Saturday, January 31, 2009

Could you?

After the last 48 hours I needed a confidence booster and a pick me up! Stole this from Lime but thought it was sort of funny.




Brought To You By Lovers Toy Stores

How many cannibals could your body feed?

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Official! I'm going to NOME!

I am officially signed up and the plane ticket is booked. I am working my first ever Iditarod Finish Line in Nome, Alaska this March.

If you don't know what the Iditarod is, you need to check it out! I have been a fan of the Iditarod since I can remember even though I did not grow up any where near the sled dog scene. But then I moved to Montana, which is the home to some pretty famous racers (there is one that has won it a few time but he's not the nicest guy on the race scene...wink, wink Heather B. can guess who that is!). The Northern portion of Minnesota is also home to a lot of racing. Now I live in the heart of the racing community.

There is much for me to learn yet. I don't know what my role will be. But I get to stay with my friend Kamey and I get to experience one of Alaska's greatest eventsfup front and in the mix of it all! I can't wait!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

HNT...Cold snap

This is what happens when your soda falls out of your bag on your way into work and lays on the seat of your car in -35 degree weather. Cool uh?

The nice thing is that as soon as the pressure is released it sprays and insta-freezes so there isn't really a mess to clean up. Just peel the iced Diet Squirt from the leather.
My poor car grumbled at me in the return of the below -35 snap on Wednesday. With the above zero temps I had gotten out of the habit of plugging it in. It really, grumbled to start but it started. I've remembered the last two nights...this is NOT an electric car. The blue cord connects to an engine block heater and the orange cord connects to an outdoor outlet on a timer to warm the engine, tranny, and oil pan for several hours prior to me needing to start the vehicle.
See my properly covered hand. I also had on a hat and my hood up too. I was so happy when President Obama interrupted his economy meeting yesterday to point out that it was ridiculous for all these North East schools to cancel school for a little snow and cold. As Sasha pointed out to her daddy, "Dad, at this temperature we still have recess in Chicago." I'm sick of the national news coverage of the cold. It's cold; there is a way to survive in it. Dress warmly, play it smart, use common sense, and remember some of us are even colder for longer.

Happy HNT! Stay warm everyone!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Spinning My Wheels

Ever feel that way?

I have this unsettling feeling of just spinning my wheels lately. You know, the perpetual gerbil on a wheel? Yeah, that feeling.

I got home from Christmas vacation and had a couple days to get "back into the groove". I spent them making sure my house and car didn't freeze and cause damage to anything. The winter has been a new and expected experience. I then went back to work. Work is far more mentally challenging and stimulating then where I was. For that I am grateful. My Stampin' Up business has been taking off, which is exciting. Nonetheless, I feel like I can't quite catch up with all I need to be caught up with.

I feel like the state our nation is in over the last year has led many of us to feel this way. Along with our usual concerns of work and family time we have the pressures of keeping our heads above water. Except for the privileged few who feel they can still go about extravagant means of life, the rest of us are making things keep ticking. The pressures to cut back and stay ahead are all around. I have a stack of mail spilling over the desk to go through. The personal mail has been taken care of but then there is all the "other" mail. My Stampin' supplies have encroached on living and dining room. I'm still eating which sometimes gets forgotten when I feel too busy but the dishes are in the sink. I have a load of laundry in the dryer right now that has been in the basket since my first week home after vacation.

I have been getting to assist with several procedures in the operating room this past few weeks as well and I love it. It's the key responsibility missing from my previous job. The new role is exciting, I'm learning new things, I'm more involved in patient care. All things I was craving and all reasons for the big move. However, I now have less time for my "usual" roles as well. I spent Friday evening after work typing notes until 7:30 pm because I didn't get to them on surgical days because we were busy. I need to assess my time management skills at work. I have enough to keep me busy, I just need to coordinate getting it all done in a timely fashion.

I have also seriously slacked in paying attention to my body. I had been doing well up until the three months before moving. I was at least playing sports up until I left. I got to Fort Wainwright and was walking distance to the gym for 6 weeks. Never went. I have been working each week since getting home to get more physical activity into my week. The first week back at work I did well. I am using the equipment in our Physical Therapy treatment room. I also have my BOSU ball and yoga mat out. However, I couldn't help but feel frustrated when I got on the mat to do my "old" workout. I was physically not conditioned enough to do it. I hate getting "behind" like that when I know if I just keep it consistent it prevents the back pedalling. The second week didn't go as well. I had too much going, not enough sleep, and too much to do. Bad excuses, everyone's fall back excuses. I know.

Last week, a treasured family friend passed away. I felt his lose somewhat acutely as the night before his passing I had just re-read his Christmas letter to me. He wrote me the most encouraging, loving letter just after Christmas. It brought tears to my eyes when I opened it upon my return. It was special enough to keep out and reread. Now, in hind sight, I feel as though I was honored enough to have him say good-bye. Not being able to travel the 3000 miles for the funeral was hard. I did talk to all my family members though and we all shared stories of Gwyn and his life as a true South Dakota rancher and sheep herder. The loss also made fresh the not completely healed wounds of mom and grandma's death but I know I have several "shepards" watching over me now.

So tonight, I sit pondering how to get my ducks in a row. Where do I start in the mass pile of bills, mail, and things to be put away in my office? What days can I best fit in a workout? Will I continue to hold to my promise to myself to get my notes done on the day of or the next day of an appointment? Where do I find the energy to continue to put forth the effort to make my Stampin' Up business go? Lastly, where do I find time to spiritually and mentally catch up? The whirl and excitement of all that is new is starting to no longer be enough to sustain the energy to enjoy it all.

I'll keep spinning and just hope my traction control kicks in soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

HNT...Home is where the heart is

My good friend Marcie makes amazing jewelry. She also helps other people find their own creativity in designing their own jewelry through her personalized jewelry making parties. I have been blessed to spend hours with Marcie making my own and snatching up some of her own creations before they even go out the door. This Christmas was no exception. Marcie now has her own Etsy site...marcie jane designs. I bought myself this necklace for Christmas. It's been on every day since I got it (had to make sure my Aunt Brenda didn't try to take it). I couldn't pass up sharing this great shot of it that happen to turn out when I was taking pictures of the new hair this weekend. The necklace is a perfect every day piece and it has a bit of settlement that I hold true...home is where your heart is.

Happy HNT!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A new beginning...

Tomorrow will start another new beginning for our nation.

This one's got a hole to dig out of. He will be scrutinized from now through the ages. There is enough coverage on the TV to occupy more than your wakening hours. The dollars going into the parties are sure to "boost" something if not the economy. It is a spectacle for sure; am I sucked in? You betcha ya; DVR is set to record the affair since it starts at 3 AM Alaska time.

Do I agree with our country spending millions of dollars to throw a party when there are millions who can't afford even a cupcake for a birthday celebration in a cardboard box? Seriously! Does anyone remember that today we were suppose to observe the memory of MLK, Jr and his attitude of service? It is not just a day; it is not just a beginning; it should be a way of life.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Play day...

I got to play today! More specifically, my hairdress, got to play today! I love it. She loves it. We both finish and are happy. It's a wonderful relationship. I like changing it up. Came home just in time to sit on the couch and watch the belated New Year's Eve fireworks after meeting Tawnya for coffee and a new book. It was such a good day.

Tin Roof...Rusted!!

Disclaimer: This isn't MY roof because I'm too annoyed by the noise of it all falling to have gone out and taken a picture. This is my friend Tawnya's roof and her adorable daughter.

This is the phenomenon we are experiencing right now. Tin roofs are smooth. They melt from tin side up instead of snow side down. Water runs off first. The snow pile then loosens. It then starts sliding. Depending on how "sticky" it got while all the water was running out of it it will slide for a long time before it breaks off. The breaking off is unexpected, unpredictable and loud! Think rifle blast. It echos. Then it "thumps" when it smooshes into the wet ground.

I awoke this morning before sunrise (9 am wake up time, sunrise is around 9:30) and the house was quiet. I have not ventured out but I think all my snow is gone! YEAH!! Peace and quiet now.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It continues...

I don't want to brag but we hit 50 degrees today! 50! The weather is nice. The effects it has on the commute and on the noise level in my house are getting old. Intersections are horribly icy in the morning and evening. The worst though is the noise. i live in a log home with tin roofs. The water is not dripping, it is running off the roof. Now large chunks of mostly frozen snow are starting to slide off the roof. Not in one big fell swoop but in chunks...crashing chunks. Going to sleep with ear plugs tonight. See if that helps! And wearing my Yak-Traks so I don't fall on my way to my hair appointment :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

HNT...Moose on the Loose!

I couldn't resist! It's 40 frickin' degrees at nearly 9 PM on January 14th in Fairbanks, ALASKA!!!! Made me want to run out and play in the snow. Happy HNT!

Coconut bra!

It's warm enough! Lime suggested I pull out the grass skirt and coconut bra. Well! It's warm enough. 42 degrees right now! The snow on my roof is melting. I didn't wear a coat. It's amazing.

AND...mamma moose was back on post when I drove home again today. Positive 40 above and a moose in one day! Can't complain...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Drove by the elementary school on my way home...10 degrees ABOVE zero. About 15 above at my house. It's damn near balmy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Warming trend

This weekend's temperatures at my house stayed above -30, even at night. The news report says we may have temps in the 10 to 15 degree ABOVE zero range this week. Yeah!

The first week back to work after two weeks of vacation made me tired. I was in bed several nights this past week before 10 pm. That's not even late enough to watch my prime time TV shows. Prime time in Alaska starts at 8 pm and ends at 11. Nightly news begins at 11, Jay Leno at 11:30. Evening TV is all "late". Same is true for morning TV. The Today Show doesn't start until 9. It is over at noon. Haven't gotten use to the shift. I am even more reliant on my DVR to make sure I get to see all my 10 o'clock favorites.

The nice thing about the delays and the early nights is the weekend to catch up on all the shows I watch. Watching my weeknight shows saves me from the garbage on TV on the weekends. With the exception of football...I make sure I get my fair share of that in too but that involves me recording the morning games. They start at 8 am on Sunday. Too early for this northern on a weekend.

Now it's Sunday night and I have had my fill of both recorded TV and garbage (I somehow got sucked into 4 hours of The Real Housewives of Atlanta yesterday morning) plus I watched most of the football games this weekend. I now have the Christmas tree down and all the glitter and branch needles vacuumed up. I managed a bit of an ab workout as well. I'm kicking myself for letting my physical activity lag with the chaos of the move. I feel like I have a significant amount of ground to make up. Guess I know what New Year's resolutions are for!

I hope you are all enjoying the new year. I hope to be back in a routine soon and posting on a more regular basis. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Arctic Experience

I borrowed the above picture from the Fairbanks Newsminer. This is a shot of a decorative metal sign at the local post office covered in hoar frost from the exhaust on patron's cars. Arctic winter is fully upon the valley. Tonight as I sit up on the hill looking out over the valley the city of Fairbanks is missing in a heavy shroud of ice fog. Dana asked the question of "how can there be fog when it is a -42 degrees out?" Kelly offered to pray for me.

The air is eerily still. There is no breeze or wind. With the cold temps everything creates condensation...your breath, your car exhaust, factories, and all the wood stoves. The fog. The lack of air movement means all of this condensation "sits" in the air. Literally. This becomes are sole source of humidity. The actual city sits in a valley between all the mountains and with no breeze the fog all the condensation creates remains seated in the valley. Last night I was up even further into the hills and I was literally driving above the clouds. The stars were out, I could pick out constellations and the moon was beautiful. 5 miles down the hill all that disappeared into a stale collection of ice fog. Think LA, Phoenix,'s nearly like smog but it's COLD even though it smells like exhaust filled, polluted air.

Arctic temperatures are unique. The formal air temperatures this week have ranged from -35 during the day to near -60 at night. These temperatures do not include any sort of wind chill factor for those of you in the Outside (aka the lower 48) who know about wind chill. We don't get wind chill. -40 degrees seems to be the point of transition from cold to arctic cold. At negative 40 degrees below zero, all aspects of daily life take on a new challenge.

I flew home from Minnesota on Friday, arriving in Fairbanks at 7:24 pm. It roughly -40 across the valley, slightly warmer at my house b/c I'm on the hill. My house was 63 degrees inside. The valley was filled with fog. My truck wouldn't start when I got home. I have it plugged in. "Plugging in" one's vehicle functions to heat the engine with the block heater. In Alaska, it also turns on the tranny pan and oil pan heaters. My oil has already been switched to synthetic oil so it doesn't get frosty at these temps. People put their car plug ins on timers so they don't run up their electric bill any more than the astronomical usual winter amounts. Since mine had been sitting and the timer was only running for several hours a day, I plugged it in continuously for five hours but it would still not start. My housesitters came over and we jump started it, let it run for 40 minutes, and then I ran errands in town.

A drive into town in negative 40 degree weather poses another new experience..."square" tires. When the temperature drops below 40 below, the side of your tires in contact with the ground become flat. It's not because you are out of air. It's because the rubber's temperature drops with the air and ground temperature, semi-freezing your tire in the position it is parked. When you pull out of your parked position you are in essence driving on a squared tire. Drive slow, no sharp turns, and let it round itself back out. It gets better as you drive, it comes back in a new spot on your tire when you park again for more than a couple hours.

Log homes are an Alaskan dream. I was lucky enough to find one as you have all seen. The kitchen sink is on an external wall . This means the pipes for the sink are also on an external wall and inside a cupboard near the floor level. Saturday morning coffee making was interrupted by lack of water flow from said kitchen faucet. After filling the pot with water from the bathroom sink (all the other pipes in the house were fully functional), I propped my hair dryer up on a package of paper towels and in twenty minutes had a running kitchen sink again. It has stayed functional since.

The final challenge of this weekend has been the in house temperature. The perks of a log home with a loft is the natural effects of rising heat. With a ceiling fan in the vaulted ceiling the upstairs stays very warm when the Toyo fuel oil stove is kept at a relatively minimal setting. Prior to this cold snap, I would set the heat at 65 and the house would remain at 65 degrees. Saturday morning's 65 degree temperature setting equivicated to an actual house temperature of 56 degrees. 56 degrees!!! I hadn't noticed the drop in the temp because I was snug as a bug in a rug with my flannel sheets and fleece blanket.

I spent the rest of the weekend attempting to get the house temp to break 60 degrees. I resorted to running the humidifier continuously going through 8 gallons of water just on Saturday and turning on two of the house's base board electric heaters. Sunday I started a vat of Zuppa Toscana to simmer and with the stove running all afternoon and the heat set at 70 I was able to reach a peak inside temperature of 66 degrees. The temps are taking a nose dive tonight to record low marks and the house on the main floor is resting at 59 degrees.

All of the above is part of the experience I was expecting. Expectation and coping with the reality are two separate entities. I knew it would be cold. Learning to deal with it was understood. Physically coping with it has been a challenge. Mentally, I know it's temporary and I'm proud to know I have the skills needed to take care of myself in such weather. I know how to jump a car, I can thaw house pipes, and I know what to do to help maintain interior warmth. Just doing it and maintaining the effort is tiring. I have provided links so you know I'm not making this craziness up. It REALLY is Tougher in Alaska.

Today was my first day back to work after a wonderful vacation and it's comforting to know all my coworkers are dealing and surviving right along next to me. We can scoff at the weather man who says it won't get better until the weekend. We will only mildly bat an eye when this next heating bill comes. We'll hug the fuel guy when he tops off the tank. You know why?

As of December 22nd we are gaining 4 minutes of daylight a day! Last night at 4:36 pm when I left the house there was a brim of sunlight still left in the sky. Spring is coming...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Pages turned in 2008

Several years ago a fellow book lover, Kelly had a goal of reading 52 books in a year. I thought it was a good goal so I tried it last year as well. In 2007 I was successful and I used my blog to keep track of them. I decided to keep up with the list. Here is a list of all the books I read in 2008.

I didn't reach 52 this year, only 42 but I had a lot more going on in terms of traveling and moving. That's the excuse I'm using anyway. I'll wipe the sidebar list and start again. I am well stocked with some old books and some new books so I have plenty to read.

  • Eldest by Christopher Paolini
  • Sundown, Yellow Moon by Larry Watson
  • Northwood Pulp by Thomas Sparrow
  • 1st To Die by James Patterson
  • Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales
  • 2nd Chance by James Patterson
  • 3rd Degree by James Patterson
  • PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
  • 4th of July by James Patterson
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hussein
  • Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Folliet
  • The 5th Horseman by James Patterson
  • The Last Season by Eric Blehm
  • The 6th Target by James Patterson
  • The Devil's Bones by Jefferson Bass
  • Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani
  • Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani
  • Running With Champions: A Midlife Journey on the Iditarod Trail by Lisa Frederic
  • Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Multiple Murder by Elliot Leyton
  • The Front by Patricia Cornwell
  • Two In the Far North by Margaret Murie
  • Home To Big Stone Gap by Andriana Trigiani
  • Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
  • 7th Heaven by James Patterson
  • Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig
  • T is for Trespassing by Sue Grafton
  • the ONLY KAYAK: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska by Kim Heacox
  • Cold Hands, Warm Hearts: Alaskan Adventures with an Iditarod Champion
  • White Fang by Jack London
  • Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • Rage by Jonathan Kellerman
  • Chill of Fear by Kay Hooper
  • Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bojahlian
  • Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
  • Pandora's Daughter by Iris Johansen
  • In the Woods by Tara French
  • The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
  • Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
I can look at this list and recall what I was doing, where I was at in my life, how I was feeling etc. just by looking at the titles of the books. It's like a time line of my year. I finished Eldest while at a scrapbookin' retreat in the woods outside Minneapolis. I finished Scarpetta late one night this past week at Brent and Heidi's house back in Rochester. All the Alaska books were purchased when I was in Fairbanks in late May and convinced myself I was going to move up here. I read a whole new series by James Patterson months after the first one came out and only had to wait a few weeks for the 7th one to come out. I found several new authors I liked...Johansen, French, Donnelly. I read a lot of old favorites...Bass, Cornwell, Reichs. It was a good year of good books.

And just for fun I took the same quiz as Dana.

You Should Walk the Tightrope

Any subject you study, you aim to master. You enjoy being the best.

When you're good at something, you like to show off your skills.

You're the type of person who would practice years to walk the tightrope.

And you'd love the glory you'd get from walking it in front of a crowd.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Honey, I'm home...

Welcome home to me! it's a tad bit warmer up on the side of the hill where I live but not a lot warmer. And foggy like crazy!! But I'm home and I'm going to bed with my kitties!