Month: March 2016

Shouldering the Seasons

Change?

Not my strongest suit.

Once as a kid I came home to my Mom’s house after a weekend away at my Dad’s only to find that she had changed my bed sheets. It was full-bore – new fitted and flat and fancy pillows at that. It was beautiful.

I hated it.

Instead of snuggling up to the newness, I shunned it. I refused to sleep. Literally. For a week my poor Mom had to deal with me staying up all night yelling about my old sheets and refusing the new. She had to tell parents of friend’s houses I visited that week to make sure I didn’t sleep while I was there, in the hopes that I might exhaust myself and fall asleep at night (you know, like a normal little human).

Nope.

I’d find my way into tiny closets and hidden nooks and crannies in order to catch a few Z’s, enough to keep myself awake for the night ahead.

A simple stand-off, right?

This will put it into perspective (and perhaps remind you of a moment in time when animal movies were all the rage. Think “Free Willy”, “Fly Away Home” and “Homeward Bound”. Nostalgic yet?):

I loved animals (still do) and I wanted nothing more than to see the one, the only “Operation Dumbo Drop”! This was a movie after my own heart: basically an elephant was in danger and had to be moved to a safe location via air (which poses a challenge when you’re crating an elephant). And then some shenanigans ensue and laughs are had, cue the lonely teardrop from your eye as the music picks up and he is saved! Right?

I don’t know because I never got to see the movie because I wouldn’t just go to bed. The deal was: If I would just go to sleep for one night I could see the movie. One night.

I couldn’t. The sheets weren’t right. Change was upon me without invitation and I would fight it tooth and nail. Eventually, exhausted by my night-time tirades my Mom replaced my old sheets. All was good in my world again and the fact that I didn’t get to see the movie that I had pined for paled in comparison to the cozy reality that we (my sheets an I) were reunited and it felt so good.

Looking back on this now I’m a little embarrassed for the panic towards change and at the same time proud of the stubborn little lady I was. The stubbornness remains but that inability to accept change? I mean, that’s so different from how I am now. Right?

I like to think that I am a Roll with the Punches, Quick-Footed, Easy Going Gal.

That’s what I like to think.

I mean, change is inevitable, right so why not take it smoothly? Like water off a duck’s back. That’s how I deal with change. I give myself real-life examples to back it up:

Hey, you moved to Alaska in the middle of winter and rode it out pretty well.

You can generally find a smile in the situation (like the time you had to walk three miles home in the pouring rain because you had woken up to blue skies and packed your bag (a.k.a no rain jacket, a rookie mistake in AK)) accordingly.

Overall you tend to see the positive in things.

So when the seasons started to shift here from Winter to Spring, I wondered why that stubborn, panicked little lady showed back up again.

I am not ready for Spring.

I grew up hearing from my Grandma that California doesn’t have seasons. I didn’t understand. I mean, Grandma, the leaves in the fall create a magnificent trifecta of gold, orange and red. The trees (some) lose their leaves. It rains for a little bit. Then some flowers pop up. Then it’s sunny again for about eight months. We totally have seasons.

Wrong.

Here, in Alaska (or in Missouri, where my much wiser than I Grandma Gam lives) there are seasons and thus, I was introduced to the term “Shoulder Season”.

Huh?

The in-between.

The transition.

The change.

It turns out, I’m not as great with change as I thought (cue in the “no duh”). Change that I induce (i.e. moving to Alaska. Scary? Yes. But voluntary, nonetheless. Getting caught in the rain? Romantic at worst. If you can’t laugh at that, well it’s time for a hug followed by some good belly laughs to come your way) is not such a big deal. I can roll with those punches. But the sneaky knockout of a seasonal shift? Yowzers. It came without warning.

As a true Californian, I thought nothing of the impending Spring. Fall back, Spring forward. I did it. No biggie, right?

Except, no, Spring is more than just a time shift, more than just a nod to the Equinox (which is somewhat irrelevant this far North, since we had been gaining daylight past an equal day and night much faster than farther South **Correction: after a ski with a girlfriend we got to talking and this is not entirely correct. Through talks and research with friends and The Chief we discovered that although our location in Alaska had over equal day and night at the Equinox (around 12 hours and 17+ minutes of daylight versus night) this is not specific to our Northern location. New York was slightly over equal parts day and night and my home in California was about 9 minutes behind us in AK. The shift from Daylight Savings to Equinox felt exaggerated because we had been used to so much dark but it did not mean that we actually had more light, just that it felt as if we did. However, at this point, we will be gaining daylight at a faster rate and head towards the Summer of all day sun. Phew! That got confusing…and fascinating)). It’s a shift in everything and none of it has shifted to what I’m used to or to what Spring typically means to me (i.e. blue skies, bright green fields of grass, tulips, rainbows, puppies, kitties, gumdrops…o.k. maybe that’s a little overly fantastic view but it is pretty fantastic. Bright, light and colorful). It usually means this:

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Photo courtesy Mr. Mike Sloat (Rock God and apparently a California Tourism Bureau Photographer, or at least he should be)

and this:

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Oh what I would give for fresh-cut flowers to light the room

Just when I got the hang of Winter, enough to feel confident and to see the bigger picture, Spring has sprung, the picture has changed and a whole new set of how-to’s and to-do’s arise, as do the surprises.

Like, tourists. In March? Apparently so. Suddenly, our quiet little town was taken over (and by taken over I mean probably 20 people arrived, but when your population is around 30, it feels like an invasion of sorts). The term “Spring Break” became a two-pronged meaning, both ominous in description, signifying either time off from school and thus family vacations venturing out here or “Spring Break-Up”, meaning the time when the rivers start to break open and everything melts. It looms in the future.

Spring Break came and continues (apparently the schools are staggered in their time off and so the influx is more of a constant wave). Everyday I see more and more cars and people and the pitter patter in my heart never ceases to surprise me. I love people! But when you’ve spent the winter hunkered down knowing everyone around you, outsiders feel even more foreign and the whole place just feels (and is) louder.

And then, the weather, another change I never anticipated disliking. More sun? Yes, please.

Right?

Kind of.

In our departure from California I wondered how the lack of sun would affect me. When late December came and the day was nearly over come 3pm it did affect me until I learned ways to deal with it (mainly, get outside for as long as you can before you lose sun). But this sudden overhaul of daylight? Being able to walk by a still lit sky at 9pm? That too is making me wiggle in my (now too hot for the weather) snow boots. It’s just a little too much too fast.

The sun is a welcome presence but with it comes the anxiety of Spring Fever. There is so much to do before Summer and so much to see before the wild gets overrun with people. Spring having sprung makes it feel like Summer is breathing down our backs. I found myself yelling at the sky on my walk home from work to ask for snow, begging for the melting to slow and the snow to return and then realizing it’s totally out of my control.

This happened within a few days. I panicked.

And then, the sunny days turned to grey. The sky is no longer singing the song of Spring, it is singing the song of rain while you’re hoping for snow. Things started melting, now they are sloshing about. Personally, I love Slurpees. I don’t love walking in Slurpees. It’s the in between before the ground reappears and you know what, it’s awkward. Footing is awkward and driving is an exercise in recently unearthed rock and new puddle (yellow puddle) avoidance.

Roll with the punches, huh?

Sheesh, Spring even means a new approach to dressing myself. Bibs are too hot, boots are too hot, snow turns to slush and rain gear comes out (oh, wait, I don’t have any rain gear). Shoulder Season Wardrobes are a thing I never even considered (again, just as I was actually learning to dress myself for Winter, this little wrench jumps in). Everything is a little different and even the things that you thought you’d never miss, well, suddenly you feel the loss of their presence. You miss things like:

Frozen eyelashes and mustaches.thumb_IMG_4592_1024

 

The sound of a log splitting at twenty below.

 

Catching the sunrise and sunset thanks to late sunrises and early sunsets (luckily there’s still enough snow for doggie snow angels).

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The crunch of your footsteps in snow.

 

Snow laden trees (aka Snow Globe Fairytale Trees).

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Going to a party a being so surprised that 8 whole people are there.

 

…and the fuzziest toes you ever seen.

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Heck, you even miss the snowy Ramp of Doom (still dangerous but now less so without the added ice feature).

People tell you: Sit in the uncomfortable and enjoy the impermanence. Mmmmmk? Well, I may have gotten a little winter belly, but I am no Buddha. Doing these two things is harder than I ever imagined.

And so, I’m trying to embrace the change. To realize that Winter too will come again. To enjoy seeing and smelling the exposed patches of dirt (from which snow melt is exponentially increased because of heat absorption, but no, it’s totally great), to be amazed by the blooms rising straight from the snow

 

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Woah, Willow You Wow Me.

 

 

to meet new animals like this little feller:

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A Sneaky Ptarmigan (they say not to pronounce the “P” but I encourage it) **Correction: when I asked The Chief what kind of bird this was he replied “A Ptarmigan, or a Spruce Grouse” meaning: “Oh, wait, not a Ptarmigan, a Spruce Grouse.” I took them as interchangeable, either/or. I was wrong. This is a Spruce Grouse but you know what? I might just call it a Ptarmigan anyways until I actually see a real one because that name is way more fun to say.

and overall to just enjoy that which is currently happening, rather than wishing for something else. Instead of expecting a sunny day and being disappointed by a gloomier one, taking to the cabin and finding inside jobs or having a movie day (that feels pretty excessively luxurious but I’m forcing myself to try). Letting off the gas, heck even off the wheel and accepting that which will come. It’s all so much easier said than done, but nonetheless, I’m still trying.

I guess I can’t say that I’m as far from my “Operation Dumbo Drop” days as I thought I could but I can say that I haven’t caused anyone else to lose sleep over this newly revisited aversion to change, so that’s gotta count as some progress, right? Sorry again, Mom. Thanks for not putting me up for adoption, that was very cool of you.

And although I’m not as enlightened by the joys of impermanence as I thought, although I cling to comfort like a baby to a breast and a monkey to your back, I know that some part of myself put me here to learn this and to re-evaluate how well I actually rock with the tides or see if instead I try to struggle against them. Alaska life certainly does keep you constantly reinventing your disposition. Challenging and changing how you see things and how you react to shifts great and small. She likes to get you comfortable in the uncomfortable and that, well it’s just not comfortable. But hey, she keeps you on your toes (and when you refuse to learn, she throws you on your back gently but sternly like you would a puppy in training).

So here’s to this new season and the uncertainty it brings. Cheers to Spring both light and dark. For Spring has sprung, whether we ourselves turned the handle of the Jack-in-the-Box of seasons or it sprang itself. Surprise!

Cheers to the change.

 

Hi Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Off to Work I Go…

Where I’m from in California, it’s pretty much essential to have a car. Public transportation is lacking (to say the least) and even if it was better it still would be near impossible to get to a friend’s house in the boonies without some other added mode of transportation. Why not walk? Walking the roads is like tip-toeing on railroad tracks. Often there’s little to no shoulder and blind curves are plentiful. And so, although I’d prefer to walk or bike it’s often much more efficient to drive to work. Almost everyone I know has their own convenient individual machines and…Hi Ho Hi Ho, off to work we go. It goes a little like this:

Going to Work (Anytime) in California:

Steps 1-5 to get out the door: Wake up early enough to go for a walk or run. Take a shower (you have hot water that pours straight from the wall!). Eat breakfast. Caffeinate. Make lunch.

Step 6: Head outside to your car (likely already warmed a bit by the morning sunshine). Insert key and search for some music to play through your phone while the car warms up (while sipping coffee).

Step 7: You’re off! Ugh, it’s so hot in here. Put back the sunroof and get your summer highlights and your vitamin D intake started.

Step 8: Stop for snacks. What’s a workday without a little chocolate? Stop at your favorite local hippie mart (today Andy’s market is on the way) and grab some goodies and hey, while you’re there why not a specialty coffee drink? You could really go for a Dirty Chai today (if you haven’t had one, try one. You can trust me on this).

Step 9: Arrive at work, cozy and caffeinated.

Step 10: Work. Maybe go grocery shopping on your lunch break (you have a hankering for a good Bolognese tonight. Maybe some zoodles? I think I was banned in California from saying that word too much. Zoodles too are delicious. Try them. I am living my culinary fantasies through you).

Step 11: You’re done! Get back into your cozy car, run an errand or two and head to your warm house. Hey, maybe even meet a friend for Happy Hour or go to the gym. The world is at your fingertips, my friend.

 

Going to Work in the Winter in Alaska:

Steps 1-around 50: In Order to Get Out the Door…

You wake up (seemingly) early enough to get all of your chores done so you can leave the house (and know that you’ll never wake up early enough to do them all…so you immediately start prioritizing once you’ve risen). Put on water to boil. Make a fire. The dog will tell you if she’s ready for breakfast or not (she likely will be if you’re running late, she likely won’t be if you’re on time. She’s good at testing you like that). Brush them bucks and wash your face after the water has warmed on the stove. Do a little bird bath action (oh, to have an on-demand shower). Pour the water into the coffee pot and while it’s circulating through the grounds go outside to check the machine. You glance at the thermometer: last night it got down to -13 but now it’s 15 above.

You assess: how many layers will I need this morning? Big gloves or light gloves? Parka or double lighter jackets? Check the gas and the oil on the machine. Low and low.

Head to the gas drum and loosen the air escape, unhook the hose and pump the arm until you fill the gas tank (and likely overfill. Ah, the smell of gasoline all over your clothes first thing in the morning. At least you already built the fire). Tighten the air escape and replace the hose. There’s a bit of water in the gas from melted snow so pour the gas through a water filter so the machine will run more evenly (apparently water in gas is a bad thing…makes sense). Find a can of oil and add it to the machine, careful not to overfill this too (a funnel would be helpful but…naw).

By now your coffee is ready but you only have enough time to find all of your layers and get dressed before it’s time to leave (you didn’t realize the gas can was empty so you are now minus ten minutes, no coffee interlude this morning). This is when the pup decides she’s hungry but she’s so cute you can’t help but concede.

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She sleeps with her tongue out. Enough said.

O.k., now it’s really time to hustle. As you’ve been doing chores throughout the morning you’ve been planning your layers so you can be quick to dress. You find all the components and start dressing just as you look and see that you forgot to take the liners out of your boots last night (I have never had to do this before this winter. I didn’t even know liners came out, probably because I’ve never had a boot with liners since I’ve never lived in snow so needless to say, I’m out of habit). Oh well, things could be much worse than cold feet for the day.

You dress and tie your hair back, pack the coffee into a to-go mug, put extra layers in your backpack and head outside.

Step 51: Driving

The machine (snow machine) got cold along witht the weather last night and so it is a little sleepy to start but after a few extra pulls you get her going. You rev the engine lightly and listen for the drop in pitch to let you know you can take the choke completely off (even when you’re rushing, you still have to make sure to treat your equipment like a queen, lest she decide to cast you out the Realm of the Riding). You rev a few more times, listening for her to tell you she’s ready to rumble. You give it one last big rev and she jolts forward. She’s ready! Get on the rest of your gear (goggles and ear protectors (these machines are loud)) and you’re off!

You decide to take a different route this morning so as not to disturb your neighbors (it is 7:30 in the morning, after all) and head out to the road just in time to see the deep blue as the sun makes her ascent over the mountains.

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It’s a great big snow globe world out here

You also already hit a good enough speed on your short route so far to realize that you have indeed under-dressed. You’re still still learning. Some days 15 above feels like 40 and other days it feels like 15 below zero. Moisture, wind and other scientific stuffs all affect how we feel at the same temperature and today, well, you underestimated. Now, you can decide one of two things:

Drive as fast as you can to get there as quickly as you can so as to minimize time in the cold

or

Drive slowly to keep the wind down and stay warmer but endure a longer trip

You decide to compromise: you’ll stand up while driving as fast as you can (safely, Mom, don’t worry). Sounds counter-intuitive, right? But because your windshield is busted it is actually less windy above the windshield. Tadaa! Plus, since you didn’t get to go for a walk or exercise this morning this will be your stand-in for a workout (it takes muscles I didn’t even know existed to be able to drive this thing). You bounce around following the river and trying to learn different limits of the machine (and your driving ability) until…

Step 52: The River Crossing

In order to get to work you need to cross a (mostly) frozen river (mostly being the most operative word here). Two months ago, the crossing was impossible due to the breaking of a glacial lake in the mountains which, subsequently, opened up the river.

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Open water along the river path commute

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Time to cross over the bridge, I guess

But, now it often is possible. The bridge is an alternative, but a unpreferable one at best since, due to the warm weather (up to 45 degrees above zero!) we’ve been having lately, all of the snow has melted from the bridge. This makes it a spark-filled adventure to cross on the metal skis of a snow machine. Therefore, if possible, it’s best to take the river.

 

The first time I crossed the river by myself I was pretty sure I would fall in the whole time.

This had been my preparation:

“How do I know if it’s cross-able?” I asked everyone I ran into.

“You’ll know.”

Oh, I’ll know? That seems unlikely. I mean, I’ve been here for one winter. I don’t think that makes me any sort of ice expert. I’m more of an ice cream expert.

But, yes, if I approach the river and see it gushing, sure, I’ll know not to cross. Yet aside from the an obvious flow, how do I know if the ice I see is ice to cross?

The Chief and I had talked about dark ice being precarious and to watch for overflow (essentially when there is water out on the ice) because this indicates that water has broken through somewhere and is flowing, making the ice very slippery and less stable (though not necessarily impossible to cross).

As far as I had surmised, it seemed the key ingredients to crossing a river were:

Inspection (looking at the river, maybe even turning off the machine and listening to the river – the only problem with that is that even a crossable river may have an audible flow of water beneath it)

and

Intuition/Decisions (see: going for it). Once you’ve decided to cross, you’re crossing and if you start to fall in, the only option is more speed. Great!

On my first solo crossing I already had concluded on one ingredient: I was going across. Probably, it would have been best to decide that after inspection but, hey, I’ll admit I’m stubborn. I was ready and I was going. I did pause at the top of the hill that leads down to the river and although it was jagged and craggy with icebergs as speed bumps, what I could see looked doable and so, I went.

As I started out, the ice quickly changed pitch below me. At first the skis made a deep rolling sound on the ice but it quickly changed to a hollow growl.

Eek!

Time for a second helping of the ingredient of speed.

I hurried across the remaining crossing and once on the other side stopped to see my path.

I had made my first crossing.

By myself.

I let out a holler a wolf would be proud of and then promptly texted The Chief that I was alive (he apparently was not as surprised as I was, you know, that whole undying faith in me thing and all. I don’t know where he gets it, but I’m sure glad he seems to have it in bulk).

Ok, let’s return to the Journey to Work (Step 52 continued):

Since by now (two weeks into work) crossing the river is old hat (see: you still get nervous every time because every hour on the river is potential for change. You could be able to cross in the morning and by mid-day the river could be flowing) you approach the river with healthy inquiry. It’s like being a kid at a crosswalk. Stop, look both directions. Grab your mommy’s hand (oh, darn. Mom, can you visit now?) and go.

You cross without incident and now you are more than halfway to work (a little celebration dance follows). Your legs are starting to get tired from essentially performing a twenty minute long squat but, hey, you’re not exactly hitting the gym out here so why not? Plus, it’s helping to warm you up. Well, most of you.

Step 53: Arrival at Work

You arrive at work with frozen fingers (you had to stop once just to blow on them because they started hurting so much) and remind yourself to keep heavier gloves in your ever-expanding backpack (it’s filled with an every-growing array of potentially needed items). You arrive early because you always try to leave early in case something comes up (everything from running into a friend to running out of gas becomes a possible time swap and so I always try to build in a buffer) but today you’re using this extra time to warm up before you start your shift. Plus, you need time to disrobe.

It’s funny to arrive at work and the first thing you do is start undressing and re-dressing. Your pile of outerwear takes up half of the back table (the other half is for the chef, you’re working at the local saloon/restaurant that’s just opened again for a quick blip in the pre-season for the film crew in town) and that ever-growing backpack comes in handy as you swap out for a new shirt (turns out that 30 minute squat really got your blood pumping). Finally your fingers have defrosted and now, it’s time to start work. It feels like a whole workday has gone by just getting here, but really it’s just the beginning.

Three hours later, coffee and breakfast served and dishes done and your shift is over (youwork split shifts of three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening). It’s 11am and you’re free until 5:30. What to do?

Step 54: Getting Home

You figure you could use a little walk so you leave the machine (and most of your outerwear gear) in town and head home, walking the hidden paths the machine can’t power through and crossing the frozen river on foot.

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Crossing a footbridge…look to the left…

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and look to the right.

Step 55: Making Use of Home Time

And so, a little over an hour later, you return home. The fire needs to be stoked but at least it’s taken away the morning chill. You survey the scene: what needs to be done? Haul water, do laundry, do the dishes, finish outside projects…etc. and then decide what’s feasible in four hours (since now, having left the machine in town, you’ll need at least an hour to get yourself back to work). You spin the chore wheel in your head and then the fun wheel for your post-chore reward (I think today it might be a nap) and set out to get things done. Or not. Some days, you’re tired and you go straight to the fun wheel (read: nap time).

Step 56: The Journey Back

Alright, it’s 4pm and time to head out again. Since you left most of your outerwear gear at the restaurant (it’s too hot to walk that far in) you suit up with lighter snow pants and layers that can go under your bulkier outerlayers or into your backpack for the ride home on the snow machine tonight. You decide why not go for the whole trifecta and ski to work? Plus, the pup could use some exercise. She’s ten so she can’t run with the snow machine anymore, but she can lap you even on skis and so you interrupt her from her afternoon snooze-sesh to go on an adventure. You call her “Uncle” who’s working construction in town to make sure he can give her a ride home in his truck. It’s settled. You’re off.

Well, almost. You forgot an extra pair of shoes (since ski boots probably would be a bit slippery for work). The ever-expanding backpack is getting ever-heavier now.

Ok, now you’re off. Packed like a mule and ready to glide like Tanya Harding (oh wait, we liked Nancy Kerrigan, right?).

Thirty minutes in and you’re to the river crossing.

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Little Lou inspecting the grounds

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Perked ears listening to the water below

It’s eerie to look down into the craggy ice and see and hear water below, knowing that only hours earlier you took hundreds of pounds over the same spot. But at the same time, seeing the thickness of the outcroppings of ice and testing it with jumps and prods with  poles overpowers any fears, at least for now.

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18″ thick ain’t bad

Plus, when your dog runs ahead of you, you immediately feel safer (and even if it’s an unjust sense of security, it’s security nonetheless).

And so, you cross again.

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Oh Turtlebackapack, how I love thee

Once on the other side, past the swimming hole

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(better suited as an ice skating rink nowadays), you run into three friends at one of the creeks people stop at to fills jugs for drinking water (pretty amazing, huh? Fresh, pure water flowing year-round. Yes please). Ten minutes later, updated on everyone’s latest happenings, you’re off again. Lou has already ditched you. She knows that where she’s going there’s a potential for french fries and if you’re around she’s less likely to get as many (yea, mom put her Little Lou on a little diet. “Husky” can’t serve as both her breed and her physical description).

Step 57: Lose the Layers

You get to work and start the undressing/dressing game again, clean up all the snow you’ve tracked into the bathroom, grab a makeshift water bowl for your thirsty pup, attach your skis and poles to the machine (better now than later in the dark) and clock in.

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Bungee cord jamboree

Step 58: The Hand-Off

Thirty minutes later, you’re outside again, handing Lou off to her Uncles (three came to collect her post work). It feels like you’re dropping her off at daycare. Puppy eyes and all, but in a few hours you’ll be home with her again.

Step 59: The Last Journey Home

And before you know it, you’re suiting up again, ready to hit the road and head home. You approach the river crossing but by now, near 9pm, it’s dark. You have sound and intuition to go on because your lights cast more of a shadow from up on the hill than provide information.

You decide to go for it.

In the few hours since you skied over you notice a chunk has collapsed in and so you pick up speed and evaluate the route ahead as quickly as you can as you race towards solid ground.

You make it.

Success!

A few more twists and turns and slips (since you packed your running shoes for work because a. your backpack couldn’t fit boots and b. it sounded fun to wear something other than boots for the first time in months, but it turns out they aren’t the best snow machining shoes. Grip is key. Duly noted) and slalom-esque tree avoidance and you’re home, sweet home.

Step 60: The Wind-Down & Reboot

The house is cold since the afternoon fire burnt out (The Chief is away for his post-op appointment, not just home letting fires burn out at home) and the has temperature dropped but you’re warm from the ride (you tried a different squat maneuver this time that was a real workout). Thankfully, you chopped wood during your break so that you wouldn’t have to chop it upon returning home and you build a fire in no time. Doubly thankfully, you’ve been fed at work because the idea of making a meal from scratch right now sounds like building the Wall o’ China (or something else equally difficult). You settle in with a good flick and cuddle with the pup and congratulate yourself on having taken care of the house solo and gotten to work twice without incident and settle in to do it all over again tomorrow.

Phew!

The End.

So yes, going to work in the winter in Alaska is a little different from what I’m used to. It feels like three days wrapped into one by the end of it and the steps are far more involved and plentiful than I could have ever imagined (geez, I used to balk at having to stop for gas once a week where the pump pumps for you and the trucks deliver the fuel to your fingertips). But although I do miss the luxury of stopping for chocolate at a health food store or meeting a girlfriend for a glass of wine, I’m grateful to return to our little house in the woods, warm or cold, where the wine is often in a box (all the better for transporting to share with neighbors) and the chocolate is shipped in via care package (thank you Katinka). It’s funny to think of the parallels this life has provided, for every reality we are used to is what we come to expect and now, in this new life, I never really know what to expect. I guess that is my new reality.

Cheers to the unknown and to that which will become known.

The Three Amigos Leave Anchorage (The Final Installment)

Monday morning: surgery time.

Surgery is amazing. They put you under, do their thing (or thang, if you prefer), wake you up and send you away. Maybe call you again or see you again for a check-up and boom! You’re better.

That’s the ideal. And don’t get me wrong, the surgery went great and I am so grateful that we have made scientific advancements enough for it to have been an option for us…but I really don’t like surgery.

Watching your person go under and then just waiting, not knowing what is happening to them, is something I’ve done twice before (with my Mama) and something I hope not to do again. It’s a powerless feeling. I don’t know these people. They don’t know that they are operating not on a person but on my world.

Are your scalpels sharpened? Did you have just enough coffee this morning? Did you wash your hands correctly? Remember to remove all your tools from his sinuses? What if he wakes up in the middle of it? Is he warm enough?

This is my person.

I know nothing about what it is to be a doctor, but I do know that human error, no matter the field, exists. That thought plagued me for the next few hours.

This little worry-wort had planned to wait in the lobby and pace like a caged big cat for the next few hours until the nurses promised they would call me about anything and everything and basically shoved me out the door.

Fine.

So I headed outside only to remember that leaving held with it a whole other slew of worries.

You see, we never planned on The Chief becoming incapacitated and me having to drive.

“Drive?” You ask.

“What’s wrong with driving? You’re an excellent driver!”

Why thank you (and I couldn’t agree more). The thing is (again) I’m from California. I’ve been to The Snow (as in Lake Tahoe) but I’ve never driven in it. Anytime I’ve ever had the option to drive it I’ve always been with more seasoned snow-drivers and so they’ve taken the wheel. In retrospect, I wish I would have been more adamant about learning then because now I was faced with the icy streets of Anchorage.

But hey, The Chief gave me some pointers and we have 4-wheel drive and the streets aren’t that bad. Basically it’s like having training wheels for snow driving, double training wheels even.

I’ve got this.

Oh yea, I forgot to add that the vehicle I’m driving is (to put it correctly) a big ‘ol truck. I have to jump a little to get in and, to make me feel really grown up and in control, I have to take all the books we just bought and put them under my buns and all the jackets in the truck and  put them behind my back in order to see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals.

Yup. I’m an adult. With a booster seat.

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Ok, I’ve still got this under control.

Now, let’s get real. First thing is first: pancakes. I love pancakes more than anyone I’ve ever met (and if I ever meet someone who loves them as much as me or more I can’t wait, because we are going to be best friends) and in times like these, the only thing that is going to make me feel better are:

a. a call to my Mama

b. pancakes. a full stack.

Lucky for me, The Chief had suggested Middle Way Cafe as a place to get soup for him for post-op and from the moment I walked in, my little hippie tummy knew we would be in good hands.

A stack of multi-grain blueberry pancakes, soup to go and a call to the Mom later and I was almost able to forget to worry. Almost.

I went to the pharmacy to get the rest of The Chief’s meds. They didn’t have them. I started off for another just as the hospital called.

He’s ready.

I rushed to the second pharmacy and grabbed the remaining supplies and raced back.

They had told me before the surgery that I would be able to see him immediately in recovery. I got there only to be told I’d have to wait a bit. Good thing I rushed.

Resume prior plan of big cat pacing. Panther pacing, that rings right.

But again, my mind was taken away as I opened an email with a link to my hometown newspaper. I clicked and my jaw dropped as I saw my girlfriend’s house (a place she was gracious enough to share with me when my ex and I broke up and I had nowhere to move) bisected by a redwood tree (it turns out there was actually more than one).

It made me want to gather all of my people under one roof. Could everyone I love just be safe and sound, please? I tried to reach her but couldn’t and so I called a friend of ours to see what had happened and what I could do but in the middle of our call the front desk lady came to me – I was finally allowed to see The Chief.

My love was groggy and a bit bloodied but doing amazingly well. I received a myriad of instructions, do’s and don’ts and definitely don’ts and before I knew it we were out the door and headed back to the homestead (our hotel).

There’s nothing quite like being able to take care of someone when they need you. Making soup from scratch. Warms cloths on their forehead. Getting their cozy jammies ready, tucking them into fresh sheets and putting on a movie.

Being in a hotel room was not like that.

I heated the restaurant made soup in the microwave, fluffed the foreign to us pillows and tucked in my babe without cozies. Nothing was on TV (is there ever anything on?). I took a a trip for supplies and dinner…

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Taking in the sights of a supplies walk. Melting ice sculptures from a competition downtown.

After which I was able to upgrade us a little bit with the help of an HDMI cable and new pajamas, though we couldn’t get the HDMI working until  11pm, and with me running back and forth between the laundry every thirty minutes and Iditarod partiers hooping and  hollering, it wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered. But, trooper that he is, The Chief rolled with it well.

With massive amounts of laundry done the only things left to do were collect the remainder of The Chief’s meds (a misprinted prescription sent us into an insurance whirlwind but with a lot of help it all worked out) and grocery shop.

No biggie, right?

{Begin ominous soundtrack}

Our third amigo came with me to Costco so I wouldn’t have to pack and unpack alone, but in Costco it’s every man for his own shopping list (and since we hadn’t been to Town since December our list was as long as I am tall). There are two sides to Costco: booze and food. In your planning, you decide which is first depending on how you are packing your rig (which after two days of driving, I was feeling much more confident in…but still short). Booze first? In our case, yes. We would fill up the many side compartments of the truck and leave the bed for food.

Well, about $500 later we went back out to the truck and started loading the first round. Thirty minutes later we were back at the Costco doors.

Shopping for food for the next few months alone is a mental exercise in restraint, splurging and balancing. You see, you always return home wishing you would have bought that thing you debated on (yes, you really do want those olives). But the thing is, when your person is with you, you have a little sounding board, your decisions come easier and (at least at the time) feel valid. Alone, it’s a whole different ballgame. But this time I decided to go in armored up with the intention of leaving with truly everything we needed, even if I was going to have a minor heart episode at check out. I took off my jacket to prepare for the warm indoors and set it in reaching distance for when I got to the dairy aisle. I was ready.

About an hour and 20,000 decisions later (how much do I need this to be organic? $5 extra much? Do we have mayo?  I swear we did…Toilet paper! Almost forgot) we were in line (I had two shopping carts). For some reason, all the people in the store with 5 items or less started lining up behind me. I was in a daze and didn’t realize they were there  until the checker started calling them all ahead of me.

Ten minutes later, it was finally my turn.

Check out time.

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Baskets and baskets and baskets…

The bagger/boxer cracker her knuckles, took a deep breath and jumped right in. We had a game plan. Perishables together, non-perishables together. Box ’em up, box ’em out. Another ten minutes and ten banana boxes full and we were out of there. People were staring.
“Having a party this weekend, little lady?!”

You better believe it. At this point I’m feeling so close to being home that every moment is a celebration.

Thirty minutes later and the game of packing Tetris complete we finally leave Costco $1100 poorer but smiling all the way.

We return to The Chief and it starts…that sinking feeling you get when you feel a little sickness coming on.

Stage 1: Denial

Stage 2: Raid the medicine cabinet (or in our case, take your multivitamin and a dropper full of GSE and hope for the best).

Stage 3: Cross those fingers and toes

We all awoke in the morning beyond ready to leave but there was still the packing off all the supplies back into the truck which always takes longer than planned. Parked right next to a No Parking sign we played packing Tetris again (high scorers!) and finally, we were off.

The last stops between us and home:

Fred Meyer in Palmer (Safeway, essentially): For any last perishables that Costco didn’t have…maybe even some fresh herbs?

and

Fred Meyer Gas: To fuel up our barrels from home

Once you leave Palmer, you are basically home. You still have 6-8 hours before you actually arrive, but it’s the last taste of a city you’ll have for months and boy does that feel good.

I shopped again, we Tetris-ed again, loaded ourselves in again and we were off. Homeward bound (oh, I love that movie!).

Despite Doctors orders, The Chief drove the entire way home. Once you’re on a roll on the road it’s hard to stop. Our Third Amigo plagued with the Anchorage Ick too (and worse than me) got sicker and sicker as the drive wore on. I was still in the denial/taking supplements (of which I had loaded up in Palmer) stages but feeling worse as every mile flew past. Two more stops for fuel and last bits at the country store and we finally took our turn off down our 60-mile driveway home.

Finally home (again, against Doctor’s orders) The Chief, our Third Amigo and I unloaded box after box after box into our little house. As I leaned behind the seat to grab perishables, my headlamp fell onto my nose right as I hit my head into the window and cracked my nose.

“Ouch! I just cracked my nose…”

I realized that I was saying this to someone who had just had surgery two days before (like I’ve said before, I’m not the pain threshold bad-ass in this family).

We divided up items for our Third Amigo to haul home across the river and bid one another adieu for the night.

Inside, the house was mayhem. Feeling the sickness creeping further and further into reality I was ready to call it a night and start again in the morning but The Chief (thanks a lot prescribed steroids) was ready to organize! So we did and I’m glad because even organized, we had basically brought half of Anchorage back with us. The house was packed to the gills with goodies. I was so excited that I could barely sleep because I couldn’t decide what it was I would eat first in the morning.

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Oh, the bounty. The ebb and flow of eating begins…

Tucked into cozy fresh sheets, with jammies and homemade (Meyer!) lemon tea we settled in for the night. The trip was finally over. We were home.

I could finally take real care of The Chief. He could finally rest. I would cut the wood and make the meals and pamper the patient back into health. Finally he could start the post-surgery process right.

Right?

Ha! Wrong. I woke up feeling terrible the next day. He chopped the wood. He made the fire. He fed me and cared for me and pumped me up to be able to head to work (it was too late to call in sick and after being gone for so much longer than planned, I really needed the money).

You’d think by now I would finally realize that to make a plan out here is to shoot yourself in the foot but no, not yet. I planned and it failed but lucky for me I have a partner in crime.

Throughout this week he’s been told to rest, he’s checked in on me, made me tea and food and tickled my back. After everyone telling me how lucky The Chief was to have me, it turns out I was the lucky one…but I already knew that. We both are lucky.

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And so, despite playing my nurse, The Chief is healing up well. And in spite of staying longer than planned and spending more than hoped we are happy. Happy to be home and happy to have found home in one another.

Hey, there’s nothing like a town trip to bring you closer.

And there’s nothing like coming home to rainbow fireplaces and our favorite pup.

Home sweet home.

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The Three Amigos Hit Anchorage (and Anchorage Hits Back)

When you live in “The Bush”, as we do, there is a cyclical rhythm to your wants and a constant balancing between your wants and your needs. Ice cream may sound delicious but not at the price of an 8 hour drive into town. Ta-Da! Balanced.

When you are fresh off the highway from a Town Run you are so happy to be home that no convenience of modern life could sway you to return. But the erosion of that stance sneakily begins the moment you return. For me, the rhythm of wants and the balance between want and need concerns items and actions that are threefold.

List of Things I Lust for While Living in the woods:

#1: FOOD

Freshly returned from town you are flush. You have fresh fruits and vegetables (although only heartier fruits and vegetables since a sweet peach will likely perish on the trip in, while fruit like apples and veggies like carrots and broccoli are sturdy road dogs) all of your pantry staples are stocked and you even have the special extras like good chocolate and maybe a bottle of nice wine (if you didn’t get too overwhelmed and just say “screw it” when you looked at your non-necessities list, yea we organize them that way). Heck, you might even have fresh herbs (I think I just heard a chorus of angels sing “Hallelujah!”).

At first you eat vegetables at every meal. Then the cooler that serves as our refrigerator starts getting a little sparse. You can see the bottom. So you slow it down. You opt for two pieces of lettuce on a sandwich instead of four, you chop the vegetables finer so you use less and feel like you have more and you might even break into the frozen stock in order to slow the depletion of fresh.

But then, the cold snap of weather you’re experiencing (20 below) breaks and it starts to heat up (30 above). The cooler starts to warm even though you place it in front of the door by the draft to cool it via the winter air. The water bottles you put outside at night to freeze to keep the refrigerator cold don’t freeze as quickly and suddenly…

The produce starts to turn.

Now it’s go time. You question yourself. Why did you wait so long to eat it? Why did you pace yourself? Now you’re in a race against spoil. So you get to preserving and eating and sharing. We all know the feeling out here of bringing a salad to a potluck and watching time stop. Tummies stand still. Could it be? Greens? (Cue those angels).

Eventually the produce party ends. You eat your last apple, you commence the carrot countdown and the idea of salad is something you only dream of in potluck fantasies. The only fresh thing left is growing in your living room, but hey, in the middle of nowhere every little bit counts.

 

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My babies…

 

At this point you are at the mercy of your friends. Thankfully, they are merciful. But when someone is coming in from town, fresh items are the hardest to ask for. It’s not a simple 24-pack of beer that can be thrown in the bed of the truck. You question how necessary items are. You estimate: Do they have room in the cooler or the cab? Left out, the produce will freeze. It’s equivalent to asking someone to go to a specific store for a specific bottle of wine that needs to stay at a certain temperature during transport (after they’ve already performed the task 100 times for themselves). But that’s what friends are for and so for a few weeks you are supplied with just enough eggs and carrots to feel like you’re warding off the scurvy until the next time when you are the friend going to town.

#2: SHOWERS

For the first ten days when we returned in December our shower was not functioning. We had purchased an oven in town and it had taken over the original shower area and so we had to move everything around to find its new place beneath the stairs.

Real talk: The shower had been an item of high anticipation for me. For months I tried to comprehend via diagrams and explanations from The Chief how this whole indoor shower minus indoor plumbing was going to work. I wouldn’t say it was an issue of comprehension but more of denial. As much as I love food, I love showers, and that’s a lot. Due to the drought in California I had significantly reduced my water use but I still would shower near daily and fully enjoy my short time with my sudsy self. In the summer in Alaska we had an outdoor shower that could get a little chilly or buggy but was pretty amazing nonetheless. We used it almost daily. But when I asked The Chief how often people shower in the woods in the winter and he replied “Oh, every ten days or so” I nearly fell off my high horse and bumped my shampooed head on the way down. What?!

Extreme cold I’ve never experienced? Bring it on.

Removing myself from family and friends? Ok, I’ll miss them but at least I can still call them and connect.

Being in a town in the middle of nowhere cut off from civilization? I’m game.

But a shower in a bucket every 10 days or so? No thank you.

*It should be noted that having a shower in your house in the woods is not a given. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had gotten extremely lucky by having any sort of running water at all (and hot water at that).

Eventually with some quick construction a la The Chief the shower found it’s home beneath the stairs and as long as I refilled the tote reservoir I could shower every day if I liked. But it turns out that every day is simply not feasible here, at least not for me. You just don’t have the time. The house needs to be warm enough so that you aren’t freezing in your little tote tub. The water has to be filled (and that can take a whole day, remember?) Plus, do you really have the time to let your hair dry? Go outside and it turns into icicles (you’re quickest route to a haircut if you’re too handsy). It’s a process I couldn’t have totally understood until I went through it but now it makes a lot more sense.

And so we resort to daily cat baths and to showers as often as we can. This voice of shower apathy doesn’t sound like me, yet it is because by the end of a long work day the idea of getting water, heating the house, setting up the shower, blocking off the upstairs for anyone else (goodness forbid if you forget something you need for your shower up there), showering, disconnecting and draining the shower and air drying wet hair can sound like a whole other work day and you decide you’re just not that dirty.

And for months that is fine. But eventually the idea of a real shower starts creeping in. You start daydreaming about suds-ing up with the water still running. Luxury at its prime. And so, as your food starts to dwindle, you start to plan for that shower…maybe even a bubble bath.

#3: EATING OUT

The last thing I lust for in the woods is the joy of going out to eat. It’s the thing I miss the least but it’s still in the top three because although it’s an entirely unnecessary luxury, it’s a luxury just the same. You see, when you live in The Bush you make everything you eat. Except for the occasional potluck or dinner invite your three meals a day (who am I kidding, we rarely fit in three but at least two, with snacks is feasible) are yours to create along with the dishes that come with them. In some ways it’s one of my favorite things about living out here. I know my food. I know what it contains (for the most part) and I know how it was prepared.

But there are times when no one wants to cook and the idea of recreating the pasta wheel just isn’t the experiment you are up for. Carrots in pasta? Should be good, right? (Ok, it was, but that’s not the point). Sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy a meal without having to cook it or clean it. Sometimes you want to order a drink at a bar that has ice in it instead of snow (and is at a bar instead of your living room).

And so between the food and the showers and eating out, the town lust starts to creep in.

In reality, if you stop to think about it, you don’t really want to go. It’s just lust, nothing real. To leave you’d have to leave the house to freeze (meaning take out everything that can’t freeze and drain all water), you’ll have to find hotels that take dogs or ask your neighbor (her uncle) to watch your pup (meaning you also have to be away from her) and then, you have to scrounge up the money for the trip to resupply.

 

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No, I think I’d rather stay with this little lady.

 

When you stack all these needs against the wants of fresh produce, showers and eating out they pale in comparison and so you wait again for the next friend to come in and put off town for another stretch…

Until you no longer can.

You see, sometimes, town has a plan for you.

In our case, this plan was enacted via a sinus infection. The Chief has had a sinus infection since the second week we came home. Tough as he is, it’s been tougher to get him to a doctor. And so, after one round of antibiotics with little results we finally (meaning The Chief finally had time off from work and I finally could convince him to leave) decided it was time to put our heads down and head into town.

A Town Run (cue the ominous music).

But this time was different.

We were actually getting a little bit excited instead of totally weary of the idea of the big city. We would see the doctor, go to the dentist, shop and leave. Bing bam boom! Take care of things, get in some good shower time, eat out and leave. Our friend even decided to come along and it ended up we would be there the week of the Iditarod start (though we would leave on the day of the ceremonial start). Still, a quick Wednesday to Saturday trip was exactly what we needed. Three amigos on an adventure.

 

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Uno. Dos. Tres. Vamanos!

 

Spirits were high and pockets were full (with enough cash at least to last the few days). We all kept remarking that we surprised by feeling excited to go to town. Fur Rondy was happening (a pre-Iditarod event) so we all brought any fur we owned (thanks to Miss K-Po I had an Arctic Fox stole to parade around in) and prepared for a few days of fun and function mixed into one.

 

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Sidenote: Yes, California, I hear you gasping. Fur?! The thing is, fur here is like an insulated rain jacket from REI in the lower 48. It’s what you wear because it’s the best way to handle the elements. Fur is what has been used since people first inhabited this place and it beats anything synthetic. No, I haven’t suddenly become PETA’s worst nightmare, I’m not sporting a mink bikini and chasing down polar bears but my ideas about fur have shifted as I’ve seen people’s need for and appreciation of it throughout this winter.

Ok, back to town. We prepared for fun.

 

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Even the six foot ceilings in the hotel couldn’t keep us down

 

And it was fun. We went out to eat and out to drink, watched toilets flush and showers stream, saw friends from home and made new friends. We were even surprised with the gift of a sunset helicopter ride over the city and the water from our third Amigo (muchas gracias, senor!)

 

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Bouncy equals blurry.

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The view from the bird.

 

Two days into our trip and one dentist appointment down, we had one doctors appointment to go and a half day left to shop. Then we were home free. We made our way to the hospital. The appointment was at 9:30 so we had waited to eat. It wouldn’t take long. A new round of stronger antibiotics and we would be on our way to breakfast, right?

Wrong.

You see, when you live in the woods your pain tolerance seems to start to skew. The Chief had been dealing with this infection for almost three months with no more than Advil to calm the pain. He didn’t even complain, he would just close his eyes and take a deep breath as the swelling and pain would visibly go up and down (Disclaimer: I may live in the woods but my pain perception is straight on and my need for a kissed boo-boo is intact. I’m not that tough yet). The doctor couldn’t believe he had been able to last this long with this bad of an infection. She sent us for a CT Scan and before we knew it…

“Can you stay until Monday?” (It was Friday, we were set to leave in the morning, post-shopping).

“Not really. Why?”

“We’re going to need you to stay until Monday. You need surgery. There’s no way we can safely send you back to The Bush with just antibiotics. The bones in your face could break from the pressure of the infection at any moment. You are literally a ticking time bomb. We are surprised you’ve made it this long without incident.”

Oh joy.

So much for in and out with antibiotics.

That morning, on our way to the hospital while planning just what and where exactly I would eat that day I had thought to myself:

“Thank you world for letting us get through this trip without bumps.”

A lot of times, people end up in Anchorage much longer than planned. A car breaks down or needs more work than planned or some other surprise arises and suddenly a three day trip turns into two weeks. I was so thankful that hadn’t happened.

I guess I thanked too soon.

The requested stay until Monday turned into Wednesday (and a quick appointment turned into leaving at 3pm, starving). They couldn’t just operate and let him leave. Potential adverse effects of the surgery would show up within 24-72 hours so they begged us to stay the week and do a post-op appointment before we left.

The week?!

We had budgeted to be here for four days. Our friend had budgeted to be here for four days. It’s not like he could just rent a car and drive home. There aren’t any rental returns anywhere nearby nor is there public transportation to our home. No one we knew was headed back into town. I was supposed to go back to work (I got a job – cue the celebratory trumpets – which I was now missing – cue the sad trombone). Our whole world was turned upside down within minutes. Things were going a little off course. But what did I expect? This is Alaska after all, the Laugh at You State when you try to make plans.

Besides, The Plan doesn’t really matter. Not when a doctor tells you your boyfriend’s face is an infection’s playground ready to blow. And so we buckled down and settled in for the stay. We compromised to leave Wednesday to give us enough time (hopefully) to notice any adverse effects from the surgery and to let The Chief recover enough to make the long trip back home (the pressure changes throughout the drive certainly pose a bit of a treat for him and the thought of driving in snow for the first time in my life on an Alaskan highway was a sweet surprise for me).

Bright Side Benefits:

Because of the extended stay we did get to see the Iditarod ceremonial start. I love puppies as much as I love pancakes (puppies, food and showers and I’m pretty much set for life, oh and The Chief too, please).

 

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A little something for Norway

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Booties for the babes

 

…and we did get to see the Running of the Reindeer (think Running of the Bulls in snow… with reindeer).

 

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We did get to keep flushing toilets and taking showers and ordering in.

We did get to go to a carnival too (though The Chief couldn’t ride anything for fear of face break).

 

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Never did I think I’d attend a carnival (rides and all) in the snow. Brrr metal seats.

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Right outside the hotel

 

The thing is though, the sparkle of town wears off in a few days, sometimes faster, no matter how many puppy pancakes you get (and especially when your face becomes a medical anomaly). Anchorage Angst is the expedited way to explain what starts to happen the longer you are here.

Here’s the long version (and it isn’t a slam against Anchorage at all, it’s just the juxtaposition of living in the woods and getting stuck in the big city versus choosing to be there. Perceptions start to shift):

Having money and spending it is so foreign (the only time we have a transaction at home is for poker night or to pay a friend back from brought in groceries) that at first it almost feels like playing Grocery as a kid. Heck, I even almost forgot to pay for something and just walked out because it felt so unreal. But once you realize that it is real and your funds are dwindling it loses it’s glitz pretty fast.

Money Angst.

The shower you so adored just starts to feel excessive. I don’t need to use all that water. I don’t need to leave the water running as I suds up, buttercup.

Excess Angst.

Dining out starts to feel like a chore (and a strain on your pocketbook). Eating out can end up being a great meal or terrible but either way it’s a. a strain on your funds and b. probably not all that healthy. Your tummy starts a rebellion. You grocery shop to try and offset the cost but you can only eat yogurt and apples for so long before you go insane. You miss your own kitchen and knowing your food.

Tummy Angst.

And all the while, as the Angst is building, we are prepping for surgery (an extra side dish of nerves). Surgery after which The Chief isn’t allowed to do anything to exert himself for 6 weeks.

Six?!

Oh, perfect!

Logging doesn’t count, right? Does chopping and carrying firewood? Do hauling water and building projects count? Going to work on a construction site? Driving a snow machine?

Our life is built around exertion and I like it that way (lack of exertion also adds to the Anchorage Angst. Being gone for four days I figured I could get by without my running shoes, I could handle surviving on walking and yoga in the hotel room. A week and I’m feeling like a caged pup. Atrophy Angst). I like feeling tired from tending to our life and I know The Chief does too. But we will have to work around it. Just as we didn’t plan to still be here, I know I can’t start to plan what life will be like after the surgery. All we can do is show up and be grateful that we finally caved and came in.

And so the rhythm of wants changes her beat again. Days ago we couldn’t wait to arrive. Days later we are chomping at the bit to leave. It’s the ebb and flow. But even as we sit antsy in our hotel room watching “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” for the umpteenth time we have to remember that soon we will return home and start the rhythm all over again.

Soon we will be home with fresh vegetables, maybe even herbs, maybe even chocolate, so glad to be home and not even able to think about another town trip…

and then, before we know it, the hankering for an iced cocktail and a B movie re-run might come over us…

I can’t wait to get there.

Until then, wish us luck.

 

To be continued…