Monthly Archives: March 2009

Natural Disaster & UPS

I recently made an order from drugstore.com and they decided to ship it using UPS instead of the Post Office. I want to show you where my package is and why it is still there.

That is correct. My package is being delayed in Louisville because of a natural disaster–namely the eruption of Redoubt. This is why it is best to use priority shipping through the USPS–I can’t track my packages like this and get annoyed when volcanoes stop the progress of my package. I will also get another one when the package is finally scanned in Anchorage that says something to the effect of ‘remote area, deliveries not scheduled daily.” And then, some nice man who works for Pen Air, not UPS, will show up at my door a week late to tell me it had been sitting behind some stuff at the airport for a week.

Redoubt erupted

Redoubt finally erupted and it has been continuing to erupt for about a week now. This is slowing up the mail process, because there are no planes leaving Anchorage to Dillingham today. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment. You can see more of them here.

Auction (and Snow)

We’ve been negligent about blog posting again. Our apologies. We’ll do this update chronologically.

First up are some pictures we took last week. It was a very cold day, but there was still a lot of puddles around from the big thaw we’d had. We were driving out of town towards the flats, and I drove right through a puddle of icy water.

Problem was, as soon as it hit the windshield, it froze.

I couldn’t see AT ALL. I pulled over almost immediately into the fire station parking lot. It’s good thing there isn’t much traffic in Dillingham. Then I had to scrape the ice off the windshield.

That brings us, then, to this weekend. Samara had been tasked with planning an auction to benefit SAFE. It involved lots of planning on her part. There were donations to get, tickets to print and sell, sponsors to wrangle, catering to arrange, and an elementary school gym to decorate. I’m sure there was plenty more to it, as well, but I didn’t have to be involved in all that.

I was involved in the grunt labor on auction weekend, though. After work on Friday, I helped move prom decorations from the Middle School gym to the elementary school, where the auction was being held. There was a crap load of gossamer, lots of Christmas lights, some rolled-up slightly-rusty chicken wire, and some street lamps.

Once that stuff was safely in the elementary school gym, we got to decorating. We had lots of volunteers to help. Besides the SAFE board members, some of our friends like Erin and Saramay showed up to help. In fact, Saramay helped hung out all weekend and was a big help.

I was surprised that the decorations turned out so nicely, given what we had to work with, but they were really good. We had gossamer hung between all the basketball hoops, along with strings of lights. Once the tables were set up and the lights turned down, it looked pretty classy. On Saturday morning, we got up early and Samara cooked a good breakfast, and then we went to work setting up the silent auction items and putting the finishing touches on things. After that, it was home again for showers and getting dressed up in our nicest clothes.

Samara had to work the whole auction, of course. Saramay, Anthony, Erin and I got to sit down at a table and enjoy it.

Here’s Anthony chowing down on the tasty catered food.

And Saramay, relaxing after the meal.

And here’s Samara, running off to collect more dollar bills during the “Chinese auction.”

And finally, a long shot that shows a bit more of the room.

The event was probably one of the ritzier moments in Dillingham. We had catered food, with thin-sliced been tritips, glazed baby carrots and potatoes. There was a silent auction, a live “Chinese” auction (explanation to follow…), a live dessert auction (good way to get people to bid–don’t provide dessert!) and various raffles and door prizes. It was an entertaining night.

I only bid on one thing–a giant, stuffed toy horse donated by Wells Fargo Bank. I didn’t expect to win it, mind you. This was the “Chinese” auction, though, so there was a set price and people bid $1 at a time until the secret price was met. Each dollar bid was collected, and when the bidding reached the secret, pre-set price, the person making the last bid won the auction. I bid $5 just for fun, and happened to hit upon the winning price. So for $5, I got a giant stuffed horse.

I set it up at my table in a chair–too bad I didn’t get any pictures. It was rather amusing. Then Samara happened to notice that I’d won. She wasn’t as amused that we’d have a giant stuffed horse at the apartment. She suggested I give it to one of the kids of a lady she works with. I think I made that kid’s whole week.

After the auction was over, we got everyone to put up their own chairs, and had some folks help out with putting tables away. Then we retreated home to lounge on the couch, exhausted, and count the proceeds from the night. SAFE ended up make over $6000 for its programs, which is great!

Of course, then we had to finish taking down the decorations on Sunday. We got Saramay and Erin to help again. It was a whole lot easier to take things down than to put them up, and we were done in a few hours.

By Sunday night, you can imagine that we were pretty worn out. We slept in Monday morning, right through the eruption of Mount Redoubt. Apparently it spewed out ash 4 different times on Sunday night and Monday morning. The ash isn’t falling anywhere near Dillingham, though, so we’re safe.

Something else did fall today, though.

That’s the view outside after lunch. Here’s my co-worker’s truck after a day at the courthouse.

And my car, after the work day.

Stupid snow. It’s icky. I thought the thaw was on, but apparently it’s still winter.

Alaska, you bastard!

Alaska, you tricked me.

Last week, it was above freezing most of the week. We had puddles of icy water everywhere as the accumulated snow melted. It was good weather for enjoying the outdoors, since 35-45 degree weather now feels like sweltering heat to my accustomed body.

Then, this morning, it was cold again. Alaska cold. As I write this blog post, it’s -2 degrees outside, with 22 mph winds, gusting to 30 mph. I can’t really describe how unpleasant that feels on the skin. It’s run-to-your-car-and-then-sit-in-it-shivering weather.

And it’s supposed to last all week.

At least it was nice yesterday. I went sledding again with Anthony. We went to a different hill near the Nerka “subdivision” and the sledding was awesome. There were already a few kids there when we arrived, but they didn’t mind sharing their hill. I was most impressed with the 3-year-old kid who fearlessly sledded down the hill before he began the ascent back to the top. It took him twice as long as the other kids on his stubby little legs, and he was just cute. If I ever have a three-year-old, I want him to be an awesomely brave sledding 3-year-old.

No sledding this week, though. Now it’s time to hide in my warm apartment again.

Henna and the preggo belly

One of my coworker is having a baby. Her baby shower is tomorrow. I loathe baby showers and wedding showers, so instead of going I thought I would henna her belly. This is the first time I had ever done this. And thanks to Ann for the henna. I need to remember to pick up a ton of this when I go back for a visit. After this, I might have more requests for it.

In case you couldn’t tell, the baby’s name is Lilly. I looks pretty cool with the wet henna on it. I hope it looks ok tomorrow for the shower.

Earlier this week, Aaron and I took a walk down at the beach again. This time we stayed above the retaining wall and took pictures of the beached icebergs from a far. It was a nice cold walk and I wore my slip on shoes instead of my snow boots. Not the smartest thing I’ve done, but I am pretty doped up on NyQuil, DayQuil and Sudafed for the past week. We made it to the beach right in time to watch the sun turn the horizon pink. It was beautiful. And Aaron looks like a fisherman in his knitted hat and facial hair.

Walking on the beach is very neat. It’s just so quiet. The only noise you hear is the crunching of the snow or the ice….and me skreetching when I get snow in my shoes.
If you look closely, you will notice the water/ice on my pants. That was because the hill to get to the beach was icy and Aaron and I thought it would be fun to slide down it. I slid on my knees. Aaron slid down on his butt. Again, probably not the smartest thing to do since I wasn’t really dressed for it. However, Aaron went sledding with Erin and Anthony and he was dressed much better. Check out those photos if you want. I didn’t go because I still have this head cold thing going on. I will leave you with some pictures of the walk.



Cheater Post

This is what you call a cheater blog post. Today I went sledding with Erin and Anthony. Samara was still feeling under the weather, so she didn’t go.

Here’s Erin and Anthony’s blog post about sledding, with pictures: sledding.

I did not get injured. I did end up in the trees a few times. It was lots of fun.

A new blog

I am shamelessly going to promote my new blog: 2 birds in the bush. I decided that since most of what I like to blog about seems to be cooking, I should probably just create a cooking blog. My friend, Erin, likes to bake so we got together and made this new blog. The second post includes more adventures during Beaver Round up. And by more adventures, I mean entering the beaver round up bake off with a 12 layer cake and apple dumplin’s. (Yes, you have to say it like dump-lin’s–no “g”) A good time was had by all.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Beaver Round up!

There a few things the people of Dillingham look forward to: Fish camp, berry picking, Moose season & Beaver Round up. Beaver Round Up is the biggest festival of the year. People from neighboring villages come for the events. Such events include: Pizza Hut Dinner, KFC Dinner (Both air freighted in), Out house racing, chili cook-off, and much, much more. This being my first Beaver Round up, it only made sense that I (through SAFE) had to “host” a number of events.

The craziness started on Wednesday night. Instead of going to Dilicapers (think talent show), I was in my kitchen cooking 40 dozen eggs for the breakfast that SAFE was hosting the next morning. You might ask your self, how long does it take to scramble 40 dozen eggs in a tiny kitchen. The answer: 3 hours. I only used one pan and Aaron helped me crack and scramble (thank you mom & dad for my Kitchen Aid Mixer) the eggs while I was cooking. After all the eggs were cooked, we dropped them off at the Youth Center for the next morning.

Thursday morning started out way too early. I have having a hard time sleeping because I needed to be up at 5am to pick up some volunteers and open the youth center so we could start re heating the eggs and sausage. Did I mention we made breakfast burritos? I had wanted to get the huge cans of cheese sauce that you get from Costco or Sam’s club, but they didn’t come in. So I had to make Velveeta cheese sauce. Every good Southern girl knows the magic of Velveeta Cheese. It makes even the yuckiest vegetables taste awesome if you like the school bus yellow, molten cheese food taste. The breakfast was over with at 11am. Which was nice because I had already been up since 3am and I was exhausted.

After a 2 hour nap, it was back to work to get ready for the kids Carnival and the youth Dance. Thankfully, I did not have to work the kids carnival. I went there to make sure the staff that was working was doing ok. She was working the “marriage booth.” For 3 tickets you can get married to who ever you like. For 6 tickets you can get divorced. I’m not sure what the lesson to be learned here is.

I left the carnival to start the set up for the dance. Can I just say that the kids out here are great! I had about 7 of them setting up the whole sound system and getting the middle school gym set up for the dance. Then at 11pm, I had about 7 kids help me tear all the sound equipment down and load it in to my car. I was out of there by 11:30pm. It was nice and again, those kids are awesome. I think they were just so excited to have a dance that they were willing to help with anything. The good news was that there was no cost to SAFE for the dance so it was all profit.

During the time of the dance, Aaron went with a few of our friends down to the local bar to watch the Wii Bowling contest and the Beaver boobs & buns contest. Yes, that is equivalent to a wet t-shirt contest and best butt contest. (Classy!) One of our friends came in 4th in the Wii bowling contest and thankfully, Aaron left before the Adult contests to help me pack up the sound equipment.

By Friday I was dragging. Wednesday & Thursday had worn me down. But there was still more to do. Friday was the Beaver Round Up Parade. That was interesting. I can’t believe how many people showed up for that. I will try to get some pictures of that from the girl who was riding in my “float.” By float I mean a purple van with cardboard purple ribbons taped to it. Very stylish.
Friday night was the KFC Dinner. They air freighted in 500 lbs of KFC chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and coleslaw. It was $10 a plate for 2 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, slaw, & a biscuit. I remember buying a full bucket meal for $10.00. After that, there was the Harlem All-Stars Basket ball game, during which SAFE (meaning me) sold concessions. We ran out of bottled water and capri suns before the game even started . (oops–I will know to buy more next year) By the end of the first break, we had sold out of just about everything. Which was fine with me because again, I was ready to go home. We were suppose to meet up with our friends, but I just wanted to sleep.

Aaron and I woke up Saturday morning and went to the breakfast that was sponsored by the headstart. For $5 you got a pancake, eggs, bacon, sausage and coffee. After that, we headed down to the local market to watch the turkey bowling. I kid you not, there was a turkey bowling event complete with a frozen turkey and 2 litters of Mountain Dew. One of my favorite authors, Christopher Moore, wrote about Turkey Bowling in one of his books, Blood Sucking fiends. It’s pretty amusing.

Also on Saturday, Erin and I decided to bake a bunch of stuff for the bake-off on Sunday. We decided to try to make a 14 layer cake together. She made chocolate chip cookie cupcakes and I made apple dumplin’s. This took us all day. I am not sure why any one would want to make that 14 layer cake at all. It is labor intensive. You bake 14 flat cakes–think pan cakes, make this goo that goes inbetween them and then top it with butter cream. We have no idea if it is going to turn out right. We will see today. I am hopfull about the dumplings and if the cake isn’t a huge train wreck, it will be impressive.

Tonight is the bonfire and fireworks display at dusk, which thankfully is at about 7:45-ish on a clear night. Yes, the days are getting much longer now. D’oh. I just realized day-light savings time took effect today. I guess dusk will be about 8:30-ish. I really need to buy some black out curtains. That is all for now. I will post more about the bake-off and hopfully more pictures some time this week.

A Juror Ate My Damn Lunch

This story, I think, demonstrates something about life in rural Alaska. Maybe.

We had the final day of jury trial today. When a jury is deliberating, someone must keep watch, in case they have questions for the judge, etc. That person is the bailiff. You’re probably familiar with the idea of Sheriffs as bailiffs–guys in uniform with a gun in a holster, looking formidable and official. Well, in rural Alaska, we don’t have those. We just swear someone to watch the jury and be the bailiff. Usually it’s the judge’s assistant, but since she needed to get some other work done, I was also sworn as a bailiff. I was supposed to mind the jury during lunch.

One of the perks of being a bailiff is that if you’re bailiffing (is that a real verb?) during lunch, you get a free lunch. So, when the jury ordered lunch today, I put in my lunch order as well. A poor boy sandwich and fries.

You must bear in mind that such a meal, prepared by a restaurant, has a value of $20 in rural Alaska. That’s why Samara and I don’t eat out very much–there are very few restaurants, and they are expensive. Eating out is a REAL luxury.

Wouldn’t you know it: the jury returned with a verdict before lunch. Still, the lunch had already been ordered–just not delivered yet. That meant I still got a free lunch. Hooray!

When the lunch arrived, I graciously stood back and let the jurors, many of whom were just taking their food and leaving, get their food first. In fact, I went back and sat down and talked to the judge about a case for a while. Then, when I figured they’d all gotten a chance, I went looking for my lunch.

The box that the food was delivered in was empty.

I checked my office, the front office, the judicial assistant’s office… I was hoping that someone had merely set it aside for me. But no. One of the jurors belatedly informed me that they thought the lunch (marked bailiff!) had belonged to one of the jurors that had already left, so it had gotten sent off to the hospital with someone else.

A juror ate my damn lunch.

Now, I packed a lunch today. I didn’t know I was going to be getting a free lunch. But a double-bologna-and-American-cheese-on-wheat-with-yellow-mustard sandwich just does not satisfy when you’ve had your heart set on french fries and a poor boy.

I honestly don’t know why it bothers me so much, but I think, as I said before, it has to do with the value and rarity of a pre-prepared lunch in rural Alaska. I haven’t eaten at a “fast-food” restaurant (such as the “Duct-Tape Eagle” or “Windmill Grille”) for at least a month, perhaps two. It’s hard to justify spending $20 for a mediocre take-out meal. But, man, was I looking forward to eating such a lunch on the court system’s dime!

Sometimes you just can’t win.

Rock Hopping on Ice

In the month of March, Aaron will be participating in the Iditacise Challenge at work. Basically, you keep track of your exercise, and each minute counts as a mile. Your goal is to go 1100 miles. That’s a little over a half hour of exercise per day.

Since this is Day One, Aaron decided to get into the spirit right away with some situps, pushups, etc. Then we both took a walk down to the beach. That required getting bundled up, since it’s a bit windy and just below freezing.

We went at 4:00pm, and high tide wasn’t until 6:30 today. That meant that there were huge ice boulders beached on the edge of the water. It was fun to hop around on them.

Here’s Samara with ice boulders and freezing water behind her.

Doesn’t this water look cold? Not a good idea to fall in. You could die.

But that didn’t stop Aaron from climbing from ice chunk to ice chunk to get as close to the water as possible.

Yep, that’s Aaron.

Sometimes you’ve got to get on your hands and knees to stay stable enough not to slide off.

After a bit of climbing around, we posed by the giant tires that keep the boats off the dock. Those big tractor tires give you a sense of scale. They dwarf Samara.

In fact, two of them are almost as tall as Samara.

Notice the icy water behind her.

And here’s Aaron next to the tires. Let me tell you: that warm hat is necessary.

And finally, as we got ready to head back home to the warmth of our living room, I snapped a picture of the beach full of icy boulders and the cliffs where our apartment sits.

Brr. Winter exercise is cold. But, considering that Aaron wants to go backpacking into the Alaskan wilderness this summer, perhaps it’s a good idea. We’re getting older, rounder and out of shape.