Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Welcome to the Hotel California

My friend from grad school came to spend Christmas with the Crazy Clan. The parents have been renovating the house and haven't gotten a guest room set up yet so I decided to get a hotel room. Here's how that panned out.

The view. Ah, the smell of rubber in the morning!

So, the cleaning lady's been on a break since 1982?,

Gag me. That's hair on the blanket and hair on the ceiling in the shower. The CEILING.

My poor friend. The lesson learned here- always ask to see the room and never pay for the room without seeing it and then come back at 8PM. You might find yourself staying in the Bates Motel, sleeping in yoour jacket on someone else's hair.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

California Dreamin

I had three flights, one two hour delay, one migraine and no food before hitting Oakland 15 hours after leaving my house. I didn't get my bag until 5 the next day so thankfully I have a friend in SF who can lend me some clothes. Plus, my brother's jeans look terrible on me.
I took a nap and then headed straight for sushi and drinks at my old neighborhood bar. The King Tut Exhibit at the DeYoung Museum the next day was very interesting. I wish I could've taken some photos with my BORP friends but my camera was in my bag somewhere in Seattle. It was really nice to see everyone and I love being able to be helpful. It was an equal access day and the museum was closed to the public so it wasn't crowded at all. They had set up a tactile exhibit for the blind which was really cool. Mt friends got to feel a small alabaster pot from the period and then many replicas of the statues and pottery on display.
Lots of other highlights to tell you about including visiting with my friends and family, shopping in actual stores, eating in my favorite restaurants and the 50 degree temperature change. And the best hotel stay ever. More to follow but it's time for breakfast. I slept in a twin bed with the littlest niece, Sister Sassypants, last night and a chalkboard fell on me in the middle of the night. Definitely need some coffee.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This is how we do it

Field trip, Alaska style. One of my preschools came to my elementary school for a family sledding day. These pictures are from the top of the hill, looking down on all the brave little midgets heading home after two hours of sledding in 0 degrees. That's not a typo, 0 degrees. And who knows if the sun is coming up or going down but isn't it beautiful?

Friday, December 18, 2009

2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu

Today is the anniversary of one of the days that I almost lost a sibling.
Today is the anniversary of a day that I would have ceased to exist.
What a tragedy it would have been for the world to loose such fine ass specimens. A line from her favorite cheeseball movie:"If the good Lord would've made anything better, he would've kept it for himself!" Which applies to all four of us, of course. We can't help it, it's in the genes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Testing, Testing

Practicing using Google Docs. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter Wonderland

You knew it was just a mater of time before I used that title. Here are the trees outside my elementary school. This frost is so pretty! It's also been snowing over the past few days. I still get all excited and walk really slowly from my car into work with may face towards the sky. I want to catch it all in my hands like the little kids do. Whenever a new group comes into my room for their session I say something astute like "Look! It's snowing!!" and make them look out the window. The ones that still get excited are my favorite.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk?

I think we all know that I've never really been one to gravitate towards exercise. Slow and steady wins the race, that's my motto. However, with the darkness, the no friends, and the sorry excuse for anything resembling a scene of any sort, (food, theater, art, bars, etc.) I had to find something to do. Then my friend Marianne invited me to Zumba. Zumba is a latin dance class meant for people much less awkward than I. But I'm determined to keep going because it's so fun and I might actually learn some moves. Right now I pretty much stand there and watch the instructor's feet the whole time. Of course she's a perfect little 5 foot nothing blonde and I really don't think my body can move in the same amount of time her little one can. In fact, I'm sure that's why I'm always off beat.
Here's a little taste of Zumba for you. Watch the one in the green, that's totally me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Going Back

It's 9 degrees and I forgot to plug in my car so now it won't start. Looks like I'm not going anywhere for an hour or so but....
6 more days and I'll be back in California for 2 whole weeks!! Excited? Just a little. At least 40 degrees warmer, actual sunlight and PEOPLE! I like it here, I really do. But some things have just started to get to me. Like how no matter where I go or what time I go there, I never see a crowd. I don't really like crowds but I do like groups. Particularly if the members are my age and semi-atractive. I don't think I've had a flirtatious interaction in the entire four months I've been here. I may be getting older, but I'm not dead for the love of Rayjay.
Anyhow, I already have plans to hang with many of the friends I've been missing, like my BORP friends. This is a group of adults with disabilities, mostly folks who are blind, that go on social outings together. I've been volunteering with them for about three years as a seeing eye human. I'm so happy to be able to see them again because not only are they a damn fun group but they're amazing individuals who teach me something about how I approach life everytime I'm with them. We're going to see the King Tut exhibit at the DeYoung so I'll get a little culture in on this two week party.

This video is cracking me up. The dancing, the fashions...killing me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thursday's Child

...has far to go.

Tomorrow I have to tell a set of parents that their child is cognitively delayed. I really like my job but this is one part I could pass on. Why was she not in early intervention services? Why was she not in preschool? How did such significant delays get overlooked? All I know is that she needs some major intervention and I'm nervous about this first meeting. How to word things to be gentle yet clear. What kind of plan to write for her so we all feel we're doing our best. I know it'll turn out alright but I'm still anxious.

Last night was the Christmas program for one of my schools. It was cool to stand backstage and give them some encouragement on their way out. They all got so excited today, telling me that they saw me. If it's the little things that push you close to the edge, it's also the little things that pull you right back. And the knowledge that in TEN DAYS I fly back to The City for two whole weeks!!!!!
Embarcadero shots taken on a stroll with Killa Kelly a few years ago. Now we're both up to our asses in snow. My plan is to walk the streets of SF until I can't walk anymore.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm Trying Not To Loose My Head

It's funny, the little things that'll push you close to the edge.
I need to write three eligibility reports by Friday. I don't work well at home because I'll find anything to distract me from the task. Right now I have gingerbread men in the oven and a spaghetti sauce on the stove. I'm chatting with my uncle on Faceworld, watching SVU and getting ready to put a load of laundry in. I usually go to a late night coffee shop where I'm not allowed in the kitchen and don't have access to a TV to get anything done.
Tonight I went to the coffee shop, got all set up and then found out they closed in a half an hour. It was 5:30. When I asked where else I could go the only answer was Safeway. Safeway? Where the hell do I live? I wanted to cry or freakout but then I remembered that I'm supposedly an adult. Whatever that means. So I stuffed down the frustration like adults do and came home to anxiously watch the clock while doing anything and everything but what I need to be doing. That'll help.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Does anybody care?
SAD is real and I think I've got it. The sun comes up around 9:30 and sets about 4 but the problem is, it doesn't really come up. It just kinda gets lighter.
When I leave for work, it's pitch black. When I drove home, it's pitch black. I constantly feel as if it's midnight and I'm exhausted. I've decided the only way to get unSAD is to get regular physical exercise. I'm thankful to have some good friends to drag my lazy butt out when I just want to go to bed.

Self-timer in action. It was really hard getting back in the frame with snow shoes on. This was about 2pm and the sun was starting to set. To beer or not to beer? When you're wearing 4 layers and snow shoes, you really don't want to have to pee in the woods.

The Secret of Life

According to Grandma Hazel: Someone who gets you, even when you got your crabby pants on.

According to Grandpa Joe: A sense of humor and a stack of nudie pictures in the garage.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Days 3 & 4

You might recognize this view from a shot I took in the fall. Looking a little different now.

Made the parents very nervous by taking them 20 miles down an icy, unplowed back road. No cell service of course. What the hell else is 4WD for? They got to see a bunch of frozen lakes and a couple of good look out spots. On the way back we saw two moose and a little winter bunny. Mission accomplished.
I made halibut for lunch and then we hit the local kitsch shops. Carved antlers, wolf paintings and moose poo everywhere. Got my Christmas shopping done.
Then I took them to one of the local breweries so I could get the seasonal porter. Dad says I've turned him back on to beer this vacation. Another mission accomplished. Mom started a conversation with a couple of dudes sitting next to us, turns out they were headed to the same hockey game as us. Met up with dudes at the hockey game and the parents had a great time chatting and watching our team get spanked. Dudes said they would take me fishing today but they stood me up. Dudes, quit playing games with my heart.
Got the parents to the airport early this morning and was surprised to find it has four gates. I was picturing the one gate airport of Show Low, AZ but hey, we're big time here.
Now the house is quiet and I have more leftovers than I know what to do with. Overall, a great visit and a very nice Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Days 2 & 3

Were you wondering if I carved more than a turkey yesterday? Well I did, but the list did not include the mother. Just my finger. Actually, I peeled it - a good chunk right out of my knuckle. But, no blood got in the potatoes so it was all good. Turkey turned out well, neighbor came over, it was a very nice day and I even made cranberry sauce out of the last of my cranberry stash.
Today we woke to many inches of snow and decided to go to Homer. I was worried that the visibility would be poor and the parents wouldn't get to see the amazing views but check it out

GORGEOUS! And look how cute they are, freezing their asses off

After Homer we made it home in time for quick turkey sandwiches and a wardrobe change before going to the holiday light parade. "Parade" may be a little of an overstatement. I think there were about 7 entries.

Half of the parade minus the freezing temperatures.

Dad got a kick out of all the people sitting in their cars to watch the parade. They back into the spots to see the parade go down the frontage road and then pull out and turn around to see the fireworks in the other direction. We decided to go rogue and tough it out. Here they are freezing again. I didn't ask for permission to post these so here's the disclaimer: If you come visit me, chances are your mug will end up on the internet.

In between the "parade" and the fireworks you can warm up at the bonfire.The festivities were capped off with an impressive fireworks show. I love fireworks. You can't really beat the 4th of July show over Alcatraz, but Alaskan fireworks explode right over the Big Dipper and that's pretty damn sweet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 1

Parentals are here. I explained to the mother that after 4 months of no physical contact, one needs to ease in. She took it well. So far so good. I think we'll get some snow tonight and I got the menu under control. Cranberry bread, smoked salmon and jalapeno cheese dip for snacks, turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad, homemade sourdough bread for dinner and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
And now the snoring/chainsaw begins in the other room. Good. Lord. This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for earplugs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Outfit

There's been a lot of talk about Holiday outfits among the sisters. Here's my Christmas dress.

My favorite part is the description. "Be a leader of the fashion industry.".... "Howl will you style it?"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lucky Dog, Lucky Dog

The other day I came home and, after plugging ol' Bertha in, I found this bucket by my front door. I'm embarassed to tell you that I read the outside and looked around for ice melting. I then opened it and fully expected to see a bucket of water. 'Cause what else do you get when ice melts? But no, inside were a bunch of crystals. Obviously meant to melt ice but I was still confused. Was I supposed to do something with it? No one else had a bucket in front of their place. So I tracked down the owner and asked him and he tried not to laugh too hard at me. Apparently it's there for communal use and my apartment is just the central location. I wish they'd dump some in the damn parking lots around town. They're all covered in ice and one of these days, I'm goin' down. Hard. Pushing my grocery cart across it this afternoon was a whole new experience. But, I'm happy to report that you do get used to the cold. Today was about 13 and I was in sweatshirt. Just running errands of course. If I were spending any amount of time outside I'd probably be in that butt ugly coat.

Something very exciting happened to me today. I found a micro-brewery AROUND THE CORNER!! How have I not found it 'til now? I don't really know but I must've been a very good girl this year and Santa has granted me a Christmas miracle.
Don't worry, I'm not getting SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and trying to drink it away. One of these is for the Kasches. Honeymoon Heffe is described as "A true marriage between German and American styles" Pefect for a married German and Pennsylvanian. The otther is for next week when the parents will be here for Thanksgiving. On second thought, maybe I'll just crack that jug right now.

And remember the cranberries I picked a few weeks ago? Well, they are now Orange Cranberry Walnut Muffins. Quite good if I do say so. As you can see, I couldn't wait.
Ok, it's 6:45. Now what?
There is a sentence that echos to me through my past to which I give a lot of thought and loose a little sleep: "You should've been there."
I wasn't there when a good friend and father figure died many years ago. We knew he was dying and he and I had said our goodbyes. It was a painful but beautiful and healing thing and I felt he and I had an understanding. But, in the last few days the family tried to get ahold of me. I lived out of state and was young and dumb, all over the place, unreachable. I didn't know they were trying until it was too late. "You should've been there." Is what his son said to me when we spoke. And ever after I wondered if I had been selfish, if my friend had felt a need or a loose end because of my actions.
Today a friend of 17 years is getting married and I'm not there. We'll have many opportunities to be together over the coming years but this day can never be repeated so I give a lot of thought and loose a little sleep over whether or not I made the right decision. Will that sentence keep hanging in my head? The only thing I regret about this decision to move is the fact that I am absent from the celebrations that are important to my loved ones.

*I wrote this post awhile ago and then abandoned it. Lately some more serious things have been happening at home to make me feel this way and another post reminded me of this one. All I can do is send my love and support and remember that my friends appreciate it, no matter what form it comes in. Here's a quotation my aunt just emailed me which I enjoyed.

'May today there be peace within. May you trust
that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities
that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you'

Friday, November 20, 2009

I can't wait to get a ride to California

Making a CD for the little one back home. She's upset that I'm gone so I wanted to make her some thing personalized. Hopefully the other three don't get jealous. So far I've got some Coldplay, Spearhead, and Sugarland. I don't know that Paper Tongues is appropriate but that's what Aunties are for.
Last summer Spearhead played a free concert at Golden Gate Park called Power to the Peaceful. I really wanted to go but I didn't think I could get out of my summer clinic on time. I ended up getting there in time to climb down a steep, makeshift dirt trail into the little valley where the concert was and hear this band. Everyone around me was dressed in SF hippie couture and there I was, in my professional clinic clothes with dirt in my damn loafers. It was an awesome set and everyone was high on the hope for political change. I don't often side with the hippie crowd but that concert just seemed to bring out the love. Just one of those SF moments, I guess.
Other than that, I got nothin'. Except this post from one of my faves, Broke Ass Stuart, about one of my other faves,
Bob's donuts. I can't wait to walk the old 'hood in December!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trailer Trash

Ok, so. Long ago and far away, I did a short stint in a trailer park in Ocean Park, WA. The managers were a couple in their 60's, madly in love, and living life the way only royal fuck-ups who have seen the light and know it's coming for them can. Both were on their second or third marriage, both had grown kids in other states, both loved nothing more than a practical joke and to take in the area's strays (me and my rotten friends included). Kay was a mean cook and a believer in tough love. Ivan's favorite thing to do was convince visitors to moon passers by from their living room window. It overlooked the main roadway through the park and he could start some juicy gossip that way. On a good day he'd get 3-4 people standing up on the couch, their bare asses pointed at unsuspecting RVers.
At night, the older folks in the park would come down to the house to cook up a seafood feast and sip on some wine. I crashed the party whenever I could because the colorful jokes and stories never stopped and I loved listening to them. By the end of the night my cheeks would hurt from laughing so hard. I was hoping to capture some of this magic with the Empty Nesters Club. Not so, Hawkers excluded. Nice people, but maybe not the types to find random nakedness, dirty jokes and elderly abuse (i.e. getting 80 year olds drunk for comedic relief) amusing. To be fair, I don't think anyone could live up to those memories.
I'd post a picture of the lean-to I rented that summer or the group on our elk hunt but those are in a dank basement in CA. Here's one of the happy Pollack himself. That's a Winston in his hand. Smokers take note: he died of emphysema later that year. Maybe you should quit now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Update

I have to be quick, I have a group in five minutes.
I do not fit in with the Empty Nesters. More later.
Men Who Stare at Goats is dumb.
I made another friend, thank you, Facebook. We might go skiing on a frozen lake next weekend.
It was -18 degrees this morning. What the hell?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last night my friend in Portland asked me over the phone what it would take to make me stay here. I said three round trip tickets to California a year.
This morning my supervisor asked me what it would take to get me to stay here. Basically he told me if there's anything I want, all I have to do is ask. He's the second person this week to say that. Why did I not ask for a laptop? Still no power on the old 20 pound Toshiba but a new charging cord should be in the mail. We were standing in the snow covered school parking lot and a moose wandered by across the street. I basically acted like one of my ADHD first graders, blurting things out and jumping around so that pretty much killed the conversation and helped me dodge all commitments. I seem to be good at that.
Seriously though, this district is amazing. I'm not sure I'll ever find better but I'm also not sure I can continue to be so disconnected from my family and friends. I AM liking the snow so far but it's day three so we'll see how I feel on day 33 or 93.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Just one of the little differences in my life lately. Used to be, I thought socks were a wate of space and an annoyance on laundry day so I boycotted them. Now I'm eyeing thickness and wool blends like fine jewelry (or something else that people covet).
This morning I wore my snow boots fer realz and I have successfully driven to and from work for two days in the snow with no mishaps. Lets keep our fingers crossed, folks.
Another big difference? Instead of hitting the streets of SF with hot, young twentysomething friends, I'm now vying to get in where I fit in...the empty nesters club. So what if I'm a generation younger and never had a nest to begin with! People who know the ups and downs of life are my kind of people. Lets just hope they let me in.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Maybe I'll get the mail

Maybe not. These are terrible photos but this is the mama and two baby moose that've been hanging around my apartment. Normally I come around a corner behind that blue truck to get my mail. Good thing I skipped yesterday morning.

This weekend was a series of firsts. I drove in snow for the first time, bought my first set of studded tires and almost got killed by a moose for the first time. More embarassingly, I finished my first novel since grad school. Since STARTING grad school. I used to practically inhale any book I could get my hands on. Since college though, it's just lost the appeal. I wont even tell you what I read because that would cause even more embarrassment.

Anyway, yesterday I drove to Homer to buy my tires from someone off Craigslist. Mrs. Hawker came with me so we could do some shopping and stuff our faces at a good restaurant. We got in some prime binge eating, saw the first big snow of the season and I got to practice winter driving. A very productive day. By the time we left, the snow had turned to rain and washed the roads clean. So we're driving home, I'm watching the road but feeling confident since the ice and snow were gone. All the sudden, Mrs. Hawker yells, "Moose!" and kind of jumped out of her seat. A giant cow had come running out of the woods. She was aimed at my window, but decided to stop right after the pavement of the other side of the road. WHEW! Seems I need to watch more than just the road.

So then we had to stop at Tustamena Lodge and have some Prime Rib to slow our racing hearts. Because the soup, salad, calzone and plate-sized pizza slice in Homer just weren't enough.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Remains the best song ever. Just thought you should know.
This battery problem is seriously cramping my blogging style. Over 'n out.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Have a Little Help From My Friends

The last two Saturdays I've actually had PLANS and real people to hang out with. That's right people, I have FRIENDS. It's funny how the simplest thing like dinner at a someone's house can be so damn exciting and fun. It's a simple life, and I'm loving it.Last week Mrs. Hawker and I took her four wheeler to the beach and collected agates. Good times, beautiful day. Helped Mrs. Kasch and the Mister get a little more winter ready this weekend in exchange for excellent company over awesome seafood chowder, an interesting game of darts at the local bar (where you can only stay for an hour before the cigarette smoke starts burning your eyes and eating your lungs), a bunk for the night, a sourdough starter, breakfast and a slight hangover. Obviously the exchange rate was strongly in my favor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

California Runs Dry

That's the headline that'll run in this weekend's papers after the entire Irish-Italian family desends on Dixon, CA and cleans out every liquor store around. My grandpa, The Don, The Boss, El Jeffe, died last week seven years to the day that grandma died. Love you gramps, say hello to the rest of the family.

It's been a rough week, knowing the entire clan is gathering in California and I'm so far away. I'm missing one hell of a party, that's for sure. I don't regret moving here and never will but not being available to my friends and family doesn't feel good. Might as well be in a damn foreign country for the cost of getting home. And yeah, I'm breaking the no face pictures rule again but how could I not with this one?

If you go when the snowflakes storm

Driving home from Fairbanks, I got to see Denali on a clear, cloudless day. Apparently only something like 38% of people who come to see the mountain actually get to. Other times the cloud cover is so thick, you wouldn't even now it's there. That's exactly how it is on the Kenai. One day I was driving to work and there was a huge, gorgeous mountain in front of me that I hadn't seen before. It sounds funny to say "The mountains are out," but they really are like stars.

Alone at Denali State Park. That'll probably never happen again. Almost like the time I rode the 49 bus from California to Market St. on New Year's Day and no one else got on.

Dude looks like a lady...or something

I really liked what I could see of the town of Talkeetna the night I stayed there and decided to go back on my way home. I wanted to go to Denali Brewing Company since I've started a collection of pint glasses from all the breweries up here. So I rolled into town and noticed that the money I left for my campsite three days earlier was still there. Hello, refund! My 15 bucks, tacked to the board , reclaimed and spent at the brewery.

Another suprising find: I had the best falafel of my life in Talkeetna, Alaska. After explaining to my neighboring diners and new friends what it was (you know, since I'm so worldly), I got them to order it and they agreed. Delicious.
Someday, when I get a new battery for my laptop you all will get to see Denali too. In the meantime, who can guess the name and artist of the song where I've been getting my titles from for the last four posts? Not Little Sister, that's for sure.That's the way I remember her best...

Monday, October 26, 2009

When the rivers freeze and summer ends

I'll be frank, Fairbanks is freakin ugly. The downtown area shows promise but many of the buildings are empty. The rest of the city looks pretty industrial and since there are no zoning laws, you can find a strip joint in the middle of a neighborhood. Not that I was looking for a strip joint. The church below used to be on the other side of the river until one year it froze and locals pushed it across the ice.

Got a little homesick when I saw the this. The Elbo Room in SF is a fun bar in the Mission where I've seen some cool live music. I love the Mission. I do not love that my ticket home for Christmas cost me 1200 bucks.

The ALaskan Pipeline. I've been against posting photos of my face but I figure all 5 of you reading this already know what I look like. Here I am, pointing out my tiny Burrough, as compared to the entire gigantic state.

The Silver Gulch Brewery is pretty decent. The Angry Monkey Barley Wine and pumpkin beer ice cream were more than decent. At the Howling Dog, the divier place across the street, I learned the term "tundra wookie." Like the wildabeast of the North, apparently.

We took our ice glasses back to Mike and Kelly's after the ice museum. In a few weeks I want them to put the glasses out on the porch and see how long they last. I'm thinking March.