Monday, August 15, 2011

There is a great deal to catch up on . . .

I'm so naughty. I see now where I was many weeks in arrears. At some point, I might try to go back and fill in a few blanks. Jill and I will endeavor to collaborate on our  f o r e v e r  drive home on the Al-Can later. But the short version for the moment is that we arrived safely back in Bremerton August 5th. Midway through our drive we received the sad/bad news that my sister Sue's partner, our dear Jackie Hudson, died. We have since had a very wonderful memorial celebration for Jackie and have had much family and friend time that has been very good. Sue is doing well, considering. And when she isn't, her sisters and brothers and lovely children and friends will give her all the love and support we can.

Today (sad/glad) would have been mine and Bob's 30th anniversary. I always love and miss him, sometimes more consciously than others. I very much felt his presence with me on my Al-Can drive and thought about how great it would have been to be on that journey with him. And how proud of Jill and Jeff he would be, how dang tickled he would be with Melanie and how much he would have loved and enjoyed Amy, too. Jeff is absolutely where he belongs and he and Mel, and now Amy, are building very good lives for themselves in Anchorage. We have such a great network of family and they are very close to their generation of Campbell cousins along with other growing friendships. Jill's next adventure is to be experienced in Seattle. She has matured into such an awesome young woman. We really enjoyed our Alaska time as roommates and friends. She's going to continue to bloom in her beloved Seattle.

Today (happy/glad) is also Jeff and Mel's first anniversary. Just in case you didn't get to see any of the pictures from one year ago, I got these for you:


                                                                                                           I know. 
It makes me really happy, too.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Here's hoping everyone had a good 4th of July!

I hear tell that summer has finally landed, for at least three days in a row, in Kitsap. It has greatly improved here lately, too, which for the likes of me and my bro Pete means: time to golf! Mel's Grandy and Papa are here visiting. I'm hoping I can talk Papa into a round out in Palmer tomorrow. I've never golfed there and I'm hoping to hit as many courses in the greater South-Central region as I can. I've now played O'Malley, Eagleglen, and Moose Run in Anchorage (along with the goat ranch that is Tanglewood and the "Are you shitting me? You're really calling this a golf course?" that is Russian Jack) in Anchorage and Settler's Bay near Wasilla. Week after next, I'll be joining Jeff at the Kenai for a few days and there is a course not far from there that is supposed to be decent. I brought my golf clubs when Steve and I went to Denali but, as previously reported, the weather was uncooperative, for both golfing (it poured) and viewing the mountain (when it wasn't pouring, it was very cloudy).

We have had some pretty great weather here the last couple of days, as well. Thomas and I did a little road trip to Seward early on the 4th (which means we missed their 4th of July fireworks display--they start at 12:01am to take optimum advantage of the "dark") but were there in plenty of time for the Mount Marathon Run festivities. That is quite an event and a super cool people watching environment, to boot. The weather was just about right, not too hot for the runners and not to cold for the spectators. (I've posted a couple of internet photos to give you the idea. I'll post some of Tommy's pics from this year's event in a couple of days. You'll get a better sense of what it was like. He has a great video of Kikkan Randall, the women's first place finisher, blowing snot rockets after the race before a television interview. It was gross/awesome and as a measure of respect and regard for her athletic accomplishment, we will not be posting it to youtube.)

The next two days were spectacularly beautiful. I remember Karen Ochs going goofy over Seward last year when they visited. I trust she was there on weather days that looked like these because I even thought about moving there (though I am acutely aware that those kinds of days are the exception rather than the rule in Seward). 

Seward also has an excellent Sea Life Aquarium. We took a behind the scenes tour and then spent some time touring the exhibits, including nature's exhibit out in Resurrection Bay with an otter sunning himself out front for his (and our) amusement. The night before, we had seen something in the water on a scenic drive we took around the corner from downtown Seward. Thomas thought it was an otter. I was quite certain it was driftwood. It was quite a ways out. I've gotta give Tommy props on this one. He knew what he was seeing even though it wasn't up close. We're pretty sure it was the same guy.

We ate some great leftovers we brought from home part of the time and had a lovely, leisurely meal at Ray's (apparently Ray gets around to these waterfront towns) in the marina. Our charming cozy cabin (run by the Seavy's, an Iditarod champion family) had a great, deep bathtub with windows to the woods. I took a hot, therapeutic bath (salts with eucalyptus, rosehip, and chamomile) two times each day. 

And the morning we left, after finding a truly excellent cup of coffee to go with our freshly baked ham and cheese croissants, we drove eight short miles out of town and walked one half mile (of a much longer trail) to get to an excellent view of Exit Glacier. It was a really fun couple of days.

(This is an internet photo. We have to get in way better shape to walk far enough to get this close. But later, I will be posting some of the nice pictures Thomas took for reals.)

And as though all that beautiful fun was not enough, when I got back to town we had a nice dinner at Renee and Mark's. Grandy made some spectacular ribs with the best coleslaw I've ever tasted (among many other tasty sides) and we had some nice family time, all topped off with a blueberry bread pudding Mel made (she experiments on us for future Roadhouse dessert recipes. We, for the record, are very willing guinea pigs.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I thought I was going brunette . . .

But my hair only took as far as brown.  My style will return to the usual tousled, curly-ish look. This is the straightened version that I always have Valerie do because I will never take the time to do it myself.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Isn't Denali spectacular?

Yep. That's what it looks like from inside the park, on a clear day. Isn't it nice that there are people that take these beautiful pictures and post them to the internet so that you, too, can see Denali. I'd have posted the pictures we took on our trip but the mountain that is Denali makes its own weather and the weather it makes most often is clouds. And apparently rain. Boo.

Steve and I did, however, have a lovely time. We packed a cooler and a little bbq and stayed at very a moderate but very clean and comfortable hotel. The weather was indeed lousy but the company was excellent. I did the driving (Steve is amazingly willing to fold up his very large body and put it in my relatively small car) and he did all the cooking (I happily supervised from a reclining position). We played a fair amount of cribbage (I was five games ahead of him when we started but he narrowed it to three before we were done). He was a great co-pilot on the long drive. He's retired from Federal Fish and Game and worked for many years as an observer on big fishing vessels all over the world and then worked as a detective for the agency (he was a "fish dick" ha ha). He had some pretty good stories from both lines of work. And there's nothing like a long car trip to find out what your communication skills are like. Steve is as good a listener as he is a talker and I really appreciate that about him. It would be swell if y'all could meet him but you'll proabably have to come to Alaska to make his acquaintance.

Thomas is still slogging around the Carolinas spending time with family. While he has been glad to have time with his mom, he is itchin to get back home. Jilli and I have been having some nice slumber parties at Tommy's, taking advantage of cable and DVR to watch So You Think You Can Dance. What a great show and what a great group of dancers on it this year. If you're remotely interested in dance, this is a must see!

Oh yeah, earthquake this morning around 10:00. A 5 point somethin. Even if there's no damage, it's always unsettling to feel the ground move under your feet.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I love it. Shot 9 holes today. If I play 18, I need a cart. I decided that I should shoot 9 so I can walk it. It's my hope that in a few weeks that's no big deal and I can walk all 18. But today, those three miles, swinging clubs were pretty challenging. But I shot a 46 and that's pretty dang good for me. I'm particularly proud of the fact that around the 7th hole when I was starting to get pretty fatigued, the wheels did not come off. My worst holes were just double bogeys. Tomorrow, I will be renting a cart and playing 18 with Jeff. That is always a good time.

Planning a little Denali trip with Steve for early next week. Because of weather, there is only a 25% chance of actually seeing the mountain on any given day. So we're going to go Monday and return Wednesday. I know it's math and I'm a girl, but I believe this brings us to around a 60% chance of seeing it. But even if Denali viewing is a bust, there should be moose, bear, caribou, fox, and the like. And we'll bring the cribbage board and the books we're reading. I'm working on a Robert Ruark book called the Old Man and the Boy. It really gives great insight to the values and skills of hunting and fishing. It's quite charming. And we'll pack a picnic and take a drive into the heart of the park. I will report back, hopefully with pictures to post.

Friday evening will be another fun family and friends game night. We've made that kind of a standard happening and it has been great fun. There seems to be less excessive drinking happening of late and I am very glad of that.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A little sightseeing . . .

Last summer, when they came up for Jeff and Mel's wedding, one of the side trips that Karen and Brian Ochs took was to Seward. Karen was all kinds of nutty about it. She talked at length about how charming and beautiful it was. I had been there a couple of months back with Girdwood Tom and it was nice but I couldn't really perceive what all the fuss was about. Well, Steve and I took a little getaway there from Sunday to Monday. It was a moderately quiet opening weekend but certainly more lively than in March. And it was blue skied, sunny, and breezy. Okay Karen. I get it now ; ) It really is lovely.

I hear tell they have the Mt. Marathon race over the 4th of July. The town swells with visitors and people come from all over to run the mile and a half to the peak of Mt. Marathon (usually takes 33-45 minutes to ascend) and back down again (not surprisingly, this is a 10-12 minute trip). Reportedly, many past winners crossed the finish line bloody and bruised. They say it is the place to be in Alaska on the 4th. Sounds like fun. So I'm going to try to return for that. Maybe with Tonmy. Or Steve. So many men, so little time. . .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vestibular Neuritis

That's what Tommy had. It is a vertigo issue but it's caused by a virus. So the bad news is that it is sudden, intense, and debilitating. The good news is that it was simply a virus that has run its course rather than an ongoing condition. What a relief.

Windy but a beautiful day today in Anchorage. 64 degrees today and supposed to get to 70. It's supposed to be even a bit warmer in the next couple of days. I believe I need to rustle up a golf partner.

Be Safe with Mary, Episode 4

I hope you've enjoyed our introductory series. (There was actually one more episode but it was of me getting on the bike with my helmet and that just seemed silly.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

This is why I came . . .

I came north to find fun, freedom, rest, adventure, and time with my kids. If I were to grade my experience thus far, even with the pain and rehab of my knee injury, I would totally give it an A.

Thursday was Jeff's birthday. I got the go ahead the day before from Dr. Mannion (Mary: So, will I be able to golf tomorrow? long pause, Dr. M: I don't know, could you golf before? Bah dum bum!), and Jeff invited me to be his fourth for a round of golf at Settler's Bay. It's out in the valley overlooking Goose Bay with a stretch of mountains beyond. It was beautiful, we all played fairly well for the first round of the season, and enjoyed the day and each other entirely. I held up pretty well and didn't really lose steam until around the 16th hole.

Then it was on to Jeff and Mel's for a birthday BBQ/potluck. I'll list the attendees for those of you who know some of them: Corrie & Nathan, Paul & Stacy, and Ben (all Campbell cousins), Cat and Lee (Catherine Ellis from Bremerton and her sweetheart whom we thoroughly enjoy), Jeff, Mel, (no Amy cuz she had to work, pooh), Phil, Jill, Tommy, Steve, and me. It was a good weather day and Jeff's landlord/neighbor rustled up a little backyard bonfire container and some wood. The food was delicious, the fire lovely, and the company and conversation most excellent. Jeff was visibly pleased.

Saturday, we had a bonus gathering of Jeff, Mel, me, Jill, Cat and Lee. We played Loaded Questions which is always a hoot. But what was really awesome is that Mike Murray had found a couple of videotapes from way back in the day and had them recorded to DVD and sent them to Jeff for his birthday. I don't have adequate words to express what a treat those are. Quite something.

Sunday started out great. It was a lovely, sunny day soTommy and I went to the market downtown and had a great time right up until he was debilitated with dizziness and vomiting. Yep. Right in the middle of the market. But don't worry. People on either side of us continued their lunches. It ended with medics being called and a trip to the ER. All his lab work came back with fairly normal ranges.It was apparently a wicked bout of vertigo. He was pretty miserable for another four or so hours but then it seemed to straighten itself out and he is, happily, much better today. Scary. He said he knew it wasn't a heart attack or stroke or anything like that. I asked him to practice being debilitated but still somehow conveying that information to his companion. I would've liked to have known that sooner. Phewf. I'm just glad he's okay.

I'm having trouble loading Episode 4 of Be Safe with Mary so I'll attempt to post it next time : )

In the absence of comments from my readers, I don't know if you're seeing or enjoying these. I know the comment process on the blog is cumbersome. So if you get a minute, either shoot me a quick e-mail or a FB post. It would be fun to hear from you, too.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

While the cat is away the mouse will play.

I'm at Tommy's. He's at his friend Greg's painting a garage. He graciously invited me to join him but I declined. So I've puttered around here a bit and have now landed on his computer that has a real internet connection (instead of the pretend one we sometimes borrow on Jill's laptop).

So click on the link below for Episode 3 of Be Safe with Mary

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that after watching the third installment of Be Safe with Mary, you:

   a) Think that maybe I should go back to work because clearly I have too much time on my hands.
   b) No longer believe that inebriants were not consumed prior to taping this program.
   c) Wish that you had consumed whatever we had consumed.
   d) All of the above
   5) How dare you! (Yes, you should interpret righteous indignation here.)

Both D and 5 are correct.

   D: I can't fault you for applying thoughtful logic to the scenario at hand.
   5: a) Just because I know how to amuse myself on a Saturday morning doesn't mean I should go  back to work
       b) I swear on the lives of my children, we simply started the day with a nutritious breakfast
       c) I'm concerned about your level of interest in intoxicants

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Once a teacher, always a teacher . . .

As promised, thus begins the "Be Safe with Mary" series, Thomas Smith, Producer/Videographer

Episode 1:

Because of the charming way in which I wheeze when I giggle, some of my audio is difficult to discern. A couple of lines are transcripted here.

   TS: Do you think the helmet makes you a better poker player?
   MM: Yes, I'm pretty sure it does.
   TS: So you've noticed a decline in head injuries, is that right?
   MM: I almost never hurt myself playing poker anymore.

Episode 2: (Turns out Thomas ain't so good at countin'.)"

Note: For the record, no inebrients were consumed prior to the making of this video. I am not even shitting you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Safety first

I am mending well from my knee surgery. Just one week left of physical therapy and then I'll be off the dole. Sure have appreciated that little WC insurance policy these last couple of months. I've managed to stash enough dough away that I don't actually need to go back to work while I'm here. With Alaska's too quick summer coming, I'm giving serious consideration to just playing. I know. Good idea, huh?

Speaking of playing, I've been playing a fair amount of poker up here. Bad news/Good news: The bad news is that I play too much. The good news is that it is online and for play money. So I get to satisfy my card playing Jones but spend no cash. Now, as I've said before, spring has sprung. So I'm also trying to get out in it as much as I can. To that end, I have taken up bicycle riding. I'm still a bit wobbly and moderately out of shape. But it is definitely good rehab and I'm getting stronger each time. Tommy just lives a mile away from the AHfWWG so it's a very good starter route.

The other day, I was playing poker and checking on line to ensure the proper way to wear my helmet. It was quite a struggle but I finally got the straps straightened out and was just wearing it to get used to it. Suddenly, the absurdity of wearing a helmet while playing video poker struck me and I got quite a giggle from what I saw in my mind's eye. That's just about when Tommy came in the room with his digital camera. I didn't know he even knew how to operate it for video. That guy is just full of surprises. Now he likes to refer to himself as the producer of my internet series: Safety First with Mary.

The videos will follow in my next posting. (I need Jilli to show me how to post video--cuz Tommy ain't that smart yet.)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spring is trying to have sprung. . .

The snow is mostly gone. Over the last couple of weeks, people are showing signs of renewed life.  Foks are generally becoming brighter and more chipper. (It turns out one Thomas Smith is a much bigger smart ass in the spring than during the winter.) Wednesday started gray and dreary but busted out into blue sky and sunshine around 4:00 in the afternoon.  When I was driving home around 6:00pm there were no fewer than 100 people oot and aboot just in the four block stretch before our house: Moms with little kids and strollers, dog walkers, teenage boys (on bike, with skateboard, with basketball) a couple dozen walkers and strollers, and the elementary school playground teeming with kids. I've never before seen such a stark contrast in signs of life. Now, the forecast calls for the next four or five days to be cold and rainy. This is very exciting because word on the street is that the next day of sun after that rain will see green busting out all over. And very soon it will be time for city wide clean up, where everyone gets out and works in their neighborhood in earnest to clean up what the city crews can't quite get to. Very fun.

You know what else is fun? Having two boyfriends. Yep. And better yet, Tommy and Steve both know about each other and appreciate that the heavy load of serving me is happily shared. Tommy still thinks I need a couple more fellers but as I told him, that is for me to decide and I'm pretty good with the two I have.

Life is good for Mary McKenzie.

Oh yes, my knee rehab is coming along nicely. I've got nearly full range of motion. Now it is about strengthening the rest of my body to straighten out the wonkiness from favoring my left knee. I think I'm just a couple of weeks away from being able to go back to work. I'm hoping that I'll still just be working a couple of days a week as my workers comp has been sufficient to pretty well carry me through the summer and I would much rather continue farting around during all this good weather. I'm pretty sure that if I can have this much fun goofing off during the winter, it should just be that much funner (yes, that was for you, Patty Krisher ; ) in good weather.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An life thus continues . . .

My last post was one day post-op. The pain meds from surgery were only just beginning to wane. Just one day earlier I was thinking, "Crutches!? I don't need no stinking crutches!" only to discover the false bravado provided by latent surgery meds layered over post-surgery meds. Turns out I did need those crutches.

But now, a week later, I'm getting around with just one crutch and not strapped into my nifty CryoCuff (tm) every minute of every day. I'm also needing less pain medication which relieves me greatly since it's the stuff that all manner of people seem to develop addictions with. Smitty has been my chief nurse during most of this recovery and he has been a love. Steve (a new sweetie) swooped me up for a couple of days with him and he was quite a lovely nurse, as well. As Smitty says, "Mary McKenzie, I believe life is pretty good for you these days." Indeed.

I start physical therapy on Monday and got some good instruction yesterday on some things I can do at home to get started. Today, my big outing is Costco with Amy. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be wiped out after that but at least I will be surrounded by mucho foodo. With Jill and I being gone the two weeks prior and me being laid low last week, our cupboards are mighty bare. And Amy is off all day so I think we will have a playdate!

Jill and I surely did have a good trip south. It was so awesome having time with Brenda Bradley (formerly McKenzie, of the Jack & Vicki clan) in San Diego. I also got to spend most of a day with Sooze Flery (my dear friend from Olympic College and Evergreen). Jill and I really enjoyed a fair amount of time together, too which was really nice. With her busy work schedule, we don't actually see each other that much--even living in the same house. And, of course, it was great being home and seeing everyone. It was a bit whirlwindy but awesome!

Tomorrow is my birthday! The big plans are: Smitty is taking me to the Moose Club (how Alaska is that?!) for breakfast and to get me joined up; then Jeff, Mel, Amy, Smitty, Chelsea (his daughter), and I are going to play games and make fun, good food together at the AHfWWG and hang out all day; then Amy has to go to work at Barnes & Noble and Smitty will roll home (as he will have had about as much together time as a recovering hermit can take); then Jill will be getting home to join us for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" a live show that is in the vein of a Divine Miss M show paying tribute to the likes of Judy Garland, Cher, and of course, Bette Midler. And Steve is going to join us there as soon as he gets off work. It's going to be a very fun day I think.

Holy cow! It sounds like I better go to bed early!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Long time no post . . .

I would have posted sooner but it is well-known International Law that one cannot post on one's Big Alaska Adventure if one is not in Alaska. Well, actually, I didn't know of that law until Jeff told me. I am so relieved that I did not unknowingly violate this important treatise.

Melanie made a delicious dinner of pork chops with homemade pear and apple chutney, fresh green beans, and garlic buttered new potatoes. When Melanie makes new potatoes it means more than just throwing out the old potatoes because they have eyes (which by the way they did so we did). She means fancy pants deliciousness.  Now I can't continue my update because it's family night and we're playing Trivial Pursuit. My children are yelling at me to pay attention and Melanie is clearly struggling with reading the cards. Autobaun! (Turns out that's the answer, not the question. Who knew?)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pretty Aunt Patty and Uncle Punk came for a visit . . .

We have got  to get our own internet! Still having all manner of connectivity issues. But I managed to borrow a line today.

I hope wherever you were you got to see that great big, bright moon. It was pretty spectacular here, coming up over the Chugach Mountains. How fun that it was full for its closer presentation, 14% larger and 30% brighter is a marked difference, even to the untrained eye.

Punk was only here for an overnighter but it was great to have him. His goal for this trip (besides seeing us, whom he misses desperately) was to eat at Spenard Roadhouse and "meet this fella Tommy" (though he was less interested when he found out that Tommy is one of three Toms . . .once a judge, always a judge). At any rate, he achieved both and happened upon Anchorage on a beautiful blue sky day. We had great, clear weather the whole time Patricia was here. I'm still off work so we had no shortage of time together which was super cool. We did a fair amount of farting around, card playing, walking at the Dome, dining well, enjoying some great winter vistas, and had quite a little bit of quality time with the kids. It was great. Now Jill and I are getting ready for our visit south: San Diego with niece/cousin Brenda Bradley and friends and then on to B-town March 29-April 3. First stop, my files at home and ESD114 to file some continuing ed credits so that I might be able to renew my teaching certificate. (At the moment my concern is that might is the operative word but I'm delaying full blown concern until I get a closer look at what I've already registered and what I still need.) Then once I get the business out of the way, I'll be whirlwinding my way through town. It is definitely time for a visit home : )

Here's the last couple pictures from Miners and Trappers I've been wanting to show you. One of those three bee-A-U-tee-full girls (as Aunt Carol would say) and one of me and Tommy.

I do have some updates on my knee and impending surgery. I also have dating updates but those can wait til later. . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

He's Henry VIII he is . . .

Or Thumbs McGee as we also like to call him. He's an adoptee who was not being very good to his five year old mistress (we suspect that perhaps she had mishandled him first as small children sometimes do). But he is a love and Amy is ever so happy to have him. At present, he is being housed at Smitty's because Uncle Punk is allergic and Aunt Patty is a McKenzie. Oh yeah, we call him Thumbs because he has so many. Five, in fact: Two on one paw and three on the other. We appreciate a good mutant.

Sorry I've been in arrears on my posts. I was behind and then we've been having hella internet problems. I was just in the middle of getting this post going when our connection was lost and I only just now was able to get back on line. Technology is so awesome when it works and a serious pain in the ass when it does not. 

So Fur Rondy was a fun winter party time. We did go to the Miners and Trappers Ball where Jeff nearly pulled an upset in the Wolf category of the Beard Championship. He didn't end up winning but it was close! Mel had pin curled his stache for the occasion.

I was trying to upload more pictures from Miners and Trappers but am experiencing technical difficulties, again. I'll try again in a couple of days. There's a beautiful one of the three girls (Amy, Melanie, and Jill) and one of Smitty and me. We really had a wonderful time.

Also, Pretty Aunt Patty was here for most of the last week and we even had a day with Uncle Punk before he went south for Mariner spring training. It was great to have time with them both. I'll share more in the next post, which I promise will be forthcoming sooner ; )

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A new addition to the AHfWWG

Hold onto your hats folks. His name is Henry. He is sweet as pie and no one is more surprised than me that he is our new roommate. We'll take a picture soon and post it so you can see him. We think you'd all like him.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Association update: When it rains, it pours.

And in the words of The Weather Girls, "It's raining men. Hallelujah!"

This week was what I'm calling my Tommy Trifecta. Because there's my Tommy (Smitty), old Fairbanks dude Tom, and then last night I had a nice date with Tom who is a retired air force guy who works as a forest ranger in Girdwood. He was pretty chatty but it turns out that's because he was a bit nervous. We played three games of pool, had a soda and a nice visit. He's quite a lovely fellow. I think we may get together next Sunday to take in some of the Fur Rendezvous activities.

Now in a real Trifecta, the bettor predicts which will come in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. I am not at liberty to say the outcome as that would not be ladylike. I mean, because that is crass. I mean, because there is nothing to report. Actually, the real winner is me. Because I have decided to date freely and frequently and know that I am free to design and determine the nature of any of my associations and that I don't need to require so dang much of myself. How liberating is that?

Today is an awesome day already. Jeff, Mel and Brock came over for family breakfast (bacon, eggs, and banana pancakes). Now they, and Amy, are cross country skiing while Jilli is taking a nap, and I will be following her lead here shortly. Mel is cooking dinner tonight for all of us at Mark & Renee's with a handful of the young cousins joining us. It should be great fun.

Yesterday was beautiful but cold--in the single digits. Today is cloudy but still only 15 degrees (usually the cloud cover brings a bit higher temperatures). The extended forecast calls for several very sunny days. Cousin Mark says we're going to get a ton more snow this week. I actually believe Mark more than the forecasters as they are wrong way more frequently than back home. Plus, I always vote for snow.

My knee is still improving though it's not yet 100%. I'll need to decide tomorrow whether or not I think it is ready for an 8 hour wait shift on Tuesday. Income would be good.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WHAT I DID ON MY WINTER VACATION by Teresa Heffner, with asides by Mary McKenzie

I have never written for an audience before. least not on purpose.  There was that one time that I responded to an e-mail from a friend and went on a two page rant only to find out that there are two buttons to push when you want to respond.  One of the buttons reads "to all".  Needless to say, I am very careful with my response button pushing now.

About my trip to Alaska.  It was oodles of fun!  Jill and Mary picked me up.  I was coming down an escalator, taking in all the sites of this new and wondrous airport (picture Jed Clampett coming to California) and Mary was standing at the bottom waiting for me to notice her.  I believe I may have bumped into her.   We stayed up late, (yes funny people that know me it was waaaay past 7:00) and then I panicked when Mary said we would be waking at 4:00 (yes a.m.) to go for a walk.  If I had known that I was helping her win a bet with her cousin/uncle/brother-in-law, (I really have to learn to pay attention to people when I am introduced) I would have said No.  But she didn't tell me that part and I was excited to meet Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. (Smitty) .

The next morning I was up and outside, smoking of course, and he pulled up and I ran (you don't really run anywhere outside in Alaska, you walk really slowly with little itty bitty baby steps and hope to God you don't fall on your ass/face (ha ha, ha ha. Assface.) and if you do fall on your ass/face you hope you don't pee yourself or poo yourself because you will most likely be unconscious and someone will have to help you and that could be really embarrassing.  I live alone and have no rubber mat in my tub, I have a lot of time to think about these things) and I met Tommy, Tommy, Tommy!  I call him Tommy too, I just don't say it three times like Mary. (I don't always say Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. That's just what Teresa hears because she's busy thinking, "Why is she talking? and why is she not saying Daryl, Daryl, Daryl?")  She asked me what he told me to call him and of course I don't remember him telling me to call him anything, I believe I just said something like, "you must be Tommy!"  Can you imagine who else might be pulling up in Mary's driveway at 4 a.m.?  So, if he wanted/wants me to call him something other than Tommy, he had his opportunity and now it's stuck in my head and really, if he knew me he would take it as a compliment that I remember his name at all as I have M.O.R.  or Midlife Onset Retardation, and rarely remember anyone's name.  P.S.  That's why I can't go anywhere now that Mary is in Alaska, because as my wingman, she whispered people's names to me when they approached so I would not offend and she wouldn't have to explain that she was taking me out on a day trip.

OMG!  I digress.

We went for a walk with Tommy, he is as lovely as she has described him.  The dome that they walk in is very cool.  Couldn't imagine walking in a rubber hut for fun, but it was.  Then we went home and had breakfast and did a crossword puzzle and then took a giant nap because Mary had lots of fun things in store for me. She's the best friend, ever! (Oops. She's the best friend, ever!)

We drove to some big mountain place (Alyeska at Girdwood, about an hour south of town) stopping along the way to see some sights, the other mountains and stuff  (Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm and the Alaska Range)  We saw two billy goats or mountain goats. Really, they could have been deer--Mary has a bit of a lead foot. (Yep, mountain goats. And they were actually off the mountain and on the side of the road. Very unusual.) We ate lunch at a little bakery at the bottom of the hill and then we went to this cool lodge place that had a tram that took us up the mountain.  HOLY GOD ALMIGHTY, I just remembered that that was the scariest part of the whole trip.  We got on when there were about 8 people on there and then all of a sudden this herd of people got on and smooshed us in and they just kept coming with their heavy skis and heavy clothes and heavy boots and I thought, THERE IS NO WAY THIS THING IS GOING TO MAKE IT, WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE PLUMMETING THROUGH THE SKY ALL THE WHILE BEING BLINDED MY THE POINTY END OF THEIR DAMN SKI'S!  We did make it, and it was really beautiful up there.   Took some pictures. We were the only people on the thing on the way down.

We went to goodwill or some kind of will (Value Village) and Mary got a couple of shirts or sweaters or something and a really cool coat for Melanie. Oh man. She had been eyeing it but it was 40 bucks! At the thrift store! But it was 1/2 off Orange Tags that day. Jackpot! It is a classic 70's full length, fur lined, suede coat complete with warm, furry collar of some sort. It fits Mel like a glove and she looks absolutely killer in it. Plus it is really warm and cozy. Bonus points for this mother-in-law.

We went out to eat after that ( we went to where Mel works and gave her the coat and she was super excited) and Mary almost died onaccounta she was really hungry and thought she was gonna die of it (too much coffee. Bad idea).  Being her good friend, I scraped some gum off the underside of the table but she wanted no part of it...hungry, ha!  I gave her a lifesaver, and saved her life.  It was butter rum. (It's true. But not only did she save my life, she saved the lives of countless others around her, most certainly her own. If any blood was to be spilled, I'm pretty sure Teresa may have had it coming.  It was a valuable reminder of why I limit my caffeine intake.) 

I'm tired of this now.  Maybe I will tell you about the rest of this on the next episode of WHAT I DID ON MY WINTER VACATION(Good job first time blogger. Blogging is way harder than it looks, huh Teresa? Or should I say Chatty McRamblerpants?)

Friday, February 18, 2011

In the absence of Teresa's input, I'm going to have to give you an association update. Blame Teresa. I do.

Advisory: If you recall,  I have decided to memorialize (no, I don't mean immortalize) lamo Gary by referring to my dates as associates and our relationships as associations. I was right, I am having more fun already.

Also, if you recall, I met a potential associate at Middle Way Cafe a couple of Saturday's ago and had a real nice conversation with him. It seemed there may have been some potential there but alas, it was a bust. Boo. It turns out that when he said he would really enjoy a massage he meant he would really enjoy a massage. All this time, I thought massage was a euphemism for well, you know, a massage, wink wink, nudge nudge. But no. So I dropped him like a hot potato.

So tonight I had a meeting with an associate from Fairbanks. Tom is quite a nice old feller. I rather enjoyed him. While this association has no long term potential (old + Fairbanks = nonviable, for reals), it'll be fun to have a play date when he comes to town from time to time. He loves golf and was quite impressed with my rather extensive knowledge of the game and its lingo. I know. I'm pretty amazing. Oh. And from the small world files, he totally knows Renee's husband Mark. Weird.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hope you all had a nice Valentine's Day

Jilli had to work that night. Boo. So she couldn't join us. But for funsies, Smitty invited me, Amy, and his daughter Chelsea to Orso's for their wonderful after 9:00 happy hour. It wasn't a "I Hate Valentine's Day Party" so much as a let's get together with people we love and celebrate. It was among the very best VD parties for all of us. Ever.

I stopped by to see Chung on Monday to see if he would let me come back this week just 1/2 days. My knee is improving but still not great and an 8 hour wait shift seems like a bad idea. Nope. He doesn't want me back til I'm all better. So now I'm dabbling with a little semi-retirement interlude. I'm waaayyyyy better at it than I ought to be : )

Monday, February 14, 2011

My adventure was super more funner last week because Teresa was here!

And now we need a vacation from our vacation. I am spent. I would speak at length to what we did and saw on our bonus adventure but there is too much to tell and none of it will be as exciting to you as it was to us. Plus, I think Teresa and I should tag team the telling. So I'm going to have her e-mail her comments to me and I will post them (complete with my interjections and occasional debunking).

Short version: (think Barney Stinson): Awesome! Maybe even legen, wait for it . . .dary!

It was so great to have Teresa here. Four days was just not long enough. There is so much more to do and see here. And the Fur Rendezvous starts next weekend, beginning with the Carhartt/Duct Tape Ball and ending with the Miners and Trappers Ball on March 5th. (Smitty and I are going but not in costume, except kind of. We're going to color our hair and get tatted up and possibly adopt alter egos. Our vision, as you might guess, is still a work in progress. Jill and Amy are going also.) We will endeavor to attend the Outhouse Races and go Ice Bowling plus any number of the other 90 or so scheduled events.

So if you're wanting fresh info from the last several days and are bummed you're not getting it here, blame Teresa. I will. Because that's what friends are for.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Brush Off

I don't feel that I am reaching my potential in our association. I have other friends that make me feel more comfortable with being who I am. Thanks for trying me out.

Dang. And I thought things were going so well ; )

So Thursday at work, I fell. Again. This time I injured my knees, the left one much more dramatically than the right one. I would say I looked much like a hockey goalie in form when they drop to their knees to protect the goal. Except I wasn't on ice skates, I was wearing no padding, and I don't have the training or conditioning for that particular movement. Also, they probably don't roll over onto their back in slow motion and then just lay there like I did. It probably wouldn't look that cool if they did.

I did get ice on it right away and kept it iced much of the first 8 hours or so. I think that made a world of difference. It is still fairly painful but much improved generally. I'm hoping that it is just bruised, contused, and strained versus actually torn. I'm gonna see what it looks and feels like on Monday.

Jeff subbed for me at bowling on Friday night. He typically carries an average somewhere in the 130-140's. His first game was a painful 104. His second game was a 209! Then he finished with a 140somethin. His first 200 game, ever. So that was super cool. Then we met up with all the kids down at the corner pool hall and came home later and played Apples to Apples. Jeff, Mel, and Brock spent the night so we could have family b-fast. It was awesome having them.

Then, what with not meeting Gary's potential in our association, I followed up on another internet contact and met a new feller at the Middle Way Cafe this afternoon. We had a nice visit and I think there is some potential for a mutually agreeable association. I think that's my new word. I shall heretofore refer to potential dates and such as associates and will update you from time to time on how our association is progressing.

I think I'm having more fun already.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Old guy bowling scores today: 141 (yay, finally my average), 92 (WtF?!), and 188 (woo hoo!). I gave some consideration to doing some housework after bowling today but opted instead for a nap. A giant nap. A really awesome, 2 1/2 hour nap. Now I should be in excellent form for tonight's $5 poker game and still be able to boost for my 4:00am walk.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dating is not as exciting as it might sound ; (

Okay. So Amy may have been right. Black Swan may not have been a good choice for a date movie.  Particularly when you have not so much as "bumped fingers" as Aunt Leenie would say (in reference to that awkward place in a new relationship where no one has made a single move).  So should I have gently reached over and taken his hand after the Nina/Lily bedroom scene? Or during one of her bloody, violent hallucinations? Hmmm. A conundrum. Don't worry, dinner included lots of awkward silences and our parting physical contact was a handshake. Yes. A handshake. Not a lingering, meaningful holding. More of a business handshake. If I were meeting him for the first time, I would have been duly impressed with it. On a fifth date, not so much.

So I went over to Smitty's to commiserate and debrief. He was very helpful. We watched South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut and had great fun. What a good guy that Smitty is. I think next Saturday, we're going to scope out the Over 35 Singles Dance Club. They have a weekly Saturday dance from 7-12 with lessons from 7 to 8. And next Sunday, I've been invited to my bowling teammate Diane's for a Super Bowl party. She is a lone Steelers fan in a house that will be full of Green Bay fans. I don't actually give a shit, so I'm going to throw in with Diane and root for the Steelers. She is a great gal who reminds me quite a lot of my friend silly Linda (from the Twinkie Store) minus the crazy hair and make up. But like Linda, she has a great sense of humor and play, and knows her mind and speaks it, always. I really like that about her.

Heading to a late breakfast with Ames. Then I'm meeting up with Jeff for XC skiing at Kincaid. Then it's on to Chocolate Dwellers to join Catherine Ellis and her sweetheart Lee Burmbaugh's combo birthday party and then to the closing concert at the Folk Festival with Smitty. I love a leisurely Sunday . . .

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Let me tell you about my BnBe (Best not-Boyfriend, Ever.) Oh yeah, and then maybe the one I'm dating.

Tommy Thomas McSmitterson Smith or, as Jill calls him Smithers, is better known to you as Smitty. It turns out that he is a great and wonderful friend and if it is at all possible, I should want you all to meet him. Guess you'll have to come to Alaska. Every single woman needs a wing man and since Teresa lives 2500 miles away, that job in Alaska has gone to Smitty. He takes it quite seriously and is loaded with good advice.Here's one: "You should probably have two or three boyfriends. No one man can meet all of any one woman's needs. Maybe you should have four." He is boyfriend number one. The one that doesn't put out. So he's not really boyfriend number one but rather, the un-boyfriend. But he does provide: an arm in the snow, great companionship, good counsel, honey-do attitude, and honest perspective. Let me just say that the load of boyfriend numbers 2, 3, & 4 will be pretty light work.

Speaking of which, I do have another date with Gary this Saturday. We're going to Komagoro, a Japanese restaurant downtown and then we're going to see Black Swan. I'm just trying to think of what fun, light movie I want to have at the ready for when I get home. I'm pretty sure the content of Black Swan is not what I want to ingest immediately before bedtime.

I finally got a call to work at Dimond High yesterday but alas, had already committed to working lunch at the Pit for a big once-a-month gathering. But, I left a message on my voice mail to that extent and Madonna, the Dimond High secretary, appreciated the message and it sounds like she will certainly call me again. So I'm feeling like subbing is about to bust wide open. And by wide open I mean probably a day or so a week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brian Swanson was high scorer. . .

at tonight's Alaska Aces hockey game. He had one goal and three assists. You didn't know he played hockey, too, didjya? Okay, maybe it's a different Brian Swanson. Sure was fun tonight. They whomped Victoria, 6-1. The kids got to go to the game last night on some tickets Renee passed to them. They enjoyed the game but our Aces lost 4-1 last night.

I couldn't go last night because I was committed to bowling badly, as is my habit on Friday nights. The good news is that my bowling team consists of four people who endeavor to bowl their level best but don't get too worked up when it doesn't come to pass. So we have a pretty great time even though we stink. After bowling, we all went to Spenard's for Halfy Appy and to hunker down and await for a jam session. Anchorage hosts a free folk music festival for two weekends running. Last night's opening act was an Irish band and after the gig, they rolled on over to the Roadhouse to be joined by another 15 or so local musicians to jam. In one corner there was traditional Irish music. At the other end of the restaurant it was more bluegrass influenced, complete with stand up bass. All this while big fatty flakes of snow were drifting past the big windows. I'm tellin ya, this is a pretty cool town. There's lots to do and if you pay attention, a fair amount of it is free or cheap.

I picked up my skis today and Jeff, Amy, and I hit Russian Jack (one of a number of parks in town) for cross country. I'm still fairly tentative but I went down an actual hill (after standing at the precipice for quite sometime) and did not fall. Phewf! I'm anxious to go again soon but there is football to be watched tomorrow and some folk music festival to be woven in as well. So if I don't get called into teach on Monday
I just may go old guy bowling (Monday is Senior day--only $1 a game) and cross country skiing.

Holy shitsky! I almost forgot to tell you. My bff/wing man Teresa is coming up for a visit! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! We are going to have some kind of fun. Oh yes. Anchorage won't know what hit it. . .

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hope you've had a good MLK Day.

Among many of his words to ponder and endeavor to live by: 
"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Warning: This blogpost may contain some information regarding my very boring and moderately painful dating life. Read on at your own peril.

First let me just say: It is very cold in Alaska. Even the Alaskans are commenting on it. It is presently -9. Right here in town. Not on Hillside or in the outlying areas. Right here. (I'm sure those place are double digit minus.) But we are expecting a warming trend to the teens later this week that is supposed to bring snow with it. A fresh round of snow would be loverly! And the teens are a much more palatable temperature for being out in it, working on our fledgling cross country ski skills.

I am much relieved that starting this week, I will be working just two days a week at the BBQ Pit (Tuesdays and Thursdays). This is just enough to cover my rent and utilities and frees me up to more actively pursue substitute teaching. I can't solicit gigs when I'm waitressing 5 days a week. Plus, that is way too many 8 hour waitress shifts for this 51 year-old who does not have a bath tub for soaking tired old bones.

We had a great time helping Amy celebrate her 26th birthday Friday night. Jeff, Mel, Jill, Amy's friends Phil, Tiffany, Chris, and I had a great time at Benihana's for her birthday dinner. I had never been before and it really is a fun celebratory experience. Then Smitty joined us all at the Buckaroo Club in Midtown where we (our collective) owned one of the pool tables for a couple of hours. I keep forgetting that I don't hate these places anymore (now that they are all smoke free). It's pretty fun hanging out with people you enjoy and shooting pool. Makes me miss the Grable's gang and shuffleboard something fierce, though : (  It worked out nicely, too, so I could be the driver for the youngsters who partook fairly heavily of the Buckaroo's libations. But we were back home by 1:00 for a fairly low-key after party at the AHfWWG.

So the quick update on the dating scene is that I took Gary out for a nice lunch downtown. I thought I was taking him to the Snow Goose, which has a beautiful view and pretty decent micro-brew/restaurant food. But alas, they are closed on Sundays. So we hit a place called Sal's that was very good, but no view. Thus far, meals with Gary are moderately awkward. The conversation just    does    not           flow. But then we went to the Dome and had a nice walk and a good visit. I don't know if it just takes him that long to warm up his conversational chops or if we should simply never eat together again. Hmmm. It was still nice getting out though. Smitty wants me to invite him out bowling with us so he can adequately scrutinize him. I told him that would be a great idea because things aren't quite awkward enough already.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Attention Lary Grable and Roger Thomas:

(and anyone else who has a fondness for all things bacon):

I have four words for you:  Bacon maple ice cream. Yes, it is delicious. What? If only it were served like a giant cream puff, in a puff pastry shell with bourbon sauce?!  Spenard Roadhouse's dessert chef, Melanie (YES--our Melanie) has created it for January's Bacon of the Month Dessert, so you can!

I guess this means you're gonna half to come to Alaska right away.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Episode 12: The one where my date drops me off in the parking lot . . .

and leaves. Drives off. Just as I am putting my key in the door. Did I mention it was 10:00 at night? Or the minor detail that it was 10 degrees? Gary gets 50 demerits. (I have yet to determine the total merit system. I'm working on it.)

It actually was a pretty nice date, overall. We had an entirely mediocre dinner with fairly awkward conversation. I know. Sounds good so far, huh? But it really did get better. We went to Sullivan Arena for the Aces hockey game. There was lots of time for visiting which we somehow managed to loosen up a bit and get better at. The game was really fun. The Aces are a top notch minor league team with a good record, there were some penalties, of course, but none of that gross fighting for sport stuff that I don't like, and the score was 5-3, good guys. So that was fun.

Because Gary was otherwise fairly thoughtful, I'm gonna give him grace and decide he just brain farted (he still gets the demerits, though). He did follow up with a nice e-mail thanking me for a fun evening and inviting me out again next weekend. So while I seriously doubt my destiny lies with Gary, I'll surely give it another shot. Pancho Villa's and a movie TBD. Perhaps I'll drive this time . . .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The warming trend is over for now.

We're back to being in the 20s and spectacularly clear and beautiful. Downside: all that mush stuff has turned to ice. Yes. I am wearing my spikes faithfully. Thanks for asking.

I've watched an introductory video on cross country skiing. So despite the lack of replacement boots for my skis, Jeff, Mel, and I are going to Kincaid Park tomorrow. Apparently, that is a world class cross country trail that is actually groomed daily. So despite variations in the air temp, the trails at Kincaid are supposed to be good. So I'm going to rent equipment tomorrow and then shop more fully later. (I struck out at the thrift stores so I may need to break down and spend real money. Boo.)

Jill and I saw True Grit today. We recommend it. Tomorrow I'm going to a matinee of The King's Speech.

Tomorrow is my first night bowling as a member of my team. Smitty and I practiced today in preparation. I was woeful. Didn't even make my average once. Hopefully that means I'm saving up my greatness for league play. Then Saturday is my big date with Gary the teacher. We're going to dinner and then an Anchorage Aces game. They are a minor league hockey team that is presently on a winning streak.  I had suggested going to a UAA game instead as I am not fond of the blood-sport nature that seems pervasive in hockey. But apparently minor league play has cleaned up considerably in the last several years, so I'm a gamer. It should be great fun.

I will report on these and other happenings later. (Oh good. It's after 9:00. I can go to bed now. . .)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 is flying by already!

I hope and trust that you had a safe and happy New Year's celebration. It warmed up sufficiently to be fairly comfortable outside and the rains stayed away. It wasn't quite as spectacular as a Samish Island firework show but it was pretty good. I've gotta believe it made for a much better display than what they do for the 4th, what with very little darkness. Mark and Renee hosted us at their lovely lakefront home. We had a bonfire down by the lake and most folks exercised moderation pretty well --some drinking and perhaps a little bit of pot smoking--with the exception of "drunk neighbor lady." She managed not to get burned despite reaching her hand repeatedly into the bonfire in search of something with which to light her cigarette. Wow.

Jeff, Mel, and Brock came over for another slumber party. We had cinnamon swirl from Great Harvest bakery which can be best described as a giant, unfrosted cinnamon roll. But don't worry, it's made from wheat flour so it's good for us. Plus, we had scrambled eggs and bacon. And played Frog Juice. It was a fun morning. Then all the kids had to scoot to work so I did housework and was all manner of accomplished. Later, Smitty came over and we had some delicious leftover homemade chicken noodle soup (I made it my veryownself) and then we watched Whale Rider on the AHfWWG giant 19" TV screen. It's amazing how we can adapt back and actually still enjoy a movie despite it not being on a big, plasma screen. Good dang thing, since it is what we have and what we can afford. . .

We had a fun taco soup and guacamole party at Mark & Renee's for tonight's Seahawks game. It is quite something feeling like the 12th Man as we cheered them on to their unique NFL record: First losing team to make it to the playoffs. It'll be interesting to see what they do with it.

P.S. Cross country skiing was poopy today. The conditions were crazy slick and my $5.00 ski boots fell apart before I even got around the corner. Harumph. I may have to go to the used sporting goods store and spend $20. Dang it. Should be lousy skiing for a few days. We'll just wait for some fresh snow and cold temps again. Back to the Dome I go.