Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Odd Goods

When I lived in Fort Worth a couple of people, (mostly women, I admit) asked me if it was true that there were something like 4 to 6 men for every woman in Alaska. I told them this Alaskan saying: "The odds are good, but the goods are odd." This is so true!

I've got to say this: most people come up to Alaska to get away from 'civilization', rules and 'normal'. Many of those who've made their homes up here can come across as just plain WEIRD. This is my home, too, so I guess I have to include myself in this... We've got a lot of what I've always called "granola's" and what Jake calls "PBS Subscriber's", (which I kind of take exception to since my family's always been a PBS Subscriber... Hmmm, wonder if that makes us granolas...)

These are the "I take my bath on Fridays when I come in to town to buy my groceries, do my laundry and eat out at Lucy's Bar & Grille" types... The "I've got two dogs and they go everywhere with me" types. The "I haven't had my hair cut in 5 years" types. Half the women have dreads and most of the men have scraggly beards. They've got STRONG opinions about hunting- either they are totally against it, think it's evil & are vegetarians; or they hunt with a bow & arrow, & eat moose, caribou and rabbit every day. Most are here for the 'Alaskan experience'. Most live in cabins without water or electricity.

Cabins in the paper are advertised as 'wood heat/no water', and people rent them! Can you believe that??!! I'm still shocked that people will choose to live without water... On purpose. In fact, they pay money to live without water. We had to live without water in Kotzebue 'cuz our pipes would freeze around September & October and they wouldn't melt until March-ish... I would never CHOOSE to do that again.

Many, many Fairbanksans take their dogs everywhere they go and most of the dogs up here are big. We're talking Huskies and Samoyeds... When I lived in Fort Worth & Seattle I kind of got used to not having to circle around pickups for fear of a big dog biting you... In parking lots up here I avoid pick-up truck beds just as a matter of practice.

As it's getting chillier and chillier I'm seeing more and more coats and hats at Fred Meyer's. I dread the loss of Autumn. As it gets colder (0 and the minus temps) we all start looking like bears awoken from hibernation and lumbering around in search of sustenance. The cold kind of makes us crotchety, too.

Anyway, yup, it's true. There still are more men than women up here. If you've got a thing for the hairy unwashed and living life on the edge of civilization, Alaska's probably for you. I know of at least one guy who was advertizing for a wife in New York newspapers. I'm sure there are others. But remember, the goods are kinda odd...

Inventory, beading Christmas Bazaars

Ayee!! Beth & I have a show in 2 1/2 weeks at Willowcreek Clothing, and I've been beading like crazy. I actually took an inventory of all my stuff (business language: my stock) for the first time ever. It was nice to see what I've got, what I've sold a lot of and what I need to focus on. For me to have everything I want to offer for the Christmas bazaars I need to work two hours every night 5 days a week, and that probably still won't give me what I want... Ahh, well. It will get me going.

Our show will be part of the Fairbanks Art Association First Friday's program, and will take place October 5th. Not much time left...

We're not sure exactly what bazaars we'll be at this year, and we're hoping for more than last year...
These are the two "for sure's":
Fort Wainwright Holly Days Bazaar on October 12th & 13th
Monroe High School on October 27th

We're also hoping to be at the UAF Women's Association Bazaar, Pioneer Park, The Farmer's Market Bazaar and the North Pole city bazaar, but we don't know if all of those will work out.

Anyway, I'm working like crazy and I don't expect to be blogging much till after Christmas...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Farmer's Market Final Day

It was 27 F this morning! I have to say, much as I've loved doing Farmer's Market, I'm not sad to say this was the last day. When I called time and temperature this morning and heard that it was only 27 I told Beth I wasn't going... We went back and forth and finally we agreed that if I got as cold as I did last week I'd just go home and she could stay. I couldn't believe she actually wanted to go and sit there all day!!!
I admit that today turned into a lovely sunshiny day, diametrically opposed to last Saturday, which was in the 40's, blustery and rainy. Although it was chilly today, the sun shone all day and there was only a light & infrequent breeze. When I just sit in 40 degrees or less I get so cold! You'll see we are very warmly dressed- I'm wearing 4 layers... Anyway, the bazaar season is rolling around and we shall be showing up for at least four bazaars this Christmas season- and we're both hoping it's more like five or six. We'll see.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sick, sick, sick

What is it about fall?
Everybody is officially sick now...
I have a sinus infection. Mom has bronchitis. Jake has pneumonia. Abigail has a runny nose. Beth's complaining of a sore throat, and Deborah's ears are stopped up.
Beth & I did Farmer's Market yesterday and while it was perfect walking weather, it was too cold for just sitting in your booth. A chilly breeze blew through our tent and right through our clothes. The two of us got very chilled and my minor cold turned into a raging sinus infection. Being cold for that long exhausted my body, and lowered my immune system.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I checked out a very fun movie from our library and wanted to share: The Royal National Theatre’s Production of Oklahoma! with Hugh Jackman as Curly, Josefina Gabrielle as Laurey, Shuler Hensley as Jud, and Maureen Lipman as Aunt Eller. Loved it. Absolutely loved it.

First, let me say that Oklahoma! owns a very special place in my heart. This is the first honest-to-goodness play I ever saw. I’d seen ballets in 2nd & 3rd grade and LOVED them. (Beth & I acted them out over and over and over and made my parents watch us over and over and over.) I’d always loved singing and sang in my church and school choir. In fact, we belonged to a large church in California (a children’s choir of 40-50 kids) and I’d had the main part in one of our musicals and a solo in another one. I loved doing that- but it had not affected me as strongly as seeing Oklahoma!. I got to see a middle school production of it when I was in 5th grade and it literally changed my life. When I look back at the production I’m quite sure that it was pretty lousy, but as a 10 year old I was blown away. It was wonderful- singing, story, dancing- all put together in one beautiful package. I knew that I wanted to be on that stage. Profoundly, I knew it. I had never felt that strongly about anything I wanted to do before. I’ve seen the old version of it since then (I love musicals and was raised in a family that saw & loved musicals- ‘Singin’ in the Rain, Sound of Music, White Christmas, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Anything Goes…). But it was not the same as the first time I saw a live musical… So, Oklahoma! is special to me.

I thought RNT’s production was excellent. The cast was fantastic. I certainly believed Jackman and Gabrielle were in love, but that they didn’t know how to deal with it or express it. I had no idea Jackman had such a great voice and from the very first 'Oh, what a beautiful morning' he held the audience captive. I admit Gabrielle didn't have the most incredible voice; however, the dancing was lovely- the major pitfall in this play is Laurey's balletic dream and they soared through this. Jackman & Gabrielle actually danced this themselves, which made it part of the play in a way I'd never seen it before... I fell in love again with Ado Annie and the silliness between her and Will Parker, although I admit this is not the best portrayal of these characters I've ever seen. Hensley was terrifying, yet still a pathetic figure as Jud (he won a Tony for this role). He made this character believably vulnerable. The choreography was a lovely nod to Agnes De Mille yet integrated a freshness that I enjoyed. I can’t say much else about the production- costumes fun, lighting pinpointed time & place well… Some of the English audience shots kind of bothered me, but it ran smoothly...
'Lovely, lovely- wish you were here...'


The leaves are turning...
I LOVE the yellows and reds of Fall.
But I HATE the piercing scream of the leaves as they fall: "Winter is coming! Winter is coming!"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Me & My Girls

I was rocking them and they were pretending to be asleep... Wiggling & squirming the whole time they were 'asleep'.

Abigail's Fairy Day

Abigail had her 2nd birthday! My baby turned 2! Absolutely shocking. How on earth has she gotten this old??!!

Although unplanned, her day magically became a fairy-day... We had purchased Little Pony stuff, but half of her presents reflected a fairy theme. After donning her wings she looked like a little fairy and started dancing & flying around the room. Her Auntie Beth found some wonderful dress up items (including the wings, skirt, flower tiara and wand) at Value Village which have been a continuous hit.

The princess pony bag was definitely a hit!

Deborah got to choose a gift for Abigail, and graciously chose the Sleeping Beauty doll she has pined after... Abigail was just as delighted with it as the Ariel Mermaid doll from her Grammy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

computer glitches

Our computer has been having serious problems.
We've been offline for several days and I feel like it's been an entire month. Beth has spent a ridiculous amount of time sitting hunched over the computer speaking on the phone to some computer-guru who had her doing strange computer yoga (stretching and bending and moving wires). I am desperately hoping that our friend Valette will be able to give us pointers on her up-coming trip to Fairbanks. (hint, hint..)

Anyway, not much new here. Just no computer.

My oldest is back in pre-school. My youngest is missing her, but I admit I'm DELIGHTED to send Deborah off with all the other 4 year old kids. She is so smart and quick that having her home means keeping her entertained almost 24/7. I'm finally getting some stuff done! Like menus and house cleaning...

Beth & I are doing very well at Farmer's Market. In fact, we were shocked by last weekend. The newspaper ran an article about all the yummy food being sold and we had an amazing turnout, which meant we sold more than we have been. Very nice for a change. I love putting something together at the market, laying it on the table and having it sell that day. Doesn't happen often, but enough to make it fun.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Jake read my blog account of our eclipse watching, looked at his pictures and found that the eclipse WAS visible. So I was wrong, you can see the moon... Sorry, Jake! He had to crop & trim the pictures down so that I could see it. I actually think that his color blindness made it easier for him to see where the moon was in the pictures. The red made it almost impossible for me to see the moon at all in the larger picture.
This next picture is really cool, 'cuz it has the moon and Mars! The top left hand corner is the eclipsed moon and the bottom right hand corner is Mars. We didn't even know you could see Mars and weren't looking for it that night. Jake found it in the pictures. Amazing how much brighter Mars is than the moon...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Books Read in August

Fugitives of Chaos by John C. Wright B+
Second in a series, and I think I read the first one last October, which was the month of ‘Books lost in our Great Computer Transfer’… So, I’ll mention the first one, too: Orphans of Chaos. This is Metaphysical/Mythological fantasy at it’s most erudite… I enjoyed it, but have to say if you don’t know Greek mythology, forget it. You’ll just be frustrated and annoyed. I know most Olympian/Titan stories and didn’t recognize some of the critters mentioned. We’ve got Telchines, Sirens, the Echidna, Graeae, Grendel… Plus, Wrights’s mostly using less well known name for the big guys (Zeus, Aphrodite, Athena, Hera, Poseidon, etc.)- don’t ask me why. To a certain extent I thought Wright’s just trying to prove how much he knows while confusing everyone else… Anyway, they’re very good and I’m glad I read them, but they’re pretty convoluted and confusing, so take ‘em slow.

Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot B+
I particularly enjoyed Cabot’s breezy style after reading Wright’s weighted literary ponderosity… Cabot’s the author of the Princess Diary books, the 1-800-Where-Are-You (psychic) series, the Mediator (ghost speaker) series, and a variety of adult light romances such as The Boy Next Door. They’re fun, although I admit I got a little annoyed at the sizing issue in this one- since our heroine, Heather Wells, a washed up pop star, used to be a size 8, is now a size 12, generally lunches on Doritos and Oreos, and is surrounded by size 0 and size 2 college students and is constantly comparing herself to them… Size 12 is a mystery and Heather Wells is the RA of a New York State dorm in which young shy college freshman girls are going elevator surfing and ending up dead. The police are convinced it’s all typical college shenanigans, but Heather’s convinced they’ve been murdered. Turns out she’s right…

Marvel Masterworks The X-Men Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 B+
Loved these… The first 21 X-Men stories from the early 60’s. Boy, were some of the first stories corny. I admit I didn’t start reading comics until the 80’s and the stories I remember just seemed better… I don’t know, though. I’ll probably go back to those stories and realize how corny most of them were, too! It was interesting to be introduced to all the characters and see their original histories- Juggernaut, the Sentinels, Dr. Trask, Magneto, the Scarlet Witch, the Blob… I was a little annoyed at how Marvel Girl was consistently portrayed as a ‘girly-girl’… Her power was pretty wimpy back then, she made a perfect meal, looked perfect at all times, was always being saved & protected by the guys, and she pined after Cyclops (okay, he pined after her, too…). Anyway, give me the chick who could become the Dark Phoenix any day!

Sabriel by Garth Nix A+
I loved this! I honestly don’t know why I haven’t tried Nix’s stuff before… Sabriel is a young woman learning her father’s trade, Necromancy with a heroic twist, and dealing with a far more scary world than she’d expected… Wonderful characters, fun adventure, good twists and turns, interesting combination of fantasy and technology… I couldn’t put this down. I started it yesterday and stayed up to finish it.

Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot B+
Enjoyed this. A fluffy, frothy romance told through e-mails, a PDA and a travel journal. A Catholic girl and a Jewish boy head off to Italy to get married because all the parents involved disapprove of the relationship and the couple end up dealing with a ridiculous amount of difficulty. Their best friends are invited to be the witnesses and HATE each other at the first meeting at the airport, then (of course) end up falling in love and choosing to stay in Italy together… A silly & very light book. The best part was the six page interview with Cabot at the end- she used her own marriage as the basis for the book and almost all the completely unbelievable aspects of the wedding actually happened to her and her husband (Italian red tape, an SS German spy, a mayor/soccer coach who would only marry them at the crack of dawn…)

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson A
This is a YA version of his When the Wind Blows and The Lake House. It’s very good, although I admit I liked the adult version better… The story isn’t exactly the same, although it’s based on the same idea: a government organization performs DNA/recombatant experiments on infants that they’ve either stolen, or been given. The main characters of the stories are children who have wings, bird-like bones and structural changes. It’s an interesting story (although it doesn’t finish and leaves you hanging waiting for the next one) and lives up to Patterson’s break-neck story pace and surprising plot twists.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine A+
Loved this. One of my favorite books this year… A return to the world Levine created in Ella Enchanted, except it takes place in the country next door to Ella’s Kyrria, Ayortha. This is a retelling of Snow White, although if you didn’t know that story you certainly wouldn’t recognize it. Excellent story-telling, fun characters, believable situation. Ayortha is known for it’s singing, and everyone there is known by their ability to sing. Our main character, Aza is born with a beautiful voice that captivates and can do almost anything; however, she is born rather unattractive and wishes with all her heart to be beautiful… Humor, adventure, romance and song- what more could I ask for in a good book?

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli A
Good. A little heavy in the first section as it attempts to transport us into Persian culture & Islamic beliefs, but definitely an interesting tale. This is the story of a proud Persian prince who angers a fairy which then causes her to set an ancient curse into motion: The prince will be killed by his father’s hand if he doesn’t flee within the next day. The curse drives him to leave his home and travel across Europe in search of redemption and forgiveness. Through his travels he learns humility, loneliness, and how to deal with despair. A French beauty named Belle will free him from the curse, but not until the end of the story…

The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the heart of Jesus by Beth Moore A
I love Moore’s Bible studies. They are fantastic, and after seeing her speak in person I know how hard she strives to be Biblical, Godly and focused in her teachings. As a North-Western woman it’s always a little shocking/funny to see her big Texan-hair! I have to say though, that after several studies with her, I am able to overlook her hair and look at her heart. She tries to be transparent in her writings, and I believe she achieves that- John has always been one of my very favorite people from the Bible, and in this book Moore opens up his writings, from the Gospel of John to the letters, and finally to the book of Revelations. An excellent examination of those scriptures, plus practical applications.

The Duke’s Ballad by Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie A
Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Based off the description from the back of the book: The tale of Aisling, a young witch from a family gifted with a magical power that she must protect from her evil brother, Kirion. She fled as a young girl when he tried to kill her to gain her power. Kirion has hold over the Duke of Kars, and she returns in disguise to undermine Kirion’s power and remove his evil pawn from the throne. My favorite parts of the book: Aisling’s character, her telepathic cat-friend, watching her learn to slip through the machinations and evil of the court-life, and the final defeat of her brother.

WebMage by Kelly McCullough B+
Good. Fairies, technology with a magic twist, ultra-modern. It’s slow to get started, but after the first quarter or so it keeps going. Surprises, and good twists.

Marvel Graphic Novel: EXiles, collected #46-51 B
I admit I’ve read almost all of the Exile comic books. I had a friend who was collecting and reading them, and he loaned a couple of years worth to me. I like the concept: Five heroes are plucked from their alternate universes and then transferred from reality to reality, setting things right and working toward the day when they can return to their former life. So, I checked out a collection from the library that picks up fairly close to the edition I had last read… Six more tales of their missions. One thing- they lost my favorite character from the series: Nocturne, Nightcrawler’s daughter from another reality…

Lirael & Abhorsen by Garth Nix A+
Why have I never read anything by Nix before???! This series has been excellent… A continuation of the tale begun in Sabriel- picks up with another girl character who doesn’t quite fit in to her surroundings. Lirael is one of the Clayr, the group of people within the Old Kingdom tasked with seeing into the future in order to prevent “horrible things” from happening; however, Lirael doesn’t have the gift of the sight. Through the course of the books, she discovers that a much more important task than just seeing the future has been granted her… She meets up with Prince Sam another person born into a role he is unable to fulfill. Together with Mogget & the Disreputable Dog they experience many wonderful & terrifying adventures.

Across the Wall: A Collection of Short Stories by Garth Nix A
I didn’t love everything in here, but those I did like, I LOVED. For one of the tales we return to the Old Kingdom, but all of the rest take place on other worlds and realities.

4th of July by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro A-
The fourth (duh) in a series about Detective Lindsay Boxer and the Women’s Murder Club. The story follows two different lines- the trial Lindsay faces over a late-night car chase & shooting, and the nasty murders taking place in the small town she retreats to in order to escape the press over the trial. It’s Patterson so there’s some disturbing stuff involved in the murders… Excellent management of the storylines, amazing ratcheting tension and good attention to details. My biggest complaint about this series is that, in my opinion, Patterson doesn’t do such a hot job writing a female character… I thought writing with a woman would help, but I don’t know… She’s a great character- I like her, I understand her, but she feels like a guy dressed up as a woman. Who knows… I’m probably the only person out there with this opinion. It’s still a good mystery.

Creative Beading by Juju Vail B
Not really my style, (hers is ‘chunky with crazy clashing colors’) but there were a couple of pictures I copied for my “beading inspiration file” and will probably use as starting points for other projects. It’s good to see stuff other people are doing ‘cuz it makes me think of how it relates to what I’m already doing and inspires additional projects… Good pictures, although some of her directions are kinda like, “so you start by doing this, do this and then POOF it’s done”. They seem to be missing some of the middle steps…