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.


Speaking of writing, the melodrama that I wrote with my best friend is being performed at the Olde Coloma Theatre ( 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!