Sunday, December 27, 2009

The end is near...of the year that is

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! We had a quiet day at home, but it was well worth it. The greatest thing about being an adult is that you can fudge on the timing of opening Christmas gifts. Because I'm horribly impatient, we opened our gifts a good two hours before Christmas was officially here. The holiday was very satisfying gift wise, though I wish I had my friends and family close by to have fun and feast with. Matthew and I however, had a wonderful dinner of homemade Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes.

I don't think I can pick out a favorite gift this year, I got some great stuff! And I am very thankful for everyone in my life. I am curious though, what are your guys' favorite holiday gift?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kitty Loaf

Kitty, pre-diet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Done for today.

The cat has been fed. She is happy and sedate...for now.

Are You sick of this yet? You will be...

I never thought my cat going on a diet would warrant constant updates, however, this has proven to be quite amusing. This may also be due to the fact that I have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon than watch my cat wander aimlessly about the apartment in search of a mere kernel of food.

After the incident with her diving head first into the food bag, I moved the cat food onto an inaccessible shelf. The dog food has also been closed up tight, yet still within reach of nose poking. Kitty promptly jumped on top of the dog crate to snag a quick nibble, but lo and behold, the kitty kibble is missing! This produced some confused looks and sniffing the air.

I assume she caught a whiff of the bag on the high shelf, since she decided to perch herself precariously on top of some stacked blankets and a bag of wood chips for our smoke house unit. I imagine she was considering jumping from her leaning tower of blankets to a very unstable looking tower of boxes stacked on top the afore mentioned smoke house thingy. However, she did not get this far. The tower of blankets unceremoniously dumped her kitty-butt off the dog crate and onto a full bag of dog food. Kitty scrambled out of this tight space, wide-eyed. But mere seconds later, she halts her mad dash to casually lick her front leg. 'What? I meant to do that!'

I think it is safe to say, I am having much more fun with this cat diet than she is!

Kitty strangeness continues

Two new things Kitty has started licking to express her diet frustration: the baseboard heater, and the power socket. Did I mention she isn't that bright? Yet.


Kitty has conquered the food bag. I think she just might eat my face off if I move that bag. I attempted to get a picture of her head first in kitty kibble, but my stealthy techniques leave much to be desired.

Hungry Kitty!

I decided to put my cat on a diet. Ever since Sage died and we moved into an uber small apartment, Kitty has been ballooning into a Jabba the Hut kitty. She has a small frame to begin with, so it worries me that she won't be able to walk if she gets much bigger. As it is now, her front legs and back legs sections looks like a normal cat's, but her middle is complete Buddha-cat.

The problem with putting said cat on a diet is her insensate crying. She does not shut up! She used to cry if her food bowl wasn't at the proper level and she would cry continually until we caved and filled it up. Now that I am only feeding her a quarter cup each night, she is making her demands apparent to us dullard humans. 'You do realize my food bowl is empty right? EMPTY!!' We are becoming pros at ignoring the cat.

Funny thing about Kitty not having food constantly available is that she becomes more active! I catch her playing with toys she has ignored for the past several months. She also feels the need to lick everything non-edible as if to make a point that she is a neglected, starving kitty. So far I have caught her licking the windows, books, the wood paneling wall, and the dresser. Oh, and the carpet too, but that was a cat nip incident. I figured a stoned kitty is much better than a loud annoying kitty. It worked.

Today, Kitty tried to take matters into her own paws. She jumped on top of the dog crate and attempted to break into her bag of kitty food. Luckily, Kitty isn't too bright and was vexed by the actual bag itself. Hopefully her intelligence isn't directly proportional to her desperation for food. If that is the case, we'll have to lock up the food and I just might have to sleep with one eye open!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Still Thankful

I know I fell behind, but if I do nothing better in life, it is procrastination. So, I will continue my thank-fest.

I am immensely thankful for the friends I have met while traveling the past couple years. Some amazing people crossed my path and I know they will stay a part of my lives forever.

It started with my two month excursion to Minocqua, Wisconsin. I was traveling to the Northwoods to intern at the Northwoods Wildlife Center. The internship was only two months, but in that time I made some lasting friendships. Beth, the executive director of the center is by far the most awesome woman on the planet. I was immediately drawn to her quirky nature. She is insightful, caring, and the the coolest witch I know. She is also the only person I know who can successfully house a herd of cats and not come off as some kind of creepy hoarder. Seriously, her cats are the coolest pets by far.

Once I had arrived at the wildlife center, I was concerned about living for two months with strangers. After my first week there and having to survive living with the summer interns, I was sure I had made a mistake. However, they were all leaving at the end of my first week and I was left living with only two other interns. Lucky for me, one of them was Hnue Yang. Hnue is a phenomenon, pure and simple, most often referred to by her first and last name because she is that special. I honestly think it is impossible for Hnue to have an enemy. She is so much fun, and will always put a smile on your face. I couldn't have asked for a better roommate.

The third person I forged lasting ties with in Minocqua, is Sarah. I met her at the cheese shop where we got to talking about Alaska. I instantly felt like we had a connection. She is super sweet and I felt so comfortable talking with her. We both have a love for all things tea and Harry Potter! I was taken back that she would offer to take me, a complete stranger, on a little trip to Lake Superior. It was great! I am pretty sure we made the local gossip in Joe's Famous Pasty shop in Ironwood, MI. Since then we have toured Chicago together and made the crazy long drive back to Minocqua. Well, she made the drive...Sarah is hardcore, a goddess! I want her to stay a part of my life forever.

This summer I made the trek from Fairbanks to Clarion, PA. I was excited about the field job I would be doing, but I had no idea that I would love the volunteer work and the people I met in the community even more. I had gotten in contact with Leo at the Creature Program before I even left for PA. I wanted to volunteer in his exotic pet rescue program. I had no idea that him and his wife would be the most fun, genuine people I have never met. They opened their home to me, fed me great food, and taught me all sorts of art techniques. I even got roped into making a few music videos, which were great fun. Leo and Hillary are the coolest thing about PA and the only reason that would bring me back to PA.

I also found a kindred spirit in Clarion, in Holly. She was also a staple at Leo and Hillary's place and I enjoyed spending time with her so much. It is so refreshing for me to find people who I feel like I can completely be myself around and not feel judged, and Holly fits that bill to a 'T'. We geeked out over x-files and hamsters. I really, really wished we lived closer. Holly is a wonderful woman, loyal and fun. I miss her!

Even if I never meet anyone else in my future travels, the people I have met so far more than fill up a lifetime worth of friendship. I feel so lucky and thankful for these people in my life. I hope we they all continue to be a part of my life for many years to follow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Thanks a Blog"

Generally, I am not the type to do the whole this-is-what-I'm-thankful-for sap that I see most people write in their blogs this time of year. However, prompted by this Mod Cloth contest, I realized that this exercise might actually be worth while.

Since moving to Dillingham, a rural Alaskan town cut off from the main road grid (thats right, you can only fly in), I have never felt more grateful for the simple things. This whole Alaskan adventure has taught me not to take things for granted. While living in Fairbanks, I had already learned that indoor plumbing is a great luxury that should not be squandered, but living in a rural community where the prices of food are 150% more expensive than the lower 48, I have been learning to make a lot of items on my own. Surprisingly this is not as difficult as many people might think. Thankfully this is a lesson I will continue to utilize even after I rejoin 'civilization'.

While it is easy to dwell on the little things, I think being removed from my comfort zone has made me realize how wonderfully awesome my friends are. I can't begin to cover everyone in one post, so I think I will break it into several smaller posts over the next few days. I know it is said that you don't fully understand how important someone is until they are gone, and that is for the most part true. Unfortunately, Alaska has a habit of pushing people away.

Several years spent in an Interior town and you forge some strong friendships. Fairbanks especially, drew the outcasts into her fold. We all had a common outlook, a yearning to be a part of something raw, something exciting, something we couldn't find 'Outside' in the lower 48. Because of this shared bond, we appreciated each other, the friendship, more than we might in any other state. Only our Alaskan 'family' knew us to the core and I held fast to that. Still, I constantly worried, knowing one day my new family would leave or I would be forced to leave them. This was true for two of my closest Alaskan family.

The first was Carolyn, truly a kindred soul. She is the sister I always wanted. She is the one person I felt I could share everything with. I have always admired her: driven, immensely talented, and fearless. I miss strolling the ski trails behind UAF or picking blueberries in her 'secret' Salcha spot, always with several dogs happily bounding around us. It has been over a year and half since we last saw each other.First she left for Venezuela to study South American women's poetry, on a Fulbright scholarship. Nine months she would be away. I made sure to visit her there, but two weeks hardly seemed enough. Then she moved to El Paso and had a baby, Esther. I have yet to see my Goddaughter, but I hope to visit for her first birthday in April.

Though it has been some time since we've seen each other in person, I know we can easily pick up where we left off. We will always be family, no matter the distance.

My second Alaskan sister is Nicole. She left a year ago for Montana. The only one I have cried over, like a blubbering idiot, for leaving. Nicole was the first person I truly became friends with after moving to Fairbanks. Somehow we were paired in a biology lab our first year at UAF. The rest, they say, is history. We have been close friends ever since. I have so much fun with Nicole, and it has been difficult being apart. We can be as pissy or as nerdy as we want around each other and not feel judged. I hope our paths cross again for longer than a 'visit'.

I always realized how special these people are and I hope they realize it too. The impact these two wonderful women make on peoples' lives is huge, as it has been for me. There is nothing like a small, remote town to make one feel lonely, but just knowing I have friends like Carolyn and Nicole, I am never truly alone. No matter where in the country or world we may be, they are my kindred sisters and that bond has no boundries.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


So I messed up a step in my cheese making process, so instead of having mozzarella like I intended, I simply have cottage cheese. That is ok though, my kefirs will continue to congeal milk and I will try this all over again. Until then, I need to find something tasty to make with my fresh cottage cheese.


About a week and half ago I was gifted with a kefir, or kefir grains as it is typically called. Kefir grains are little communities of bacteria and yeast that when place in milk, will ferment the liquid into a sort of yogurt drink. The grains resemble cauliflower, and with the proper love and caring, will continue to grow each week. I named mine, Kiefer Sutherland.

The Kiefer grains need to be placed in milk and left in a dark warm place to do their magic. This is a picture of my larger kefir, Donald Sutherland. You can see him floating at the top of the milk. It takes about 24 hours for him to congeal one full glass of milk.

Tonight I decided to try my hand at making some cheese. I won't know until tomorrow if I succeeded or not, but here is what I have accomplished so far.

I took about a cup of kefir drink and added it to four cups of regular milk and heated it up to separate the curds from the whey.

After several minutes the curds really start to form and the yellowish whey forms at the top. I wasn't sure exactly how long to keep the mixture heated, so I took it off the burner once I felt like I had enough curd to make something substantial.

Once the curd is strained from the whey, I formed it into a ball. I submerged the ball in water, but this was a mistake. The ball was not stable enough and needed to be drained first. Now the ball of cheese is currently draining in cheese cloth over a pot. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to heat the dried curd back up and make mozzarella.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Its nearing that time again...the time for Solstihanukwanzamas! And since I have no life right now, I think I can actually get holiday cards out to everyone. Sooooo...if you want a card, post-marked from Dillingham, AK then leave me your addys!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Freezing Rain Did Not Kill Me!

I miraculously survived the freezing rain the other day, just in case you were on the edge of your seat wondering. After I managed to get our truck stuck at the top of our very steep driveway, our landlord came out to investigate the source of all the ruckus.

Now, I am no greenhorn to Alaska. However, Fairbanks is very different beast as opposed to southwest. I am not used to freezing rain an inch thick! Give me snow and 40 below temps any day! Alas, the landlord pointed out that I need to "flip over the hub caps" for the four wheel drive to work. To this he received a blank stare from yours truly. Flip over the hub caps? Huh? Apparently with older model vehicles you have to turn a dial on the hub caps for the four wheel drive to work. No wonder the drive into town was so damn slick! The four wheel drive wasn't even on! After the hub caps were turned, I magically could escape the clutches of our driveway. Landlord got a hug. :-) He shall also receive baked goods in the near future.

I am going to start bringing my camera with me to work so I can take pictures on my breaks. The sunsets are amazing, but I am always working when the perfect picture arises. Hopefully I can capture some decent shots to share with you all. I also plan to do some reformatting of my blog and add a separate personal website soon. Stay tune for that one kids. It should be exciting!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Woes of Weather

This fall has been unseasonably warm all throughout Alaska. I heard that PA got snow before we did. Needless to say, I began to feel quite comfortable with the weather we have been having in Dillingham the past several weeks. This time last year there was already 10 inches or more of snow on the ground in Fairbanks. In my unprepared state, I was quite vexed this morning when I woke up to bitter wind and a dimpled sheet of ice covering the truck. Freezing rain struck us hard. It makes me very sad to know that real snow won't be making an appearance until late December.

Apparently the road crews aren't the quickest on the draw. The road into town is in great need of repair which won't happen until 2012. Granted, it is difficult to get equipment here as everything has to be barged in from Anchorage or places elsewhere. However, I hear through the grapevine that not much of anything is going to be done about the icy conditions we are suffering from today. I just hope it melts off soon. I drove into town to take Matthew to work this morning and I am just a bit scared about driving back into town to start my shift at noon. The trick is to go slow and hope you don't careen off any hills.

Just a note for those who may want to get a hold of me. My cellphone is still not working and I have no clue if it will ever. I have no message machine on my home line, however weekends are a great time to call. I have run out of minutes on my phone card, so until I take care of that I won't be making many calls out (so those of you with free long distance, get your arse to calling me!).

Friday, October 9, 2009


I have been baking a lot lately. Last weekend I made some berry pies (or pi rather). The recipe I use makes enough crust for two pies, and for some reason one pie turns out quite pretty and the other is very ugly. Needless to say, I take the pretty pie to share with work or to potlucks. The ugly pie stays at home. Luckily they both taste just as sweet!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It has been a while...

I know it has been quite some time since I last updated. So much has happened in a month’s time, it is difficult to sum it all up concisely without blathering on and on. Oh well, here it goes.

I finished my job in PA on the 15th of August. I had a love/hate relationship with that job, but I am glad that I did it. I gained some great experience in banding birds, and I realize I still need a lot of practice picking birds out of mist nets. I was finally getting to a comfortable stage and then the number of birds we were banding dropped off considerably. I do, however, feel quite confident in my banding skills.

The one thing I am most grateful for is the opportunity to make some long lasting friends in Clarion. The people over at ‘The Creature Program’ are some of the most lovely, fun people I have ever met. It just sucks that they’re all the way on the other side of the country. While I went to PA for a job, it was the volunteer work I was a part of that made the whole thing worthwhile.

After the job was finished, I caught a ride with my co-worker to Chicago where I spent three days touring the city with a friend of mine from Wisconsin. I had a blast! There is so much going on in Chicago during the summertime. I could see myself spending at least a couple weeks there, enjoying all the free activities they have in Millennium Park and the other surrounding parks. I was amazed at how much they had going on in just one weekend. Free concerts practically every day, free dances, free exercise classes, even the zoo is free! Good thing too, because they charge you somewhere around $25 or more just to look out on the viewpoint at the Sears Tower (or is that Wallis now?). I did however; send some money on a ghost tour. I don’t think I’d do that again, it was a little disappointing even if we did get to see more of the city than we would have otherwise. I think our geocaching trips were far better in forcing us to see parts of the city we wouldn’t have gone. Anyway, I had a Chicago style hot dog, deep dish Chicago pizza, and tea at the Ritz. All was good.

Once we finished in Chicago, we drove up to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. I visited for a few days at the wildlife center I worked at last fall. It was great to see everyone…and I found I really missed it there. For some reason it felt real nice to get back to Wisconsin. I fed some squirrels, saw some animals, and ate sushi. Good times.

I flew back to Portland for a visit that lasted three weeks! Most of the time I spent with my biological (or I’ve taken to calling them the ‘bionics’) family. My bionic mother showed me how to bake pies and bread. I spent time with my siblings, doing various things like camping, and tea, and drinking beer. I also spent time at the beach with my bionic dad and his family. Matthew came down to Portland for a friend’s wedding and we both went crabbing with bionic mom and her husband. Between all of us, we caught 39 crabs! Needless to say a feast was had by all.

The wedding was nice. I think it was worth it just seeing Matthew in a tux! :-D And there are pictures, so it did happen! Ha!

Even though I had a month long vacation it really seemed to fly by. Now, I am in Dillingham working at the UAF campus here in what is deemed as Student Services. I actually like my job here. I couldn’t ask for better co-workers and I enjoy actually getting to help and converse with students. Dillingham is pretty. The leaves were all golden when I got in and now, with the wind starting to pick up and winter peeking its head around the corner, the trees are quickly losing their shape.

I think I am going to enjoy living by the bay. Already I’ve seen some amazing sunsets and when the sky is clear, the world seems to go on forever. I have been here just shy of two weeks, but I have a good feeling about the place. People seem friendly and genuine. It sure is a change of pace, but a good one indeed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

आईटी हस बीन अव्हिले.

I know it has been some time since my last post. This post will be quick but I hope to have more up later this week. I have been in PA since early May and as it stands now, I only have 6 weeks left in the state. The job has been educational to say the least, but I'll get into more details on that later.

Clarion, PA is cute but mostly comatose. I have found an exotic pet rescue that I have been volunteering at after the work days are over. The people I have met there are fabulous and I hope to keep in touch with them all once I leave the state.

Sadly, I haven't been able to take pictures of my job; I left my camera charger and cable in Alaska. Figures.

I hope everyone is well and I will post more soon!

(For some reason my headings are being translated into some other language. Not sure how to fix that.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

लाइफ गोएस ओं

Life never ceases to amaze me. One month I am feeling utterly stagnant in my surroundings and the next I am poised on the edge of some amazing life changes. In the matter of a couple days Matthew and I both were offered jobs in our field. Next month we will be uprooting our life in Fairbanks and moving to our respective new adventures.

He will be moving to Dillingham, Alaska to be the Program Director for KDLG. This is a huge accomplishment for someone right out of college. Actually, he landed this job with a month an a half left in his undergrad career. Pretty amazing in my mind. I can't even express my pride in his accomplishments.

I, on the other hand, will be moving to Altoona, PA for the summer. I have been hired on to a field crew, studying grassland birds on reclaimed mining sites. Such a huge weight has been lifted from my soul, just knowing I will be finally working in my chosen field. I will be sure to update this page with pictures and stories of my summer adventures.

There is a plan in place for after my summer is over, but as plans wont to do, they can change. I will write more of those possibilities as they approach closer.

Take care my friends!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm a slacker who misses poking dead things

The year following such a remarkable one, to me, feels rather pathetic. At least so far this seems to be the case. I am biding my time in an office job, plunking away data entry in what to me seems like a pointless task. I am not made to sit behind a desk for 8 hours a day!

The end of winter is so close I can taste it. But mother nature likes to dangle that carrot just out of reach as long as possible. While we enjoyed some wonderful weeks of 20, even 30 (F) above, the weather has turned back to bitter negative 30s at night and warming to about 5 above during the day. And wind, something we so rarely experience in the interior, has been blasting through Fairbanks, chilling us to 50 below.

The thought of summer is the only thing that keeps me going. Yet I have to remind myself it could be worse. In 2007 during this time of year it was still a constant 20-30 below during the day. I was volunteering at Fish and Game and since the freezer was stocked full of all sorts of dead treasures (my favorite being a bag full of bird strikes, a random assortment of all things feathered), we were storing our frozen wolf carcasses outside in black garbage bags sealed tight.

While tedious, I seriously would take counting wolf lice over my desk job, hands down. Even though they were dead, I was working around the one animal I had always dreamed of working with. The wolves smelled like corn chips, or like 'fresh baked corn muffins' as Mark Doty describes the scent of his favored dog's ears in Dog Years. Sierra's smells much the same way on a good day.

I have been waiting, more than likely over anxiously, for a phone call from Ft. Wainwright. I applied for a forestry job there for the summer. A four day work week outside sounds like heaven to me right now. I attribute it to the current state of our economy, but all the jobs I've applied to thus far have had a huge pool of applicants. While I feel I have a fare amount of experience, the competition has been tough. My location may also be a large factor when applying to lower 48 jobs. It is frustrating for me, however to hear that I'm in a pool of 70+ other applicants for a low end technician job.

So I have been thinking of alternatives. The front runner currently is taking the training to become an observer on fishing boats. This entails recording data on what is caught in said fishing boats. The pay is great, the contracts are 90 days long, and all room and board are provided. Until I can get my debts paid, Peace Corps are on the back burner, but I think this job will be a quick way to get those debts handled.

I want to get back to Portland so bad, but with the job market I doubt I could stay afloat for very long (a curse upon you Oregon and your high unemployment rate!). At least with this observer job, I could take the months between contracts and live it up with family and friends for a little while. I'm hoping Matthew will find work back in the NW, but as it looks, he may just end up in some small fishing town in BFE, Alaska programing for small town radio stations. The foot in the door to public radio would be a huge score for him though. I hope it works out well.

I think I have let my ranting run its course. I promise you friends, family, random internet passerby, that I will try very hard to update this blog with some sort of regularity. Sadly I feel I have nothing too terribly exciting to share!

Though if you're lonely on a Tuesday night, hop online and listen to our (Matthew and myself) radio show (, Nerd Love at 6:30pm - 8:30pm AKST. It would be great to know you're listening! Miss and love you all.