Category Archives: Alaska

Don’t Let the Cobwebs Gather in Your Elbows

Juneau, Alaska. Check.

Miami, Florida. Check.

Boston, Massachusetts. Check.

Restart…

“We want you both to come work for us.” That’s how the story began.

Girls, pack your cat nip. We’re going back to Alaska. Someone hit the reset button.

Sometimes, it takes you six years to figure out what you prefer in life. Sometimes you take wrong exits off the highway before you figure out your GPS has given you faulty directions and you have to get back on the highway. And sometimes, you have to go out there and see other places so you can extend your family and have more experiences in life.

We’re Off…Like Cats Looking for the Open Can of Tuna!

Once we fired off the confetti cannon and made our decision to go, we quickly packed up our three furry kids, dropped off the two lizards to the nieces and selected some creature comforts to get us through a couple of months of Alaska living. We will be back to Boston in November to remote work and pack up our house, then go back to Alaska in March for the next summer season.

Packing for a second household is interesting. Which garlic crusher do you take? What about cutting boards, one or three? Are we going to need the blender? Better take the mini food processor. Do you think we should take the Learn Spanish DVDs so we have something to do? How many pairs of jeans are you taking? Don’t forget the favorite cat toys. And whatever happens, don’t forget the cat treats. Better pack a Keurig and a bubbler (Sodastream, as I love my bubbly water.)

One would think, if you forgot something, just go to the store when you get there. Right? That’s the thought of 99% of everyone who is traveling to new locations. Except where we’re going, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

We’ll be spending most of our year in Hoonah, Alaska. Population 750 give or take. About 3 miles of paved road and 150 miles of dirt logging roads. Ever see that show, “Alaska Bush People” back when they were in Alaska? Yeah, well, they lived in Hoonah. And no, they were not really living in the wilderness. Talk about fake news.

Hoonah is the largest Tlingit community in Alaska and is located on Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska. It’s about 40 miles west of Juneau or a 20 minute flight. It also has the largest concentration of coastal brown bears in the world, although I have yet to see one. Lots of bear poop on the road, lots of poop.

(What is a coastal brown bear? Apparently, those in the know, decided to make a different class from the typical grizzly bear and classify the coastal brown bear. As I understand it, the coastal brown bear found mainly on Chichagof and Admiralty Islands eat mainly salmon and are therefore bigger in nature, therefore you get a different type of bear. )

Back to the story…

Anyhow, there’s no mall, no Walmart, no Target, no Walgreens, no Kohl’s. There’s a hardware store and small grocery store, whose motto is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” The other day I was desperate for a pair of plain old regular scissors for home. You know the kind with the orange handle? Went to the hardware store. Found them. $16.

I’ve ordered some things from Amazon, you know I’m a Prime member and all. An electric throw blanket. I thought I’d pick one up at Costco in Juneau, WHEN I FLEW OVER TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING, but they didn’t have them. Normally, Prime is next day delivery or two days, right? Here….it’s two weeks. My blanket should be here by September 27th.

Please Keep Your Claws Inside the Carrier at All Times.

Traveling with the cats is always an experience.

Liggy, our 20-22 year old is a pro. She’s been from Alaska to Miami to Boston. And now she’s gone back to Alaska.

Monkey and Taku, well…they’re a little unimpressed at the whole process. They joined us in Miami, so they’ve only done one journey with us. A flight to Boston. Needless to say, as soon as the carriers come out, all hell breaks loose.

Monkey sings the song of her people, which sounds more like someone who has just eaten a meal that hasn’t agreed with their system and their bowels are about to explode.

Taku silently glares at us. Placing what are undoubtedly triple strength, unorthodox feline hexes on our souls, cursing us into damnation. No snuggles for you.

We break up the flight, overnighting in Seattle as a cross country, to Alaska flight is too long to be stuck in a kennel. Going from Boston to Hoonah is a three flight journey, even with non-stop flights. The upside was once we got to the Seattle hotel and blocked access to behind the beds, the girls decided there was safety in numbers! STICK TOGETHER! Normally, they don’t hang out together….

Cats snuggled in at Seattle hotel, safety in numbers.

When we travel, the two youngest go underneath in the traveling pet cargo area. Which I told them was a disco for pets. I’m not sure they believed me entirely. I did tell them to go easy on ordering the Alaskan beer and mimosas on the flight as altitude can sometimes do crazy things with your alcohol consumption. Liggy travels as my carry on and goes under the seat, she’s a first class pet. Of course at her age, she should be.

However, when we got to Juneau and loaded up into our final plane, Liggy’s eyes were as big as golfballs as she was loaded into the back of our little plane. At least we were all together on this one, everyone was seated in the same compartment. I could turn around, look past the cargo net and see the three girls. Hang on everyone, here we go. One more flight. At least Monkey wasn’t serenading us. If only because Taku had her muttering out the unorthodox feline hex as well. Bonding at it’s finest.

Welcome to Hoonah-lulu

Ah, what a relief.

Not that we finally arrived after traveling for two days, with three cats and five pieces of luggage. One of which was the cat’s suitcase, I kid you not.

But we arrived back where we’re supposed to be.

A good friend greeted us with open arms at the airport, we dropped our stuff at the house, got the girls situated so they could find hiding spots inside the house, then we drove 2 miles of paved road to the grocery store.

It felt like a giant scratchy coat had been shed and cast aside.

I could finally breathe.

I was lighter.

I wasn’t stressed about having to drive down the Boston highway with 14,839 crazy drivers, making left hand turns from right hand lanes. Or taking 90 minutes to go 16 miles. Or swerving lanes as they text on their cell phones.

All of the frustrations of my previous job slid off like waves on a fine sand beach. No longer my issue. Not my problem.

The next day we went into work, doing what we know best…cruise tourism. People are excited about the future. Excited about the possibilities. Excited about the potential. There’s talking, laughing and sharing ideas. There’s big ideas, big plans and things are happening.

There’s no time to sit back. It’s time to jump in and see how we can help. What can we do? Where do we start? It may be the countdown to the end of the 2019 season, but the 2020 season is already in planning and new projects are unwrapping faster than birthday gifts.

It’s thrilling to be back.

Wait, did I mention the view from work?

Go Faster! Hurry! Outta My Way!

I lived in Southeast Alaska for 20 years, where there isn’t a rush hour, there are rush minutes.  It doesn’t take an hour to go 15 miles.  In fact, there were only 40 miles of road before you ran out of road where I lived.  Of those 40 miles only 9 could be considered a true highway, meaning two lanes in each direction.

Every day now that I live in the suburbs of a big city and work in The City, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in my car going to and from work.  I spend a lifetime in my car.  It is the practice of patience.

Now, I love my car.  I brought my car with me from Alaska.  He’s been to Alaska.  He’s been to Florida.  Now he’s in Massachusetts.  He’s perfect for me.  I can see over the hood.  I can reach the pedals.  I can reach over and unlock the passenger door without effort. There’s not much to him.

In fact, he didn’t come with anything fancy…

No automatic door locks.

He has hand crank windows.

No radio (had to have one installed)

No beep beep to unlock him.

No rear window wiper.

No seat warmers, GPS or USB plugs.

What he does have is a great spunky attitude, cause his name is Norman and he is Absolutely Red.

How do I know he’s is a boy?

Stick shift.

Of course, when I take him into the doctor’s office for a check up, they always get a chuckle and laugh.  “Oh, you drive a unicorn.”  Well.  I guess you could say that too.  He is a rare, mythical being.

For a 3-door hatch back, that you could almost park in a 4 yard commercial dumpster, Norman gets around.  When we brought him up from Florida, he was packed with quite a lot of our household goodies.  Nobody could be believe all this fit in my Norman.

(Note: Cat not included, she arrived separately.)IMG_0312

The other thing great about Norman is winter driving.  Granted, he isn’t going to be climbing Mt. Washington any time soon, he’s not a Subaru…..let’s not get crazy.  But, weigh him down with 150 pounds of cat litter in the back and no problem!  Did I mention Norman is coming up on his 11th winter?  He’s the bomb at winter driving.  Small but mighty!

The one thing however, that is NOT Norman’s speciality is speed.  Well, it depends on where you live.  Speed for Alaska, Norman was a champion.  Speed for Miami we managed as it was mostly giant highways and we just had to stay out of the way.  Easy enough. Speed for Boston, there isn’t enough highway and way too many people.  Mostly angry, impatient people.

Norman can go 80mph.  In fact, he could go 90mph.  He doesn’t like it and will tell you all about it with a rattle and hum.  His comfortable maximum cruising speed is 70mph.

When Norman reaches 70mph, that’s when he has to call in the reinforcements.  The squirrels…. to back up the little chipmunks that normally power the car.  When you have to ring up the squirrels, it’s never a good thing cause they’re usually in the middle of their bocce ball game, taking bets on who is going to beat Marge and Harry.  Then you have to bribe them with extra peanuts, which they don’t take, they want walnuts and not just any walnuts…they want the good ones with the gold star from California.

Now here’s the thing driving in Boston.  It’s three to four lane highways.  It doesn’t matter if we’re going into The City for work, going home from work, going to the volunteer at the animal sanctuary on the weekends….Norman and I are smart enough to know.

Stay to the right.

We aren’t the fastest.  We’re not fooling anybody.   Can’t you see, I’m actually leaning forward in my seat a little to try and go faster?

I’ll be damned.

Without fail however.

It doesn’t matter.

I always get someone behind me.

A Lexus.

A Honda.

A (insert brand here) pick up truck.

A BMW.

A commercial van of sorts.

Who is insistent on riding my bumper.

Now this is what I alway say out loud.  “If you look to your left, there are three other lanes to choose from over there.  Look at all that space over there!  What makes you think by choosing to ride my ass, it’s going to make all of us go faster?  News flash….I’m in a Yaris.”

Then it dawned on me.  Apparently, Norman has magically powers.

Obviously these City people think Norman has The Power….maybe it’s because he’s a mythical Unicorn….but they think he has The Power….to control highway speed.

To date, my little Norman, the Absolutely Red Toyota Yaris, has yet to transform into a  Ferrari.  If he does, I’ll let you know.  Until then, we’ll continue to ride on the right….more power Marge and Harry!

 

 

 

 

Whole Foods…a Vortex to Acting Like 5 Year Olds.

I was thrilled when I moved here to discover a Whole Foods right around the corner from my house. Coming from Alaska, this was a brand new experience. I had heard stories about the LUXURY of shopping at a Whole Foods.

Vegetables are like diamonds encased in security sealed cases.

Cheese by the pound is on display by region.

Fresh meat all organically grown, petted daily and humanely put down for sale.

A salad bar worth drooling over.

Fresh this and wholesome that.

Vitamins, detox mixtures, tonics and fresh squeezed orange juice….oh my fucking my.

Seriously….people…this is heaven on earth.




Yeah, it’s heaven on earth if I want to be ignored by the staff, nearly run down by patrons and….on top of it all pay out the ass for a 4oz container of guacamole, of which I could make better at home.

What am I missing here?

I simply don’t get it. There are several things that slap me in the face when I go in there:

1. Their customer service SUCKS. Granted, they have good produce. Every time I dash in to pick up something, it always happens the produce guy has his little cart right in front of whatever item I need in the produce aisle:

Corn on the cob? Check.

Tomatos. Check.

Apples. Check.

Potatoes. Check.

Vegan salad dressing. Check.

Doesn’t matter, he is parked there and it never crosses his mind to MOVE THE FUCKING CART a foot to let me select my green beans, snow peas, broccoli or peppers. It annoys the hell out of me. I’m sorry. It’s common sense. You have a customer approaching, with a basket on her arm and obviously looking at the produce right in front of you.

Why yes, I would like some of those carrots with the green leafy tops still on….all five of them for $9.99. Could you excuse me?

So

I

Could

Just

Reach

The

Damn

Carrots?

Oh, no wait, I see the issue. You are too busy laughing it up with the guy who is stocking up the pineapples and grapes. Never mind. Don’t want to bother you. Let me climb over your cart. Who is the customer here?

Apparently the overhead they charge for the produce also includes a gym membership fee.

Who knew?

It annoys the shit out of me.

AND, the people who check you out never smile. Tonight, when I ran in to grab corn and tomatoes, the guy walked away from the counter without saying a word so he could go throw a paper out two rows away.

REALLY?

I always approach and say HELLO! HOW ARE YOU?! Nothing.

If you really hate your job so much that you can’t smile and greet your customers, such as Michael this evening at my local store, then you need to go work somewhere else. The lady at the corner hot dog stand has better customer service than these people. It never fails. Save the overhead and have self check out!

Wait! Do you think because people are paying $5.99 for a pack of gum….gives you the permission to ignore your customers and treat us like shoe leather? Oh wait, you thought we were the plastic shoe leather? Pleather? THAT explains so much then.

But should one of their friends come up to help bag, whoa! It’s all fun and games….my, how the tides turn. Did I just slide down the rabbit hole? Apparently you are just hard of hearing and you didn’t hear my greeting.

Maybe I should just start yelling at people.

Let’s move forward.

********* The Salad Bar *********

So the tremendous salad bar. They have a great selection of soups. If you enjoy soups.
I don’t.

The salad bar is a typical salad bar. A variety of leafy greens to select and toppings. Nicely done.

Then the opposite side is mixed salads, rice salads, weird shit and shit I wouldn’t eat as I don’t eat weird shit or limp shit, or shit I can’t pronounce.

I’m sorry but when you see zucchini and squash that has been sliced lengthwise and then grilled….placed under heat lamps….it’s not right. They’re limp. They’re gross. It’s veggie abuse. Same goes for the eggplant. It is a horror flick right there in the deli. I have to turn the other way as it makes my stomach turn. Kind of like smelling sour milk.

Imagine holding up a piece of limp grilled zucchini in your hand….it falls over. So sad. It was excited at one point, I’m certain of it. Who wants limp shit? Okay, maybe a starving Sasquatch.

But apparently someone out there is enjoying the limp shit. Desperate, hungry, rich people, that don’t know about crisp veggies. Imagine holding up a piece of limp grilled zucchini in your hand….it falls over. So sad. It was excited at one point, I’m certain of it.

The thing I hate about going around that damn salad / deli area are the people.

No

Sense

Of

Personal

Space.

Which brings me to another point of the experience at Whole Foods….

2. The regulars. Maybe it’s where I live. I think it’s a feeling of entitlement. I’ve started to wonder what’s happened to two things: personal space and common courtesy. It’s not like we’re on the NYC subway here….ass to coot-chy …. DAMN.

Bumping elbows, watches, shoulders, baskets, hips…..okay – BACK THE FUCK UP!

Unless you are planning on popping open a bottle of wine in aisle 9 and then taking me to dinner, you are way too close to me. Knock it off.

There is no reason for your shoes to be hitting my shoes – there is plenty of space to go around me. I am all of 5’2 on a good day and it’s not like I weigh in like a gorilla. I don’t even have a cart! There’s simply no reason to be up my ass, over my shoulder, climbing up my eyeballs to get around me.

Take a breath.

Take a step to the side.

Go around me.

SAY EXCUSE ME! It’s not difficult!

If I stop to look at something, you are going to have to adjust your plan and detour. Don’t roll your eyes and huff at me. I’m not your child and am certainly not your spouse. Life does not revolve around you, jackass. Get over it. I’m putting my basket down and looking at this colon detox powder for the next ten minutes or until you stop glaring at me. If you’re going to continue, I will pick up this anal itch cream and ask you if you’ve tried it.

Don’t tempt me.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah….life sucks….get in line with the rest of us. Waaaahhhhhh.

Oh my god….if you are going to shop in here, suck it up and act like an adult.

That’s what I don’t get. To shop in Whole Foods, you have to have money, yet all these people in here act like five year olds.

They’re playing chicken with their carts in the aisles.

I’m not moving….you are going to have to climb over me if you want to get that hot sauce, fucker.

They will run you down to get to the salad bar – and block it. MINE! IT’S ALL MINE!

Missy is going to be a defensive blocker for the vegan cheese display and then at the organic wine area.

Sorry, did you want to get in the front door? I’m cleaning my cart handle off with the sanitary wipe. Sorry.

Clint is on his phone shouting about his latest trade while trying to choose what bread to get sliced. PICK ONE!

For the love of all things holy – concentrate – get your shopping done and move out of the way for the rest of humanity.

******* The End Result *******

I’m done with Whole Foods.

We have found a fabulous farmer’s market up north we go to every weekend. We can fill up bags and bags of fresh produce for just dollars. It’s fantastic. Right from the farms. I can go to our little guy and get what we affectionately call…”Hooker Vaginas”….but we have to get there early as he sells out. We get a quart for $10 and then I usually get my own for $3 and enjoy it in the car on the way home. Eric sometimes gets one as well. It’s good for us yumminess.

I would rather drive 30 minutes and go to a Trader Joe’s than go through the non-sense we continue to experience at a Whole Foods. I don’t get it. It’s not worth it. They’re not making me feel like a valuable customer and I’m not going to support them as a business. It’s ridiculous. Yes, they may be easy and healthy, but there is lots to be said about good customer service and feeling welcomed into the establishment.

Thanks for letting me vent…..I feel lighter…..like dandelion fluff or glitter in a confetti cannon.

This Way to the Pink Flamingos Please.

One night my better half says, “Oh yeah, next week I have a dinner engagement.”

Oh, okay….whatcha doin?

“My company is a sponsor for the Pink Flamingo Awards, so I”m going to go.”

My response….blink blink. Blink blink.

Pink flamingos?

You didn’t think I’d want to go?

A. It’s an award show

B. There’s pink flamingos

I say, “Okay so can you bring a date?”

He says, “Well yeah.

Okay then…I’m coming.

He then advises me its to support the local LGBT Visitors Center and they’ll have Drag Queens.

My jaw hits the floor.

AND YOU DIDN’T THINK TO TELL ME ABOUT THIS SOONER? Hello? How long have we been together? This is right up my alley. These woman are fabulous!

To double check, I ask if this is a dress up event. Yes. Wear a dress.

Perfect. Got the perfect black dress.

He then says, because up until now, I’ve had a shit day…..you could wear one of your wigs.

Stop the train! REALLY!

GET

OUT!

I immediately ran to the box where I keep my wigs.

I knew exactly the one I wanted. Got it out. Got my comb. Brushed it out. Tried it on. Was delighted.

So excited.

The Wednesday arrived and the plan was hatched….meet at the Miami Convention Center at 7:00PM and enjoy the night. Silent auction, dinner, cocktails, award show – oh my! Whoop, whoop!

5:30PM I call the Mister and tell him I’m heading over to our company gym to shower and get my wig on. He says, “oh that’s too early, might as well wait.”

Okay, well you know what? Don’t listen to a man, when you know how long it’s going to take you to get ready. What the hell do they know anyway?

They know bubkiss.

They’re a PIMA. (Pain. In. My. Ass.)

I thought he might be right. So I waited until 6:10PM.

Went over to the gym.

Jumped into the shower.

Did my make up.

Put almond oil all over my arms and legs so I have not only a nice scent but subtle glow to my skin. Perfect!

Add the perfume and then take my black dress out of the cotton garment bag.

I pulled my grey and black shoes out and my satin handbag…finally, it was time to get dressed.

Please note: At this point in the evening’s program, we have a problem Houston…

It all went to hell in a hand basket and we were in the express lane. And the express lane was free of charge tonight. Of course.

Knew it. Should have went with my gut. Why? Why, listen to a man when it comes to getting ready?

Unless he is a Drag Queen or a prima donna – they’re clueless. PIMA!

I am so unimpressed at this point.

There I am, half dressed in my cute black dress with not a soul to be found in the ladies locker room and the
fucking zipper on the back of my dress is stuck. I don’t just mean stuck as in I’ve gained a lot of weight and it won’t zip. I mean like it’s frozen and not going to move an inch.

There’s a good five inches to go before it’s zipped up to the top – which would be mid back.

My hands were previously oiled, so I wash them yet again.

Nothing.

I pull the dress down as far as I can.

Nothing.

I try and turn the dress around to the front to shimmy the zipper.

Nothing.

I pull the dress up higher and try to pull the zipper up.

Nothing.

I try squeezing the zipper together.

Nothing.

I contemplate going as is.

Not happening.

I ponder wearing my sheer black and white polka dot shirt that I wore to work over the dress.

(only if I’m desperate) And that’s not really an option.

I contort my arms to try again to pull the zipper up.

First, left arm over. UGH!!!

Then the right arm over the top…..

Maybe if I turn just a little.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I wait and hope a female walks in.

Tick tock.

Nothing.

I think about going out into the gym. It’s a guy at the desk and think…..He could zip it. What if he can’t? Okay that would be embarrassing.

On the way to the awards I could stop somewhere and buy something, which is a good idea.

But then I’d have to get OUT of this dress and I can’t do that either.

Well what the hell?

I stop and look at myself in the mirror. Sweat, is pouring down my face. I’m a total mess. Is the air conditioning on? TURN ON THE AIR CONDITIONING!!! THE ALASKAN IS DYING IN HERE!

You have got to be kidding me.

Maybe the sewn in slip is bunched up and I start patting down all the layers.

NOW! How about NOW!!! Arms go up and over to work the zipper.

I try and pull the dress up as far up to my arm pits again.

Nothing.

I rest my sweaty forehead against the mirror.

Fuck it.

I pack up my bag.

My plan is to go as is and my better half is going to have to figure it out in the parking lot. Mental note, pack black duct tape in the car next time.

I am pissed…..I don’t have time to brush my teeth and what is even worse…..

I
don’t
have
time
to
put
on
my
wig.

I have to go. I wash my hands and do a final makeup touch up. By makeup – touch up I really mean mop my face with paper towels. I return to get my bag and try one last fricking time with this damn zipper.

Just kidding! Zip! Tah-dah! No problem.

Are you kidding me?

For the love of Pete.

I get to the car and it’s 6:50PM. Zip over the Causeway to Miami Beach. The air conditioning is on FULL ARCTIC BLAST and I arrive at the Convention Center just in time for cocktails. I throw on the fascinator I made for a Titanic dinner in Juneau….and while it wasn’t my wig I got enough compliments, so I was happy enough.

We arrive and head immediately to the bar. I’m busy texting a friend about an item I bidder on him from the Floppy Rooster….I stop suddenly and when I look up we’re behind not one but TWO Drag Queens. Lady one, later advised the crowd she was NOT a Drag Queen but a transgender, which was fine. She was lovely. Reminded me of someone I know. The other one. Well, I admit…………startled the hell out of me. One of those, I couldn’t help but stare, but not stare for fear she’d call me out on it. Nope, no picture needed. Thanks!

Drive! The! CAR!

Traffic annoys the hell out of me.

What I don’t get is, how can it be so bloody terrible?  If the people in the front would just go.  I mean really GO, how can there be all this back up?  If we’d all just GO the same speed it wouldn’t take us forever to get anywhere.  It’s called teamwork people.

What really gets me is the rubbernecking.

It’s like watching a stupid show on TV and after it’s over you realize THAT was a waste of your time.  Slowing down to see the crash or non-crash is….guess what?  A waste of time.  For you and me!  Good grief, Mr. Rodgers could have me a song out of this concept.

JUST DRIVE the car.  You have to actually step on the long rectangular pedal that’s on the floor on the right.    It’s a novel concept, but the car doesn’t go on it’s own – you have to assist.

Seriously.

There’s a car pulled over on the side of the road.   Everyone has to slow down to look.

There’s two cars pulled over – an obvious fender bender.  Slow down, let’s all look!

If there’s cars on the other side of the highway – with lights flashing – let’s all slow down to look.  There’s even a big concrete wall dividing it and you can’t see anything!

There’s a terrible accident and people are nearly creating additional accidents just so they can see the carnage.  I mean really.  For what?  To see if their day was worse than yours?  I fucking guarantee it!  If their car is waiting for a tow truck and there’s flashing lights at the scene.  Guess what?  They are having a suck day.  They win.  Now DRIVE!

The other thing about the traffic and I’m not even going to mention the blatant honking of the horns – which is out of control in Miami.  My brain waves don’t even function that fast.  It could be a game show.  QUICK.  Try to get your foot off the brake on to the gas pedal before the jackass behind you is honking and gesturing wildly.  Yeah, well the Alaskan will get to going when she’s good and ready.  Keep your pants on.  Besides, we’re all going to be at the next light together in 200 yards anyway.

The privacy.  People, your windows may be tinted by I can still see thru them.  HEY!  Yes!  YOU!  Picking your nose – I can see you.  Unreal.  Flipping me off?  I see you!  Yelling at your partner in the car – I see you.  Thinking you are the next best thing sliced bread – I see you.  It’s exhausting.

Lastly, hang up the phone.  In today’s world with bluetooth technology – there’s no reason people need to have that rectangular block of radiation next to their face while driving.  If drinking and driving is a hazard so is anything connected to holding that ridiculous cell phone and driving.  My cat can drive better than some of these people with the phones attached to their heads.  The car was one of the last places on earth where you could escape to the solitude of your thoughts and favorite radio stations.   Not anymore.  Apparently people can’t survive 5 -30 minutes without constant technological interruption

Shit.

So here’s the thing with the traffic and the endless line of cars during rush hour.  In Juneau, it was a rush minute.  I’m not kidding.  Four minutes and you were done.  Now, some days it takes me an hour either way to or from work.  (Although, after being here a year I am working on a system to beat the rush hours.)

I love my little Yaris.  His name is Norman.   Yes, he’s a boy car.  How do I know it’s a boy car?  He’s a stick…..duh.

I’m looking to upgrade.

All I’ve wanted for years is a Camaro.  Midnight blue with the glitter paint flecks.  V6.  I want the engine that purrs to a stop.  Every damn time I see this car on the street a little bit of drool forms at the corner of my mouth.  They’re common, but not as common as the BMW here.  Which is as common as sliced bread.  If I wanted to be a trendsetter I get a Subaru!

camaro

I

LOVE

THIS

AUTOMOBILE.

It’s hot.  I’d look hot in the car.  Blue, I’m going to BE hot in this car.  I want this car.  I need this car.  This car….makes me purr.  This is a sexy car.   The curves…especially from behind….wow.  Wow.  This car makes me talk like a guy.

BUT then, as things would have it in life.  An option appeared, one I was not expecting.  Now, I am truly in a quandry.

We’re sitting at a light.  Up rolls a Dodge Challenger.   White with a racing stripe.

Challenger

Ohhhh well.  Hello.  You.

Now.

Look.

At.

That.

Me. YOW.

Now if that isn’t a stud car.  And boy did that have a purr.  It was like a roar….not so much a purr.  I think I broke out into a bit of a sweat.  Of course, I’d want a V8 for this car – because this is a definite boy car.  There is nothing soft about this baby.

So now I spend my days driving into and out of work – looking for my cars.  Every time I’m sold on the Camaro one of these Challengers goes past and I say one word:

DAMN.

Of course the kicker ….. as much as I love my Camaro, the other day one went past and a grandma was driving.  Not that there is anything wrong with that but then I was thinking….really?

NormanOn the other hand, I could keep on with my Norman.  He was transported all the way from Juneau.  Great, zippy, keeps up with traffic.  Although he’s not real thrilled about doing 80 mph on I95, but I’ve had him up there.  Swear!

He can out run the best of ’em – in our own minds.  Go Norman!

Of course, in a Challenger…..imagine the speed!  The tickets….no good.

The Camaro….imagine how cute I’d look!  So good!

I think I need to go for a test drive and let my heart sing.

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting for a Christmas Tree in Miami

How’s that song go?….

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….NOT!

I’m not complaining.  It’s just different.

It’s humid.

I’m sweaty.

I’m writing this sitting outside on our lanai – nice.  But there is a bug flying around big enough to be one of Santa’s elves delivering Christmas gifts.  He has circled me twice now and I’ve noticed he has a sign on his back that says, “Coal Delivery.”

That explains a lot.

We finally managed to get our Christmas lights up two weeks ago.  The thought was: “it’s too damn hot but if we don’t do it now we’re not going to.”  The snowflake lights that looked so pretty on our front porch in Alaska….twinkling against the snow…. still make me smile when I come home at night.  I just snort and roll my eyes at the idiocy of the concept:

Snow in Miami?

Sure, right after the Devil goes down to Georgia and sets up a half way house for wayward souls looking for salvation on a one-way road to heaven.

Of course my four potted palms on the deck add a nice backdrop to the snowflakes.

Obviously, the next step is acquiring the Christmas tree.

In Alaska – getting our last tree involved the following:

1.  On Saturday morning you dress in Carharts, put on your snow boots and grab your work gloves.

2.  Head out to the forest with your saw.

3.  Find your tree and cut it down.

4.  Tie it to the roof of your car.

5.  Once home, wrap it in a tarp to avoid leaving a trail of needles through the house.

6.  Set up the tree!

Here, in Miami, you go to a tree circus.  Complete with red and white canvas tent.  Oh Christmas Trees…..oh no!  Please tell me they give you a shot of vodka before you enter.

Before us, in the first big tent were about 20 trees standing up on display.  It’s like a fashion runway for trees.  This is ridiculous.  Nothing like Glacier Gardens in Juneau.  We would also get our trees from Cindy and Steve.  I loved how Cindy, just a petite little thing….would wrangle them away from the pile and compare the different varieties: smell, needles, height, color…all according to what I was looking for in the tree.

You see, I’m very technical when it comes to getting a Christmas tree.

Last night, at the Miami Tree Circus…when you walk through the gate they simply ask you what size of tree you would like:

Over 8 foot, 7 foot, 6 foot or 5 foot.

My response: short and fat.

Our helper elf, who stuck to us like sand on wet feet (which is more annoying than grass on wet feet I’ve now decided) I noticed had shockingly….shockingly…..let me say it again….

S H O C K I N G L Y

amazing eyes.  They were like liquid gold.  I’ve never seen eyes like that on a human.  Which made me wonder if he might practice voodoo.  Then I thought, anyone who sells Christmas trees can’t be a bad person and I am probably just enjoying way too much of American Horror Story: Coven, this year and should probably just get a grip.

But seriously – wow.

This young man followed us from tree to tree to tree.  They were short, but not fat enough really.  If I can’t get short and fat, I’d prefer a Charlie Brown tree.  Tall and bare.  I’ll even take a few branches and stick them in a pot and call it good.

Tent two…yep.  Tent two. Had about 6 trees in various sized that were…are you ready?  This was a definite first for me.

Flocked white.

Real trees, sprayed with paper mache.

They were lovely from a distance.  Then when you got closer it kinda looked like someone  went wild with a bunch of wet paper.  Well, technically that’s what they did.  It was lumpy and fell off in your hand.  I immediately thought of the cat.  We’d come out one morning and there she’d be covered in white crap…our fat mostly black cat gone wild with the Christmas tree….now encased in a self made paper mache mold….courtesy of Oh Christmas Tree Circus.

Oh hell no, I think we’ll pass on that disaster just waiting to happen.

Next tent.

More trees lined up.  There’s a short and fat tree that I like but he tells us it’s 7 feet tall.

What?

7 feet tall.

I look at the tree and stare….eye ball to eye ball with it.  This isn’t 7 feet tall.

Blink.  Blink. Blink. Blink.

OMG.  Are you telling me because of the tree’s pointy thing on top….that one branch, which is like the tree penis? ….you’re calling this tree 7 feet tall?

“Yes, we had to cut some off the bottom but it used to be 7 feet.”

Okay well it’s only 5 1/2 feet now.

“Still 7 foot price.”

By now I’m thinking those S H O C K I N G L Y amazing eyes have some kind of trance inducing powers but I’m not buying into it.  This is obviously the tree I like, but I flatly refuse to pay for a 7 foot tree when I am getting a short & fat tree.

Back to the first tent.  We need to wrap this up cause I’m starting to sweat….and it’s after work and I want to go home.

I go back to my original tree.  Eric and I look at each other, a little disheartened at the whole experience.  We agree.  We’ll take it.

The tree elf takes the tree to the register, we pay $65 and he puts a fresh cut on the bottom.  Eric goes to get the tarps to wrap it – thinking easier now than later.  Then we find out two things….

First, they sell tree stands, which we didn’t have, so we bought the tree stand…another $30 and our elf puts it on and levels the tree for us.  Fabulous!

Second, our elf slid our tree into a tree size fishnet stocking.  NO TARP REQUIRED!  How cool is that?!

With the short and fat tree tied to the roof of the car we headed home.

In Alaska, we always let the tree have an overnight to “rest and warm up” in the house.  The limbs relax with the heat of the house.  Obviously, we decided to let the Miami tree “rest” overnight as well. As far as I can tell there isn’t any fir trees in Miami – this poor thing is probably sweating to death.  Yes, if I look at the tree, I do think it has relaxed a bit since it’s arrived.  The branches are a little looser – not so pinched up.

The fir is saying the same thing I say every day: “Hallelujah!  Air conditioning!”

 

 

 

 

Silence Was Not an Option

The one thing I enjoyed about living in Alaska was everything was bigger….especially the wildlife.  If something was going to get you, it was going to be something  B I G.

King Salmon.

Moose.

Bears.

Deer.

Sheep.

Lynx.

Fox.

Whales.

Seals.

Eagles.

Please note: we don’t have penguins contrary to popular belief.

We have BIG animals in Alaska.  None of this namby pamby shit that leap out from behind crap to get you.  Animals in Alaska are in your face tough.  They let you know up front, without any confusion, whose land it belongs to…….this is my land, you want it, you are going to have to come through me to get it.  Enough said and there usually aren’t any questions.

The rest of the United States, there’s some gray areas.  There’s total confusion as to where property lines are drawn and  humans and critters are having to fight for their rights on a daily basis.

Case in point:  the poor turtle I hit by accident on the highway.  Sorry buddy, stay on the greenway, avoid the hard top areas.  Hence, this is why he’s given a protective shell.  He bounced, tucked and rolled.  I’m pretty sure he’s fine once he got his hearing back and his tunnel vision sorted out.

Assorted water fowl on the fairway.  You know they’re all sorts of confused when they’re out there and they spot those golfers coming by on the carts.  It’s all they can do to hop on and go for a joy ride.  Gives new meaning to the Hop On and Hop Off Trolley Tour.  Hey Marge!  Let’s hop on over hole 14….I heard they just re-filled the sand trap – it’s extra cushy!  Oh Harold and the mid-mow on the fairway is so nice this time of year for nibbles.

The one thing I have no tolerance for are the rude creatures that cross into our habitat uninvited.  Get out.  There is no tiny door that says hard shelled creatures with more legs than an origami octopus – step right this way – I’m now serving number 24.  With a world so large, go find your own dark corner and stay far, far, away from all of my areas.

Go.

Now.

Poof.

Be gone.

On Sundays one of the last chores I do are the sheets.  I wash them.  Put the fabric softener on them and make the bed.  This happens not long before I actually climb into bed.  Once I get into bed, I plan to spend time playing Words with Friends or reading.  It’s relaxing and enjoyable.  Then it’s off to la la land…..

This particular Sunday was no different.

I am in bed.  I sleep on the left side.  Always.

Happily, I am reading a book on my iPad.  Out of no where, I see something out of the corner of my left eye.

Moving.

On.

The.

Floor.

Very slowly I turn my head.

C

R

A

P

^%$)) !

Along the jewelry boxes on the floor, there goes a bug.  Not any kind of bug.

A big bug.

Not any kind of big bug.

A Florida bug.

What kind of Florida bug?  A roach.

More specifically?

A Palmetto Bug.

What do you ask is special about a Palmetto Bug you wonder?

Think:  a giant flying roach.

In about two seconds I realize exactly what I’m seeing and calmly (for me) I leap up out of bed – the opposite side from where the bug is at and run towards the kitchen.

My first thought is, “PALMETTO BUG!”  I have to catch this thing.  I can’t kill it…it could have eggs….and BLAH.    When Eric was here, he had to catch a roach and did so with a plastic cup.  I run to the kitchen look for the plastic cups.  Then it dawns on me…..

How am I going to catch a flying roach with a plastic cup?  Forget the cups.  Get the Dyson!

I race to get the Dyson and run back to the bedroom.

By now, I see the giant roach is lumbering towards the closet.  When I say lumbering, I truly mean lumbering.  This bug had the worse case of jock itch I’ve ever seen.  Either that or it’s feet hurt so bad it just wanted to sit down.  Now I got a good look at the size of the thing and it’s as long as my index finger.

OMG!

If it goes into the closet, I’ll never find it and that will be the end of it!  I won’t be able to sleep with this thing in the house!

I start trying to get the extension hose and extension tubing pulled apart on the Dyson.  Damn the Swedish or German or whatever the hell engineering this machine is made with.  Pointless!  Obviously, the ball vacuum is not made for the common folk.

Release the hose!  RELEASE THE HOSE!  Extend the hose!!

It became very apparent you need to understand rocket science to figure out how to release the tubing then to attach the pole to the tubing to get the full extension.

By the time I get this whole process worked out, the roach has had three families and they have all disappeared into my closet and are now actively pursuing Amway distribution channels.  I stood with the Dyson wand, fully extended 12 feet in my hand, with the vacuum running…..for a good three minutes….without success.  I leave the Dyson plugged in and figure I will see the beast come out of the closest, as it is so big, it could set off car alarms simply by walking past cars.

I find the cat, who was in the living room sleeping.  Pick her up and put her in front of the closet.  “Get the roach”  I tell her.  She just looks at me.  Thought she’d be my alarm if it came back out.

I climb back into bed and call Eric to tell him the situation.

Not five minutes into the conversation, with Eric still on the phone.

Complete and utter pandamonium ensues and goes something like this:

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH   AWWWWWHHHHHHHH   UUUUUUUUUUUUhhhhhhhgggGGGGGGGGGGGGGG   WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAA     AAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL

WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH  FFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKK   SSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTT

The flying cockroach was suddenly on the bed and on me and on the bed and on me and I think on the bed and on me and the bed and on me.  All I know is I saw it on the left side of me.  And I took off screaming and running and screaming and running in the opposite direction….the cat right behind me.

I didn’t stop running and screaming until I got to the far end of the house when I couldn’t run any further.  That was only because there was a wall

Then the real problem set in:

How am I going to track down a flying cockroach?

It’s in here somewhere.  I ponder my options.  Really – two options.  Barricading myself in the bathroom overnight.  So what… then in the morning having it attack me when I open the door?  I think not.  It has to be found.  I could check myself into a hotel.  Over what a flying bug?  Come on.  I can’t live in a hotel until Eric gets here.  Well, I could. But seriously.  It’s a bug!

Liggy was hiding under the kitchen table.  I took one look at her, “You were supposed to warn me it was coming so I could get the Dyson ready.”

After about 15 minutes I got up enough nerve to get back into the bedroom.  I turn on the Dyson and with the wand in hand, I slowly start to navigate through the bedroom.  I was definitely not cut out for this nonsense.  Why are we afraid of these things?  We’re 1000 times bigger than these things, yet they scare the pants off us!  I would rather live with ghosts than bugs.  Honestly.

After about ten minutes and a good surface check – nothing.  I back out of the room.

Check the hallway.  Nothing.

Check the bathroom.  Nothing.

Through the dining room.  Nothing.

I start to go into the kitchen.

EUREKA!

It’s playing dead on the floor – just like the one the other day outside.

“Hasta la vista, baby!”   I lean forward with my Dyson wand and think, come on baby….suck this up…..come on….come on…..don’t fail me now.

ssssslllllluuuuurrrrrr…….hestiation…..hesitation…..hestitation….POP!

I let it whirl around for good measure before I turned it off and then dashed outside with the canister to jettison it’s sorry ass into the bushes.

Of course, now I have PTSD from the entire event.  Four times since I’ve been writing this, out of the corner of my eye, I see this black thing at the foot of the bed and I jump.  It’s the stupid tag on the blanket.  I’m going to cut it off right now before I give myself heart failure.