Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Charlie Brown Kind of Day

It comes up, Charlie Brown. Snow comes up!

I know I wrote something about that last year and it still applies. It's been snowing a lot last few days. Today it was mostly clear.

Except you couldn't see through the snow because it was blowing every which-a-way.

The scariest time I've ever had driving here in Alaska, that's what today was.

Even when it snows heavily, the roads are still relatively easy to navigate. They're good about keeping the main ones clear and there are enough cars to keep tire tracks on the cement.

Except the wind was blowing so hard last night and today that a lot of the snow has been transplanted to huge drifts covering parts of lanes.

When I dropped Logan off at work, the drive there was perfectly all right. It was the way back that I nearly got stuck. Twice.

The first time was when I drove into the right hand turning lane. One big drift covered the lane, so thick my car almost abruptly stopped. I was lucky it managed to get through to solid ground.

The next drift, however, was right where the turning lane meets the intersection. I had to stop there because cars were turning from the opposite direction and I had to yield to them. I thought for sure I wasn't going to get enough traction to get moving again.

The wheels spun for a while and I gradually and painfully inched forward until I got onto the main road. I fishtailed for a bit, then straightened out. Whew.

But that wasn't the most fun part. The most fun part came after I taught my class and was heading out to the Carr's parking lot to meet with my writing group at Kaladi's. I had to pass Wasilla Lake, a wide expanse of open lake that is frozen over and covered with snow.

All that snow was blowing directly across the highway, completely obliterating the view. The cars in front of me disappeared, so I immediately took my foot off the gas and waited, praying to the gods that I would see their brake lights with enough time to stop. Stomping on the brakes is not the wisest thing to do in this area, not when some roads are covered in ice several inches thick. Better to drive like Ma and Pa Kettle or Grandma and Grandpa Moses.

Once I got past the lake, all was well again. Later, when my writing group discussed this delightful breeze, Jean mentioned how it would make a great story, driving into a cloud like that and ending up in another universe.

Then we all paused to watch the door to the coffee shop open and close all by itself. Creepy.

In a lot of areas, most of the snow has blown away, displaced to other nooks and crannies of boundless adventure.

But in others, there are knee-deep swamps of snow. I tried to walk my dog Bruno through one of them so he could romp and have some fun off-leash. That lasted all of five seconds. The wind was cutting through my clothes and my boots got snow in them, freezing off my ankles and melting down to my feet. Not the safest of conditions. I snapped the leash on him and made a beeline for home.

This has been the worst weather day since we moved up here. Last winter was pretty mild in comparison. This is the first time I've seen ground since early October! I need to invest in warmer socks and thicker boots. I think I'll go drink an Airborne, too.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wow, I can cook!

So as most of my family and friends know, I've never made turkey dinner or anything big and fancy for dinner before.

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were always handled by my mother and grandmother, or Logan's mother. I would occasionally bake cookies or help out a bit here and there, but never had anything to do with the main components of cooking the dinner.

So today I cooked what was supposed to be our Thanksgiving turkey, but ended up being our Christmas turkey instead.

I learned a lot from this experience, I tell you what!

First of all, I need to get a real roasting pan, not one of those disposables. My disposable sprung a leak early on and now my oven needs a serious degreasing.

Second of all, I realized I didn't have a platter or any dish big enough to hold the turkey after cooking. I had to pop it in my wok while I spooned the veggies out of the roasting pan.

Also, I found out that the recipes I got off the internet were incomplete. One gave me the neat idea of using veggies (onion, carrots, celery, and a few potato and mushroom chunks) on the bottom of the roasting pan as a cushion for the turkey, as I did not have a rack for it to rest on. But it didn't show me anything about actually roasting the darn thing! And later, when I got to the gravy part, they didn't give any details as to how many cups of milk or how much corn starch. I had to guess by looking at the demonstration video and hoping I was right (I was a little off and now have tons of gravy, but at least it tastes good.)

I made a royal mess in the kitchen that had to be cleaned up three times during the whole process, thanks to the leaky roasting pan.

I started panicking when I reached the end of the roasting time allotted by the recipe I was using and the internal temp was still just below raw! I added nearly two extra hours before it got to an acceptable temp.

The veggies were really tasty (probably the best part of the meal. I will definitely do that next year.) The gravy was a bit watery (or milky, I guess you'd call it), but flavorful. The turkey was NOT dried cardboard, as I had been worried it would be. And so far, neither of us is screaming of stomach pains or dashing to the bathroom. The organic, whole wheat cookies and brownies were a bit dry, but yummy. Logan seemed pretty happy, so I guess it was a success.

We took pictures of the process and I wrote down a whole lot of notes from the experience so that next year I can do better.



The whole meal together: turkey, brown rice, gravy, veggies, and chocolate chip cookies!



Look, Dad! I can cook!

The cleanup time took a while. After looking at the amount of garbage generated and considering the amount of money spent (and wondering if we'll be able to finish the leftovers between the two of us), I do kind of wonder if this kind of meal is worth the effort it took. I learned a lot, it was fun, and it tasted good, but I was wiped out afterward. And I had to spend extra time cleaning up after. I do admit, however, that the cleanup wouldn't have been as big a deal if my pan hadn't been leaking.

My mother mentioned that the cooking time may have taken so much longer because of where we are. We are definitely in a different location than California, that's for sure!

All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I think I'll invest in a few more cooking tools and try roasting a couple of organic chickens in a few months. Maybe for my birthday ...

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Snow!



Last night, we decided to open all our presents instead of waiting until today. Bruno, naturally, decided to help. He especially liked the rose quartz candle holder that Logan's parents got for us. He kept trying to lick it.




My mother had asked for pictures of snow. We've had snow since early October, so it's been a "white Christmas" for months. I took these yesterday.





And then this morning, when I took Bruno out for his first walk, I was delighted to see that we were having a Christmas Day snow storm. Though we've been having snow off and on for months, I didn't expect to get a special Christmas Day mini-blizzard!



Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Yuletide, and whatever else you can put in here that wishes you the happiest of times. Blessed Be.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Closet Stalker

I figured out today that when I get bored, I begin stalking people.

Well, online, anyway.

I discovered Twitter and started searching for friends on that. I got on Linked In, which I haven't checked for months and actually added more stuff to my profile and peeked at others. I searched on MySpace (this is my main thing) and even logged on to Facebook, which I've done absolutely nothing on, no profile, no pics, nothing.

So if you were one of the victims of my boredom-induced stalking moment, I apologize, deeply and profusely. Just ignore me until I go away.

And to think I got online in order to learn about how to thaw and cook whole turkey. Boy, talk about easily distracted!

So right about now, my mother should be recording the closing night (er, afternoon) of the Christmas show I wrote with my bestest buddy. If all goes well, I'll actually get to see how the show I wrote looks in real life on the stage.

I wonder how many jokes at my expense there will be, since I'm not there to defend myself.

We are currently on Christmas break from rehearsals for "The Spitfire Grill" here in Wasilla. Hence the reason I'm stalking people today; I've got more time on my hands than I have had for a while. And to make it worse, my Wednesday evening class is canceled on account of Christmas Eve. Sigh. My husband has been complaining about hardly seeing me. Now he's going to complain I'm getting on his nerves.

Got my Christmas tree up yesterday, the same exact one that was up last year, as it is artificial. It's in the same spot, too. Since we have a dog that nibbles on everything, I can't put it on the table like I'd thought about doing.

Speaking of dog, I wonder what Bruno is chewing on right now ...

(Footsteps walking away)

Thump, thump, thump. Crash!

(Footsteps returning)

One of my socks. Luckily, one of the ones I was going to toss because it has a hole in the heel.

Where was I, where was I? Oh, yes. (As usual, I open my mouth and a musical comes popping out.)

We lost power last night, a couple of times. Logan woke me up to let me know, drat him. We peeked out the window and couldn't see a thing. The darkness here is pretty profound. Then we heard the printer on our computer clicking when the power came back. Then it happened again. But everything was all right by the time Logan got up for work. I was worried it was going to start getting really cold in here!

I've settled on the next novel I'm going to write. I'm going with the zombie idea ("Zombies Don't Eat Blondes"). I met with my writing group yesterday and they gave me lots of funny bits. It's going to be tongue-in-cheek to the hilt, so the nice thing is I won't mind writing utter and complete drivel for the first draft. The stupider the better.

I still haven't gone looking at my discs to see if any of my past novels are on them in some form or another. I know I still have the original first draft of "Sparkless", but after losing all the rewritten portions when our computer crashed, I don't have the energy to tackle it again. Besides, I need to find the notes I wrote on a notepad somewhere to remember what I was adding. And I'm not sure if any of the others were saved somewhere, like "Summerland's Savior" or "Am I Dead Yet?" I know the one I wrote for this year's Nanowrimo is completely gone.

Okay, I'm starting to babble. I need to shower and take the videos back and go shopping for Christmas dinner ingredients.

BTW, happy Winter Solstice!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Something New and Different ...

Well, I'm sure some of my friends who know my avoidance of certain beauty practices will be shocked to hear this.

For the first time in my life, I actually plucked my eyebrows.

I had it done to me once many years ago and I've refused to ever have it done or do it myself ever again. I swore my eyebrows never looked the same after that fateful afternoon I was being groomed for a photo shoot.

But today I was having more than a bad hair day. It was more like a bad life day.

So as I was looking in the mirror, I just happened to notice that my eyebrows were looking bushy in some spots and thinner in other spots. And it totally annoyed me.

So why the sudden obsession with my eyebrows?

I think it has to do with the fact that I'm getting older and noticing the physical and mental effects that go with it. All at once, my eyebrows needed shaping.

When we all know aging is inevitable, and that everyone will do it no matter what they get injected with or have sucked out by tubes, why do we insist on trying to remain the same? What's wrong with getting older gracefully?

It seems more important to feel good, rather than look good, right?

And yet, grooming my eyebrows made my horrible day a little brighter. I didn't even pluck very many. (Of course, I had visions in my head of a character in a teen book I read where she plucked for the first time and ended up with huge scabs on her face because she plucked too many hairs at one time. She also shaved her legs for the first time and took the first layer of skin off. Reading about these things can help when doing them yourself for the first time!)

Okay, so my hair wouldn't cooperate. Couldn't find anything to wear that was comfy and looked good as well. I still have the acne-ridden skin of a teenager, which is one area I wish would age like it's supposed to, but isn't, no matter what products I use. And I feel like I've reached a complete dead end in my job and I need to find something else fast.

But at least my eyebrows look good. Eat your heart out, supermodels.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And then I lost ...

One of those things you think will never happen to you.

Absolutely no warning of any kind.

And the worst part is it feels almost karmic because of the timing.

I was meeting with a bunch of people at a local coffee house to work on a novel I wrote a number of years ago and have been rewriting for even more years on top of that (about 7 years altogether). Now that Nanowrimo is over, I decided it was high time I get down to brass tacks and get the thing finished once and for all. Then move on to three others I have started in previous Nanowrimos that need to be finished, then edited and rewritten.

While I was typing, I had a vague thought: I should start backing up these files. I had a new memory card thingy that I won at a Nanowrimo drawing and figured I should put it to good use. One of those thoughts that you know is a good one, but you're distracted at the moment, so you don't really give it the full value it deserves.

So what happens when I get home and, later that evening, turn the computer on?

Nothing. A complete and utter blank. Nothing but a black screen. The mouse arrow waded in the center of the blackness with nothing to click on.

There was nothing we could do. Logan had to reset the computer to the original factory settings. We're still not entirely sure if our files are squirreled away in some recovery area, but I'm not holding my breath.

I mean, the timing of it was uncanny!

I'm taking this as a sign that I have proven to myself I am capable of writing an entire novel. Therefore, I should put the old stuff to bed and begin anew.

I still have the original copy of that very first finished novel on disc. But we no longer have the program it was written in. And I've lost all the new parts I added the last year or so. And I've lost the heart to redo it yet again. I think seven years was long enough.

Now all I need are some new ideas. That's the area I'm lacking right now. I usually get my story ideas from my dreams, but I haven't been remembering any for the last few months.

Perhaps it's time to face my fears and jump into the zombie culture. I have a zombie novel in mind, but zombies scare the crap out of me. The only thing I fear more is drowning.

Well, that and losing my voice. Especially since I'm the lead in a musical that's opening in a month.

Eeek!

Speaking of writing, the melodrama that I wrote with my best friend is being performed at the Olde Coloma Theatre (http://oldecolomatheatre.blogspot.com/) and will be closing soon. It's called "A Coloma Christmas". Go see it and bring a video camera! I want to see it, too!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Won, I Won, I Won!!!!

After a couple of years tinged dark with the taint of failure, I have finally won Nanowrimo for a second time! I was beginning to think that first time was beginner's luck, a total fluke.


This year I joined with the local Nanoers here in Wasilla every Saturday for a write-in at the bookstore/coffee shop called Pandemonium. I think that made all the difference, really. Here's a group of people as crazy as I am doing the same thing I'm doing.

I'd had a dream about Nanowrimo a few days ago. A nightmare, really. I dreamed I'd gone well past 50k, but forgot to validate and lost! Arrrgh! After a month of torturing myself to get it done, and only to lose from forgetting to validate my word count, what a disaster!

So I told my fellow Nanoers. They all insisted last night that I stay until I passed 50k and validated to make sure I didn't forget, just in case I didn't make it to today's final write-in.

I am now at 52k + and an official winner. I am posting some of my badges of honor in the side column on this blog. Worship me, for I am greatness personified.

Yeah, okay. So it's going to my head a little. Sorry about that (two, three, four).

Anyway, I'm very happy for myself and congrats to all the thousands of Nanoers out there who crossed the finish line (including the ones who are still frantically typing at this very moment while we still have a few hours left before midnight.)

Write on!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Am Disgusted

Before I bust a gut, I'd like to start by saying Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I hope you all had a wonderful day and a wonderful meal. I was thinking of all my friends and family. I love and miss you all.

Okay, enough with the sentiment. I am thoroughly disgusted with the human race.

I am very familiar with the aptly named "Black Friday". I've worked in a few different retail environments and I understand there are people who see Black Friday as a holiday tradition. Not to mention it's a great time to get all your Christmas gift buying done in one day with some kick-@$$ deals.

But come on, people!

Near miscarriages? Injuries? Stampedes? People getting trampled until they DIE?! Worse, the people trying to save that trampled person's life getting pushed and jostled as mindless shoppers rush past to get to the TVs and video games.

"Black Friday" used to mean the day that retail stores are no longer in the red, no longer in debt. To me, it now means a day to stay home and mourn the human race. Mourn the loss of all sense and compassion for others. Truly a black day.

And all for THINGS. For INANIMATE OBJECTS that will entertain us and distract us for a time but by themselves do not bring happiness or peace of mind.

Closer to home, I'm pretty sure there weren't any deaths or injuries, but there were individuals causing noisy scenes because the store was out of a particular item that was on sale today. People threatening to sue for "false advertising". People who don't bother to stop and think about what's going on in the world today.

While I don't like to make political statements, this one speaks for itself. This item was out of stock and not likely to be in stock any time soon because of who will be in office come next year. If any of those people causing scenes had been in the store the day after the election, they wouldn't be surprised by the current situation in the least.

Heck, people were getting pissed off because we were out of SOCKS! That's what happens when you have a really, really good deal on SOCKS!

Get a grip, humans, before it's too late.

And now for something completely different ...

Nanowrimo is drawing to a close. I have only a couple of days to reach 50k. I'm pretty certain I'll cross the finish line this year. And with a novel that I really have no intention of doing much with, at least not until I finish working on the ones that came before. At about 43k right now, it's nowhere near being done. It's a big block of stone that will need quite a lot of carving sometime down the road.

My rehearsals are going well enough. I'm a little nervous because some of my solos keep getting pushed back, so not only have we not done any choreography for them, I haven't really even practiced singing them with the music director playing the piano!

But I'm working with a fantastic group of people and I feel like I'm getting pretty tight with them. Most of us went out for drinks at the Great Bear Brewing Company restaurant the night before Thanksgiving after rehearsal. We chatted and talked about past shows (I'm the only one that hasn't been in one at VPA before.) I got to hear a lot of great stories and I'm proud and pleased to be working with such a group. This one puts some other theatres I've worked with (which shall remain nameless) to shame. These people know how to make theatre successful in a small town!

Ah, well. Time to go back to writing. Need to be at 45k before tomorrow when I attend the last write-in to make sure I finish a day ahead of the end!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hubby is Going to Jail!

Yes, it's true. My husband is going to jail "for good". Below is part of his wanted poster:

"WANTED



Description: Usually Wears a Smile
CAUTION: Heavily Armed With Kindness…This Could Be Contagious!
PRIOR CONVICTION: Thoughtfulness and Generosity

Please Help Me!!! I have been arrested and will be put in jail for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Lock-up. Don’t even bother asking what crime I have committed – it’s not really that important. I just have to raise my bail of $1600 before the Lock-Up and they will go easy on me, but I need your financial assistance to post my bond. Please lend your support during the:

Mat-Su Hacienda Lock-Up

Your 100% tax-deductible donation will help MDA continue research into the cause and the possible cure of the 43 neuromuscular diseases they cover. Your support of the MDA Lock-Up will also help MDA provide medical equipment, clinic visits, support groups and a magical week of MDA Summer Camp for the families served by the Association in our local area."

If you have a little to spare, any donation to help bail out my sorry-@$$ hubby would be greatly appreciated! Donations need to be received by December 3rd. Here is the link to donate:

https://www.joinmda.org/matsu2008/logan_heather/SID/1912113/

Thanks so much for your consideration!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Full Blown Nano Freak!

Nanowrimo is in full swing and we're almost at the halfway mark. That's why I haven't been posting much lately; most of my writing is saved for my daily word count! Since I couldn't come up with any inspiring fiction idea, I am indeed writing a ... Well, I guess you could call it a fictionalized autobiography. It's based on my blog, so a lot of my blog entries are in it, but then I write more detail in story form.

I can't remember every little detail of stuff that happened, so that's why it's "fictionalized". I'm making some of the stuff up as I go to fill in the gaps. I started out in third person, but I don't like that at all. However, I can't lose time to changing what I've written, so I'll save that for the revision and rewrite. AFTER Nano, that is!

I even attended a couple of the Mat-Su Valley chapter of Nano's write-ins. I met some new people and had a lot of fun. We had word wars and drawings for prizes and got goody bags of candy, stickers, little notebooks. Turns out one of the two municipal liaisons in charge of the write-ins also does theatre stuff at Valley Performing Arts, so we met at the auditions for "Spitfire Grill"!

So until December, here is where I'll be: chained to my computer, trying to catch up (I should be at about 20k right now and I'm only around 16.5k). That is, chained when I'm not at work, not at rehearsal, not practicing my teaching routines, etc.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Now that's cold!

My hair froze today.

I kid you not. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there saying, "So what? Happens all the time." In fact, maybe I even wrote about it happening last year, but I don't remember. If it did, I don't think it happened on this scale. I usually don't go out with really wet hair because it makes me colder. (Duh.) But this morning I was in a hurry and I had to walk the dog, so I went out with the ends of my long hair still wet.

As the dog sniffed along, I pushed my hair away from my face. When the ends scratched my cheek, I looked at my hair thinking, "That's funny. I don't remember putting hairspray in my hair!"

I'm just lucky that moving my hair about like that didn't break off the lot of it. I left it alone until I got back in the house, where I gently pressed it between my palms and felt it go soft again. This time, when we left for work, I tucked my hair inside my scarf so it wouldn't freeze again.

Later on, I told one of the managers about it and he told me a story about a girl who had just moved to Alaska and got her hair done at a salon. She was in a hurry (hm, sounds familiar) and refused to let them blow dry her hair. She dashed out to her car. He said that as she hustled, she flipped her hair back and the ends shattered off. She sprinted back to the stylists, crying her eyes out. She ended up with a 2nd new hairstyle in the same day.

Well, I've been doing a lot of sitting on my @$$ and playing vulture over the new office manager's shoulder at work. She's doing fine, but she and my boss both said they feel better with me there to oversee things, so sat I did. I know a lot of people wouldn't mind being paid to sit around, but I don't like wasting my life, no matter how much I'm making. (Okay, maybe I wouldn't mind if it was a s--t load of money, but it has to make being bored for that long really worth it!!!)

But then today the girl I will eventually replace said it's her last day because some things came up all of a sudden and she'll be leaving sooner than she thought. So Thursday I start back in receiving. I hope my manager doesn't think I'm an idiot because I've pretty much forgotten everything already. Ah, well.

Saw some Halloween pictures on my friend Tiff's Myspace page. Sigh. I miss celebrating Halloween with my friends. Looks like this year I'll be wearing my costume to work and then giving out candy if anyone knocks on our door that night. Of course, if I'm working in receiving that day, my southern belle frou-frou may not be a good idea! I'll have to talk to the manager. I'll be lucky if I can fit the thing in my car. No hoops, just lots of fluff. And it's kind of heavy, too.

Of course, with how freaking cold it is (13 degrees at 8 am this morning), I'll probably wear my hiking boots under the skirts. I'm sure no one will notice!

After Halloween, I'll post pics of my costume and probably some of my coworkers' costumes, too.

Pumpkins here don't last very long. I remember the ones in California would last at least a week before they got soft and moldy. I've been through two pumpkins and had to throw them both out after two or three days! Must be because we have to keep the heat up in here since it's so cold outside.

Also, because of the insane growing season, the pumpkins are generally larger and more hollow. I got a ton of seeds out of each one and now I'm addicted to pumpkin seeds. I may go back for a third pumpkin soon.

Rehearsals for the Spitfire Grill start on November 3rd. I actually got the lead! I'm so stoked and nervous at the same time. The last lead in a full blown musical I had was Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. That was, oh, about a decade ago! I hope I can pull it off.

Okay, that's it for now in my current Alaska life. Nanowrimo starts soon and I was thinking of taking this blog and making a novel out of it! I can't think of anything else I want to write about at the moment. Usually I have an idea all planned out by October, but nothing is biting me yet. Bummer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Halloween approacheth!

Last Halloween we were doing store set and working everyday for 21 straight days from 7 am to 10 pm, so Halloween slipped by completely unnoticed last year. I think someone knocked on our door once that night, but it was rather late, so no way did we answer it!

This year, I've made a southern belle costume. No one has mentioned throwing any Halloween parties, so as long as my petticoats arrive in time (thanks for mailing them, Mom!), I'll be answering the door for trick-or-treaters this year. I'll buy a huge bag of candy. (Make that two: one for the kids, one for me!) Perhaps I'll wear the costume to work, unless I'm working in receiving that day as it is not practical to wear when slinging boxes of product around!

I got a pumpkin, too. The ones here in Alaska are HUGE! The one I picked out was one of the smaller ones, and it was large by California standards. Must be all that sun during the summertime. I bought one of those pumpkin carving kits with stencils for making neat pictures.

I chose a cat with a crescent moon. I added a few stars because I had all this space on the pumpkin that needed embellishment. In one area, a small chunk broke off because it was too narrow, so I took a darning needle and stuck it back together. (I didn't have any Superglue or toothpicks.)

Here are a couple of pictures:



All lit up:




This one turned out kinda neat looking!



I know for sure now that my dog will try to eat anything. When my back was turned, he bit off the chunk that I had put back together with the needle! He was nibbling on the pumpkin piece when I caught him. I freaked out because he could have swallowed the needle, and I put the pumpkin higher up so he couldn't reach it.

In other news, I've auditioned for the Spitfire Grill here in town and the results are supposed to be posted on the website possibly by Friday. It's only Tuesday and I've checked three times today! I'm so excited, I think I'll bust wide open.

These auditions were different from all the ones I've been to before. Usually the singing is done first (maybe because everyone comes in warmed up to sing?) and then cold readings from the script, learning a few of the songs from the show, that kind of thing.

This one was all individual improv. I'm surprised we didn't do any readings from the script with other people because you can get an idea of how people look together in certain roles and chemistry between actors, etc. Ah, well. It was tons of fun this way.

The first one was pantomime. The first day I did one of a teenage girl who drops her books at school and rips her pants when trying to pick them up. At one point I threw myself against a nearby counter, shimmied along it, then picked up a trash can and held it in front of me.

The second day (when I was there for the whole thing), my pantomime was to be an overweight person trying to pull on a very tight pair of jeans. So I did a lot of rolling around on the floor and hopping up and down, on my feet and my knees!

Then we did interviews. We were to pretend we were at an interview talking about ourselves. We could talk for real or make things up, whatever. But we were given an emotion or state of being to portray. You know, stuff like timid, mean, angry, sexy.

I got "weird". So I said to the director, "Your kind of weird or my kind of weird?"

Anyway, I started doing lots of "weird" stuff, like sitting on the table in the director's face, playing with the assistant director's hair, picking up the chair and offering to fix it, discussing the aliens that abducted me, laughing like a loon and saying, "I'm not insane! THEY are."

When my time was called, I was shaking like a leaf.

We also did conversation. We held a one sided conversation with someone in a given situation. Mine was telling my boyfriend I'm pregnant. So I started telling "him" about this stick that sometimes shows a plus sign and sometimes shows a negative sign. I held it out and after a beat I said, "No, no, see the bar that goes this way, and the other one goes that way, like a plus sign." That got a laugh, the dumb blonde explaining a positive pregnancy test.

We sang last. No one volunteered to go first, so I stepped up. I was going to go last because I don't like forcing people to sing after me and I had no idea what kind of talent there was in this group. They were all marvelous actors. (There were about 10 of us, I think. Two guys, the rest women. A third guy cut and ran in the middle, so we think he changed his mind.)

I chose to sing the last couple of verses of "It's a Privelege to Pee" from Urinetown the Musical. I figured this might be my only opportunity since we were singing a capella and there were no kids present. I gave a bit of the storyline first, since it's not as well known as other musicals. I got a few laughs, but I got my laugh when I hit the final note. There's a chorus that sings along and hits a big "Ahhhhhhh!" at the end. So I hit the top note, way up there, and really loud, too.

Several people were so startled, I saw them jump out of the corner of my eye.

There were no really bad singers here. Everyone could carry a tune pretty well. The older gentleman had a fantastic voice. The younger one had a great voice, too, but he forgot the words part way through. Actually, most people forgot or hesitated somewhere in their song. I helped him out by singing a few words until he caught on and kept going himself. I ran into him at the store after the auditions and he thanked me. I was worried he'd be upset. Some people don't like to be helped! He was a nice guy. I hope I'll get to meet him again.

So now I wait. And wait. And try NOT to bite my nails! As usual, I think it'll come down to who they put in the guy's parts. That's what determines if I get a role at all most of the time. It's been a constant problem. At TED, I was too young because most of the guys were middle aged. When I got old enough for them, suddenly I was too old because the guys were teenagers! I couldn't win!

Well, that's all the news in Heather World. I'm going to go check the theatre website one more time...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Here comes the snow again... and criticism, to boot!

Yes, ladies and germs, it has officially started snowing here in Wasilla. I wonder if we'll have a white Halloween. That just sounds so wrong. You won't be able to see anyone's costumes because they will be covered in snowsuits and "Fargo" hats.

Now that the weather report is over, we'll now turn to our reporter in the field ready to start whingeing.

Yes, I'm going to whine. Because Logan doesn't really want to hear it and because everyone else I know is probably asleep by now.

I joined Fanstory, a cool website where you can post your writings and get any number of reviews on it. It's more competitive than Critique Circle because you can "purchase" things to help promote your work to make it more visible and get more reviews, possibly even being reviewed by a panel of published authors and professional writers. You are also ranked by how popular your work is (a very complicated system that I haven't figured out yet). Unfortunately, it's not free. You can only read and review others' writing if you have the free membership. You have to pay to post things yourself, but I think it's a reasonable price if you purchase a year or two-year membership.

Anyway, one of the things I like about the website is that they warn you what the purpose of the site is. I say warn because warning is certainly needed. This is NOT a support group or a bunch of people who will only say good things about your writing, even if they have to make stuff up just to be nice. This is not a "white lies" type place. Much as I love the karaoke website Singsnap, no one can ever say anything bad on it or they'll get blasted; the ratings are a joke because no one ever gives less than five stars, if they even bother rating at all.

Fanstory is all about getting criticism to improve your writing. You need to have a thick skin and remember that people are expressing their opinions on what they think will help you improve your writing. People on this site are working towards selling their work and getting published. People are on this site because their friends and family all love their work and now they need to see what the real world thinks.

So I've been reviewing a few stories and gotten the customary "Thanks for the review" response. I have something of my own posted and so far have received a string of good reviews and people were not afraid to point out a few things that needed fixing.

But I got one response to my review where she numerated every single thing I suggested and ripped into me about how wrong I was and justified everything she wrote. And then she bitched at me for giving her a low rating.

I admit, I'm not familiar with how things work on this site yet. I didn't think the rating I gave was all that low, but maybe that's how it turned out. And no one ever said she had to take any of my suggestions. That's all they are: suggestions.

I sent a diplomatic response, I'm sorry you were disappointed in my review, blah, blah, blah. I refrained from reminding her that it even says right there in the reply box that it's not for retaliation or for defending your work, but to say thanks for your time.

The hardest part was not sending an extremely sarcastic response. This was what I WANTED to write:

"I'm sorry. I didn't realize that your story is perfect and that you posted it on this site to show the world how perfect it is."

Sigh. You can't help some people.

Okay, rant over. Now I'm going to sit at my window and watch the snowflakes come down...

Ah, who needs Autumn!

Apparently, Alaska has decided to bypass Autumn (or at least cram it all into a couple of weeks) and head straight into winter. I saw snow on cars coming out from Point McKenzie this morning. My car was frozen solid. I had to break out the scraper for the first time.

It hasn't snowed here yet, but it was trying to in the middle of the day a couple of days ago. There has been frost on the bottom of the staircase to our apartment. I've had to reel Bruno in close to me to make sure he didn't yank on me while trying to walk!

When I walked him this morning, I made it past the staircase just fine, but I didn't realize that there was a frozen wet spot next to the where I cross the parking lot. Had my first skating experience of the season! Thank Goddess I didn't land on my @$$!

Well, I've gone from the bum of the store I work at to the Band-aid of the store. Things are looking up! (NOT!) I'm glad to help out where I can, but why must it always be in the front end? I guess I'll be helping to train the NEXT office manager and be her assistant for a while, at least until the position in receiving that I THOUGHT I had opens up at the end of the month.

Gods, this is worse than being between jobs, I swear. I'm not really sure what I can and cannot be doing because people still ask me if I can do managerial things, even the managers! It will be interesting to see how things turn out.

I'm counting the days until the auditions for the Spitfire Grill at the Valley Performing Arts Theatre. They are this Saturday and Sunday and I have a good feeling about getting into it. There are only two parts I would accept, but ALL the roles have to be filled by solo quality singers and I wonder just how many of those there are here in the Valley!

The downside is that since I'm subbing for classes most of the rest of this month, I won't be able to visit friends and family in California until February. We're supposed to get a week off for Christmas from rehearsals, but if I'm still working at the store, I may not have the time off to go. I'm so totally bummed it's not even funny.

Ah, well, if the weather is any indication, the time until then will simply fly by, especially with the show to occupy me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One taco short of a grande...

That would describe a lot of the people around here.

Logan walked over to the office of our apartment building because when I went to take a shower, the water trickled, then disappeared.

We've been here nearly a year and this is the first time we've not had water. Reminded me of all those times at my parents' house when we'd run out of water because Grandma liked watering the side of the barn. (Sorry, Grammy, you know I love you!)

Anyway, Logan went over to find out what happened to the water and drop off our rent check. He found out that one of the tenants pulled a gun on the landlady and was now moving out. Don't know why he did it, but she indicated: "He wasn't right... in the head..." (Name that movie!)

We've noticed that the mental capacities of many individuals in this area are, well, not all there. I think the children are the most normal people around here. When I heard about how uncommonly friendly the people are in this state, I hadn't realized they were talking about the kids. Little kids strike up conversations with me all the time. I was at Fred Meyer a few days ago and a boy around 6 started showing me all the costumes he'd like to wear for Halloween (his mom was in the next aisle).

The adults, however, are somewhat f@%ked up!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hippo birdie 2 ewe!

Happy birthday to my bestest buddy in the whole wide world, the Queen of Hearts aka Mellybean aka Mac to my Tosh, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! I hope you had a wonderful day! I also hope your first year in your 30s was kind! >wicked grin<

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I can see, it's a miracle!

After a year of wearing my glasses every day, I decided to go back to contacts. I didn't really start missing them until the last couple of months, especially when I started teaching.

I'm used to old school teaching. You know, using my theater projection to reach all the ears in the room. But now I'm teaching at a fitness club that has all the fancy technology. Not the most up to date tech, but still more than I'm used to.

I have a headset mic to make it easier to project my voice with the music. Unfortunately, it fits over my ears where my glasses rest. So either the mic sits awkwardly or my glasses get knocked askew, especially if I snag the cord.

So today I went to the eye doctor in the Fred Meyer store and got my first set of contacts in over a year. I'd been wearing them since I was 14, so I'm an old hand. I was glad that I didn't have any trouble getting my new ones in. It was like I'd never stopped wearing them.

The double takes at work have stopped now that everyone is used to seeing me there in the dark green employee shirts rather than the light tan manager shirts. Now they'll start again as they try to figure out why I look different!

Oh, yeah. Did I mention I went back to work at the store where I was the office manager? It's been almost three months since I quit and I was getting bored sitting at home all the time. So when my former boss offered me a position in the receiving department as a regular hourly employee at a VERY decent pay per hour, with the plus of having whatever schedule I want or working in any department I choose (except hunting), how could I say no? I still teach, too. And receiving is much more relaxing than management. I don't think I'll ever want to be a manager again.

But now I'm suspicious. Apparently the lady who replaced me as office manager is, well, let's say she's not enjoying it anymore. I think she's about to quit. I hope my boss doesn't think he'll get me back in that position. He'd make all kinds of promises to me about it, but I know Corporate won't even consider paying me what I'd demand. They'd just tell him to find someone else. Ah, well. Not my problem.

On a chillier note, the snow has started to fall on the mountains that surround the Mat-Su Valley. It was such a blustery day last Thursday that one of my coworkers and I peeked out the receiving door to see what was making the rollup door bang. We caught sight of the mountains and could tell by the blur that it was snowing. By the end of the day the tops were white.

I wonder how long it will be until it snows here. If I remember correctly, it didn't snow until November last year. But this summer was so drizzly and cool, maybe it'll start snowing earlier. The weather is getting colder. I had to turn up my thermostat a smidge yesterday. (The nice thing about a lot of apartment complexes here in Alaska is that they pay for heating. Thank the gods for that! I try not to abuse it, though.)

I can't wait until Bruno sees the snow. He'll go nuts!

Less than a month until auditions for the Spitfire Grill here in Wasilla. I'm so excited I can't sit still!

And the Christmas Show at the Olde Coloma Theatre in Coloma, California was written by me and my best friend! If you live in that area, go see it! Go see the Halloween show, too, also written by my best friend! (Not me, but I was in the first one a couple of years ago. It's good stuff.) If you have a video cam, record these shows and send them to me so I can see them, too!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Teaching in Alaska... Fall is near

I taught my first group fitness class here in Alaska today. All the people who have been involved in getting me ready for this have been supportive and have complemented me so much, it might give one an ego.

Well, if I had an ego, it was deflated today.

Only one person came to the class.

And that one person was one of the office people that works at the club. He had taken the training weekend for this particular group fitness class, too, so it was like preaching to the choir.

Bummed as I was about that, at least it gave me a chance to practice using my iPod for the music and setting up the head mic. I got to feel what it was like to move with that thing and I've discovered that I prefer the old school way: Military voice, like I used in teaching martial arts. Still, I'm just not used to it. As soon as I am, I'll probably appreciate it more.

And now for something completely different...

I can feel the change in the air today. There is a colder, stronger wind blowing. Last night we were shivering, so we closed the windows and put on sweaters. While the fall colors are not evident here yet, they've already started farther north in Fairbanks. Autumn is on its way

And in entertainment news...

My best friend has had some struggles with the theatre she works at. They're in need of new material for melodramas, so I've decided to help them out and put my extra time to some productive use. In this, my best friend and I are very compatible; she has little time to write and many ideas, while I have tons of time and can usually write well as long as I have an idea to begin with. That's always the hardest part for me, coming up with ideas.

So now I need an idea of what to write for National Novel Writers Month in November.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Alaska State Fair

We were lucky that Logan's vacation coincided with the Alaska State Fair, which is i the next town over, Palmer. Yeah, it seems strange that the State Fair would be in a town even smaller than the one we live in, but they certainly have the space for it.

There don't seem to be many places to have a fair up here. There's the State Fair in Palmer and I know I saw a place for fairgrounds on the map of Fairbanks when we took our little jaunt up there a few days ago. I'm not even sure if Anchorage has fairgrounds.

So that would probably explain why the Alaska State Fair was about the same size as the El Dorado County Fair in Northern California. That was the one I went to most of my life.

So here's some differences, and I know the people who understand the most will be the ones who also live in Northern California and have been to the El Dorado County Fair. But this may be comparable to many others across the US.

The strangest part for me was the weather. I'm used to blazing hot sun and wearing my red shorts with the buttoning pocket so I don't loose my wallet on the rides. Sometimes I'd even get sunburned because I didn't put on enough sunblock that morning.

But here in Alaska, I was wearing long jeans, a sweatshirt, and Logan got me one of those winter hats with the long tassels from the ears and I wore it most of the time we were at the fair. And I was comfortable! And it rained for part of the day, but not much more than a sprinkle.

There were more booths and interesting things for sale at the Alaska State Fair. And it was totally crammed with people and wheelchairs and baby strollers. We couldn't walk anywhere without getting caught behind people or almost getting run over by impolite ones coming the other direction. I swear they needed lines painted on the paths and stop lights for each booth.

There were just as many rides and the same ones that you usually see, the Gravitron, the spinning strawberries and dragon roller coasters for the kids, the Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go-Round, the scary ones that spin you upside down. They also had that slingshot one, but I don't remember seeing that at El Dorado.

El Dorado County definitely had the Alaska State Fair beat in the animal department. There were tons of empty cages here, no horses, and a couple of cows. It was mostly rabbits, some chickens, a few sheep, pigs, and goats.

But Alaska had some fantastic entertainment shows. We got sight of a group that played all sorts of familiar songs with a country/Irish style and they danced with exuberant energy while they played their banjos and violins and guitars and such. Complete with audience participation, of course.

We didn't go on any rides or play any games. We mostly just visited booths. By the time we left, though, I was depressed and sad. I missed my family. I know going to fairs is not my husband's cup of tea. He's just not into it. But now I have no one else to go with. I used to go with my friends and my family. Play games with Tiffy, ride the Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go-Round with Myndi, check out the animals with my father, the crafts and projects with my mother, and crash the bumper cars with my brother.

Sigh. This has to be the hardest part about living in Alaska: being so far away from the people I love.

But at least I got my Hawaiian Shaved Ice!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Whittingtons in Whittier

While Logan's brother Ben was staying with us, Logan's boss, Steve, invited us on a fishing trip on his new boat. So we drove to Whittier on the coast of Prince William Sound. (Please forgive me if my nautical terminology is wrong. I am only speaking from my own limited experience.)

Whittier is reached by going through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. It is a highway and a railway tunnel and it is the longest tunnel in the United States (about three miles, I think). There are 20 minutes waits because the tunnel is single lane and is shared by trains and cars. So you have to wait until it is released for the direction you are going. The picture is of the entrance on the Whittier side of the tunnel.



Whittier is a tiny sea town, the "dead end" after going through the tunnel. Unless you are there for fish and fish related activities, the only things to do are some guided tours and some gift shops. But it's so quaint and has many breathtaking views. And the homemade fudge was to die for!

So the three of us went out on the boat with Steve, his wife Karen, and his five-year-old-soon-to-be-six son Dillon. Steve is an extremely experienced guide and we were very lucky to have this opportunity to go fishing our first time with him.

Here are some of the views we captured on Prince William Sound:





Steve had a fish finder on board, which I would suggest for this type of fishing. These guys landed fish after fish after fish. Ben caught the most and the biggest, a halibut that was probably about 40 lbs we guess.



As for me, I was fighting seasickness most of the way. I got an inner ear virus years ago that pretty much ruined carnival rides for me forever. I can't even watch little kids spinning in circles for their own amusement. But I did my best to grin and bear it. At least I didn't puke.



Even if you aren't into fishing, it looked like there were some fun sightseeing trips and the gift shops and fudge are definitely worth a look-see. Here are a couple of pics of the sights around the harbor:





We had also dropped shrimp pots and caught 12 of them. I'd never seen a live shrimp before. They don't look anything like the ones on my dinner plate.



And before Logan squawks that I gave his brother all the glory, yes, Logan caught some fish, too! Even though he hasn't caught any more since that day, lol!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Rainbow Connection



Looklooklook! After all the rainy/sunny days we're had this summer, we finally got a rainbow today!



This gives me a very good feeling for some reason. Like maybe I'm on the right path or something. I don't know. But it was beautiful.

Our Alaska Adventures... Mahay's Riverboat Service

Okay, I'm finally going to start posting about some of the tourist things we've been doing this summer with a few pictures for each one. There will be a ton more pictures on my Myspace page:

http://www.myspace.com/sparklecat_in_alaska

So when hubby's brother came up for a visit, we took him to Talkeetna, where supposedly you can see Mt. McKinley on a nice day. There aren't too many of those, so we didn't see the mountains that day. But my parents and aunt and uncle did when they came up for their visit, lucky dogs.

Talkeetna is totally a tourist town. Gift shops and cafes and all kinds of guide services galore. We chose Mahay's Riverboat Service:

http://www.mahaysriverboat.com

They do fishing trips and jetboat adventures. The fishing trips are fairly pricey, but the jetboat trips are affordable, especially if you do the the short one. We chose the middle length one that gave us a ride on three rivers: the Talkeetna, Chulitna, and Susitna. The neat thing is where those three rivers converge, you can still see the difference between the waters because the silt is different colors. One is more green, one is more gray, and one is more tan.

The first thing I would suggest is get there early. The three of us arrived just in the nick and ended up sitting in three different seats, all on the aisle where it's harder to see out the window. Especially if your seatmates are wearing big hats. You can see in the pic that we're at the back of the line.



The next thing I would suggest is get a seat next to the window (see the previous suggestion). This way you can take pictures when the wildlife decides to be photogenic. On our trip we saw several bald eagles perched on logs and one nest with an eaglet in it that only the people with really good zooms on their cameras could see. It was amusing to listen to the tourists ooh and aah. I kept a straight face, though. I'm technically not a resident yet, so I'm almost as touristy as they are at this point!

After traveling around on the rivers for a bit, we stop for a little nature walk that includes several old structures used many years ago when it was much colder in the area. These included big lean-to huts, pits covered in sticks which were used as "refrigerators", and beaver traps. The trap was basically a big log held up by another log and when the beaver chewed on it, the big log would drop on its head.



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There was also a tiny cabin with the floor dug out and an old broken sled next to it. The tall structure was where food and valuables would be kept, away from bears and other inquisitive animals. Trappers would have trap lines that stretched for many miles, maybe even 100, so they'd need these little cabins to warm up and stay in while checking the traps.



After this walk, we clambered back onto the boat and traveled up the river (I forget which one we were on at that time) for about 45 minutes to where all the people staying at the Princess something or other would disembark. There were only the three of us and two other passengers left for the trip back, so the captain (who was very cute, BTW) pulled out the stops and we practically flew back to our starting point. We were going so fast, it felt like a roller coaster ride!

I would definitely recommend this outfit for sightseeing.

Next to come: Fishing out of Whittier in Prince William Sound!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Honeybear!

Ok, yes, that's what I call my husband. Anyone who knows him chokes when they hear that.

They gag even more when they hear what he calls me. >evil wink<

We've been married seven years today. I think it's seven. Wait, lemme count...

It IS 2008, right?

You'll have to excuse me, I left my brains in my other jeans.

Yes, seven years. And we've been together for a total of almost 13 years.

Whew.

So what are we doing for our anniversary?

In all honesty, most likely nothing. One or the other or both of us are always working on the day of our anniversary ever since we got married! So it was a good day to get married, but not a good day to have an anniversary, apparently. Logan is closing tonight, so there won't be any restaurants open by the time he's done with work, except for the all night McDonald's down the street.

However, Logan is very burnt out from working, so he's going to take some vacation time this month and we're planning to take a driving trip around Alaska. Maybe head to Fairbanks, then come home by way of Glenallen. We're not sure yet.

But then, there are changes looming on the horizon as well.

I just completed a training weekend for a program of exercise that I'm very stoked about. They have other programs that I'm also interested in getting certified in, but we'll have to see what comes of that. I start teaching this one in September.

But Logan just planted something in my head. Since he's pretty much supporting me with his job and he misses teaching and practicing martial arts, he's got me convinced to consider opening a dojo here in Wasilla. With me running and teaching most of the classes, he could teach on his free evenings, which would give him an excuse to get off work at a decent time once in a while and a place to squeeze in a good workout for himself. And it would be worthwhile and meaningful work for us both.

There are six schools in Wasilla already and each seems to be teaching different styles, but we're not sure of that. Since Wasilla is growing so fast right now, I imagine there's more than enough room for one more.

But I admit that the idea frightens me. That's a big responsibility and having been raised in California, it always seemed like a legal nightmare to open a small business.

But here in Alaska, small businesses are still the thing. The "big box" chains are only just starting to creep in. They've had the Walmart for a while and now they have Sportsman's Warehouse, and Target and Walgreens will be opening soon. There are even rumors of Costco going in.

But that's it, really. Everything else is mostly "mom n' pop". I don't think it'll be as nightmarish here.

I'll have a lot of research to do. I don't know anything about running a business, though I'll tell you, with all I've been accomplishing just in these last few weeks, I'm getting braver! The weekend training thing really opened my eyes to what I can do.

And then Logan's job may be moving him along farther up the ladder sooner than we thought. But that remains to be seen.

We know that we can't expect the dojo to make any money the first year, especially since we're starting with no equipment. But that's just it; With Logan's job, we don't really need it to.

So for now, I'm going to teach at the club here and learn about what it takes to start and run a business in Alaska. Any advice or suggestions would be most welcome.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

PASSED!

Wow, it has been a while since I last posted. But I was frantically trying to study for the ACE exam and see my visiting family during the last couple of weeks.

It just cracks me up (and that's the happy way of putting it), as I have mentioned to my friends and anyone who would listen many a time, that I put soooooo many years into my schooling. My father paid out the money, my husband and I put out the money while we lived with his parents (and I wholly admit that it was mostly Logan's money). I endured many heartaches and setbacks along the way and manged to accomplish the goal of completing my Masters degree.

I also poured years into my martial arts training. 10 years (give or take) in a world of "McDojo" where people get black belts in two years, with buckets of sweat and even some blood a possible fracture or two mixed in to get my blackbelt. And then be promoted to 2nd degree when I was mostly just doing massage, well, that was just a blessing.

And yet here I am,still fighting to get a job in the fitness world where "certification" is king. And my degrees and years of stress mean nothing!

I took my ACE exam today after about a year-and-a-half of preparing off and on. I'm happy to report that I passed.

But now that the excitement has worn off a tad bit, I'm even more frustrated by this whole situation.

I passed because the manual for the ACE Group Fitness Exam was basically my whole college career boiled down to 12 chapters. I'm not sure I learned anything new. And all I had to do was review and regurgitate. Just like all those college tests I slogged through.

>Heave big sigh<

Ah, well. At least I've finally done it. Now I just have to maintain my status and actually get my foot in the business. Follow the money, as my dear friend Matthew told me. I hope this will lead to where I want to go. Right now it's looking like small change, bird food, baby steps, whatever cliche for going nowhere fast you'd like to enter here.

On a more cheerful note, my parents and my aunt and uncle came to Alaska for a visit, so I'm going to begin posting lots of touristy stuff that will interest the people who click on my blog because they see the word Alaska in it. I'll also be putting lots of pictures in on Myspace since I can only put so many in here. So there will be lots more to come!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Isn't it ironic...

This kind of cracked me up a bit. But it's too true.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080718/lf_nm_life/gasoline_alaska_dc

Anyway, after that bit of levity (or lack of it, perhaps), I'll be posting here pretty soon about the things that people can do when they come up to Alaska for a visit. My husband's brother just left after a 10 day excursion here and we went out and took many pictures of our misadventures. I won't be able to post them all, of course (we took over 300!), but I'll post the ones that best illustrate our trips.

In the meantime, I'm still unemployed, but I did talk to the operations manager at one of the local fitness clubs here. It's so frustrating that my masters degree in kinesiology and second degree black belt all mean nothing in the light that I'm not "certified". This certification is just a brief reenactment of everything I studied for my bachelors and masters degrees. And it cost nearly $250 for the privelege of taking their test.

Sigh.

Well, I'm biting the bullet and getting it done. Got my CPR and First Aid cert a few days ago. I'm signed up for the test on the 5th of August.

And my parents are on their cruise, heading here to visit us! I can't wait!

Gotta go. More later.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Swords and Flowers

Haven't posted in a while because being unemployed, I don't have much to say. I spend a lot of time at home. Mostly cleaning up for the guests we'll have this month. First Logan's brother and then my parents and aunt and uncle.

But other than that, my life is pretty dull right now.

I've signed up for a CPR class so that I can take the ACE exam and get certified to teach group fitness courses.

I've applied for a temp teaching position at the local college. I hope that will get my foot in the door there and lead to a permanent position.

And a friend of ours gave me swords!

Yes, Heather has swords now! Yahoo, yippee!

He'd been trying to sell them and no one was buying. (People are nuts.) Since he wanted to get rid of them, he asked if I'd like to have them.

I was totally floored that he would just give these beautiful items away. I don't care what true sword collectors would say about them. I think they are absolutely gorgeous. Here's a picture of one of them, my favorite:



I also took some pictures of the flowers that are sprouting up all over the place here in the valley. These are just the ones in abundance at our apartment complex:



Normal everyday dandelions. But get a load of the stems on these suckers!



They look like they'd reach out and choke you if you got too close. "Feed me, Seymour, feed me!"




It alternates rain and sun here almost every other day, and what with all the daylight hours we have, we get a lot of green and some colors, too. It is beautiful here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Movin' On Up... Well, movin on, anyway!

I've decided to leave my job as an office manager. The very job that helped me and Logan get up here to Alaska. Logan is not quitting his job, though.

Why am I leaving? I can't work for a company that refuses to see the people that work for them as their major working organs that keep their life's blood (the customers) flowing in and out and back again. The corporation sees the employees as numbers on a page and those numbers are wrong a majority of the time. So they make knee jerk reactive decisions based on false information that affects the employees in negative ways. I will not be party to that anymore.

So what will I do next?

First thing, I'm going to get my ACE certification. I can take the test in Anchorage. That's a relief because I was worried I'd have to try to squeeze it in during a trip to California or something! Then I'm going to apply at the local fitness clubs and start teaching kickbox aerobics and stuff like that again.

I'm going to see if I can get a foot in the door at the local college here, too. Only problem is last I looked in their website, they only had three PE classes and one was canceled. I have to find out why that is.

Anyway, I'm a grouchy bear today because I'm in limbo. I'm training my replacement, but aching to get on with my life. Logan has been very supportive through this whole mess.

Well, that's the update on my life. Tune in later to see what happens next! (You can tell when I've run out of things to say because I turn to the very cliche!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

SingSnap Stir Crazy!

I've been going nuts over a website called SingSnap. It's a karaoke community where you can record yourself singing songs and post them to things like Myspace or blogs or whatever. There should be an example embedded here somewhere.

And you can open it to all the other obsessed singers on SingSnap and they can rate you and leave comments.

But that's not the really cool part.

You can also record a duet with yourself. You know, record yourself singing one part, then again while singing another part with yourself.

Or you can harmonize with complete strangers you've never met who live thousands of miles away. Or with people you love.

Hint, hint.

The idea that I could sing Broadway show songs with my closest friends or country songs with my daddy or make my mommy happy just hearing my voice, it blows my mind. And brings tears to my eyes.

Okay, that's not a hint, that's a tell.

I've got "Suddenly Seymour" on there right now waiting for a guy to sing Seymour's part. (Batting eyelashes at Matthew.)

My voice is beginning to return to its former strength. My upper range is still nonexistent (aarrrrrrrgh!) but it's creeping back like a nervous cat. I have to be careful not to push too hard and lose it again, but I was having so much fun today, I recorded several songs and had to make myself stop. I'm such a karaoke freak!!!

Anyway (one), please feel free to stop by for a listen. If you sign up for a free account, you'll be able to leave comments, too. (Gods, listen to me. I sound like an advertisement.)

http://www.singsnap.com/snap/profile/overview/b71b440e

Hope you enjoy the website as much as I do!

Friday, June 6, 2008

My dog eats dandelions...

Ooooo-kay.

My dog has discovered the joy of chomping on those bright yellow flowers and flinging petals around. There's a big bed of them right in the area I usually walk him. My dog is a flower-puppy. Bliss and rapture.

There are actual flowers here! I was starting to wonder if it would all just be green until fall, but I'm seeing some nice things, like bluebells (I think) and dandelions. And this is just at my apartment complex.

And now for something completely different...

Switching to rant mode...

Krrrscchh!

Ah, okay. Here we go.

WHY DO PEOPLE FEEL THE NEED TO CHANGE THINGS THAT WERE ALREADY GOOD TO BEGIN WITH AND MAKE THEM WORSE IN THE PROCESS!?!?!

Whew. That's better.

What I'm talking about is a set of DVDs I just bought. When Quantum Leap first came out, I didn't watch it too much. I saw repeats later on, though, and my mom had recorded a lot of them with her ever-present and trusty VCR. I fell in love with a few episodes in particular, one of which I even put on an audio tape.

Why would I do that? I was scared of the dark for most of my life until my later teens. I would listen to favorite movies, like The Little Mermaid, while going to sleep to keep me distracted from my fears.

So I put the episode called "Good Morning, Peoria" on tape and listened to that at night. It had some of the great oldies songs, including one during the most romantic scene that I have no idea who did or what it's called. I'm sure Mom could tell me if I asked.

Anyway (one), when you listen to a tape for many, many nights in a row and love it as much as I did, you expect it to always be that way, right? I mean, why would anyone change anything about a single episode, right?

But that's just what the bastards did.

I bought the entire collection of Quantum Leap on DVD so I could see all the cheesy early episodes I missed and all the good ones later on that I loved. That show truly improved as it aged.

I was jubilant when I got to "Good Morning, Peoria." I insist on watching it all in order, so I had to go through the whole first season and part of the second before I finally got to it last night.

THEY CHANGED SOME OF THE SONGS!!!!

Why the hell would they feel the need to DO that?!!?

The song they picked to replace the romantic one I loved was beyond cheesy and even inappropriate to the momentum of the scene. It just didn't work as well.

Of course, now I'm asking myself why I'm so irritated with it. It's just one episode. And technically not one of the better ones, either. Nothing poignant or special about it, like the evil leaper ones, or the finale, or the one where Al and Sam switch, etc.

I guess it's because I loved it the way it was. And they f***ed with it.

Mom, if you still have that one that you recorded off the TV all those years ago, can you make me a copy and mail it to me? There's nothing like the original.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Close encounters of the moose kind!

It might have been the same moose we were taking pictures of the other day, I'm not sure. Maybe she's a closet spotlight hog. (I'm so lame I don't even know if it was a girl or a boy moose. Of course, during this episode, I hardly cared to look that closely!)

Oh, wait. Maybe you'd actually like to know what happened.

Very simple,really. I was taking Bruno through the parking lot of the apartment complex to his usual potty spot. It's to the edge of the property where there's grass, bushes, and short trees along the fence belonging to one adjoining property. One is fenced, the other is not.

So as Bruno is doing his thing, I notice a big brown blob out of the corner of my eye. My first thought is, what's that horse doing over there?

When I finally pulled focus, I realized a moose was standing not more than 25 feet away from me in the unfenced yard!

It was ignoring me at that moment, busy chewing on nearby bushes. But then Bruno, that slow wit, stood at attention and wuffed.

The moose looked up. Oh, crap, I thought.

"Come on, Bruno," I whispered. "We're backing up, we're backing up." Luckily, Bruno followed along with me slowly and without protest.

Except that the moose started following me, too! He (she, it) was crossing the parking lot in the same direction I was heading!

As soon as I passed the stairwell, I picked up the speed. I didn't head up because Bruno had not finished his nightly business yet, so I dashed to the other side of the complex. Checking behind me, I saw the coast was clear.

The moment Bruno had finished, I headed back the way we came and saw one of our neighbors with her dog in the same area we had come from. I looked up and down and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

One thing I've heard over and over since we've arrived is how unpredictable moose are. How they can charge your car if you honk your horn. How if you and a moose play chicken on the road, you both loose.

I guess this one was just playing with me. Probably cutting me up to his friends afterward. "Boy, you should have seen her go, dragging that dog behind her like she's was trying to fly a kite! Ha, ha, ha!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Attack of the Mooses!





Well, one moose. And it wasn't really attacking anything but the bushes in the area surrounding our apartment complex.




I felt like such a tourist taking pictures of him, but I took pictures of deer in California whenever I had the chance, so this wasn't any different, really.




Besides, moose are so cute! (Unpredictable and mean, but cute.)




I wish I had a better camera, though. I had this one zoomed all the way in and it still looks like he's way off when he was actually pretty close.




Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Finally, I live somewhere that's GREEN!

Looklooklook, green stuff! I forgot how beautiful green is!








That's Wasilla Lake in the background. (At least, I think it's Wasilla.) It's a short walk down behind our apartment complex. We've started walking the puppy there because we can let him off his leash and he doesn't disturb anybody and can run in crazy circles as long as he wants.

I've posted a bunch of pictures of Bruno on Myspace. Here's the URL for mine:

http://www.myspace.com/sparklecat_in_alaska

There's pics from my best friend's wedding and my kitties as well.


When the sun is out, it feels very warm here. The downside is that the wind has picked up again and the wind still has a harsh bite to it. When I'm outside, I alternate between wanting to zip up my coat and wanting to tear it off. This happens every three seconds.


But spring is here at last! Green things are starting to burst up from the ground like the police were after them. I was up really late recently (about 3 am) and I could see that the light doesn't completely disappear from the sky at night now. It's an odd feeling, but it's pretty neat, too.

People are coming in to the store now saying, "Oh, the mosquitoes are out in force. Stock up on the bug spray."


I think it depends on where you live because so far I've hardly seen any. And the ones I've seen are regular size. Nothing scary about them.

My parents are coming for a visit this summer and my mom was asking me what she should bring to wear. I told her bring a little bit of everything because I think we'll see a little bit of everything from the weather (except snow). I also said to roll her clothes rather than fold them because they take up less room and are less creased that way, too.

I can't wait to see how warm it gets this summer!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Nighttime in Alaska







This picture was taken from the stairwell of our apartment at around 10:30 pm. It's kind of blurry, but the colors are pretty.

And we've still got more than a month to go until the Summer Solstice. This was taken about a week and a half ago, so you can imagine with how quickly it changes what it must be like now. I was exercising at 10 pm last night because it felt like 6 pm.

One of my coworkers was telling me about how one summer he was out mowing one of his fields and didn't hear his wife yelling at him until he shut it off and came in for a drink. She told him, "Don't you realize that it's midnight?"

In other unrelated news, there's a possible change on my horizon at work. They're creating new positions called regional office managers. In a nutshell, I could potentially be in charge of the stores' office managers in Alaska, maybe even a few other states. Always available for answering questions, traveling to new stores or just to train new office managers, stuff like that. On top of my current duties as office manager in Wasilla, of course.

I think they're wanting to cut down on the amount of cross country traveling the field office manager currently does. If that's so, they better make Alaska a region unto itself. There is no cheap way of traveling in and out of Alaska!

I'm going to apply and see what it's about. Won't know until later in the month. The regions and the pay rate seem to depend on who applies.

Let's see. Any other interesting tidbits? Well, the local theatre is going to be doing The Spitfire Grill for their yearly musical. I'd never heard of it, but I jumped at the chance to buy the original cast recording, sold only by one theatre in New York. But it's got Liz Callaway of Miss Saigon fame. Unfortunately she's got the boring ballads.

Don't get me wrong. I adore a good ballad. And Liz has a gorgeous voice. But some of the solo songs she sings in this recording leave me a little flat. Of course, knowing me, all it will take for me to love the songs is to have to learn them and sing them for a few months. I'm wishy washy like that. The rest of the songs are lovely, very folksy and countrified without being country, if you know what I mean.


Now I'm starting to babble. When I'm not even making sense to myself, it's time to move on. I need to revamp my resume anyway.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ah, the warm spring days of April in Alaska!

This is one happy puppy! He adores the snow. He obliterates any snowman I try to make and he catches huge snowballs in the air. If it's too big, he smashes it with his paws.

Oh, yeah, snowman and snowballs. Yesterday's snowfall is wet enough to make these things. All winter the snow is so dry it just falls apart. Which is good if you're cleaning off your car. It's like your car has the worst case of dandruff.

So I was doing the happy dance at work when it was snowing all day and the locals are looking at me like I'm nuts. "It's the kind of snow you can play with!" I try to tell them. But I'm the only one who's happy about it.

Well, me and Bruno are happy about it. Yup, definitely my dog.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Book mania!

Wow, it's been longer since I last posted to this blog than I had thought. I've been working too much, as usual. And Logan's putting more hours in than I am, the poor schmuck.

It's been snowing like crazy here in Wasilla the last few weeks! All the locals are grumbling and complaining. It's not supposed to snow here in April, they mutter.

Every time I see snow flurrying about outside the store's sliding doors, I start cheering and dancing. The locals shake their heads and say, "It's because you've only lived here a few months. By the end of next year, you'll get over it."

I stop dancing long enough to tell them that it snowed in April where I came from, too, and it was still magical. This snow is even better because you can literally see the crystals! I wish my digital camera could catch what I see sprinkling my black jacket when I walk in the snow. I feel like my own fairy tale were coming true.

But it only lasts until I go back inside and get back to work. Sigh.

But Logan and I finally got a day and a half off together. We went to Anchorage for the half day. We hadn't been for a couple of months and my trepidation about meeting another mean panhandler that would beat me like she were my baby sister was wearing off. Besides, this time we had a plan and it didn't involve taking our car to the shop. (If you haven't heard about how that went, let me know and I'll tell you. It's kind of funny now, but it wasn't back then!)

We decided to check out the other mall in town, the one that has an ice rink in the center, and then hit the bookstores. We'd already been to the five story mall.

This one wasn't as tall, but it sure did sprawl. We found a map and it didn't have a "You are here" button on it, so it took us a while to figure out where we hadn't gone yet. This mall was different because it had an ice rink in the center and we watched a young girl learning to do some of the fancy stuff you see on the Olympics. I checked out their calendar and sure enough, no lessons for old people, just kids. Sigh. Don't they ever have any adults who want to learn new things?

Oh, right. Adults are worried about looking silly whilst they learn. That sucks the fun out of everything, man.

I wish Myndi, Tiffy, and Matthew were here. They'd be right there with me, ready to look as idiotic as we possibly could in someone else's skates and having a glorious time doing it. Oh, and Awwen, too.

When we finally hit Borders, I went a little nuts. I bought about five books there. Then we went to one of the smaller local chain bookstores called Title Wave Books. It was pretty big for a small chain (I think there are two of them in Anchorage) and it had used as well as new, kind of all mixed together. I bought about six books there.

I think I'm getting bored. You'd think I was laying in a supply for a long winter. But winter is over! (At least, the calendar says so.)

I got a wide range and I've finished two already. I read one called the Raw Food Detox Diet. It makes a lot of sense and I'm really tempted to try it. But there are things Logan refuses to give up and I can't say I blame him. Not to mention a raw food diet doesn't lend itself very well to survival oriented people who like to stash food away in case of an emergency. I wanted to email the author and ask about that, but her website states she no longer answers emails. I guess a survival diet would be very different from what a person could do now, especially living in an apartment like we do.

The second book I read was a story called Marley and Me; Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog. It was a really good book. Even though you knew the end would be sad, it's hard to put it down once you get going. Everyone who has had a dog can find some part of their dog in Marley's life. What sold me was a picture in the middle of Marley with the author's wife and he was chewing on her wrist. The caption said something to the effect of: Marley never met a watchband he didn't like.

I thought, "That's my Bruno!" and grabbed the book.

Now that I'm done with that one, I've got to decide what I'm going to read next. I'm thinking one of my writing books. I'm determined to read every single one of these books that I brought home. When I buy used books, I have a habit of buying them only because they're dirt cheap and end up not reading them. Not the case with these books.

When we drove home, it was snowing and starting to stick, so we had to go slowly. It drove me insane because Bruno was at home alone in his kennel and I wanted to get back to him so he would know we didn't forget about him.

But we were happier than we'd been for a while. We'd gone out and had fun. We spent time together.

And I didn't get punched by some homeless lady taking her frustrations out on me. That was definitely a reason to be happy.