Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy and safe New Year's Eve everyone!

Last night's Indigo Girls concert was quite something. After I sucked it up about having to stand (but seriously, I am not a stander!) I was very glad I was there. Emily and Amy are amazing. Powerful in voice, instrumentation, and lyric they were true to every note for two hours straight. What generous performers.

Amy and I went cross country skiing with Jeff this morning. It is incredibly convenient that there is a park and trail five doors down from their place. One full loop is about 40 minutes or so (at our current beginners' pace). I know Jeff can do it much more quickly. In fact, he took half an additional loop in the time it took Amy and I to finish the original. We're thinking by the time we're competent and quick enough to do two loops it might be time to try Kincaid Park. They have a groomed trail that is open and lit 24/7. We're having a particularly warm day today though, nearly 40 right now. So it'll be interesting to see where that leaves our skiing for tomorrow.

We're having a bonfire at Renee and Mark's down next to the lake. But this warm temperature has turned our precipitation from snow to rain. The city of Anchorage has okayed fireworks for tonight which will be awesome--if it ain't raining. Wish us and the weather gods luck : )

Hope you all have a dandy evening. Talk to you next year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I cross country skiid and lived to tell the tale.

Amy and I got up and made some delicious oatmeal and coffee and then went on my first and Amy's third cross country ski adventure. Adventure may be an overstatement. It makes it sound so grand. Actually, we only went out for about 40 minutes. But I only fell once and only mildly twisted one ankle and one wrist. It was very exciting and we are going to go again tomorrow morning with Jeff.

After skiing, we went to the best bakery ever, Great Harvest Baking Company (also perhaps the most expensive . . .) and picked up some sandwiches. They are delicious and not overpriced. They are however, mighty proud of their bread: $7.50+ a loaf. That being said, I bought some and felt it entirely worth the price. But here is where their genius lies: You walk in the door and a woman with 8-10 varieties of breads in front of her invites you to come over and have a sample. And these are not little candy-assed sample bites. These samples are very nearly meal sized and d e l i c i o u s! I went there for the first time yesterday, after not dying on a remote wilderness hike. Can you imagine being rewarded for your survival with a huge piece of delicious, free, (and if you want, smeared with fresh butter) bread? Wait. It gets better. After that, I went to Barnes & Noble to check in with Jill and I got pull-through parking! It was really a very good day.

Today, too has been a good day. After skiing and sandwiches, Amy and I made use of some of the Aura Cacia foam bath Jeff gave me for Christmas and had baths at Mark & Renee's (we have an awesome shower at the AHfWWG but no tub). Now I'm going to have a giant nap so I can be ready to enjoy tonight's Indigo Girl's concert at the Bear Tooth. Yep. Indigo Girls in the flesh at the Bear Tooth (1100 seat theater). I'm going all by myself like a grown up lady. It's going to be awesome.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"The odds are good . . .but the goods are odd."

Okay. I've taken the leap and have decided to explore the notion of unrelated adult male company (besides Smitty). On that note, I had coffee with a nice fellow by the name of Gary. He does have all his teeth, does not dress in camouflage (though he does like to hunt) and I have discerned that he voted for Obama. The preceding criteria having been met, he has qualified for a second meeting. He is a fourth grade teacher at a Title I school (and I know this to be true for two reasons: 1. I saw his staff picture on the school website, and 2. Really, you can't make up this kind of teacher talk if you're not actually a teacher. You all would have been riveted!)

He seems like a very nice fellow. What remains to be seen is if perhaps he is too nice. And by too nice, I mean well-mannered, proper, and consistently appropriate. I was, of course, all those things, too. Because to bring on the entire real me (bag of fun though I am) upon first meeting could/should send a feller runnin. So it will be interesting to see if he lets his hair down a bit (entirely figurative as he is quite bald).

The anti-shopper shopped today.

I bought two new pair of jeans at Old Navy today for $34 dollars. That's a heck of a sale, my friends. They fit really well and I'm glad to finally have some regular jeans (as I had to finally stop wearing my last round of Chico jeans. It's one thing to have to lie down to zip them up when they're out of the dryer. Quite another to have lie down every time. Super inconvenient in public restrooms. . .) But don't you worry, I am turning this weight train around.

On that note, I'd better hit the hay. That wacky Smitty likes to go early and I am so much better at being consistent about walking with a partner than when I'm left to my own devices.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I feel for the folks on the eastern seaboard. . .

because what they're experiencing could be characterized as too much of a good thing. Dang.

We've been blessed, thus far, with just the right amount of snow and it does, indeed, make Christmas time more magical. Many of the lights are under a layer of snow and they glow and sparkle in a peaceful, muted way. Over the ground is a mantel of white. A heaven of diamonds shines down through the night. Our hearts are thrillin in spite of the chill in the weather. (Our temps are still hovering around zero.)

At Thanksgiving time, Jill, Jeff, Mel, Amy, and I decided that we would draw names and just shop (with a limited budget) for just our one person--Jeff and Mel, of course, reserving the right to buy additionally for each other. We agreed that stress-free family time would be much more important and appreciated than gifts. We were right! It was awesome. We had a lovely extended family dinner at Mark and Renee's on Christmas Eve. Then Jeff, Mel, and Brock came over and spent the night. We each went out and got fun things to put in each others' stockings and that was fun, too. Everybody received a handful of lovely, thoughtful gifts and then we spent the whole day in each others' company: eating, watching movies (What About Bob?), eating, playing games (Frog Juice), napping, eating, playing games (Loaded Questions), watching movies (Love, Actually), and eating. It's possible there was too much eating but otherwise it was pretty perfect.

We missed all of you though and hope that you had a good holiday, too. We suspect that it is possible that you all ate too much as well. I don't know about those fatty kids of mine but this momma is heading back to the track at the Dome tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, Jeff and I are going shopping in my friend Smitty's garage for some cross country ski gear. Then we'll finish up what we need at the used sporting goods store. We hope to actually be on a trail, trying it out by Wednesday. Smitty was AK cross country skiing champ about a million years ago so he knows stuff and is going to be kind enough to teach us the fundamentals. Jeff and I figure that once we get going, we'll do round two and get these girls set up. Smitty's a good sport but I don't think he knows what he'd be getting himself into to try to instruct all of us at once. I believe the Dowling girls may be more concerned about their outfits (yeah, I said it) and it's just going to be a good trick for Jill to carve out some time from her two (yes, I said two) jobs. But if we can get the hang of it, it will be very good for all of us. I've been on skis just once in my life and that was in 1979. I don't recall a great deal of upright time during that experience. I'm sure it'll be way better now that I'm older and fatter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sorry this is going to be anticlimactic . . .

After making you wait so long for an update, I should really deliver a gem. Sorry. No can do. Too tired. So here's the nutshell version of the last week and a half:

  • I had a whirlwind but very good trip home to Washington last weekend.
  • We had a beautiful dinner gathering at Orso's downtown for Jilli's 24th birthday. They even heated the toilet seats in her honor. And the foot food was delicious.
  • I worked 8+ hour shifts at the Pit Tues - Fri. (A handful of interesting experiences within those days that I may report on at a later date.)
  • The kids and I got a beautiful Christmas tree on Saturday. Only $67.00. Yes, I almost pooped. 
  • I've started walking again regularly, at the Dome (an indoor track and football field that costs $50 a month). I thought it was appallingly overpriced in September but now fully understand its value and appeal.
  • Went to Costco today to buy a pair of travel mugs for a Christmas gift. Came out with a rotisserie chicken and some Killer Dave's bread but totally forgot the travel mugs.
  • Watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox with Jilli while she hung up her pictures and other fun things on her wall. She shared her Yoda/Chewbacca BFF painting with me. So now I have at least one thing adorning my bedroom walls.
  • Mel and Jeff came over and Mel made copious amounts of spritzer cookies while Jeff and I played a highly competitive game of hand and foot. Jeff ended up the victor.
  • Meanwhile, back home, Jon LaFrance is preparing to leave for his teaching job in South Korea, Mandi Laxson has moved into Casa Phinney Bay, and Teresa and Daryl are still smitten. 
  • After several days of temperatures below zero, it is presently a balmy 16 degrees and snowing. We're hoping for another bit of frigid temps tomorrow because that means clear skies, the better to watch the full lunar eclipse tomorrow night.
That's all for now. Except for this charming tidbit: If the temperature is single digit or below and the humidity is near zero, when you go outside you get insta boogers. The little bit of moisture that is ever present in normal nostrils freezes instantly and gives you the feeling of perpetually needing a booger check. I know: gross. But pretty interesting. . .

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Did I mention my friends Roger and Brian are kind of assy?

Funny though.

Y'all don't see the comments that I receive on my blog postings. Regarding my ode to the sweet potato, Brian Swanson suggested that perhaps I was "simply baked" when I wrote that. Well! I never! (Insert feigned indignation here.) I'm going to take it as a compliment and understand him to mean that he thought my words were magical and creative. Thank you Brian.

Now as for Roger: In response to ""it is 5 degrees here he wrote, "It is a chilly 70 degrees here this evening. I have to wear my gloves when I ride my bike." J.C. on a bicycle Rog, way to rub it in. Ooh. That reminds me though: I saw a dude riding his bike across Jewel Lake a couple of weeks ago. That was pretty cool. I bet Roger can't ride his bike across the lake . . .

Yesterday was Bob's birthday. Jeff, Jill and I spent the whole day together. It was nice.  Normally, falling on a Saturday, it would have been the day we would have all gone out to Hubert's. We'd start with a good hot breakfast out somewhere. Then, right when we got to the tree farm, we would've seen a tree we liked in the first half dozen we looked at. Then we would have slogged around out there for another hour or so (at least), hemming and ha-ing. Then we would have gone back and cut down that tree we saw in the first three minutes. I miss the runny noses, the apple cider house, that beautiful view of the Olympics, those little candy canes on the way out. But mostly, I miss how Bob and I always knew that that was exactly how it would go and we would just look at each other and grin and do it anyway. We had a very good gig, he and I.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Did I mention I'm a fan of the sweet potato?

An Ode

    by Mary McKenzie

Sweet potato, my sweet, sweet, sweet potato.

What have we done to you?
We have candied you and turned you into pie.
We have marshmallowed and brown sugared you beyond recognition.
We have taken your perfection and in unique American tradition.
Spoiled it.

Why? Why? WHY?!
Is it because it was Grandma's specialty and it makes us feel warm and loved?
Is it because our tastedbuds are spoiled and we require only sweets?
Or is it because all of us don't have diabetes yet?

Or more simply, is it that outside of the holidays,
It has not occurred to us to taste your natural goodness,
To benefit from your superior nutritional stores?

Of all vegetables, simply baked, you are #1.
With a score of 184, you have smoked your nearest vegetable competitor by 100 points.
Your protein sustains, your fiber regulates,
Your vitamins A (nearly twice the RDA) and C are joined by bodybuilders calcium and iron.
Your naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates are friend to the diabetic,
and comfort to the hungry dieter.

You, my delicious friend, are an effing rock star.

Have I thanked you yet for being so delicious?
Simply baked
I eat your delicious peel knowing that oatmeal ain't got nothin on you.
Sometimes I sprinkle you with a little ground pepper and sea salt.
I admit, sometimes I even add a little bit of real buttah.
But mostly, I marvel at you au naturale.
In the pale, lumpy body the creator gave you,
Lovingly housing so many nutritional gifts.

And on Thanksgiving and every other day,
I am thankful for you,

My sweet, sweet potato.

P.S. At present, it is 5 degrees outside. I'm not even shitting you. It is possible that tomorrow's Ode will be to our gas furnace.