31 December 2007
29 December 2007
The other day I was talking to my bother-in-law (no, that's not a typo). I was exclaiming about how bright it is outside. He looked at me as if I was daft. "It's snowing out" he said "and it's cloudy. There's no sun." And he was absolutely correct. When it's overcast and snowing out here it is sooooo much brighter then anything we've seen in a long while in the latitudes north of 60 degrees even when the sun is out in full force. I was forced to wear sunglasses on cloudy days initially because my eyes could not adjust to the beautiful brightness. When people ask me why I'm hear I tell them it's to replenish my Vitamin D and I'm not entirely joking. It's brilliant here when the sun is out and high in the sky reflecting off the powdered sugar light snow. It's such a gift, all this daylight, all this time to get out and play under wide skies when I get bogged down by job applications and need a break.
28 December 2007
1. Will you be looking for a new job? Erm, yes. But hopefully not a new career.
2. Will you be looking for a new relationship? yes, not in a romantic one currently. And always on the outlook for new friendships as well as old.
3. New house? yes, it goes with moving...maybe this will be the year I get to build my own tiny house? Whether renting or owning I will be in a new place for sure.
4. What will you do differently in 08? Differently then what?
5. New Years resolution? Publish the damn thesis already and as always get out of doors whenever possible!
6. What will you not be doing in 08? Working at my former work place or living in Very Small Wet Alaskan Town (which incidentally is named one of the top 3 summer tourist destinations for 08!)
7. Any trips planned? not currently but there are sure to be some! Can't have a year without one.
8. Wedding plans? none of my own but a least one to attend
9. Major thing on your calendar? nothing big but lots of little job application closing deadlines
10. What can’t you wait for? well, I can always wait but I am excited to see where I will end up next!
11. What would you like to see happen differently? The US to sign the Kyoto agreement
12. What about yourself will you be changing?
13. What happened in 07 that you didn’t think would ever happen? The Disreputable Dog fell in love with a cat
14. Will you be nicer to the people you care about? This seems to imply I'm not at the moment and I think I am quite nice and will continue to be so.
15. Will you dress differently this year than you did in 07? not likely although if I move south I may require less layers.
16. Will you start or quit drinking? neither.
17. Will you better your relationship with your family? It's pretty good as it is although there are always little things that need working at.
18. Will you do charity work? of course!
19. Will you go to bars? Probably, especially if i live in more places where the entire social structure revolves around bars.
20. Will you be nice to people you don’t know? I am & will continue to be.
21. Do you expect 08 to be a good year for you? I hope so!
22. How much did you change from this time last year till now? I started a blog!
23. Do you plan on having a child? uh, not currently. See #2.
24. Will you still be friends with the same people you are friends with now? Certainly although depending where I end up the mode of communicating with those friends will change.
25. Major lifestyle changes? Perhaps. Although the base things that are important to me will remain that way.
26. Will you be moving? laugh, YES, see #1 & #3. Don't know where I'll be going to.
27. What will you make sure doesn’t happen in 08 that happened in 07? erm, all the things that I don't want to happen are not things I could ensure not happening in the future...
28. What are your New Years Eve plans? probably hanging out with friends in hot spring...maybe skiing to them?
29. Will you have someone to kiss at midnight? Not sure, but unlikely.
30. One wish for 08? ah, well, to get a satisfying new job, fall in love...oh, wait, you said only one :)
Tag only if you want to...
As Fine As Froghair
The Trouser Press
Saxifraga at Rising to the Occasion
26 December 2007
I am finding it somewhat disconcerting how everyone else seems to have plans for what I am going to do next. It usually involves moving closer to them. My sister wants me to be close enough to babysit but not close enough to drop in unexpectedly. Another friend hopes I'll be here until April. My Alaska friends are all convinced I will be back shortly and have even started sending me rental notices for Fairbanks and Anchorage and my lower 48 friends are convinced this means I'm leaving the state while my out of country friends are cajoling me to move near them. Only my out of country friends seem to understand that I could end up ANYWHERE. Really, I could. It was breaking news up and down the extended family telephone wires over the week and I know there will be much gossip about it. I am only glad that they have found something else to discuss other then what they see as my old maid-ism. I am generally the black sheep of the family, the person who lives the exciting life that everyone else enjoys talking about but are secretly relieved they don't live.
I have been spending extended time with my niece and nephew. My niece's fondest desire was to have the Disreputable Cat sit on her lap and she finally got her wish. The cat barely fit but she was game and my niece has never sat stiller for anything in her entire life.
23 December 2007
We flew for hours...flying from Alaska to the lower 48 is often like flying to Europe from the conterminous US. The Disreputable Cat proved to be quite adept at attempting to escape from her kennel. It wasn't because she didn't like the kennel, she loves it, but she got bored. Eventually I had to ask the flight attendants if they had any tape and had to tape the openings shut to keep the paws and cat head from popping out of the bag. I couldn't really fault her - she'd been in the car since noon the day before and needed to stretch out. On the other hand it prevented me from getting some dearly needed sleep and by the time we had laid over for three hours and gotten on our next flight I was ready to pass out from exhaustion.
We arrived at our destination in the Western Lower 48 around noon. Amazingly all of my luggage arrived (I was quite embarrassed for traveling with more luggage then I have traveled with in my entire life). Then we had a drive over the pass with my niece in tow. My niece was delighted to be in the same car as the Disreputables. I think she has been talking about them since she visited this last summer with her grandmother. My nephew, who is more cautious about animals was happier to wait for the arrival of his great grandmother and to caravan up (in altitude) with her and his parents. Another snowy, icy drive and we only arrived at my parents' around 10pm. I was utterly exhausted.
The next day was mostly spent monitoring children (my niece & nephew) and the Disreputables with my parents' pets. My parents have a dog one year old then my dog an a 17 year old cat who is currently suffering from kidney failure. They've met the Disreputable Dog and he is no concern to either but the Disreputable Cat and the Parental Cat have had a few exciting standoffs which the toddlers find most fascinating and which they wish to get involved in.
Today is the first day that I have started to recover my equilibrium. I am still exhausted and jet lagged but the amazing brilliant sunlight helps immensely. There is a swirl of family chaos and holiday plans to be involved with and when I get overwhelmed I take the Disreputable Dog and the Parental Dog for a long walk or take the niecenephew out sledding on my parents driveway. I am still grateful to all of the people who helped me move and I miss two people from Small Town South of The Permafrost dearly. I wonder, where will I end up? Where will I go? But I don't worry too much. I have applications out and I figure I won't hear much until the holidays are over so for now I'm on vacation. And today, I finally check my email and see all of your encouraging wonderful comments and am grateful for you readers and look forward to finding time to catch up with your blogs again in the next days.
22 December 2007
Don't believe when people tell you this is the first day of winter. It's really the hump day of winter; the begining of the end of the long dark night; the shortest day of the entire year. The day when darkness regins and the sun sleeps in.
17 December 2007
This weekend was exhausting but a lot got accomplished and I am very grateful to helping hands. I had one good friend show up and help me with the marathon packing nights. Another good friend rode with me to Los Anchorage to get the U-haul, then back to Small Town, then packing, then back to Los Anchorage, then unpacking, then back to Small Town. Two other friends showed up to help pack the U-haul in Small Town and they also took the Disreputable Dog out for a romp while I was driving it. Two other friends are letting me store stuff in Los Anchorage in their shed, another one showed up to help us unpack. Everything went to Los Anchorage this weekend.
My house is totally empty except for me, the Disreputables, their respective crates, and the couch which I am selling. We sit there in exhaustion...me on the couch, they in their crates, all of us half dozing. There is still all of the little stuff to get rid of and the cleaning to do and the wrap up of the things at work. I am back to where I started when I moved here...sleeping on a cot in my sleeping bag. I've spent more nights in that sleeping bag then any bed I've ever had to lie in. And it is a thing of comfort for reasons I cannot possibly explain. Like everyone else in town the wind makes it hard for me to sleep. It's not so much that it's cold but that it's terribly noisy and you find yourself trying to scrunch beneath the bedding (in my current case burrow into my sleeping bag) with the idea of cold. It is bloody cold out there. When I took the Disreputable Dog out for his evening walk I thought I might just possibly blow away, leaning backwards against the wind to try and create some ballast. Fifteen degrees Fahrenheit (approx. -10C) and 80 mph winds. The feel of one's nose freezing and the skin cracking.
I leave Thursday, the day before the winter solstice, for the Western Lower 48 and family and holiday celebrations. I will be stepping off into mid-air, not knowing yet where I will land but I will not worry about it for now.
12 December 2007
Today I packed much of my office. I wonder, those of you fellow scientists and other professionals, at what point do you not move all those papers you referenced for a project now past? It takes up so much space, so much weight, and yet, I feel a sense of obligation to take them with me. I've always been told how important it is to build up my own reference library of citations but is it really valid in a world where you can increasingly find what you need online? I have a strong temptation to build a bonfire with them but I still haven't published that last paper. So instead I'll store them in Los Anchorage and then go work on my paper in the lower 48. Does this make sense? I have no problem jettisoning things from other parts of my life but somehow the notebooks and the papers have different rules. What would you do?
Of course, I must admit that despite packing I took a little time out to indulge in making my favorite present to give one and all at this time of year. Look at those fantastic little boxes! One year someone asked me what my idea of a perfect present was and I said, two chocolate truffles in a fancy box and right there and then I resolved to make such a gift for others and it has become a holiday tradition for me. They don't ship very well though so they only go to people who I get to see in person. Now....enough procrastinating! I must get back to my packing!
10 December 2007
I know my route fairly well. At this time of year I tend to walk the abandoned path along the shoreline precisely because it is more light and also because we are less likely to surprise a grumpy moose there and because I love walking the shoreline even in the wind with roaring waves and pounding sleet and having it mostly to ourselves. I always have a headlamp in the pockets of my winter coats because at this time of year you never know when you'll need one but I like to walk without a light. Artificial light can be so exclusive of the night and the sounds and by it's very brightness it can reduce the details of the world around. Even on this darkest of nights I left my light off.
I navigated by the feel and sound of ground under my foot. The slick, smooth accompanied by light cracking noises of the ice along the path edges, the slowly crumpling feel & muted sound of frozen grass, the firmer but yet slightly pebbled feeling and grit grinding noises of the paved path, the rough uneven surface of the rocky shore, the sound of rocks tumbling against each other. I kept the sound of the ocean, it's surface not visible, to my left as I headed out and to my right as I returned. I could not see the Disreputable Dog but I could hear the jangling of his collar in the wind and from time to time I would call him to me just to be sure. And I wondered, what does it mean when someone says "as black" or "as dark as night"? For surely this kind of night comes seldom even here when night last longer then most places.
06 December 2007
Water & Electricity cost money. North Americans are notorious for always wanting to "save more" money. However, most North Americans have no clue how much water or electricity they use in a given day. So let's place water & electrical meters by the front door at about nose level where people can see the numbers changing daily. Better yet, make those meters look like your gas pump where next to the consumption level you have the amount of money that consumption costs. If people saw this daily I suspect they would immediately start to reduce their usage. Imagine if every faucet and outlet/light switch had a little meter by it that ran with amounts used and money charged by it? People would start turning off their lights when they left the room, they would stop leaving the water running while they brushed their teeth. Family members would start nagging each other to do these things.
What do you think? Would it work?
04 December 2007
I was tagged by EcoGeoFemme over at The Happy Scientist for 7 Random facts meme. Not long after I started this blog I posted 10 Random Facts about me as sort of an introduction and I will try not to duplicate the results here. (Click on that link if you want to see what I posted then.)
A Beach in Newfoundland (2005)
1. My high school diploma is on rawhide. Yep. And no, I don't have a paper copy. It was a requirement at my school to climb the highest local mountain in order to graduate. And our school mascot? Rocky Mountain Oysters.
Rock with Coral in Newfoundland (2005)
2. I am notorious for blistered feet. I always joke that if I haven't worn a pair of slippers in two days I would blister in them but the sad thing is, it's probably true. As a result I go nowhere without my niffty little blister kit and have been wrangelled into treating other peoples blisters on more hiking trips then I can remember. When I was doing field work in Utah we used to entertain ourselves by guessing how many new blisters WS got at the end of the day. Believe me, I have tried absolutely everything when it comes to preventing blisters and can say that I have happily figured the magic formula for making particularly painful blisters still walkable. And yes, duct tape travels as part of my blister kit (when in Scotland recently my friend S said "no! you didn't! you brought that duct tape just for C!" and C said "you can take the girl out of Alaska but you can't take Alaska out of the girl" in a delighted tone).
3. I had surgey on my right hip in 2000. This year is the first time post surgery that I have been able to run on it! Wheeee! Unfortunately, I still have residual problems with a pinched sciatica on the left side as a result of the problem in the hip and so I really have to restrain myself. And? Standing for long periods of time is extremely painful so I have tendency to lean against things when standing around chatting at any gathering or finding myself the only person in the room sitting down.
Beach grass, Prince Edward Island (2005)
5. Once upon a time I actually danced for a professional ballet company. I know, I can hardly believe it either! I wasn't particulary good (read, I was never prima donna/ solo, material) but there you are. On a daily basis people wrote up everybody's thigh circumferences on the wall for comparison and near performances we would get locked in the theatre between rehersals so no one would sneak out and eat anything. My least favorite director came from Russia and would put her cigarettes out on our legs when she was displeased with something. I still cannot bear to watch the Nutcracker Suite and everytime I hear the music (which is daily this time of year) I have a little reel of characters running through my head practicing for the big show.
Kelp, Newfoundland (2005)
6. One of the questions that comes up with my funding ending is whether or not to leave AK. I am really torn about whether or not to leave Alaska more permanently after the holidays. I was talking to a friend here about this over a glass of wine and she feels the same way. It's not that we are ambivalent, in fact, we feel passionately about both staying and leaving. What is it about Alaska that does this? Then looking around the blogosphere I found this post from an aquaintence (Ben Huff) agonizing over the question of 'When are we Alaskan?" . And it seems part of the problem is that Alaska does take root in your heart; it feels as if the identity of being an Alaskan is something that you sweated blood and tears for; it's as if it is it's own country. And there's a feeling that if you leave for the realtively cush life in the lower 48 that you're just not tough enough, that you failed somehow. I have lived in many different US States & Canadian Provinces over the years and yet Alaska is the only one that I ever claimed as a home when people ask where I'm from. How does one go back to not being an Alaskan? And yet, there are such wonderful things about living in a place where there is more regular daylight, where life isn't so tough, where dating isn't a game of Russian roulette. But do I want to live in a place where people find so much to be busy about nothing? Where they forget that so much of what we do are to fufill our basic requirements of food, water, and shelter? Where people are always talking and yet always lonely? So you see... my mind goes round and round.
Autumn grass (2007)
7. My master's thesis advisor was very upset when the University banned guns from the campus. He could be heard complaining to the secretary in loud cursing tones and I quote "How am I supposed to defend myself if one of my graduate students decides to come in and shoot me?". He never seemed to realize that perhaps the fact that he thought this was a likely possibility was disturbing in itself. Unfortunately, he wasn't the type to inspire people to go after him but rather to attempt to take their own lives.
Whale vertebrae & driftwood, Bering Island, Russia (2006)
7 people who's blogs I enjoy and who may consider themselves tagged if they wish. If you're listed & you've done it please just ignore.
(again, going with the theme of people I haven't yet mentioned in my blog)
Rules: Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
03 December 2007
When I first moved to Alaska I was living in Fairbanks and around Christmas I was looking for some sort of holiday theater. There was no Nutcracker, no A Christmas Carol. Instead there was King Island Christmas, a musical inspired by a true story about an Inupiat Eskimo village in the Bering Sea of Alaska. The North Star freighter, carrying the village priest & the villager's winter food supplies, is anchored in the Bering Sea on Christmas eve, on it’s last arctic voyage before the winter ice closes in around King Island (also known as Ukivok - red dot on Alaska map below for approximate location). The waves are too high for the villagers to go out and fetch the priest in their walrus skin boats; without him, there will be no Christmas celebration and they will not have their winter supplies. In a communal effort, the villagers triumphantly carry their oomiak (walrus skinned boat - the original kayaks) over a mountain to the calmer waters of the lee, and bring the priest & supplies ashore. King Island Christmas is a heartwarming story about the power of community and the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity.
I was captivated. It is an amazing story and the songs it sings! The music and this story to me embody so much of what I feel the holidays are originally about, about good food and company, about community and pulling together to get through the long days, of passing knowledge and traditions between the generations, of sharing your love for one another, of looking for the beauty in your environment, and being thankful for what you have, of overcoming things together. The things that sometimes seem shoved aside as we rush around buying things we don't need.
King Island Christmas has become one of my cherished holiday traditions. I love the songs. I love the spirit of community. One year I found CD's of the musical and bought copies for many of my friends and family members. The next year I wanted to get it for a few people I had left out and was sad to find it had been discontinued. Ever since then it has been my mission to share King Island Christmas with someone each holiday season. To my delight both the book, with lovely illustrations by Alaskan artists, and the CD are now more widely available. If I could I would give each and every one of you a copy. So if you are looking for new music check it out!