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.