better to Give program 12 years ago, we’ve donated over $300,000 to charities around the world!

Currently, they have four charities to choose from:

RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
American Forests protects and restores forests worldwide, helping to preserve the health of our planet for the benefit of its inhabitants.
Women for Women International provides women survivors of war with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency.
City Harvest strives to end hunger in communities throughout New York City through food rescue, distribution, and education.

With Christmas just around the corner – perhaps now is a good time to check this out.

Go Shopping! 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Really Don’t Like This

I've put off writing this in hopes that something would magically occur to make the words unnecessary; but that hasn't happened yet, and isn't likely to happen any time soon – so I’ll just have to bite the bullet and face the facts.  

I can’t go to Thailand next year.

The house needs a new roof and a new driveway, and there’s simply no way I can afford all of that and a trip on top of it all. I’m doing amazingly well financially speaking, but not THAT well.

It’s not that I’m canceling the whole idea entirely, though: I just have to postpone it indefinitely. Someday I’ll get there; I just need to keep saving my money until I get enough saved up again. And I can use the extra time to study up some more on archaeology and history, too!

Who Thinks Up These Things?

At work the other day, we were putting together a color board for a project we’re finishing up on with samples of all the paints, carpets, wall coverings, and whatnot.

The architect handed me a sample of the wood trim that would be used and asked me to go through the paint chips and find a good match, so I settled in at my desk and got to work.

Our paint chips are in a big box and are filed in order of color gradient, making it somewhat easy to at least start out in the right place. Once you get close, it’s just a matter of going one by one to see if it looks good or not.

As I was going through it, however, I was struck by some of the names I came across.

Ambitious Amber
Humble Gold
Compatible Cream

Who thinks up these things, anyway? And how would you put that on your resume? 

The Deal of the Century

I went out for a bit of shopping this weekend and ended up at Sports Authority. I needed some new hiking socks so wound my way down to the shoe isle, which just happens to have a really good sale isle as well. So of course, I had to check that out – and I actually found a pair of sandals that I liked, but they didn't have a price tag on them.

Luckily a salesperson was nearby, so I asked if he could find out the price for me. We walked up to the front and he waved the magic wand over them.

And then he waved the magic wand over them again.

And then he walked over to a computer and started punching in all sorts of numbers.

And THEN he called his manager to come to the front desk. Once the manager got there, they told me what was going on.

Seems the shoes apparently cost $9,000.00!

But they were kind enough to mark them down to $24.99 for me…

Friday, June 28, 2013

Weekend Getaway

I had the best weekend ever recently – I swear, it felt like an actual vacation. I felt so rejuvenated and refreshed when I got home afterwards. It was totally awesome.

Several months ago, I got myself a Groupon for a private cabin at the Knik River Lodge (50% one night’s stay) and another Groupon for a helicopter tour of the nearby Knik Glacier (50% off a half-hour tour). I posted on facebook about it, and my friend Marlene asked if she could join me.

The funny part of that was that she was in Panama at the time! The world is so small… and yet so big, all at the same time.

Anyway, we coordinated our schedules and got our reservations all worked out – and last weekend we set out on our adventure.

The drive out there was just gorgeous. Alaska really is a spectacular place, even when you've been here as long as I have. You just never get tired of it.

We left my house about 10:00 and got to the lodge around 11:00 or so. Our check in time wasn't until 3:00, so we took off on foot to hike the trails nearby. The mosquitoes were horrendous, as they are everywhere this year – but we had plenty of bug dope, so didn't get too many bites. After our hike we still had a little bit of time to wait, so we lay out on their lawn and dozed off for a bit, watched the people come and go, and saw the helicopters come in & take off.

Eventually, we got settled in to our cabin – just in time to head on down to their dining hall, which was in a Yurt! Our meal was absolutely wonderful: I had the salmon, she had the halibut. After dinner, we sat out on our private deck with a bottle of wine and watched the scenery as the sun slowly set. Well, actually we didn't stay up late enough to see it go down – but it did get slightly dusky by the time we went to bed.

9:00 the next morning saw us bright eyed and bushy tailed at the helicopter pad, waiting for our tour. This was my first ever experience in a helicopter, and I had such a fantastic time.

Helicopters Rock!

Our pilot was a very nice guy; retired cop and long-time Alaskan. He was very proud of his helicopter and kept calling it “the Corvette” meaning that it was a very fine craft. He took us out to the glacier and landed on the ice so we could get out and walk around a bit. He even collected some ice water for us to drink, and explained the history of ice (how it forms, why it’s actually blue, that sort of stuff). Once we were in the air again, he took us over to Colony Glacier so we could see Lake George, then flew down near the mouth of the Knik River so we could see the ice bergs.

Sadly the tour ended, so we checked out of our cabin and headed on down the road to Palmer. We stopped a couple times along the way to see the sights and ended up at Vagabonds for lunch. I showed her around town, taking her to the visitor’s center, the Presbyterian Church, the Half Moon Creek Gallery, NonEssentials, Fireside Books, and the second hand store. And to top off our visit, we ended up at Mother’s house and got a tour of her gardens.

It really was a great weekend.

Whew – So Much Going On

I've been so bad at updating my blog lately; life just somehow gets away from you if you’re not paying attention, you know? So, here’s a short summary for you:

Hiring a Handyman
When he left me, he left a lot of things half-done – so I hired a handyman to finish up a few things around the house. I had the guy fix the fence that had blown down in that big wind storm last year, install the door handle onto my screen door, take out the broken-down dish washer and put in new flooring & a curtain rod so I could create a “recycling center” in my kitchen, install a new garbage disposal unit in my sink, and fix the trash compactor. The guy did a great job and was very reasonably priced, so I will definitely keep his contact information handy for future use. Maybe I can get him to paint the inside even?

Classes at Summit Spice & Tea
I had such fun with the other classes I took last year I went ahead and signed up for some more this year – I even talked my niece in to going with me to a couple of them! She and I have already gone to the Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar class and will soon be attending the Infused Oil & Vinegar class. For myself, I will be going to both the Tea & Chocolate Pairings and the Flavored Chocolate classes.

Hiking This Year
I've written out a rather aggressive schedule for myself this year, but I think it will be a fun one. I am not required to do them all, nor am I required to hike all the way to the end of each one – my list is more an inspiration. But, so far I’ve gone on the Coastal Trail, the Smokejumper’s Trail, Powerline Pass, The Dew Mound Trail, Thunderbird Falls, The Butte, and out at the Knik River Lodge. Still left to go on the list is Ptarmigan Lake, Bird Ridge, Lost Lake, Turnagain Arm Trail, Gold Mint Trail, Johnson Pass, Winner Creek, and Resurrection Pass.

A New Roof
I decided to replace the roof on my house this year, even though it’s not leaking just yet. It’s old (30+ years) though, so really it’s time for a new one – and it’s a lot cheaper to replace it now rather than wait for it to be an actual problem, if you know what I mean. So, with that in mind, I called a company I’ve worked with before and asked them for an estimate. I was rather shocked when their estimate came in at $20,000.00 for a new roof - so got estimates from five other companies, all of whom came in around the $6,000.00 mark. Quite obviously, I chose one of the later companies, and will not be using that first one ever again! Anyway, I put a deposit down and the guy said they’d be starting my roof in a couple weeks.

A New Driveway too?
My driveway is slowing sliding down the hill. It started out, about 10 years ago, being right up next to my garage – but today you can actually put your fist into the gap that is forming, it’s slid that much. So I called the company who did the driveway back when, and he came out to inspect it and see what could be done. He actually had some good news, for a change. Apparently there is a warranty on my driveway that is still in effect! He is crunching some numbers for me right now, but said that if it went the way he thought it would go, he’d actually end up paying ME to fix my driveway! How sweet is that?

Friends Coming to Visit
I was so excited to learn that my good friend Joanna would be in town this month. About 6 years ago, she and her husband relocated to Australia – and I've really missed her. Sadly, I ended up getting sick the weekend they were here. What horrible timing! I did manage to see her briefly, and got a hug even, but I would rather have been able to spend more time. Another good friend of mine will be visiting next month: Shelly comes in for the July 4th weekend. She’s actually going to stay with me for a few days, so we’ll get lots of time to reconnect. I’m so happy!

One Year Ago
It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year already: I had my Neck Surgery on June 22, 2012. I have healed up so well, with hardly a scar at all. I sent a Thank You card to my doctor even – with a picture of my neck so he could see for himself how good he is!

Shopping Spree

Once again this year, my insurance company offered up an incentive to participate in their wellness program: $150.00 debit card to spend on anything you want. I see no reason to turn down free money, so again took the tests they requested.

Honestly, I don’t see why the entire office doesn't do this: not only are the tests required fully covered by our insurance – all you have to pay is the $25 Office Visit Copay – but we would get a discount on our premiums if we got 100% participation! And you really do get that $150.00 debit card that you really can spend anywhere you like.

Last year, I went shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond for new bed linens. This year, I went online to and got myself some toys for my card making hobby:

     Sizzix Big Shot Cutting and Embossing Roller Style Die-Cut Machine
     Spellbinders Grand Shapeabilities Templates: Wonderful Wings
     Spellbinders Nestabilities Mega Dies: Labels
     Cuttlebug All-in-One Embossing Plates: Bloom & Grow

Yay! I’m so excited – I've wanted one of these for quite some time now, and the templates I chose will be so much fun to play with.

And by the way, if you'd like to receive one of my hand made cards in the mail - send me your mailing address!

I Won Again!

I was so excited about winning that last contest by radio station 102.1 The Peak (a pair of tickets to a Jazz show at the PAC) I went ahead and entered in their next contest = and won again!

This time I have two tickets for the Portage Glacier Cruise, good through September 15, on board the mv Ptarmigan. I looked it up on the internet and found that it will be an awesome trip. I plan on making a day of it, of course.

In late July or early August my friend Marlene and I will drive out there, taking our time to appreciate all the beautiful scenery along the way. We’ll take the cruise and have fun out on the water. We’ll eat a picnic lunch out of the back of our car. We’ll hike the trails nearby, possibly the Trail of Blue Ice or the Byron Glacier Trail. And on the way home, we’ll even stop in at the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center for a drive-through.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

I Won! I Won!

I actually won tickets in a radio contest!

Well, actually it was a Facebook contest - but it was for a local radio station (thank you KDBZ-FM 101.2 The Peak). And honestly, I had forgotten that I even entered until I got a call from them telling me I'd won!

The tickets were for the Monterey Jazz Festival, featuring Dee Dee Bridgwater with the vocals, Christian McBride on the Bass (the big violin-looking thing), Benny Green on the piano, Chris Potter on the saxophone, and Ambrose Akinmusire on the trumpet.

What a show! Dee Dee has the most amazing voice; all the musicians were quite good, but I must admit I do love a good sax player.

Marlene and I also got to go to the Pre-Party ahead of the show, held at SubZero. They had free appetizers and special drinks, so we sat and chatted for a while, while listening to some local jazz players.

What an Awesome Surprise!

I stopped in at the bank on Saturday to cash a check. The teller at the window was very friendly, so we chatted for a while.

Apparently, she is VERY friendly = I actually got a birthday card in the mail from her last night! She had seen on my account that it was coming up soon, so got a Wells Fargo card and wrote on it for me!

Is that sweet, or what!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a meditative martial art based on softness and awareness rather than force and resistance. It is a series of movements practiced at a slow, rhythmic speed that promote relaxation, calm the emotions, focus the mind, strengthen the immune system and improve balance.

I have always been fascinated by this practice – and finally decided to give it a try. There are numerous reasons why now is a good time: namely I thought this would be a great form of physical therapy to continue healing after my surgeries! Also they were running a special deal on the first month’s membership – so I figured why not!

That seems to be my motto lately: Why Not!

Why not take a pottery class?
Why not go to Talkeetna on the train for a pie making class?
Why not pose for an artist?
Why not sign up for Yoga & Tai Chi at Spirit Path Yoga?

I am so enjoying myself! I’m sure I look like a complete idiot out there, since I have no idea what I’m doing, but I don’t mind. It’s fun and it gets me out of the house. My teacher keeps assuring me it will get easier as time goes by.

There were four other “newbies” when I went to my first class, but I seem to be the only one to come back for more. The rest of the class has been practicing together for several months, so they are very coordinated and look like they know what they’re doing.

Who knows, by the time I head off to Thailand for my archaeology expedition I just might be good enough to be able to practice on my own!

As an added incentive, the teacher mentioned something about her teacher going to Thailand himself to give a few classes over there: maybe I can stay over an extra day or two to learn from a real master? I need to look in to that possibility further.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Things Are Looking Up

My weekend-getaway to the Knik River Lodge has some further developments to report: I’m really getting excited about it!

First: I was talking to a friend about my plans and mentioned that I really would like to take a helicopter tour while I’m there but it’s just too darned expensive so cannot justify taking one. They charge $325.00 for the tour which includes a 30 minutes helicopter flight, glacier landing, complimentary hot drinks, and the use of non-slip overboots for the guided tour on the glacier itself. BUT – as luck would have it – I managed to find a Groupon special for only $159.00 (over half off) and thought “Why Not!”

So, now I’m going on a helicopter tour!

Second: I posted a link on my facebook page about it and my friend Marlene saw it and offered to go with me. Now I have a traveling companion to share this experience with! She is in Panama at the moment, but should be home soon so we can coordinate our schedules and book our cabin.

This just keeps getting better and better!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Painting My Birdhouse

At the beginning of March, as you might remember, I signed up for a pottery class at the Clay Owen Studios where I made a birdhouse. When I finished making it, Autumn – the owner – told me it would have to set awhile to dry out before it could be fired. She said she would give me a call within the next week or so to let me know when it was time to come in and glaze it before the final firing.

Well, life being the way it is, she forgot. Actually, I did to – until the other day, when I finally contacted her to ask what was going on. She apologized and said it was definitely ready for me – so I made an appointment and scheduled myself the perfect day to go in.

That was today! I headed on down to her studio after work and spent a very pleasant 2 hours carefully painting my creation.

There was one tiny little problem with my birdhouse, however: the roof fell off during the initial firing! Autumn wasn’t entirely sure what she was going to do about that, but said that more than likely the glazing will act like a glue on the final firing and hold everything in place for me. Otherwise, we’d have to figure out something else to do.

That actually made it easier to paint, truth to tell. I ended up with a blue birdhouse, green leaves, red berries, and 3 dragonflies: one orange, one yellow, and one purple. The roof is blue with red flowers.

Hey! I just realized something. I basically have a rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple. That’s pretty cool.

Again, Autumn said she would call me in a week or so to come pick up my creation. Hopefully we both remember this time.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Continuing Down the Healing Path on My Own

I am very happy to announce that I no longer have to go to physical therapy!

It’s been a long and rather painful journey, but thanks to Carol, Marlene, Bill, Korey, and Kaz (my physical therapists at Alaska Health Quest) I am healed enough to be turned loose on my own!


On a brief side note here, I have to say that Premera Blue Cross has been just wonderful throughout this whole ordeal. They have paid exactly what they said they would, with no muss or fuss at all.

The final numbers are:
            Total price for the neck: $99,224.64
            Total price for the shoulder: $32,252.32
            Total price for physical therapy: $ $5,550.00
            Grand Total Billed to Insurance: $137,026.96
            My final cost: $12,732.76

Now that I’m on my own, I do still have exercises that I’m supposed to do – I’m not completely out of the water! But my sister-in-law gave me one of those big blue exercise balls, so I’m good to go.

I have also signed up for Tai Chi lessons at Spirit Path Yoga: I’m pretty excited about that. My first class is tonight: we’ll see how it goes. I also plan on taking their stretching class on Sunday morning. I figure between those two classes and my exercises at home, I should be back to 100% in no time.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Pet Peeves

One of my biggest pet peeves is being interrupted: I really hate that.

Invariably it happens this way:

I’m at work, talking to a coworker about an issue with the job at hand. The architect walks up and immediately butts in and starts talking about his issue at hand. He doesn't apologize, or say “Excuse me” or anything like that. He just starts talking like I’m not even there.

Yes, it’s almost always a man. I’m sure some women do it as well; I've just never encountered it.

No, it’s not always the same man. It can be – and has been - pretty much any man I've ever worked with.

What this tells me is either A. a woman’s conversations are clearly unimportant and aren't worth the air it takes to voice them, or B. his issues are way more important that anybody else’s issues and should therefore be moved to the front of the line regardless of what else is going on.

Can it be, perhaps, that the guys aren't even aware that they’re doing that? Can they be that self-involved that they don’t realize that other people have things to talk about?

Or am I just being over sensitive?

What do you think?

Some More ME Time

I had so much fun on my last two trips (Seward and Talkeetna) that I went ahead and booked myself on another weekend get-away: this time, I’ll be staying at the Knik River Lodge. This is actually quite near where I grew up, so it will be like old times: combing the riverbed for driftwood, hiking thru the forest, climbing trees and drinking in the gorgeous scenery. I am so looking forward to it!

From their website ( it looks like I will be housed in my own private cabin with a king sized bed. The restaurant is a yurt, which will make it seem like I’m back in Mongolia for dinner. For entertainment during my stay, they offer helicopter tours, ATV tours, glacier dog sledding, and guided hiking tours complete with ice climbing. While I would absolutely LOVE to go on a helicopter tour, I really don’t have the money for that. So I will simply settle for hiking around on the trails by myself.

I plan to bring my camera, of course, as it will be July when I’m there and the foliage will be just beautiful. I will also bring my crafting supplies to work on, since that is very relaxing for me. As always, I will have my Kindle as well: my cabin comes with a private deck with unrestricted view of the glacier, so I can sit and read will into the night.

Don’t get me wrong: I would much prefer to share this and other such trips with Him, but I must admit I am really enjoying this ME time. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The U.S. Postal Service

I have a friend who moved to Australia a few years back, Joanna. She is originally from Poland and does the most beautiful Beadwork you’ve ever seen!

Anyway, I bought her a few“Alaskan” things the other day. You know: a couple mugs, some coasters, a deck of cards, a hot pad & dish towel set, some coffee – that sort of thing. I thought it would be fun to send her a little surprise, you know?

So I go to the post office last week and ask them what box should I use? They point me in the right direction and hand me all the paperwork that would be required and off I go to package it all up.

Today I went back to the post office to mail it, and the lady (the exact same one who helped me last time) says “Oh, you’ve used the wrong box. If you use this one, it will cost you $85.00 to mail it. You should use that one over there, instead. It will cost only $35.00 to mail it.”

Mind you, the box I used was the one she told me to use.

So, I go get the NEW box and transfer everything in to it, tape it all together, and get back in line. When I get back to the lady “helping” me, she weighs the box and says “that will be $58.00 please”

WTF! Not 5 minutes ago, she told me it was going to be $35.00! I don’t get it. How could the price have gone up in that short of time?

Actually, the lady “helping” me didn’t even understand what had just happened. All she could do was tell me what her computer told her.

So – Joanna, if you’re reading this – expect a rather expensive box in the mail soon!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chocolate Tasting

The same company who hosted the Tea Tasting Class that I attended last month (Summit Spice & Tea) put on a Chocolate Tasting this time – so of course I had to go. They also have an Oil Tasting Class, if anybody is interested.

This time the café was set up in a more intimate way, with the 3 tables separated out so that eight people could sit together as if for dinner. The places were laid out with a glass of water, a cup for tea, and a piece of paper with a grid of 15 squares (5 across and 5 down.) Each square had a little chunk of chocolate placed on it, and a separate paper listed the information for each piece identified by its corresponding number from the grid.

As before, the class began with the instructors giving the basic information on Chocolate: where it came from, how it’s grown & made, some history of its use, things like that. After fielding a few questions from the group, we got to the important part of actually tasting our chocolate.

The first two were each 60% Dark; a Trinitario chocolate from the Caribbean and a Criollo chocolate from the Dominican Republic.

These were followed by a 64% Dark from Costa Rica, a 66% Dark from Bolivia, a 68% Dark from Oregon, and a 70% Dark from Honduras.

Then we had three 72% Darks, from Tanzania, Cuba, and France – followed by two at 75%, one from Madagascar and the other from San Francisco.

Getting darker now, we got to the 80% and 85% ones from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador respectively.

We ended our gastronomic chocolate tour with a 100% Dark that is typically used for baking, just to give us a taste of the pure product with no additives.  

As with the last class, I received a 15% off coupon and was able to purchase 4 of my favorites: a 60% bar, a 70% bar and two different 75% bars.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

An Experiment

A friend of mine always tells me that I should go to a bar and pick up men. He seems to think that all I need to do is go sit there and allow all the hundreds of men to come talk to me – which honestly is sweet of him. But the reality of it all is that when I do go to bars, absolutely NOBODY comes to talk to me. I’m not sure why that is: am I too ugly? Am I too old? Am I too intimidating? Do I dress wrong? Smell bad? Have spinach in my teeth? Who knows…

So the other day I decided to conduct an experiment.

First, I placed the following ad on Craig’s List, in their Strictly Platonic section:

I will be in the bar at Suite 100 on Friday after work. It would be nice if somebody came up and talked to me.
Go on, take a chance! Who knows, you might actually like me.
I get off work at 4:30 and will be sitting at one of the tall tables reading my Kindle, eating a bowl of chowder, and enjoying a drink.
I am 47, tall HWP, long red hair & freckles, single, no kids, well read, well traveled. I do have drama, but that's because I have a life.

Then, I fielded all the hundreds of emails I got. I was quite surprised at that part, let me tell you. I had no idea I would get such a response! 

A few of them were entirely inappropriate, complete with pictures of certain male body parts. 

A surprisingly high number of the emails were from 24 year olds – mere children! What’s up with that, anyway? I clearly stated that I was 47 – and yet these guys were still trying to entice me over for a quickie.

Several emails were from honest men who were intrigued by my posting but were not able to go on the date specified and asked if I would be interested in meeting up some other day. Honestly, I actually accepted some of those offers. I am always interested in meeting new people, and they sounded nice. Time will tell.

But a vast majority of the responses I received were from guys – of all race, size, and age – saying they would be there. I started to get a little bit concerned, actually. I pictured myself at the bar surrounded by a mob of men all vying for my attention. Rather conceited of me, I know.

So, on Friday, I headed on down to Suite 100 to see what the night would hold for me. I got my table, set up my kindle, ordered my drink & a bowl of chowder, and settled in. 

An hour and a half later, I paid my bill and left.

Absolutely NOBODY came over to talk to me. 


Build Your Own Birdhouse

I bought a DealSaver Coupon for a Pottery Class the other day, and had such a good time at it!
It was more of an assembly class, though, as the potter had all the parts pre-made for me. All I had to do was decorate and assemble. Still it was a lot of fun. Autumn (the owner & potter) was very nice & friendly, and showed me all the tips & techniques. 4 people had signed up for the class, but for whatever reason I was the only one who actually showed up. And of course I showed up early – but Autumn let me start early anyway, so that was cool. 
I started out with just the base, which was still wet and soft (of course). Using extra clay and some molds, I added my embellishments while Autumn worked on a vase she had been commissioned to make. Once I got my dragonflies placed on the base and the hole cut for the door, Autumn showed me how to flip the whole thing over and attach it to the floor. That’s when I realized I had put all my dragonflies on in the wrong direction! I didn’t think about the fact that I had been working on it upside-down… Oh well, that just added some Charm! Next I got to work on the roof, this time using stamps and a pick. Putting a roof on the top of a dome is not that easy; hence the lop-sidedness of my creation. But again – More Charm!
My little house has to dry out now, but in a week or so Autumn will call me to come back and finish up. I assume I will be painting it, and then firing it in her kiln. I have no idea how I’m supposed to hang the thing up – but will figure that out when the time comes. It may end up staying in the house: perhaps up in my craft room.

Monday, March 04, 2013

My Weekend Getaway

Saturday morning I headed off to the Railroad Station bright and early. The depot had some exhibits set up inside for the Fur Rendezvous celebration so I got to peruse them while waiting for the train. Since its wintertime, the train was not cram-packed full – so I got a row of seats to myself and could curl up to read my book without interruption. I treated myself to breakfast in the dining cart even – which had to be the worst food I've had in like EVER.

The early morning fog eventually lifted but left behind the hoarfrost on all the trees; everything literally SPARKLED in the deep blue skies as we went past. It almost hurt to look at – which was when I realized that I had forgotten to bring my sunglasses. Oh well…

We got in to Talkeetna and were met by the guy from The Roadhouse who was sent to carry our luggage for us. We checked in and got settled in; my room was upstairs tucked in to the corner overlooking Main Street.  There were two ladies on one side of me (both were there for the class like I was) and a couple with their dog Hector on the other side. The bathroom just across from us was shared by all.

The Pie Making Class was from 3:00 to 5:30, and since it was only 11:30 I had plenty of time to hit the trails. I bundled myself up and headed on out the door. 10 minutes later, I started peeling off layers! It was a lot warmer than expected, especially since I was moving. But oh goodness, was it gorgeous out there!

There were three of us in class that day: Trisha (the pastry chef and owner of The Roadhouse) said that she could take as many as 5 to 7 people but I honestly don’t know how they’d stuff them all into the kitchen there. It’s a working kitchen, so the whole time we were learning about pie crusts and baking, the other cooks were bustling around making orders and washing dishes.

And may I just point out here that Trisha is probably about 5’4” tall – and the kitchen is built for her. It is most definitely NOT built for a 6 foot tall Amazon.

They had 4 different filling possibilities we got to choose from: I chose to make a Mixed Berry Pie, Trisha made an Apple Pie, Marie made a Black Berry Pie, and Tia made the Blueberry-Rhubarb pie. All of them turned out so good! They had our pies boxed up and waiting for us at the train the next day, along with recipe cards and tips of the trade.

After our class, Marie broke out a bottle of wine she had brought with her and we all sat around the fireplace chatting. Several locals ended up joining us, including Trisha our chef, and we had a great time. Eventually, however, my stomach told me it really was time for dinner – so I headed on down to the brewery for a veggie sandwich and some beer.

The next morning turned cold – I walked down to the post office to mail off some cards I had written and had planned on just continuing on with my walk but turned right around and went back to the roadhouse. It was just way too cold for me! So instead I sat down in the common room to read my book, listen to the guitar player, and do some people-watching.

It warmed up later on so I did eventually go on another walk, making it across the river and out into the woods there – then back through town and back off down the old runway. Thankfully, Denali decided to put in an appearance so I got a few pictures of that.

All in all, it was a good trip. I met some really nice people and got a bit of exercise in. There were a lot of memories of Rob & me to deal with, however. I wasn't really expecting that, and it hit me pretty hard. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Closet Doors

Back when I painted my craft room, I realized that my closet doors were just one big blank spot in the room. My friend thought I should just paint them – but that gave me the great idea of having somebody paint an actual mural on them.

I found myself down at the table one morning wondering what I should have put on them, when I realized I was staring out the window at my back yard full of fireweed and wild iris.

“How pretty that is.” I thought to myself.

So, I contacted my friend Audra at the Star Dust Dezignz Studio and asked if she would be willing to step out of her comfort zone and do just that for me. Her usual canvas of choice is actually glass: she paints beautiful flowers and whatnot on glassware for the table. But she does such beautiful work; I just knew she would be fine.

It actually took her a while to warm up to the idea. But finally she agreed so I hauled my closet doors out to Palmer and handed them over.

Taking the closet doors down was no problem at all, particularly when my friend Rob did it for me. He even thought to write “top left” and “top right” on the edge of the doors so that she would know up from down and left from right. 

Getting them to fit into my tiny little Yaris was not as big a problem as I thought it would be, either. Lay the back seat face down; lay the passenger-side front seat back; then open the hatch and slide them in cross-waysVoila:  two 6-foot bi-fold closet doors really DO fit!

Not a week later and Audra called up to say they were ready to come home. She sounded really excited about it, too. I hopped in my car and headed on back to town, arriving at the studio within the hour.

Let me just say this: wow. I am so pleased with the results! She did an awesome job, as I knew she would. They are EXACTLY what I wanted! I can highly recommend her to you, if you have closet doors you’d like painted.

However, once I got them installed back in my craft room, I realized right away that something was wrong: the trim around the doors was orange and clashed horribly with my new pretty flowers.

Thankfully, that was easy enough to fix. The very next weekend found Thing and I with paintbrush in hand changing the orange trim into a beautiful dark green (matching the accent wall adjacent to the closet).

I love it!

Just For Me

I’m really getting the hang of this “just for me” stuff, and am quite enjoying myself.

Last week was my tea tasting class (see previous posting), this week will be my Talkeetna trip (posting soon to follow) and the following week will by my chocolate tasting class (again, posting to follow).

And to keep the ball rolling, I just booked myself in a pottery class! I’ve always been interested in that, just never really did anything about it. So, for this class, I will be making a bird feeder. Apparently, the instructor will have the major pieces already made: I will simply be putting it together and embellishing it. The class includes coming back for the glazing portion as well.

When all is said and done, I will have a new bird feeder to put outside my kitchen window!

I’m pretty excited about that.

Tea Tasting

Last week was my tea tasting class at Summit Spice & Teas – I had a lot of fun with it.

They had the café set up with tables in a big U shape for the 20+ people who attended the class. Each person got two small cups, and each table had a big urn to dump leftovers into as well as a small bowl of saltine crackers to “cleanse the palate” after each tasting.

After introducing themselves, our instructors talked to us about the history of tea, how it’s grown & harvested and then how it’s processed into the teas we drink. Then they started pouring the teas to taste and talked to us about the particulars of each one.

In total, we tried eleven different black teas (one we tasted twice, a first brewing and then a second brewing):

6 from India
Darjeeling Soom TGFOP 1st
Jun Chiyabari
Ceylon Courtlodge FBOP
Ceylon Lumbini FBOP EXS
Assam Rembang
Assam Sewpur TGFOP1

3 from China
Bi Luo Chun Hong Cha
Keemun Mao Feng GFBOP
Golden Needle 1st

1 from Africa
Kenya Milima Estate

1 from Vietnam
Nam Lanh Estate FBOP

My favorites were the Assam Rembang from India and the Bi Luo Chun Hong Cha from China. We got a 15% off coupon for attending the class, so I’ll have to go back and buy them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Research for Thailand

I will not be going on my next big vacation until sometime early 2014 – but that gives me plenty of time to study up and do some research on the subject.

With that in mind, I went to Title Wave the other day and picked up a couple books to add to what I already had. I now have a stack of what I hope are some really good books waiting for my attention.

The Civilization of Angkor 
     by Charles Higham
Ancient Angkor 
     by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques
Discovering Our Past: a Brief Introduction to Archaeology 
     by Wendy Ashmore and Robert J. Sharer
Archaeology: Theories, Methods, and Practices 
     by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn

Those first three really do look interesting; I think I will enjoy reading those. That fourth one, though – it’s more of a textbook for a class – not sure that I really want to get quite that in-depth on this. But we’ll see how it goes.

Who knows, I may find it completely fascinating and devour all four of them in one month!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Being Open to Possibilities

I believe in keeping an open mind. Things sometimes happen that you do not expect, and if you’re not paying attention you might miss an opportunity for something new and wonderful. Of course, it might also lead you down the wrong road – so you still have to keep your wits about you. But I do try to stay open to new ideas, at the very least.

That being said: twice now in as many weeks I have come across a rather interesting proposal. Well, two proposals, actually – but each one dealing with the same subject. And I’m inclined to believe that “something” is in the air - some “change” is about to take place. I can either choose to go with it, or not.

Specifically, I’ve been “approached” by members of the same sex hinting at the possibility of budding relationships.

Now, I am not lesbian, by any means. Nor am I homophobic or a “gay basher” in the slightest. I truly believe that if a person is able to find love and have the complement returned to them in kind – it really doesn’t matter if it’s a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. My own personal line would be drawn at relationships with members of another species!

Still, if I were to see where this particular trail leads too, it would be with the caveat that I am simply not interested in a romantic and/or sexual relationship. But it’s entirely possible that I might find out something about myself that can assist me in my life’s quest.

So, what should I do? 

Any advice?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Life 2.0

Actually I’m probably on revision 5 or 6 by now. I've lost count. But the point is: I am reinventing myself yet again. Not exactly by choice, maybe - but I am doing it, slowly but surely.

One of the ways I am doing this is by treating myself to some road trips. The first one I've already told you about: spending the weekend in Seward a while back. My next one will be a train ride! I saw an ad from the Alaska Railroad for a package deal and figured “Why not?” 

So: round trip tickets from Anchorage to Talkeetna, overnight stay at the Roadhouse, and (drum roll, please) a Pie Making Class! How cool is that? I get to learn how to make pie. Unfortunately they didn't have any openings until March, but I guess that gives me something to look forward to.

I am also registered for a couple classes at Summit Spice & Tea: first a tea tasting class in February and then a chocolate tasting class in March. And I bought myself tickets to see some folk music at the PAC in February.

Basically, I am doing all the things I've been wanting to do but haven’t because I knew he would not be interested.

What I am not doing is going out on dates.

Everybody kept telling me that’s what I needed to do, so I tried it - with disastrous results. I probably should apologize to the man who took me out for drinks only to have me burst in to tears right in the middle of it all. I’m sure that was not at all what he expected.

But I did at least lean something from the experience: I need to concentrate on ME now. At some point in the far distant future I might be ready for something else, but for now it’s just me.