Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My New Best Friend

This snow is freakin' awesome!!! It's not too cold out, light when I get home (till this weekend, grumble, grumble, stoopid time change can suck it), and my new stove is the best thing. Ever. I don't think I posted pics of it yet did I? I'm too lazy to go and look so here it is again. Or not.

For those who actually give two hoots, this is a Blaze King Princess Ultra WITH the catalytic thing-a-ma-jig. The manual (which I actually read from cover to cover the day I bought it... sure I was stuck in a cold garage for about 6 hours, so boredom DID play into it) states that "you and your new Blaze King will be best friends" - I mocked and laughed heartily at that statement. I mean who would look at a hunk of metal that way? Ok, I admit, I do. It's true. SO true. My Blaze King IS my new best friend. We often sit together at night and recant the tales of our day to each other. Me, sitting at a computer, doing... stuff...blah, blah... while the BK does the ever-important job of keeping the cabin warm and toasty until I GET HOME!!! Two weeks ago I would have thought that was just crazy talk. But wow, does it do it's job well. I've had a 14-hr burn already. That means NOT coming home to a cold cabin. What a concept.

Sure it's not -40 out, but I can't wait till it is!!!

The BK people also said that once I light the first fire, I'd never light another match all winter! Ha, I mocked the outrageous statement made by this corporation who seemed to toot their own horn pretty damned well. As if! I'm used to lighting at least 3 fires/day in the old stove (which was great for my old teeny cabin, though it never kept going the full work day). And getting the fire to start was not always easy. It also only fit a miniscule amount of wood in there.

So I guess it pays to take a second mortgage out on your house to get a Blaze King!

Back to the "never lighting another match all winter" thing. Now I take back all my mocking laughter and sarcasm. Sorry my lovely little Princess Ultra. You're the bestest.

I haven't lit a match or had to start a fire for ONE WEEK AND TWO DAYS (otherwise known as 9 days)!!!! Say it ain't so! It's so. It feels like a dream...

This is the FIRST fire. I'm glad I recorded this momentous occasion.

The FIRST wood in the FIRST fire in the new stove.

The thermostat. On a stove. Who woulda thought?!?!

Yet another thermostat. On a stove. Just... wow. This is the catalyst thermometer for those of you who care and can't read the blurry words.

Side view of the thermostat. Just because. Just for you. Because I care.

All in all, I like this stove.

And the snow.... glorious snow....

It's time to bring out the skis, the dogs and the helmet-cam!!!!! :)
New snow! The driveway is untouched. Except for dog prints of course.

I love weekends where I don't have to go ANYWHERE!!!!! Now Dave can come and plow my driveway, since he lost that bet in Alaska and all...

Esther: Throw the freakin' ball already, bark, bark! Demanding dogs I have eh??

I got out clearing some new trails since the river proved to be rather annoying last year with all it's overflowy selfishness. Plus, it's just starting to freeze and I don't want to go near it with loose dogs who clearly remember running ON it last year.

The 4-wheeler narrowly avoids disaster. The disaster of my uncontrolled chainsawing that is! (that's why I only cut little trees and not my knees... anymore)

Gracie and George wandering home after a couple hours helping me cut trails. Ok, so they really didn't help at all. Unless you call "running all over and then getting in my way and almost tripping me" helping. Nice to see them slow down a bit. For dogs approaching geriatric status (9 next year!), they are remarkably active. And a wee bit crazy. I take credit for that last one.

The other crew plays fetch! They're obsessed. I think they need to go to FA - Fetcher's Anonymous. You know they've been fetching too much when they're out on a run on the 4-wheeler and they're looking totally distracted as Sage was while leading! His head would whip around everytime he saw something that vaguely resembled a ball. I'd lift my hand up to scratch my head or something, and he bounced around in anticipation, thinking I was throwing a ball. I need to curb this behaviour. God help us if we actually go to a race this year and someone throws a ball into the bush. We'd be screwed.

Lights in the dog yard!!! Woohoo. Why I did not do this last year, I have noooo idea. Makes life a lot easier to be able to see the dogs/fences/posts/coyotes/bison/elk/ladders in the winter.

This is from down in the meadow. Doesn't look that bright but up closer it works real good! I need a few more though. I need one or two in the BIG playpen and one facing the driveway so I can see the zombies sneaking up on me. 'Cause around here, zombies live near the road system, not in the bushes or in closets like normal zombies down south.

And a video. Of my crazy dogs. I love how Pooh Bear! is bouncing up and down like one of those "Whack-A-Moles"! Now I just need a Pooh Bear mallet to whack her on the head with. Oh, don't worry, just a soft one... ok, a semi-soft mallet. Sometimes she needs a bit of a distraction to get out of her screeching, bouncing frenzied state.

I like how Pooh Bear! barks and screeches after throw #2 as she veers around the other dogs - with zero interest in actually FETCHING the ball, more interested in CAUSING TROUBLE and yapping. And running as fast as her legs can take her. Hopefully not into a fence. Or another dog. Or me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The trip: this time enhanced with pictures!

A recap of the road trip thus far. After losing the camera briefly in the new snow, I found it! And the pictures that documented all of the exciting (and non-exciting and all of those in between) moments of the trip.

Sheep! Wayyyy up there on Sheep Mountain. And no snow.

Heather was quite comfy in the back with Keno and Aklak.

Dave during one of his many moments of delirium (and there were many!! Just him, not Heather or I, no way.... we were totally normal for the whole 12 hr drive... yep, yep.)

Approaching Kluane Lake

The lake was so blue!

The other side of Kluane Lake. I was snap-happy during the first 3 hours of the trip.

Across the border...whew! They let us in again. Here's the Tanana River.

Dave in cage. He can sleep anywhere, anyway... Heather was so right! Just like a toddler, he slumps over and bounces around the back of the Jeep without waking. I actually took a video of this but all it was was Heather and I cackling at him as he sleepily bounced in the backseat while we were delirious on our Red Bull and "we're-going-on-a-trip!" high. Not that exciting, but it is future blackmail material!!!

Dorks who have been driving wayyyyy too long! Meee, meeee, take a picture of meeee!!! Nice monobrow! Oh how I miss you...

The non-dog whisperer at the symposium. She was a massage therapist, who had never (or very rarely!) worked with dogs, yet was presenting on how to do canine massage. Go figure. It's always reassuring to hear things like "hey, I just learned (insert anything about dogs here) that the other day... how neeeeeat! I bet those dogs of yours just looooove to run..." when you are hoping to LEARN something from the talk. I did learn something: how impatient and easily annoyed I am!

And the patience of this poor dog really started to wear thin about 20 minutes into the "massage." Blood on that carpet would NOT have been a good thing.

Giganto-sleds used for Arctic expeditions. And the mini-wall tent in the backgroud, now this was interesting stuff!

Jon and Laura heart dryer vents. The cold and snow kinda blindsided us, er THEM... I think.

We had a hell of a time getting her out from under that dryer vent! We had dinner plans!! C'mon Laura, you maniac.

Crazy dog

See other-person's (not mine) crazy dog eat the leash. Yeah, ok, so it IS wound around under his arse, but he seriously did this the whole walk. Well, except for the times when he was tripping over branches and his own feet. Cute fella though, he's growing on me. When he's not annoying me. :)

Simon was nice enough to give us a call on the cell phone (while training the team!) to let me know he was running the dogs home. We just happen to be driving by not far away. At one point he had to say "hang on a sec, I've gotta make this corner!" and then came back on the phone. The cell phone coverage in this state is freakin' phenomenal! And talking while training dogs no less.

He's running a team from Susan Butcher's kennel. There was a *wee bit* of trouble controlling the 4-wheeler on the fresh-fallen snow, but it only makes it more exciting. They look good!

The Dog Barn. So freakin' cool, I covet that. It's huge. It's organized. It's clean. It's got cupboards full of vet stuff. It's got a couch. It's warm. It has running water. It has a bathroom. It has a sink to wash dogs in. It overlooks the dog yard. It's a mushers dream.

The hounds await their post run drink. A few were even clawing up at the door.

Simon feed the crew post-run. Look at all those eager mouths! They know they deserve it.

An interesting way of keeping track of the weird things dogs ingest - this collection included some sticks and a lot of rocks. The one even has the price ($900) on it. I'm guessing that was the vet bill, not the price of the rocks. I should have a "Ripper Wall" - only I don't think I have a wall big enough to display all the crap he tries to eat.

Indoor kennels, sweet!

Dog barn office. I need a dog barn. I would also be totally ok if it was bigger than my cabin.

Some nutbar takes pics of me taking pics of dogs.

So sweeeeet! Lookit that lovely face!!!! Holy crap I miss my dogs!!!!!

And now to make me even more homesick:

Gracie says: Come home our human! I need a pet, ASAP. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Observations in Alaska

Well, I'm in Fairbanks right now. Wow, there is a TON of snow out there. It's snowed for the first two days and makes me wish I brought my skis AND my bunny boots. I'm here for work and fun and the sled dog symposium. That last one would normally be "fun" but after only making it to exactly ONE talk, I am glad I didn't spend the $70 on the symposium, heard it was a bit of a disappointment. On the good side, I did get to see a friend of a friend's running Susan Butcher's dogs - and visit the kennel. Very cool! Highlight of the trip for sure.

I also think I have a new career as a cat burglar. I'm getting very efficient at breaking into cabins that I lock myself out of. I've done that in my own (current) cabin only once, but here I've managed it once (luckily someone was inside the first time to let me in), then twice (the forementioned "someone" was at work this time, so I had to scale the cabin walls to climb in the only unlocked window(whew!) and fall over an upright piano and couch to complete the break-in (in my pajamas), and then yes, a third time, where I *almost* locked myself out, but didn't shut the door completely.

In case that part just flew by you - yes, some cabin-dwellers in Fairbanks apparently have PIANOS indoors. Better than outdoor pianos I suppose, but odd either way. They do serve a purpose - yet another place to put your crap.

A few things about Americans and America and Fairbanks:
  • These friendly neighbours to the north look at you like you're speaking Cantonese when you spell a word with "Z" (ZED) in it. "Zee" - what the heck is that? I got called weird for that one more than once.
  • Beer. Everywhere.
  • Home heating fuel - at gas stations!
  • No Bick's pickles
  • No Old Dutch Chips!
  • Beer. Everywhere.
  • -18C this morning. Damn.
  • People still use cheques... er, CHECKS. Stores still accept cheques/checks!
  • Playing cashier for yourself at Fred Meyer, they should give you a discount for that crap.
  • Beer. Everywhere.
  • Home Depot!! The lumber! The Fencing! The gates! The electrical stuff! I now dream about that store...
  • Spray Cheese (I'm not saying this is good OR bad)
  • Fast food places have options - small, medium and large? That one threw me for a loop. Also, the VAT sized medium pop at the theatre had me killing myself laughing asking if that was REALLY a medium. Yes, yes it was. Ridiculous.
  • No gigantic celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving.
  • No coverage of Canadian election results! I almost forgot we had an election.
  • HUGE Carhart section - for women! This alone would make me move here.
  • HILARIOUS hair salons. Seriously. I met the two funniest people in town, who as I stopped in for a "quick trim" - they threw me on the chair, started washing my hair while telling me I need new highlights (yeah, but I only have 20 minutes!) and an eyebrow wax (a what?!). I thought they were kidding, till I felt the hot wax drip onto my face. Apparently you don't have a choice in these things. And they took great joy in showing me the hair freshly ripped from my skull. Ah well, as attached as I was to the monobrow, I'll guess I'll survive without it. My face will be colder this winter though.
  • More freakin' Sarah Palin nonsense than one can deal with (new poll on sidebar). Does anyone really take her seriously!?!? Although I have to admit, I do enjoy those crazy Russians, just across the pond. They're a kooky fun bunch. They come over for dinner to Alaska a couple times a week. Good fun. They do overstay their welcome though when the vodka is on the table.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Dear Resident Coyotes

Open Letter to the local coyote population

Ok, c'mon already!!! I've heard you screeching your high-pitched freaky-assed howl every night now for weeks. Months! I haven't said anything yet, but I'm rapidly losing my patience, and my sleep. Not only do you produce this cacophony of spine-tingling noise at 3am, you also give me the joy of this waking up to this memorable noise at 8am, at 10am (weekends, thankyouverymuchforlettingmesleepin), at 2am, 5am, whenever the heck you feel like it!!

Not only that, it seems like you're doing it right outside my bedroom window.

Now I'm not sure if you're trying to get my dogs howling and barking at you on purpose as if it's some kind of game... "ooh let's drive the dogs nuts! hahahaha!" or "yeah, yeah, let's wake her up!!" as you and your little gang zip around the perimeter of the property. You apparently don't listen to "SHUT UP!!!" as well as my dogs (sometimes) do.

Or are you are really just trying to tick me off by waking me up in the middle of the night? Or! Maybe you're trying to deprive me of sleep so much that I accidentally leave some fish or moose scraps out. I'm not sure what your game is Mr/Mrs. Coyote, but I will find out...

This must stop! Or else you might end up like this:

Ok, who am I kidding? I couldn't do that to you even though sometimes ALL the time I feel like throttling your little furry necks. (btw - check out all that glorious wood!!!!)

I'd be more likely to do this to you:

Plop you on a bus and send you to the next town over!!! That'll show you. Ha.

Thanks for your understanding. See you tonight?

PSA: no coyotes were injured and/or maimed during this post. One however, was slightly hurt by my comments and feels there is a misunderstanding that we have to overcome, and he wishes I had talked to him first about this issue before putting it out there to the public. Sorry 'bout that. But the rest of you noisy buggers can suck it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I'm not THAT messy...

Ok, so for those of you who think your houses are a disaster, I think you're all just being a bit too picky, as I've never seen any of my friends (or anyone's really)places look quite like this:

I think it's time someone cleaned up here. No, this is NOT my place. Heck, that person has kitchen cupboards under there. I think. My place has never looked this chaotic. Or disgusting. So yes, after looking at that and then looking around my cabin with some dirty dishes, a bit of clutter and dog hair, I feel wayyyy better.

I was procrastinating on my doing dishes duties earlier by searching online for messier kitchens. I figure it's kind of related, so it counts as housework. I'm sure glad I live alone and don't have to justify my rationalization to anyone. The dogs ask questions sometimes when I get distracted, but totally buy anything I tell them. Especially when I promise them fish heads!

This minor distraction was almost as good as the time I was procrastinating cleaning up my clutter by looking online for the best ways to be clutter-free! Oh, I don't know - GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND START CLEANING?!?!? Yeah, that might help the clutter problem. Did my online reasearch work. Nah. Clutter still exists in my world.

But this makes it all feel better at the end of the day:

My best friend, Mr. Kilkenny! :)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Banana Strings

So for some reason I was sitting here thinking about the stringy parts to a banana. More specifically I was thinking about how much I LOVE that part of the banana. And after a thorough investigation, interviews with two friends, lots of study and data crunching, and approximately 5 minutes of intense internet research, I found that not everyone is fond of these tasty little morsels of yummy texture. These Phloem Bundles (heh heh... google makes me soooo smart...) make my banana-eating experience a great one.

Apparently, if you peel them from the stalk end, your chance of eliminating the stringy bits increases. Now why would you want to do that??!! That's just crazy talk.

I just about peed my pants/bikeshorts one day when I was out riding with some friends, oh that was in the race back in Aug. that I totally neglected to blog about. Oh well, you'll all survive, no need to worry. I may blog about it next year.

Anyways, in case you haven't caught on, I LOVE bananas. And I especially love to eat them when riding. So I had my arsenal of bananas on that race and was offering them up to everyone. (I do share nicely, btw), and shockingly found out that one friend really didn't like bananas while riding and the other was supremely grossed out by bananas. I didn't realize I had a banana-eating virgin lurking in my group of friends! They're sneaky and often look just like normal people...

A dedicated banana/bike fan.

The other anti-banana friend (I need to find new friends), stuck her tongue out in disgust and scrunched up her nose when I started peeling my banana. Then came the highlight of that banana-eating experience... the beloved stringy bits. When she saw my excitement and watched me in slow motion (in her head) grab onto the stringy bit and slowly slurp it into my mouth like a piece of spaghetti, she actually gagged. I think she might have thrown up a wee bit too. I really need to find like-minded people.

Yes, this might be the future of my friends.

And you just know you can find anything online - here are some instructions on how to eat a banana. I have provided my comments in RED:

1. Look for a banana that is yellow in color and lightly speckled with small brown or black speckles. Large brown spots indicate an over-ripe banana with a mushy consistency (mmmm... mushy bananas...). Green bananas usually need more time to ripen, or use a method to ripen the banana. (Oh yeah!! Give me a green banana any day!!! Love it when they crunch)

2. Peel the banana (sound advice). Some people prefer to peel the entire thing and then eat it, while others peel as they go (it's your choice really! That's the beauty of bananas). You can peel from the stalk, as you have something to hold on to. You can also peel from the non-stalky (scientific term I believe) end in the same way that monkeys (and apes!) peel them - this usually leads to fewer "banana strings" (blasphemy!!) and you can use the stalk as a handle (a banana handle...hmmm... I see a marketing opportunity here). If you feel adventurous, you can attempt to quickly snap the banana in two convenient halves while starting the peel. This gives the bonus of halving the banana for a future snack (yes, that IS a bonus). Simply flip the banana concave side toward you, hold on both ends with thumbs toward each other and snap the banana open.

3. Remove the "banana strings" as you go. (Erm... excuse me?!?!) (The fibrous bits that run the length of the banana between the edible part and the peel.)
(thank you for your bracketed information tidbit on what a banana string is)

4. Throw the skin away (great tip! Duh...). If you are in a closed environment (such as in a car on a trip, or in a hotel room) (or on a ride at Disneyland, or in your bathroom/outhouse) either seal the peel in a bag or find another garbage can away from your area (or turf it off the rollercoaster, or throw it down the outhouse hole). Banana peels can fill a room with their scent in no time (a bonus in a bathroom/outhouse! Perhaps even a bonus at sweaty-tourist ridden Disneyland). Banana peels make very good compost. You may want to save your leftover banana peels if you collect compost for your garden. Alternatively, banana peels can be used in many recipes. Banana peels are a main ingredient in many east-Indian desserts and main courses. (what about the stringy bits??!)

There you go! How to eat a banana! Brilliant. And please let me know your views on banana strings by voting in the poll off to the right over there>>> yep, over that way>> on the right>>

And in case you're wondering, yes, my TV IS working tonight. I really have no good excuse for posting this drivel..... or maybe I can use the no-snow-on-the-ground excuse??