Saturday, March 21, 2015

Things I have Learned While Walking the Dogs this Recently

  1. Mobs of red-polls show up like bus loads of school children on the first sunny days of March and turn the fresh snow into elephant skin quilt patchworks. Their trails loop around like a grade-schoolers cursive writing and abstract artworks. They move on in a noisy ruckus as suddenly as they descend. 
  2. Ravens can leave tracks in the snow that at first glance can resemble a moose trail if the snow conditions are right.
  3. Red-polls seem to eat birch seeds off the snow surface during the mid day sun but seem to switch to spruce nuts as dusk settles in with its long shadows. Do they get more energy from the nuts to last them the cold nights?
  4. The black-capped chickadees begin whistling out their  territories shortly after the red-polls gangs begin to break into smaller groups and pairs. Love is in the air.
  5. My male lab's footprints have two large,closely spaced central toes flanked by two smaller,angled side toe prints. His rear feet leave a slim linear drag mark in powdery snow, behind the main print, offset to the same side as the foot that made it. My female labs prints are a bit smaller and her hind prints trailing drag mark is more flattened. Of course all this varies according to the snow conditions and gait.
  6. The artistic looping trails left by the red-poll mobs all but disappear on the snow surface within four days of sunshine. They melt away into the surface even quicker if they lie in an extra sunny spot.
  7. Red squirrels tracks in fluffy snow look like they leap across it in a flying superman pose. Their tracks are larger than those of voles and shrews but can be most easily distinguished by the fact that their trails lead from tree to tree.
  8. There is at least one bull moose, a cow with twins and another with one calf frequenting my neighborhood. The bull had only a single antler two weeks ago but also dropped that one by the time I saw him again.
  9. There is a fox living across the river from Island Homes.
  10. People on foot are friendlier than those on snow machines or in cars. However even people in cars are generally very friendly when I'm on foot. Actually people in Fairbanks seem to be very friendly in general, especially if greeted with a smile and a nod.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Food Nazis

I ate breakfast this morning at Alaska Coffee Roasters and was thoroughly enjoying a fantastic walnut-carmel bun with my fresh roasted brewed coffee when a man and woman took a seat at the table directly behind mine. The man had a shallow bowl of some kind of glop while the woman of Asian persuasion a plate with a delectable pastry on it. They no sooner sat down and the man started lecturing the woman about the dangers of consuming gluten and perplexing about why she continued to eat such terrible stuff despite his many sermons about its dangers and its anit-nutrient effects on her body. This "conversation" went on for nearly an hour, while the woman nodded politely and gently chewed her tasty but very dangerous pastry. The man of middle age seemed reasonably educated and certainly did not present himself as some wacko despite his apparent boobery at carrying on a friendly conversation. ( I did pick up in his ramblings that he was an athletic runner sort so that does cast some doubt on his sanity, but that subject will be a different post)

What I really want to know is, "WHEN DID PEOPLE QUIT EATING WHAT TASTES GOOD and instead turned the joy of eating into a pseudo-science of worry?" I mean, people post listings about their recent meals on Facebook and point out how it is fat-free, salt free, artificial xxx free. The only thing they don't mention it being free from is FLAVOR.  Every week they post about some whiz bang diet they are trying that is going to let them be marathon uber athletes and Nobel Prize winners at ages extending well past a century. Christ, garnishing your bake potato with a dob of sour cream and salt is looked upon with more disdain than adulterous relationships these days. If you make the mistake of questioning the reasoning behind most of these diets and food type restrictions you will be treated to an hour long lecture on a mish-mash of evolutionary, chemical and biological principles that will bore you more than any high school health class. Usually these lectures conclude with a statement about how such-and-such food should not be eaten by humans because the human gut can not digest and absorb it properly. PEOPLE, that is why we invented toilets, what we can't digest and absorb is sent to that porcelain satan to feed the hell fire. It can't make us fat or stop our heart if we don't digest and absorb it.

Besides the questionable science associated with all this concern over food, I question the the under lying principle. Today people are living longer than ever in history. (unless you take myths and legends too seriously) More living humans inhabit this planet now than all the dead humans that ever lived. Do we really want to live longer and longer? Besides, are we really living at all if we spend all our time worrying about what might be bad for us rather than enjoying what we have now? We are all going to die anyway so why not enjoy the time we have to its fullest?

Well thats enough for this rant for now because I need to go make dinner. A couple of T-bone steaks cut from antibiotic tainted, grain fed steers garnished with non-organic potatoes smothered in sour creme, butter and salt. Maybe I'll make some sweet corn since you're supposed to have a vegetable. Hmmm, maybe a giant hot-fudge sundae with extra fat ice-creme, hot-fudge, real whipped-creme and topped with some salted nuts for desert. Damn, I'm getting hungry....Wanna come for dinner?

Monday, September 06, 2010

You Might be an Alaskan Sourdough if:

1. You have driven a highway that requires you to prove that you have enough cash in your wallet before you are allowed to enter.
2. You know that a snow machine is something to ride on and not something only used at ski resorts.
3. You don't think the friend you are chatting with is being uncharacteristically rude when he suddenly slaps you. Instead you thank him for killing that damn mosquito.
4. You contemplate weather you should put on Muskol or Ben's 100 as perfume for your wedding.
5. You wouldn't even consider drinking a bottled water advertised as being collected from a glacial stream.
6. Your grade schooler comes home telling you that they had a special class today teaching him/her how to build a snow cave.
7. Your child worries more about encountering a moose on his/her way to the bus stop than about running into a nasty stranger.
8. You put your beer in a cooler in order to keep it from freezing.
9. You expect your new car to come equipped with Arctic Leash.
10. You think that the song "breaking up is hard to do" is about the changing seasons rather than personal relationships.
11. You don't think anything unusual about your wife yelling "pull over, I need to piss" when driving down the highway rather than saying "pull over at the next rest stop please".
12. As a matter of habit you keep a roll of toilet paper inside your truck.
13. You have ever gone to a laundry mat in order to take a shower.
14. You don't find it unusual that your office coworker's business attire is covered with dog hair.
15. You know that a gang-line is not some street gang initiation practice.
16. You know that a wheel-dog is not a pet that insists on chasing the tires of passing cars.
17. When riding with a friend in an unfamiliar part of town and he/she is about to miss the turn you yell "gee" or "haw"
18. You know that kings,reds,dogs,silvers and humpys can all run in rivers.
19. You attend a city council meeting and notice that a a large percentage of your fellow attendees are wearing sidearms.
20. Being a seasonal construction worker is a more respectable occupation than being a university professor.
21. You have ever microwaved the ice-creme that was inadvertently left in the truck so that it will be soft enough to chisel out with the scooper.
22. You have 28 dogs in your yard and your neighbors don't complain.
23. You know that bunny boots are neither worn nor made out of rabbits.
24. Your bedroom windows are covered with tin foil.
25. Your high school football game is patrolled by guards armed with riffles keeping watch for approaching polar bears.
26. You would never put anything that came out of the honey bucket on your pancakes.
27. You've needed to take a break from surfing the web so that you could go empty the honey bucket.
28. You have ever used a "bathroom" equipped with a ski pole to chip away the frozen mountain beneath the seat.
29. You know better than to tell your kids to be home before dark.
30. You've refused to buy an outdoor thermometer because its temperature bottoms out at -30.
31. You use moose antlers for a hood ornament on your Prius.
32. You've made a kitchen light switch out of duck tape and it worked so well that you put off going to the hardware store to get a real one for months. (and your wife didn't complain)
33. Local stores get into price wars over the sale of blue tarps.
34. Business projects take moose season into scheduled timelines.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

User Manual for Living

I recently heard someone talking about the old adage that "Life does not come with a user manual. Disagreeing with this statement, the person went on to state "Life does come with a user manual and its called The Bible. So if you have questions just R.T.F.M. the original was a hodgepodge of notes left by the genius but socially inept Design Engineer after building the first model. These were collected and extensively edited by the Tech. Support staff to answer the operational questions they were facing in their day to day jobs. Of course, a council of representatives from the Marketing Departments from all the companies trying to sell the device then had to publish the manual in a form that would actually sell their product. By the time all this was completed many new versions of the product had been released but hey, it was still the same basic gizzmo. Then a mere 2000 years ago the Design Engineer returned from vacation, read the manual, called the editors and publishers fools and demanded a major addendum be added. The editors and publishers obliged but then killed the engineer so he couldn't cause more problems for them.

So here we are some 2000 years later with multiple versions of the manual, not being read by most, being understood my none, but being quoted by everyone with an axe to grind. Some believe that the engineer is no longer dead and will one day come back to explain it all again. Until that happens I guess we are stuck with just pressing the reboot button from time to time.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Valentine's Day Explosion

Valentine's Day 2009. A day for lovers and unbridled lust. Unfortunately my love spent the previous day working an 8-hour shift at her job at a school of hormone crazed delinquents followed by another 12-hour shift at a hospital. Needless to say, by the time she came back to my lair of love her unbridled passions tended toward sleep than me. OH well, for a guy of my years, the tern 'unbridled' speaks more of the possibility of of hernias and slipped discs than love anyway. In lieu of risking such injuries I decided to take my two labradors retrievers on a 16 mile skijor and investigate the Nugget Creek cabin inside the Chena River State Recreational Area.

Glistening sunny skies greeted us at the trail-head at about 1:30 PM. The temperature was in the single digits above zero and a couple of inches of fresh snow softened the trail's tread. The trail quickly crosses the main fork of the Chena River and then snakes through the taiga, roughly paralleling the South Fork as it winds its way into the distant hills. It seemed a perfect day, not too cold or warm and the only sign of other human life were two sets of boot prints accompanied by a set of dog prints heading in the same direction we traveled, which I presume were made by the people staying at the cabin. At about the 3-mile mark a skinny bodied and long-tailed cross fox darted across the trail into the surrounding brush but it escaped the notice of my dogs and thus caused no excitement. Except for the gurgling calls of the occasional scavenging raven the forest was winter quiet and devoid of obvious life. I carried my .22 cal Browning pistol which I hoped might bag a ptarmigan or grouse for the dogs excitement but no such opportunity arose. At about mile-6 I noticed my stomach cramping but I chose to I chose to ignore the discomfort.. At about mile-7 the trail took a sharp dip into a ravine and the dogs dutifully broke into a full run so that I would not run them. At the very bottom of the ravine the scraggly arms of a scrub birch reached out and snared one of my skis. I performed a spectacular face plant into the trail, rattling my teeth to their very roots. Hearing all the commotion, my loyal dogs came to a screeching halt, doubling back to see what new game i was playing, rolling about in the snow. This of course tangled me in their leads like a fly in a spider web. Cutting the dogs loose I stumbled back onto my feet and shook my head to realign my teeth to their proper position in my jawbone. It was then that I noticed my stomach writhing like a tortured python. There simply was no more procrastinating allowed! Quickly I began the process of releasing the myriad of buckles that securing my harness to my waist and begin dancing out of my multiple layers of pants. Of course all this hoopla attracted the attention of the dogs which I kept shooing away. Ahh... at last I get my bottom adequately exposed and find some explosive relief. My relief is short-lived and replaced with terror as I realize I had brought no toilet paper with me on this short excursion. Icy agony racks my body as I deel with hygienic matters with the only available tool, vast quantities of now not-so-virgin snow. I might add that this snow is not the soft fluffy kind but rather the sharp crystalline glass-like shards that form at very cold temperatures. Needless to say, any hemorrhoids that may have existed are flash frozen and excised with anguished screams! With snowmelt rivelets streaming down my thighs I quickly set about pulling my multiple layers back over my backside and glance behind me. I am mystified to discover very little 'falloout' littering the snow behind me. "Hmmm...must have been all explosion and little substance" I think. I stoop down to re-attach my skies. I find Duke sitting obediently in front of me staring at me like the complete dope that he is. Perched squarely atop his head, right between his ears, sits a newly installed, very aromatic, Dairy Queen Swirl HAT !!!!. The mystery of the mystery missing substance to the recent rectal explosion is solved, There Duke sits, inches from my nose, seemingly gloating over his newly acquired crown of brown. I could have killed him right then and there but instead ended up giving him a thorough white-washing in the snow.

We continued our journey down the trail about another mile before it became apparent that my gastronomic distress was not a passing occurrence. I turned my team around about a half mile from the cabin which I had established as our our goal for the day. We made it back to the truck by about 6PM...the dogs tired and myself quite drained and feeling washed out. By the time I make it home I pass my lover as she is pulling out of the driveway on her way to another night of work at the hospital. Feeling guilty about not even seeing her for Valentines day, I drop the dogs at home, feed them some chow and then proceed to the health club for a hot shower and warm-up in the sauna. Feeling a bit refreshed, I head to the grocery store where I purchase a cheese cake and mushy Halmark card. While there I also pick up a giant bottle of Pepto. I intend to go home, get on some fancy duds and then to go to pay mom a surprise visit at the hospital, all dressed up and sporting cheese cake surprises for her and her fellow nurses. (cheese cake delivered by a beef cake! ) Unfortunately, I get to feeling so washed-out that I figure I better just make the delivery to the hospital without first stopping back at home to get dressed in fancy clothes. The gifts were well appreciated even if delivered by a shabbily dressed old geezer with a rumbling stomach. I spend the remainder of Valentines night curled up making passionate love to my bottle of Pepto while huddled under a mountain of blankets.

I sincerely hope your Valentine's Day was more romantic than mine! Then again, perhaps mine really reflects 'true love' after time has the chance to strip all the froo-froo fluff from its meaning.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why Can't Girls Throw???

"Ahh, its a small roof. Not even very high. How hard can it possibly be to re-roof it?" That was my comment when the wife suggested we hire someone to replace it about 5 years ago. My house was built in 1958, the same year that my wife was created. Both creations of that year have dogged me relentlessly ever since. Judging from condition of the cracked, wrinkled shingles on the roof I thank God that intervening years have not had nearly such a substantial effect on my spouse! However, the way I am feeling tonight I think they both might be due for replacement.) The roof is steep, 10 inches of rise for every foot of run. Five years ago when the wife suggested having it replaced a roofer estimated it would cost about $8,000. My response was typically Alaskan, laugh at the outrageous price gouging, tack a blue tarp over the leaking spot, and promise the wife I would fix it myself. Well the sun has finally rotted the tarp and the wife is again bugging me to honor my promise.

I managed to diddle away most of this gorgeous summer fishing, hiking, canoeing and generally doing important things but winter is coming any day so I guess is time to pay the piper. I started the job about a week ago with help from my eldest son, Jeremiah, and his fiend, Justin. Having more common sense than normal, we tore off only the shingles on the north side of the house, leaving the south side untouched in case winter arrives early. The work was more grueling than any of us anticipated. The steep slope requires us to do everything while roped into climbing harnesses since it is impossible to even stand on the slippery slope without the aid of a rope. Such constraints even make scratching your ass or picking your nose a major operation, let alone carrying around, squaring up and screwing in a 15 foot piece of sheet metal. Luckily Justin is part gorrila so we made pretty good progress last weekend. Unfortunately Jeremiah left to go back to work up north early this morning so I am on my own this evening.

Returning home from a day at the office filled with meetings, financial BS and the general frustrations of modern office work,I feel invigorated at the thought of getting back to some real life physical labor that will make a difference in whether or not I stay warm and dry during the coming winter months. I had spent my lunch hour researching various rock-climbing devices which might make my roofing job easier and was anxious to try them out after I had satisfied my growling stomach. Arriving at home I find my wife passed out on the couch with headache after her hard day tending to the needs of juvenile delliquent middle schoolers. A bit peeved over having no diner to satisfy my growling stomach I change into my grubby clothes and prepare for an evening of work on the roof. I plan to use a new angle measuring gizzmo purchased on my lunch hour to measure the angle of cut I need to make on the sheet metal coming into a valley between a dormer roof and the main roof. We had been making these cuts by using a tape measure up to this point, usually with rather dismal results. I figure that if the new method works well I will cut a template and thus make the job considerably easier. I carefully rope myself in using my newly purchased climbing descender and climb to the ridge top. I quickly realize that carrying my new angle measurer device while pulling myself up the rope is difficult so I resort to holding it in my teeth while I make the ascent. Once in position I whip out my new gizzmo to measure the angle. I discover that the thing is really too small to use properly but do my best to get as good a reading of the angle as possible. I put the gizzmo back in my mouth and drag myself back up over the ridge-top, back down the other side, down the ladder and to my saw horses. I begin to pick out an appropriately sized piece of roofing metal and again am overcome with unusual common sense and decide to make the cut using a piece of scrap material instead. Installing my new metal cutting blade in my circular saw I begin making the cut. Sparks fly into the evening air but the saw does a pretty good job of hacking its way through the sheet metal. Once again I make my way up the ladder, up the rope, to the ridge-top and down the other side, this time lugging a razor sharp piece of sheet metal along with with me. To my dismay I find that my test piece is cut at a totally inappropriate angle. Discouraged I look around to figure out what I should try next. I notice a thunder cloud rolling in from the north so I decide maybe I should call it a night and re-apply the tarping system before the rain starts. I fling the worthless test piece off the roof, and drag myself back up the rope, over the ridge, down the other side and back down the ladder. On the ground again, I retrieve one of my 4 hammer staplers, Thinking ahead, I check to make sure it is loaded with stales and put an extra box of ammunition in my pocket in case I run out while re-applying the tarps. I climb back up the ladder, re-rope myself into the climbing harness, haul myself back up to the ridge, use my fancy descender to work myself down the other side and begin to staple down the tarps. The third whack with the stapler results in it jamming. (a frequent occurence I might add) Happy that my new descender is holding me securely in place I attempt to unjam the stapler. It proves hopeless. About this time my wife and daughter arrive in front of the house. While I had been working they had decided they were hungry and went to KFC despite the fact that the refridgerator is overflowing with food that they bought this weekend to feed my work crew. (they were tired to cook) I figure this is a stroke of good luck and ask my lovely wife to go into the garage and throw up one of my other staplers. I hang suspended by my rope and await her return. She comes back with the stapler in hand and disappears from sight below the roof line. I tell her to stand back farther so that she has a better angle to throw it to me. Her first attempt bangs off the roof edge prompting her to yell for my daughter, Rachel. She instructs Rachel to make the second attempt. My daughter's first attempt has the same dismal result. As Rachel winds up for the third throw my wife warns her NOT to throw it though the living room window. You guessed it!!! The third throw ends with a creassendo of shattering glass punctuated with numerous vocal curses.

As I write this, sipping a glass of scotch, (can't drink beer anymore, doctors orders, but scotch is Ok) I wonder...Why do I even try....Why is my stomach growling but I have no appetite? Why don't I just screw my job tending stupid computers, screw the house, screw the bills and go live by myself in some shack back up in the mountains? Then I remember that the only thing I have left to screw is my 1958 model wife... Most of all, I wonder, WHY CAN'T WOMEN THROW ???...

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Winter River Walk

(events of Jan. 2 2007)

Today I reconcile with with brother-in-law Mike for the unfortunate destruction of his mail box We meet near the Public Gardens at day-break (10:30AM) and hike up river with the dogs for a mile or so. The morning is crisp but not too cold for this time of year but the river remains a wintertime highway. The dogs enjoy the romp in the snow and are busy filling their nostrils with all sorts of exotic scents as we trudge up-river. Going on a walk-about with a guy, even a talkative guy like Mike, tends to be quiet endeavor, quite unlike the chatty outings which one experiences when accompanied by females. Winter's silence is punctuated with occasional observations about the tracks left by the night's passing animals and a few generalized comments about the current state of world affairs. We come to a spot across from an overhanging tree with a hollow under it.

"Looks like a moose or something might have bedded down under that tree over there." Mike comments as we pause on our journey.
Looking closer at the area in question I remark, " Don't know...but it kinda looks like a spot of bad ice to me." As if Jezz and Duke understand my words, they immediatly go bounding over to investigate.

"Crackkk...Sploosh!" The ice beneath them explodes in verification of my words. The dogs' initial reactions are those of surprised pleasure. "Oh boy! We get to go swimming."

"Jezz. Duke. COME...Come here!" I yell in an authorative voice despite my helplessness. Both dogs swim to the broken ice shelf. Jezz gets her front paws onto the ledge but seems unable to haul her rotundo butt free of the current dragging at it. Duke, with muscles straining, gets himself three quarters of the way out when the ice beneath him crumbles, sending him on a back-flip under the surface. It is an anxious moment before his head again pops above the swirling black waters and I see a flash of panic in his eyes. I remove the small pack I carry and begin digging for the rope I carry within it. I am not sure what I will do once I have it...Will the dogs be smart enough to bite and hold the end of it if I throw it so that I can pull them free or will I need to try some kind of trick at lassooing them? Niether option sounds very promising.

Somehow Jezz gets a block of free floating ice under her rear legs and its boyancy gives her enough leverage to pull herself free. She runs over to me but notices her mate still clammoring in the icy hole beore I can grab her collar. Being a typical canine she immediatly starts back towards the hole.

"Jezz...Come!! Come here girl!"

To my great relief she obeys my command instead of her instincts and I am able to get a firm hold on her. Duke, inspired by his mates freedom, get another surge of adrenalin and pulls himself up onto ledge. The ice holds this time and soon both dogs are rolling in the powder snow drying their coats.

Deciding we have had enough adventure for the mornings we begin walking towards home. The dogs frolic in the snow seemingly uncognizant of the ice clinging to their coats or their near brush with icy death. About halfway home Mike stops and pointing ahead to the north bank declares "Moose." Sure enough, a cow and calf are munching on the willows about 30 yards ahead. We grab the dogs moments before they pick up the scent and bring them to a sit. The cow pricks her ears and sniffs the breeze. Our odor makes her nervous and she begins herding her calf across the river directly in front of us. The dogs are on high alert but sit like statues as the two animals pass. We continue on our way but the dogs remain preoccupied with the area of the bank from where the moose had emerged. The source of thier interests reveals itself when a young Malamute mix comes bounding out of the thickets. After an ectastic orgy of butt snifing we head for home once again.

Arriving at the back door I order the dogs to "sit" while I open the entry. Jezz, with her insatiatable love afair with her food bowl happily bounds inside. Duke, forever the knothead, decides he isn't yet done adventuring and bolts from the doo. I trail him the block or so to where the subdivision gives way to forest and find him happily laying scent posts on every tree stump he can find. I coax him to come with me back home. It is pretty funny... He saunters with a bull-legged gait because his "male-hood" is encased in two huge balls of ice joined to a tubular ball-bat chunk of ice swinging between his legs. Both dogs are no worse for the wear and still follow my every move in fear that I might go outside and do something fun. As for me, I might go out for a walk yet tonight since the moon is just too nice to waste. If I do, I will go by myself. I have had enough doggie adventure for one day. Who knows, maybe I will even stay inside...That bean soup on the stove tastes mighty fine and its "after effects" are lending a pleasing ambiance to the ol'e cabin.

"Home "sweet" Home!"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Pyrotechnic Traditions and the Arrival of 2007

Today I welcome the Eve of 2007 by taking the dogs for a 10+ mile ski down the Tanana river. The sun sets shortly after we start, painting the subarctic sky with a subtle purple and blue spectral brush and highlighting its strokes with slender cracks bleeding crimson. A nearly full moon rising in the East pushes these colors off the celestial canvas, replacing them with a sheet of midnight blue speckled by the icy white pin-points of Ursa Major. The river we travel slithers like a fat, luminous, white serpent through the black and grey shadows of the engulfing spruce forest. We run through this landscape silently. No moose emerg from the shadows to interrupt our hypnotic stride. Icicles grow like stalagmites from my beard and eyelashes while frost sprays luminous jet streams along the dark mucsles rippling in the flanks of the dogs. We run like this for a mere few hours but in doing so transcend into eternity.

Returning home to the mortal world, we discover a kitchen filled with the aroma of the beef roast Cindy has started simmering on the stove. We wolf down these tender morsels and retire to the living room where the dogs find a warm corner and I settle down to watch several DVDs about Leonardo Da Vinci. Rachel was heading out to watch the fireworks, Leah is with girl friends soaking at Chena Hot Springs. Cindy sleeps on the couch awaiting an expected call to go work at the hospital. When 2007 finally bursts into reality, I wake Cindy trying to recruit her as my accomplice and get-away driver (since my daughters were not available). She is too sleepy to partake of my traditional conspiracy so I alone boldly accept the mission. I gather up my winter gear, stuff my parka pocket with a roll of 1000 fire-crackers and begin the stealthy stalk of my brother-in-laws mail box. My quarry is no match to my pyrotechnic scheming and is soon reduced to a smoldering heap amid its acrid blanket of steaming snow.

The highlight of New Years Day is walking to the grocery store with Cindy in order to pick up supplies for a batch of bean soup. Once there, we share a hot sugar free vanilla lat'e, and pack our supplies into the small back-pack. Walking home along the snowy streets I try to get a step ahead of Cindy prior to reaching each over-hanging tree. Jumping up, I bang the branches causing an avalanche of white powder to engulf my bride. Soon we are half heartedly racing towards each tree, giggling like teenagers beneath our now white parkas. We stop off for a rest at her sister's house where I am promptly and thouroughly reprimanded for my pyrotechnic hooliganism of the previous night. "Hey! don't blame me for the destruction of your mail box. It's tradition after all and traditions are important!"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Stange Things Are Done Under the Mid-day Moon

White frost paints my stiff beard as my two Labs and I make our way through the deserted Fairbanks streets towards the frozen Chena river. It is early afternoon but airborn ice crystals distort the rays from the low hanging sun into the mute of twilight. Jezz and Duke stop in dead alert. I squint through fogged glasses into the December sun, trying to detect the cause for their alarm but only see white and the muted rainbows reflecting about in my crystaline glasses.

"Is there a Moose ahead?" Moose often wander into the neighbor from the river. I reach up to remove my glasses in hopes of improving my vision. The effort is futile as my uncorrected vision is as bad as my corrected vision through ice encrusted lenses. I can see no further ahead but I do manage to knock my fur hat from atop my head. I stoop over to retrieve my head gear when from ahead I hear


At -20 degrees a cry for help, even if its source is invisible demands attention. My heart pauses at thought that perhaps someone has ventured onto the ice and fallen through. My mind ticks through possible scenarios and required actions. I have a small length of rope with me in case I need to tie the dogs but it is questionalble if it is sufficient to carry out anything but the simplest ice rescue. Charging ahead I make out the blurred outline of a prone body in the snow near the river's edge. Brief relief at the realization that the person is not in the river is replaced by anxiety as I speculate why the person is laying in the snow seemingly lifeless.

I approach closer, until the prone figure is almost at my feet, but my opaque glasses still prevent a logical assesment of the situation.

"Quick! Piss on my hands!"

Now I have lived in this odd state long enough to have heard some rather strange requests but this one takes me completly off guard. Again, I swipe off the blinders covering my eyes and discover a man lying at my feet with arms wrapped around a squirming dog. The Husky's tongue extends about six inches out of its muzzle and it firmly frozen to a metal fence pose embedded in the ground. Blood is streaming from the poor mutts frozen appendage and the man is struggling to keep the dog from ripping it from its own throat. Now the situation is clear! I do a quick status check on my bladder but am dismayed to discover that the cold and novelty of the situation has rendered it usless.

"I don't think I have it in me." I reply to the young man in the snow. "Let me tie up my dogs and I will see if we can't figure something else out."

Jezz and Duke are of course quite agitated by the situation but after a bit of a struggle I get them tied to a nearby tree.

"Do you have a knife with you?

I feel through my many parka pockets and am embarrased when I have to reply that I have forgotten to bring one on this short stoll from my house. Looking around I notice a house along the river with lights burning about a quarter mile away.

"Stay here. I'll run down to that house and see if I can get some warm water."

I take off at a sprint or at least what can be called a sprint when wearing heavy boots and full winter gear. The house turns out to be a big gray mansion, and considering it location, is obviously owned by someone with more money than I can even imagine. An ornate moon of a doorbell glows beside the front door. Pulling of my stiff glove I press the button and hear a two-toned chime within. Soon muffled footsteps approac the door and when it opens I am met by the rather befuddled and obviously nervous stare of a young woman. I suddenly become aware of my strange appearance. Thick ice-cilcles hang from my scraggly beard and fur hat. My snow pants and parka are equally encrusted with powdery snow. When I attempt to talk I realise that my lips and tongue have thickend with the cold.

"Uhh you think...uh... can I please maybe get a glass or cup of warm wather?" Puzzled eyes blink back at me. Determined to express the situation before the door slams shut again, I manage to stammer, " There's a guy down by the river with a dog that has its tonge frozen to a metal fence plole and I need it to get get the dog unstuck"

Comprehension replaces the apprehension in the woman's eyes and she rushes off into the warm house leaving me in the doorway. She returns with a tall plasitc glass of steaming water. I had hoped that perhaps she would give me a glass with a lid but being grateful for not being booted onto the curb I take the cup and quickly start back towards the man and dog. My gloves quickly freeze as the water splashes from its container but I make it back to the man with most of the precious contents intact. The warm liquid works as planned and the squirming dog is soon running free.

I turn my dogs free and all three hounds enjoy a good butt sniffing orgy and rambuncious romp in the snow. The young man tells me how thankfull he is that I came along. He had been laying ther for about a quarter of an hour and had just about given up on the possibility of anyone coming along.

I go home and contemplate the days events. I guess it was just another day in this strange place shimmering beneath the noon day moon!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Winter Approach

Ahh…The rarified clarity of this afternoons sunlight announces the arrival of yet another Fairbanks winter. My eyes drink in this brilliant proclamation with the attitude of one preparing to read a book of many pages . A few months ago, when I turned the final pages of last winter’s saga, I dreaded the mere existance of its sequel. However, the non-stop action novel authored by this summer, with its pages full of spectacular salmon, endless daylight and back-country high adventure, now leaves me yearning for calm poetry of the coming winter.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dogs, Kneecaps and Russian Vodka

A welcome warm sun shines upon my back as I throw a stick in the snowy yard for my son's two Black Labrador Retrievers, Jezzebel and Duke. Jez and Duke are orphans under my care. Jez is a smart, young female of small stature with a mischevious dispositon. In contrast, Duke, her mate, is an ox of a dog with nothing but two testosterom balls operating as much between his ears as well as between his gangly legs on. Standing in the afternoon sun I pick up the slobber encrusted stick and prepare to make another throw while conemplating the wisdom of my decision to temporarily adopt these two hounds. Their owners, Jeremiah and his wife Courtnie, were recently whisked off to Anchorage so that Courtnie could give birth to Koa, my grandson. Koa's early arrival means an extended stay in Anchorage for Jeremiah and Courtnie and this impromtu trip is the reason for my canine tribulations.

Jez and Duke spend the first few days of their visit pretty much confined to my garage. I think they would appreciate having an entire garage in which to lounge about all day while I labor earning their food money. Previously they had been confined to their kennels for much of the time and sympathy towards their confinement is what convinced me to take them into my home in. My garage is a typical Alaskan garage, not decked out in a Martha Stewart decor like so many lower 48 garages, so I "assume" they will be comfortable and unable to cause any real damage. This "assumption" like so many assumptions since, is proven a gross error.

Take day 1 of their visit for example. Returning from work I open the garage door expecting lavish doggie kisses in payment for my hospitality. Instead, both dogs almost knock me off my feet in their haste to exit the garage and go piss on my house's back door. "Hmm... Well at least they waited to get outside before they relieved themselves" I think as I enter the garage. My nostrils immediatly inform me this is not the case. Atop the roll of carpet awaiting installion into my living room lies an elephant sized pool of canine daireha, an obvious gift from Duke. Beside this half frozen pool of stench lies the chewed remains of my two new ice-fishing rods, a chunk of gnawed garden hose, several broken beer bottles as well as the remains of my favorite hammer. The garage looks like a bombed-out Shiite masque and smells a lot like the word "Shiite" sounds. So much for canine gratitued!

The next couple days go a little better. I keep the dogs kenneled up in the garage while I work. When I arrive home I release them from the confines and throw a stick for them until they expend enough of their pent up energy that I can allow them entry to the house without them knocking over the kitchen table. They gradually become civilized enough that my own ancient golden retriever feels it is once again safe to make occasional forays out from under the table when the two hooligans are present. Unfortunatly my cat, Spooky, is not as fortunate. She remains cloistered in an upstairs bedroom since Jez and Duke's arrival. Periodically Duke sneaks a peak at her by creeping up the stairs, but when he gets to about the third step from the top he freezes, stretching his neck ever closer towards the mysterious, hissing ball of fur guarding the top landing. After several minutes of stand-off, Duke inches one of his clod-hopper paws up to the second step. This proves too much for Spooky and she errupts into a snarling tornado of claws and teeth onto Marmaduke's slobbering snout. Duke wheels about and comes crashing down the seven steps behind him without laying foot on a one of them. He crashes into the front door shaking its very hinges. All this commotion of course arouses Jez and Scrub and the three of them stand at the bottom of the stairs barking and carrying on while Spooky glares at them from above. Canines may rule the lower netherlands of my house but a fiery feline holds sway over the more hearvenly regions!

Having enough of this gangland commotion in my living room I chase the dogs outside into their dog yard. The dog yard is surrounded by a 4 fence which is more than sufficent to confine old Scub. Heck, I can hardly coax Scrub to venture outside the yard anymore...He knows where his food bowl is and isn't about to let it out of his sight for more than a few minutes. I know the dog yard won't confine Duke and Jez for more than a few minutes but I need a little peace before I bring them back in. This is a mistake. By the time I open the door to let them in I discover the deliquents have already made their escape. I catch a glimpse of Duke streaking through the darkness like a black ghost while pretending to be deaf to my yelling. Repeated attempts to capture the hounds end in failure. I return to my house figuring they will soon return for their dinner. Jezz, always hungry since welping a litter of pups, returns a short time later. However, Duke, having other things on his mind, misses dinner. I retire to the warmth of bed and am drifing to faraway lands of sunshine and warm sands when I detect a scratching at the backdoor. I pull myself from the warm blankets I go to the door. Duke, comes watzing inside grinning from floppy ear to floppy ear. He is dripping with snow, ice, and God only knows what other watery substances and reeks of the pungent odor of bitch. I swear, he would have a cigar hanging from his lips and a half empty beer in his hand if he were human!

"Ahh...I'm sooo glad you had such a fine Friday night." I remenise as I set set his food bowl in front of him. "I remember when MY Friday nights were events to look forward to. Friday nights devoid of kids, jobs and dogs!"

The weekend is wasted in adding further fortifications to the dog yard. Home Depot supplies me with a role of bright orange plastic construction fencing which I use to extend the height of the existing red lattice fence that so adequately confines Scrub. It isn't too difficult to errect since I can attach it to the existing poles frozen into the ground surrounding the yard. Finishing the project I discover that I must crawl on hands and knees through the dog-door into my back porch in order to exit the yard. I walk to the front yard in order to observe how the new addition blends with the overall landscaping. Let's see. The house is a light blue with white paint peeling from its trim. Attached to one side of it is the original dog-fence constructed of redwood lattice. Now, attached on top of this fence is 4 feet of hunter orange plastic fencing. "If that doesn't give the ole homestead a truly Alaskan look nothing will"

Proud of my new landscaping, I release Jez and Duke into the new prison yard. Duke prances out oblivious to the new decor and proceeds to re-mark all his sign-posts, terminating his quest by laying huge steaming pile in the center of the yard. Jez notices the change immediately and contemplates the intracacies of the orange addition. I smuggly return inside and pop open a beer to celibrate my victory. The beer is about half empty when I notice a black shadow streaking down the street outside my window. " No...It can't be!." To my disbelief I see that the dogs have once again escaped.

After another doggie round-up I am once again on my way to Home Depot. ( I should be part owner of that corperation by now since all the employee's know me by name! ) I break down and shell out enough green bills for a roll of 8 ft chain link fencing and the bolt cutters to cut it with. Returning home I am faced with the task of lugging the several hundred pound roll of fencing through the rather small doggie door. Suffering only minor scratches and a moderate hernia in this effort, I take a step back to analyse how to best accomplish the errection of the new fencing. My boot immediatly slips from under me and I find myself lying in the snow beside the smooshed debis of one of Duke's more recent montainous deposits. "SHIT!" I scream, as if I have to explain to myself what the substance is into which I have just fallen.

Sunday morning arrives and the family trundles off towards church. Concern over my grandson, Koa, motivates most of the family to visit "God's house" this snowy morn. While I share this concern, I think my real motivation lies more in the desire to get away from the canine devils which now possess my my home. As I drive pass the front of the house I am greatly impressed with the artfull landscaping created by the 8 ft. tall wall of red, flourescent orange and chain-link gray, all tastefully accented by peeling white trim and an occasional rotting wooden pallet. "God, thank-you for all the material blessings you have so generously bestowed upon this undeserving soul!"

After having the sins excorcised from my soul I return home for a restful Sunday afternoon. As evening approaches I begin to feel repentent of evil thoughts pertaining to my canine companions so I take them outside for a session of stick throwing. We are enjoying a delightfull time when I notice a figure coming down the street. To my dismay I notice that the figure has a leash with a rat-sized ball of white fur skittering along on the other end. "Oh no! Not one of those little Fru-fru dogs. My God, Duke will skewer that thing like a hot dog at a weenie roast if its female!" Duke spies this approaching morsel a moment after I do and streaks towards the street. I sprint like a linebacker in an effort to cut-off his charge. At the goal line I leap into the air for the flying tackle. My hands find their target around Duke's neck but both my knee-caps also find the boulder hidden in my yard beneath a thin blanket of snow. The pain is electrifying, frying every nerve ending in my body. My mouth tastes of metal. My stomach cramps and dark shadows creep into the sides of my vision. Still I hold on. I am unable to stand so I crawl towards the door, dragging Duke behind. The man gives me sort of a disgusted smile and his runtly little fru-fru dog sniffs snottily at my homes fine landscaping. If I could get on my feet I would go over and kick both thier asses but as it is I must simply crawl into the house.

Tonight I find myself lying on the couch with both legs elevated on pillows. A glass of icy Russian Vodka sits by my side acting as a fair anelgesic for my mind if not for my knee-caps. I contemplate the purple golf-ball errupting from my left knee and compare it to the 2 inch gash oozing blood on my right one. Three dogs sleep blissfully on the floor, oblivious to my suffering. Jezz momentarily lifts her tail and the room once again fills with the aroma and cozy warmth of doggie bliss. I wonder for a moment how the evening is going for my son and grandson. My life is a cakewalk compared to their current situation...God, thank-you for all the blessings which you have bestowed upon my undeserving soul.....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mighty Warrior Pictures

A Mighty Warrior is Born

This post announces the arrival of my first grandson, Koa Ikiiki Bachert (pronounced Koah E-ki-kah). The name means "Mighty Warrior" in Hawaiian. My son and his wife decided on this name over the last couple of weeks while battling to keep him from arriving too soon. The following is the message I sent to my family announcing Koa's birth:

Sue,Dad, and Fellow Soldiers,

My little "Mighty Warrior" announced his entrance into this world at about 7PM Feb. 15 with a tiny warrior cry. He weighed in at a light but sinewy 1pound 5 oz and is lighting the NICU at Providence Hospital with his rosy pink skin. He was taken by C-section from his mommy's tummy and mom is a bit sore but doing OK. Jeremiah told me that he is a foot to a foot and a half tall and that his entire hand only covers the tip of Jeremiah's thumb.

Koa has all his parts, and is breathing on his own, but they have him on a ventilator because his tiny lungs can not provide enough oxygen for his strapping warrior muscles yet. He has a formable war to fight ahead of him but he is at least the proud victor in his first battles. He is a seasoned warrior despite being drafted into life only 23 weeks ago (2 days shy of 24, but you know how the military calculates things) The next 3 days will be very crucial.

Cindy flew down to Anchorage this evening in order to fight by his side and all of us are calling in "fighter support" from the heavens above.

I am just overjoyed that I had the chance to congratulate my son on becoming a father. I can't know how long my joy will last so I am concentrating on enjoying it for each and every moment that I have it....Something that I think we all should learn to do while floating this miraculous river of life. Turbulence may lie ahead but it makes no sense to waste the serenity of moment in worry.

Will send more info as I get it and JB says he will send pictures as soon as he has a chance to log on thru the hospitals internet connection. Until then,,,smother your little ones in kisses and arm them with the ammunition of LOVE.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

When All The Laughter Dies In Sorrow

When all the laughter dies in sorrow
And the tears have risen to a flood
When all the wars have found a cause
In human wisdom and in blood
Do you think they'll cry in sadness
Do you think the eye will blink
Do you think they'll curse the madness
Do you even think they'll think

When all the great galactic systems
Sigh to a frozen halt in space
Do you think there will be some remnant
Of beauty of the human race
Do you think there will be a vestige
Or a sniffle or a cosmic tear
Do you think a greater thinking thing
Will give a damn that man was here

By Chicago

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Winter in Fairbanks

Winter in Fairbanks is: Enjoying the warm snuggles of loved ones while sitting around the glowing hearth...My mouth watering over the pleasant tang of last summer's smoked salmon while my nose twitches at the aroma of fresh baked bread cooking in the kitchen...Laughing together at old stories of adventure from summers past. Nestling among warm blankets while enjoying a good book. These images sooth my head as the cool breeze of autumn enshroud me and the sun dips ever lower in the sky. HOWEVER, these anesthetizing images are ALL CRUEL LIES, LIES LIES!! Don't let such BS fool you.

By the time February rolls around the true pain of the season racks my bones. The following is a true accounting of my home-life last weekend. (Really its a long winded RANT that hopefully will expel it from my system.) Read On if you dare...But if you find that I have included you in my accounting of events please realize that the emotions expressed are no more accurate in describing reality than the ones which "soothed my mind" this previous autumn. My hope is that they will bring a laugh to your lips and I certainly don't mean to burn you with my cabin fever steam.

BZZZZZZZzz. Pulling myself from the tropical beach surf I"m fishing in dreamland I grope in the darkness for the aggravating alarm clock. Extending my center of gravity beyond the warmth of my covers earns me a somersaulting tumble out of bed onto my ass along with two nice gashes on my shins as they scrape the corner of the night stand. My fingers manage to find the "off" button on the infuriating, buzzing box before I am able to obliterate the thing with my fist. Friday morning...The beginning of another beautiful day in paradise!

Pulling on my pants and wool shirt I glance to check the outside temperature being displayed on my laptop's glowing screen. Minus 55 degrees, a little colder than when I went to sleep. I stumble into the bathroom, relieve the night's pressures, brush my teeth and take the handful of pills that the doctor has ordered me to consume in my morning ritual of Paying homage to eternal life. I wander into the kitchen, grab a cup of luke warm coffee left over from my daughters' earlier departure and head out the door to feed my Berretta its morning pint of power steering fluid. The blast of cold knocks the sleep from my eyes better than the coffee and I manage to get the Berretta groaning with life. The steering fluid almost lets me turn the wheel but the limited control really doesn't bother me as I drive to work... It is impossible to see more than about 25 feet through the milky ice-fog anyway.

Noon-time arrives...It's time to go home for lunch and let the dog out so that he doesn't crap on the floor. I can tell the sun is shining because the ice-fog is now luminescing and aggravating my low-grade headache. I leave the car idling in the driveway in the unreasonable hope that its interior might warm-up to a point where I won't see my breath when I get back into it. The door-knob of the house burns my ungloved hand as I turn it and Scrub, not recognizing me in my fur hat, barks and sheds clumps of dog hair all over the kitchen as I enter. Kicking his hairy ass out the door to do his bushiness I open the refridgerator in hopes of finding some pastrami and salami for sandwich fixings. All I find is some slimy chicken that has been moldering inside since the last time my wife went shopping. Now I remember...I had asked her to pick up some pastrami but she had returned with only chicken saying, " I looked all over the store for pastrami but they didn't have any so I got this." Grumbling to myself I grab the slimy chicken and head to the bread box. No bread!!! Screw it, I haven't done enough work to deserve lunch anyway. My frustration worsens my headache so I send my boss an email informing her that I won't be in for the afternoon. What the hell.. I have about 1500 hours of sick leave accrued anyway and I won't ever get to use it unless I get lucky and get cancer or some other long lingering malady...Not much chance of that, since the friggin doctor makes me take all those damn pills every morning!

Settling in for an early start on the weekend I turn the radio on. Bush is drawling on in a Texas accent, reassuring all the good Americans that their blood is buying Iraq democracy, not oil for his buddies. Condalisa Rice is babbling that despite all their protests, the Palestinian democracy will elect a government that will kiss and makeup with the Jews rather than nuke them from the face of the earth. Our good Alaskan legislature announces that under the priorities of their agenda they will link pot-smokers with meth-lab managers and thus put them behind bars irregardless of how the state constitution is writtnen. However, they are not sure if they will have time this session to deal with less important issues like the the natural gas pipeline or the billion dollar shortfall in the public retirement fund. Turning off the radio I lie down in hopes of combating my headache.


"Where the hell is that damn telephone anyway? Hello..." I say, after finally finding the handset buried under a pile of old news papers.

"Hi Uncle Tom?...This is Chris. My mom and I are working on filling out some application for a scholarship and wonder if you would write a letter of recommendation for me"

"Ugh...Yah...Sure I can do that. What scholarship are you applying for?"

"Ugh hold on a minute...Ma, what's the name of the scholarship?..Mumble,rustle,mumble,mumble...Uncle Tom? Its some scholarship program for tuition at UAF or something and I guess I need letters of recommendation from three people and one of them needs to be from a non-educated...Ugh..I mean a non-educator person, so I thought I would ask you.

"Sure Chris, I will write one for you. When do you need it by?"

"Ugh...Mom...When do they need it by? Mumble, squeak, mumble...I guess they need it by next Wednesday or something. If you could finish before the end of the weekend that would be great."

I hang-up the phone and think, "Hmm...This is the honor student that once pulled a glowing red-hot beer can out of a campfire with his bare hands because his cousin had suggested he do so. This is my nephew that I haven't seen for a couple of years because he has been barricaded in his cave of smelly under-wear playing video games. This is the nephew that avoided taking gym class in high school by taking it as a CORRESPONDENCE class. This is going to be one interesting creative writing project this weekend!! Maybe I should just have his mother write the letter and I can just sign it. " Realizing that such spiteful thinking is probably the product of my foul mood and not really indicative of my true feeling towards the boy, I direct my thoughts to other matters.

My youngest daughter comes home and heads straight to the basement where she dumps her smelly wrestling clothes into the wash machine. By the time she comes back up-stairs she is already engrossed in lovey-dovey conversation via cell phone with her boyfriend who is away at college. (The same cell phone for which I had seen the bill two days prior and for which my wife swears is a much smaller than bill we used to get before we got this "great new calling plan"...As if this will be good news to my ears. ) Leah interrupts her mush talk long enough to inform me that the water is barely trickling into the wash machine and Wonders if our pipes are freezing or something. After making a quick check that our pipes were not on the verge of bursting, I set myself to the task of making dinner.

"What are you hungry for?" I ask.

"Oh...I can't eat. Weigh-ins are in the morning and I need to drop .8 pounds. But can someone bring me Subway tomorrow at the tournament in North Pole? By the way, can you or mom give me a ride to school tomorrow at 5 AM? I don't want to leave my car in the parking lot all day long with it being so cold...It almost didn't start tonight...Oh yah, can you also go out and see if you can get it plugged in? I thinks there is snow crammed in the holes of the extension cord because I couldn't get the little prongs to stay in." She tells me this as she removes her thin jacket and kicks off her tennis shoes that she wore home. "Oh yah...I think I'm getting sick or something. Man I hate getting sick...Especially before I need to wrestle."

The door bursts open and Rachel blows into the house with a billowing cloud of frost. "Where's Mom and why can't Leah learn to park her damn car? She's parked behind you and I can't park on the other side because blah, blah, blahh...And I can't use that extension cord because ...blah blah blah blah! How smart to you need to be figure out how we gotta park? ...blah blahh...My truck heater isn't working worth a damn. Michael is supposed to change the thermostat but he is being a butt...And I can't wait 2 months to get it fixed...blah blah...He won't work on it because he won't let me pay for it but then he blah blahhh. Where the hell is mom anyway? She is supposed to get off work at 4:30 and its after 7."

The door opens again and my gorgeous wife stumbles in with bright red cheeks beaming from behind her frosted glasses. She wears the ratty, gray, woolen skull cap that doesn't leave the top of head between Thanksgiving and Mother's day. Her green uniform pants are tucked into her Christmas-red, Loben felt boots which she sleeps in throughout the same time period. "Any ideas for dinner?" she asks as she plops the newspaper down on the ever-growing pile that already are scattered across the kitchen table.

"Hmm, how about some slimy chicken with noodles that have had the piss boiled out of them" I think but wisely do not say.

"I can't eat." Leah unwisely states.

"I'm going to have you committed for anorexia...blah blah blahh...You can't wrestle if you don't eat. I'm going to email coach Ritchie and tell him that the Alaska Nurses Association says..blah,blah blah..." Mom disgustedly rambles.

" I had a packet of instant oat-meal at lunch and two raisins after practice and...blah blah blahhh...Bring me Subway tomorrow...I am not a freaking anorexic... Why didn't you holler at Jeremiah when he lost 40 pounds in 2 weeks for wrestling??..."

"Where did you park Mom?...Why can't anyone around here learn to park damnit...Now I need to go out and move my freakin truck and the heater doesn't blow any damn hot air...Michael is being a butt...Won't let me pay...I don't have any money but if you or dad pay I'm gonna tear-up the damn check because I already mooch too much off of you guys...bla,blah,blahhh!"

Ahh...The silence of a winter night. I retreat outside to untangle extension cords, shuffle cars and try to get the "little prongs" on one stubborn extension cord to stay plugged into glob of receptacles emerging from Leah's car hood. The "prongs" refuse to cooperate even after I heat them with a lighter and spray starting fluid into the receptacle they should mate with. Frostnip quickly nibbles my knuckles and in desperation I rip the "ground" prong off the cord. The two remaining "little prongs" now happily mate with the icy glob of receptacles. The ruckus in the house has been replaced with the whine of some constipated actor on TV and a pile of slimy chicken and noodles simmers on the stove.

"Dad,,Dad, wake-up. Are you going to take me to Lathrop so I don't need to leave my car in the lot all day?" I stumble out of bed and wipe the gunk from my eyes. I pull on the same pants from yesterday and sniff the arm-pits of my shirt before putting it on. In the bathroom I perform the "ritual for eternal life" but accidentaly drop one pill to the floor. It lands in a clump of dog hair. Ritual is ritual so I pick it up and pop in may mouth. Saturday morning...Just another beautiful day in paradise!

The drive to Lathrop is as uneventful as any drive at minus 50 degrees can be. The seats in Leah' Geo Storm are frozen granite hard and their lack of cushion causes the top of my head to be press against the roof. The breath from the two of us crammed into the small car quicky ice-up the windows but the ice-fog outside is so thick that we hardly notice. Most people instinctively slow down when driving in such conditions but our trip takes us past the main gate of the local Army base. The GIs and their family members must have their eye-balls implanted with infra-red sensors as part of an experimental weapons program and thus can see clearly through even the thickest ice-fog. They race about at a minimum of 65 mph in case Bin Laden or any of his rag-heads are lurking among the snowbanks. ( There must be quit a number of those rag-heads in the area because I frequently observe GI cars spinning about and diving directly into various embankments. ) It's still early in the morning so I manage to avoid any such military missions and drop Leah off at school where she will board a bus for transport to North Pole for the tournament.

Ahh yes...Winter in Fairbanks...Just another day in paradise!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

You Might Live in Fairbanks if:

You might you live in Fairbanks if:

You climb into your car in the morning and discover that your half a dozen bottles of emergency DEET have ruptured from being frozzen and are the resulting ice-crystals are eating into yours trucks dashboard.

You know that DEET is the active ingredient in any bug dope that actually repels mosquitoes and don't care that exposure to it causes neurological damage...In fact, you stock-pile bottles of DEET just in case the stupid government decides to ban it.

You take your new Suburu in for warranty work becasue its outside temperature thermometer will not give a reading below minus 22.

When you need beer money you whip out th gold-pan stored behind your truck's seat and begin panning the dirt accumulated on the floor mats for gold.

Your grade-school kid comes home from school complaining because he couldn't go out on the playground at lunch because the temperature was below the minus 30 degree cut-off point.

You get charged an extra 20 percent at the store because you aren't dressed in military fatiques and don't have a military ID..

You read in the paper that the Bourough (county) Assembly barely escaped being lynched at their last meeting because they attempted to pass an ordinance prohibiting having more than 3 junk cars in your back-yard...You wish the lynching attempt had been successful.

The "Police Blotter" section of the local paper lists more females than males for being arrested on domestic assault charges. You hide the "Police Blotter" from your wife so that she doesn't get any ideas.

Your circle of friends includes business executives, a lesbian couple, a couple of auto mechanics, a senator, a few proffessors, several hippies, a couple of VietNam vets, a plethora of construction workers and a preacher. The mechanics have the highest socail standing but everyone gets along.

You recognize that the most dangerous terrorsists in the world are the "big oil companies" and the "tree-hugger" groups that are always fighting them.

Your dress shoes have Vibran soles with insulated camo outers.

Your cell phone has at least 2 speed-dial numbers programed for the "time and temperature" information lines.

The hanger that holds your suit coat has cob-webs encrusting it.

You know that a birch log weighs about 3 times as much as a spruce log of the same size and thus contains about triple the BTU value.

Your passenger seat of your vehicle is occupied by a tangled ball of multiple extension cords.

You warn your teenage children before they drive off to school to "drive carefully because the roads are slippery now that it has warmed up to minus 10."

You curse DOT (Department of Transportation) because they plowed up a snow berm blocking access to the river and your short-cut home. You drop the blade on the front of your pick-up, spend the next half hour plowing a hole through the berm and then drive down the river to your neighborhood. Your neighbors thank-you for this public service by giving you a free guess in the yearly lottery of guessing who will announce the official arrival of spring by dropping their vehicle into the river.(see photo above for this year's lottery winner")

The US Army spends a small fortune to study the environmental impacts civillian airboats might have on the ecological system of their local "live fire" bombing range.

Your bedroom windows are lined with alluminium foil so that you can get some sleep in the summertime.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

McMaggots Anyone?

It's lunchtime and minus 20 outside. The old Berreta's ignition sticks in the "start" position and I manually turn the key back a notch to disengage the starter as I back out of the parking space into the noon-day twighlight. "Hmm, where to go for lunch? I could drive home as usual but I really am not in the mood to gulp a sandwich only to return to an already cold car for a frigid drive back to work. "Hey! I haven't been to McDonald's for a while, maybe I'll just go there."

That would have pretty much been my lunch today, cold, boring and mostly tasteless, if some of the local youths had not interceded to add a little color and humor to my day. I am sitting alone in a booth staring out the window at the ravens hopping about the frosty parking lot when this rather round teenage girl comes in the door and sits at a table across from me. She is lightly dressed in jeans and a semi-transparent white top that slightly hides some HUGE dark colored support garment underneath. I notice that her face is rather pretty and my mind drifts to how difficult it must be to live in her grossly overweight body as female teenager. Soon after she sits down I notice that one of the young boy "table wipers" works his way over near her and begins talking with her. He is soon joined by two other boys who are just hanging-out and it becomes apparent that the three all know each other. From their style of dress and mannerisms I quickly deduce that they are members of what my own kids call "skaters"... You know, that sub-class of kids that hang out in parking lots smoking rawnchy cigerarettes or whatever and carrying around skate-boards plastered with grotesque stickers of Satan and other demonic figures. I always sort of like "skaters". I guess their F-you expressions strike a harmonious cord with that streak of rebelliousness that I haven't quite outgrown. They seem to be the neo-greasers of today...Only instead of riding around in 400 horsepower rusted old cars, gasoline prices now relegate them to wheels mounted on motorless skateboards. Anyway, I decide to pass the time by listening in to their conversation.

Girl (to table wiper): " So...Are you a freshman? "

Wiper (in deep voice): "Uhh..Yah...At least according to the credits...Otherwise I'd be a junior."

All of them: "laugh, giggle, snort, mumble mumble"

Voice from across the room (to girl): "You know Gerald is here? He's right back there!"

I'm not sure who Gerald is but the voice has an inflection as if this is an important piece of information for the girl to know. I wonderif he is the manager and the girl isn't supposed to be here or some such thing. At any rate, the girl kind of slouches in her seat as if to avoid detection but at the same time takes on a defiant expression trying to imply that she doesn't give a F---.

Boy with Chains in his Pants: "Do you work here?"

Girl (with look of disgust): "F--ken NO! Grumble, mumble, I wouldn't work in a F--ken place like this...He's just mumble,mumble..Boyfriend"

About this time the other boy at the table who is as skinny as a rail pulls a can of SlimFast out of his baggy pants and pops the top. The girl puts on a look of extreme disgust and continues:

"You drink SlimFast!? What the F--k for!

Skinny Boy: "Ugh...Well sometimes...Some of it tastes good but not this type, it tastes like F--ken chalk. Some of them taste good though, like some of the strawberry and even some chocolate...But not this one...Its like chalk."

Girl: "I won't drink that shit...I used to,, but not no more! You know they put maggot larvae in f those diet drinks? That's how they work, the larvae hatch into maggots and then they crawl through your body eating fat and shit! I won't drink that shit anymore"

Boy with Chains: "yah...Did you hear about that guy That went crazy?...They found a maggot eating his brain! It crawled out his ear but he died anyway cuz it laid eggs in his head!"

Girl: "yah,,, some of the maggots get stuck in your stomach and they just stay there for years crawling around eating shit and stuff. Can you imagine?...Maggots just living in there? Thats just totally gross! I don't drink that shit no more."

Skinny Boy (as he dumps the SlimFast in the trash): "Ugh...Yah...Some of them taste good though, not like chalk. That's pretty extreme though...Maggots in your stomach...I wonder,,,maybe some of them might turn into flies and buzz around. Like,,, I did hear about that guy who had the maggot eat his brain. I guess its like if you eat a seed or something and then it starts growing."

The really scarey thing is that these kids were serious! My god,,,what kind of drugs are kids playing with these days?? Whatever kind they are using, I suspect it must be infected with maggot larvae. Maybe they found one of G.W. Bush's old stashes that he left behind after his trip to Alaska in his youthfull years. After all, remember, "Today' youth are the leaders of tomorrow.'

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Insomnia New Year, Everyone!!!

You know it has been one of those nights when your awake to hear Bose Wave Radio begin begin i softly start playing its pre-alarm cresendo and your still lying in bed wide awake. You know its another sleepless night when you're still performing imagination gymnastics and the furnace kicks into its programed pre-dawn warming cycle designed to gently ease you gently from slumber back into the wakefull world. Ringing in the New Year with another bout of INSOMNIA!...That is what I have been doing. Maybe it's the shortage of daylight. Maybe its a shortage of physical activity or stress from work. Whatever the cause, I seem to be alternating between an inability to ever fully become awake or an inability to retreat into slumber for the past couple of months.

I spent most of yesterday working on a project for work...trying to calculate the thermal and electrical load of all the computers and network equipment residing in the machine room. Since I do no have the specifications for a number of the key systems this task has proved about as difficult as pulling a rabbit out of my ass without the benefit of any KY-jelly. This has been further complicated by the fact that most of the people who might have the specific documentation are all out enjoying the Christmas break. On Thursday I attempted to directly measure the power consumption of the systems by using an amp meter on the various circuits where they come out of the power distribution units. This proved to be a rather futile effort, despite my precaution of having the duty operator stand by me with a 2 X 4 so that he could knock me loose from any high voltage wires I might get my hand onto, I eventually decided that I could not get accuate readings on most of the key circuits while maintaining any remenant of safety. At one point I told the operator that he probably ought to just let me fry and not bother resucitating since I would probably just be executed later anyway for shorting out the multi-million dollar computers!

I did celebrate the coming of the New Year by lighting off a roll of 1000 Black Cat firecrackers along the fence in front of my house. It would have been much more fun if my brother-in-law, Mike, had been in town so I could have used the fire-crackers to blow-up his mail box again instead. ( It just isn't as much fun if he is not around to come storming out of his house at the sound of the destruction. ) The little girl who lives across the street enjoyed my pyrotechnic display just the same...giggling and laughing with her mother as each of the 1000 mini explosions errupted into the night.

After the firecrackers I retired to bed where my mind continued to thrash around until the Bose radio and new furnace announced that it was morning. Since most of my mental thrashing consisted of an endless list of things I thought would be cool to write about, I decided to get up, make some coffee, and write. However, I thought of far more possible subjects than I can possibly explore today (or probably this year) so the remainder of this post will just be notes of what I thought about. Perhaps I will return to them at a later date and make some scribbles about them. Writing is a demanding compulsion for me... maybe I'll live long enough to explore at least some of the ideas that nag my mind.

Insomnia Thoughts

Writing Possibilities

Sins To Go The Grave--A list of the very few regrets I have about my life, that I will never share with anyone. The list will remain sealed and be burried with me.

Old Lady Emma's Yard---childhood story set in the "haunted" yard of Emma, the old lady who lived/died in the house down the street from where I lived. It should include the huge weeping-willow, the ancient stone fireplace/barbecue that was in the yard and the secret spot where Mark O. and I had behind it. It might also involve the old squirel bones Mark O. and I excavated in that spot, the creaking limbs of the tree and the legend that Emma "willed" herself to death on a specific day.

The Hand---The horor story I used to tell my kids when we would be out camping. Involves Hurds island, being chased by wild dogs, a thunderstorm, hiding in a series of wrecked cars including one where some guy got killed in and his severed hand was left under the seat where I was hiding. A fisherman goes missing the resulting search finds his empty boat with a long green fingernail embedded on the hook of his abandoned fishing rod. The "hand" is after me and is still hot on my trail even after all these years. I have written this before but need to find it again and perhaps edit it.

Biographical Sketches of People I Know---"Gene K. " "Earl V." "Patches" "Benny" "the Fairbanks Bag Lady" "a Fairbanks Hooker" etc. etc.

History of Computer Networking in Alaska or University

History of Chena River--indians,gold miners,early settlers

Something about catching lightning bugs for a penny-apiece

Something about Mastadon Lake and the "swamp": catching tadpoles frogs

TPing adventures...sneaking out of the house at night

Mystery of The Small People---early childhood story about going to Starved Rock looking down at the beach from on top of the rock and being amazed to see miniture people walking around. No one else seemed amazed by what I was seeing.

Journal of Road Trip to Alaska---I wrote this while traveling up here but need to find it again

Fiction story about a man who can telepathacly communicate/control wolves.

Story about government controling all the major computer processor manufacturers so that they can leave a hidden "back-door" into the technology. The discovery of this and the subsequent exposing of this fact (or the decision to let it remain a secret)

Friday, December 30, 2005

My Obituary

I must be getting old. I notice that I have recently begun reading the obituaries when perusing the news paper... an amusing habit that I used to attribute only to my elders. Having now read several "obit" collumns I am amazed by "fluffy" B.S. written in them. An axe murdering child molester finally gets put to death in a penetentary and his obituary would probably say that "Chester passed peacfully into the arms of his heavenly father while his hundreds of friends dimmed the lights in thier rooms in honor of his passing....Chester spent his life showing love to children in his own special way..." What a crock of crap!! In order to prevent such an abuse of the English language from taking place at the time of my demise, I have written my own obituary. The following is what I have come up with.

Aurora Beacon News---Obituaries--- Date: xx/xx/xxx

Tom Bachert July 4, 1957 -- xxxx #, ####

Hello people of Aurora. I am writing this to let all of you know that I am now dead. Yep, my body and I had a falling-out and now we're going our separate ways. This happened on (Date) in (Location) because ( a brief reference to what killed me. If it was something interesting like I got eaten by a bear or died of an STD it can be a bit longer, otherwise just a sentence will do).

If you think you might know me but can't quite remember who I am here are a few facts about me that might trigger the old gray matter. ( don't feel bad, its been a long time since I've lived in Aurora). I shared my fantastic parents, Kurt and Shirley Bachert with my older siblings, Tim, Sue (Chudzick) and Barbara. I spent much of my childhood attending St. Paul's Lutheran School and was confirmed into that congregation in 1970. Later, I attended and graduated from East Aurora High School with the class of 1975. I led a pretty typical life in Aurora and don't think I have any great accomplishments to brag about nor any terrible screw-ups to be ashamed about. I might have broken the hearts of a few pretty girls (if so, I am sorry..well, not really, but I probably should at least claim I am). I did make some good friends and certainly I have many good memories of growing up in Aurora with all my relatives and other good people that surrounded me

After graduating high school I attended Northland College in Ashland WI where I earned a degree in Environmental Science in 1979. I returned to Aurora to work for a year and then married my Chicago sweetheart Cindy (Cunningham) in August of 1980. She was never afraid of a little adventure so we made a honeymoon of driving my pick-up with all our belongings to Fairbanks, Alaska. We have lived there ever since. Fairbanks winters are cold and dark so it didn't take us long to produce three children, Jeremiah (1982), Rachel (1985) and Leah (1989). To feed my growing family I worked for a short time as a Fisheries Technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and for a much longer time, in the computer networking field, for the University of Alaska and the Arctic Region Super Computer Center. Life in Alaska has been a great adventure and although my occupation has usually had me flying a desk, I have had plenty of free time to enjoy my passion for the outdoors. I have tricked many a fish to strike my fly, have stalked moose and caribou through tundra aflame in autumn colors and have gazed in wonder as the norther lights paint their masterpieces above snow covered mountains. Through it all my wife Cindy has stood at my side and my children's smiles have warmed even the coldest nights.

My future plans are shrouded in mystery as any good adventure should be. My survivors will see to it that my body embarks on its journey back into the earth as they see fit. As for me, I have faith that my creator will show me even greater beauty than I've already experienced along the trail so far. If I'm mistaken, and I don;t think I am, and the trail ahead leads to shall we say a "hotter climate", at least I'll have a chance to thaw-out from all these cold Fairbanks winters!

Fairbanks Daily News---Obituaries--- Date: xx/xx/xxx

Tom Bachert July 4, 1957 -- xxxx #, ####

Hello people of Fairbanks. I am writing this to let all of you know that I am now dead. Yep, my body and I had a falling-out and now we're going our separate ways. This happened on (Date) in (Location) because ( a brief reference to what killed me. If it was something interesting like I got eaten by a bear or died of an STD it can be a bit longer, otherwise just a sentence will do).

Many of you might know me, or at least recognize me as being that big blond guy that likes to wear his hair in all kinds of crazy ways. Maybe you know me as that guy always hanging around Nurse Cindy or that goofy computer nerd up at the university. Anyway, here are some facts about my life that may or may not interest you. On July 4, 1957, at Aurora IL, I was born to Kurt and Shirely Bachert and became the youngest member of a loving family consisting of my brother Tim and sisters Barbara and Susan. I attended grade school at St. Paul's Lutheran School, high school and graduated fro East Aurora High School in 1975. I then traveled to Ashland, Wisconsin where I attended Northland College, earning a degree in Environmental Science in 1979. One year later I married my sweetheart my sweetheart, Cindy (Cunningham) who you probably know as Nurse Cindy. Believe it or not, I was a pretty good looking guy back then and this fact combined with my new wife's adventurous personality led her to agree to the idea of spending our honeymoon driving to Alaska. Fairbanks was still a pretty rough and tumble town back then so we fit in pretty well and have stayed ever since.

The cold, dark Fairbanks winters stimulated the rapid growth of our newly founded family giving rise to three children, Jeremiah (1982), Rachel (1985) and Leah (1989). In order to feed my growing family I worked for a short time as a Fiseries Technician in Pelican for the Alaska Department of Fish and Feathers. I attended UAF to get a teaching certificate and student taught Biology and Chemistry at Lathrop High School (1981-82). Since then I have worked within the computer networking field for the University of Alaska and the Arctic Region Super Computer Center. (the key word here is NETWORKING, so please don't call me if your having trouble with your PC...oh..thats right, I" m dead, so I guess you can't call me anyway.)

I have truly loved my life here in Fairbanks and have met some fantastic people while working and playing in this great land. Hopefully most of you have enjoyed having me around for this time and I have been able to put a smile on your faces occasionally. Likewise I hope the Grayling in the Chena don't hold me forever resoponsible for their sore lips and the moose and caribou are not insulted by my clumbsy attempts at shooting them. ( Truth be known, I always liked the taste of beef insult to your antlered heads intended...its just that a T-bone is hard to beat ) Now its time to bid all of this farwell. Thank-you Alaska for such a great adventure. Thanks for the unbelivable skys, the glistening crystals of your pristine snow and most of all, for your people that are even more colorful than the masterpieces your lights periodically paint above your mountains. Thank-you Cindy, for having to courage to venture with me to this great land and for being forever at my side. Thank-you Jeremiah, Rachel and Leah for brightening even the coldest, darkest night with your radiant smiles.

My future plans are shrouded in mystery as any good adventure should be. My survivors will see to it that my body embarks on its journey back into the earth as they see fit. As for me, I have faith that my creator will show me even greater beauty than I've already experienced along the trail so far. If I'm mistaken, and I don;t think I am, and the trail ahead leads to shall we say a "hotter climate", at least I'll have a chance to thaw-out from all these cold Fairbanks winters!

(this paragraph is to be written by my survivors outlining the specifics of any parties they want to have in celebration of my future adventures.)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Winter Walk

The silver crescent moon fades behind the pastel canvas of a December dawn. I check the laces of my boots and follow the two lines etched into the crystalline snow by the runners of a dog-sled that passed this way sometime during the night. The snow screeches under the tread of my boots. My mind searches momentarily for the Eskimo word for this type of snow but quickly concludes that I never learned the word. I know I have read the word before...In an article about native languages. Was it the Yupik or the Inupiaq Eskimos that have something like a hundred different words to describe the various types of snow? Sheesh, I can't even remember which people the article was talking about let alone the word! I recently read a different article about a savant somewhere who read an enormous number of books and could quote what was written on any given page in any of the books even months after having read it. I wish I could do that. Ya that would be a nice talent to have, but then again, if I was that savant I probably would not be walking along this trail reveling in the rarefied winter light right now. No, I don't think I want to trade places.

The End (Please ignore the "Read More" link below)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Where The Girls Are

Sunday, December 28, 2005...The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner front page headlines read, "Where the girls are". The article which follows discusses a recent study that decries the fact that University of Alaska students are 39% male and 61% female. The study is obviously flawed as everyone knows it is impossible to determine the gender of at least 2% of today's university students. Actually the article is rather interesting and probably exposes some serious deficiencies within this country's educational system. Still, I couldn't help but wish the News-Minus would publish anonymous" Letters to the Editor." I would love to compose a letter written from the perspective one of the whiskered sourdoughs often seen roaming the Fairbanks streets. This post is the letter I would love to send. I hope it makes you smile.

Dear Editor:

Sunday's front page article, "Where the girls are" is just another example of those egg-heads up on the hill wasting tax payer dollars on stupid and unneeded studies. If those Lilly-faced, limp-wristed professors had any testosterone or common sense left in their veins they would know that, "Where the girls are" boys will soon be! You don't even need to pass Bio 101 to know this fact...Just ask any father of a daughter and he will tell you I am correct. They need some multi-million dollar super duper computer to tell them that they have more girl than boy students?? Now they need to have multiple lavish and expensive conferences to figure out how to fix the problem?

I say all those over educated pansies should pull there heads out of the pot clouds that drift among their ivy towers and look around. Have they ever looked at some of their students? A good many of that 61% female population are uglier than last fall's moose gut-pile during break-up! They got cheap jewelry (not even gold) piercing through their noses,lips and God knows where else. They adorn their fat roles with kindergarten smears of tattoos and wear jeans that a grub-stake miner would be embarrassed to wear. Christ, any male student engaging in a panty raid on that campus better come with a fork-lift and gas mask if he expects to carry off any of those girl's under-garments. Yes, it is true that boys will appear wherever the girls are but first, you need girls that can be recognized as being girls! If the University wants to get more boys paying tuition then they should institute an acceptance policy for girls that weeds out ones resembling hemorrhoids on the back side of a grizzly. The university could also plan social events and activities which showed off their coeds...Maybe start a tradition of "bra-less Tuesdays" or some such thing. A good old fashioned dress code would also do wonders in getting boys to shell out some dollars for tuition. Maybe they could ban all piercing (unless actively being administered by a member of the male student body of course!) and ban girls from wearing those baboon-butt fanny packs.

Of course my common sense plan will only work in getting good ole red-blooded Alaskan men. If the University persists stupidly recruiting estrogen fed momma boys from the east coast preppie schools and homo infested California even the finest ice princesses won't entice them to go to school here. Hell, I understand that the University currently wastes thousands of tax payer dollars doling out scholarships to students from France and other penis challenged countries. It's no wonder that those scientists spend so much time researching "male enhancing drugs". Maybe if the University spent a little more time recruiting students from the mining camps and fishing boats here in Alaska they would be able to sell "Trojan Magnums" at Wood Center's condom counter instead of those "MiniAsian Flashes". Converting those girlie European style soccer fields into real American style football fields might also attract some non-homo boys to least if you could keep those California Frisbee fondlers off the grass.

Ya, I know, I don't have an alphabet soup of letters following my name so I surely don't have the credentials to be advising all those smart guys up on the hill how to attract more male students. (ever wonder why those "guys" really want to attract more MALE students in the first place?? I think the Democrats probably laced their wacky-tabacky with a little too much estrogen myself ! ) But hey, there is hope. General Hamilton is now running the place and you know he has experience recruiting young men. He knows the importance of building and maintaining a good infrastructure. He recognizes the importance of good "breeding stock." Maybe he will adopt some of my ideas...if not...He can always just institute a draft!


Woody Longfello

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Our First Meeting---the real story

Recently my eldest daughter Rachel, posted on her blog (Rachels Posting) two versions of the same story.The story describes how my wife and I first met and goes on to describe our later engagement. The first version is told from my wife's perspective and the second is told from my perspective, Taken together they show the rather humerous differnces between how men and women might view the same events. However, I am afraid there are several factual errors in my daughter's translation of these horrifying events that took place some 28 years ago. This post will hopefully clarrify some of the mis-translations pertaining to our first meeting. Perhaps I will add subsequent posts about our eventual enagement and early romance.

Mom, tell me about the first time you met daddy...

Lets was back in June of 1977 when I first met your father. I am 18, fresh out of Catholic high school and a good girl still confused about this business of love. I had a boyfriend or two before ...the last one of which turned out to be gay! I had no idea until he took me to a party one night and it turned out to be a rather "queer" event if you know what I mean. I about puked and my dad was ready to kill the guy when he took me home, but thats another story. After that I consider being a nun but decide to stick with my dream of becomng a nurse. I am scheduled to start nursing school at the end of the summer but on the day in question I am starting my first day on a summer job at the Gas company where my dad works. The company hires college kids of employees as meter readers to fill-in for the permanent meter readers who often take vacation during the summer months. I am sitting in the supervisor's office waiting for another summer hire to show up so we can begin our orientation. We are about to begin, figuring the other person is going to be a "no-show" when the door burst open and this BIG blonde guy with hair almost to his sholders comes waltzing in. His ice-blue eyes give my body a good scanning and then he turns to the supervisor, shakes his hand, and introduces himself. His presence gives me such a jolt that I don't even catch his name. The supervisor begins the orientation and I do my best at paying attention to what the new job involves but this blond guy just seems bored except for the occasions when I catch him staring at my butt...which by the way...looked pretty nice under the tight white jeans I was wearing...if I may say so myself. Anyway, the orientation finally ends and the supervisor offers to take us both out to lunch. We pile into a company car, the supervisor and the blond guy in the front and me in the back. We get to this cafe and we approach the door to go inside. The blond steps out ahead and holds the door open for me. Well, I figure we are going to be working together and thus should be equals, so I say, "We are going to work together so you don't need to open doors for me!" The next thing I know the door is b slammed in my face. It is a rather rough start but there is something different about that guy. Everytime my eyes lock with his ice-blues, my legs feel all rubbery and my face flushes. Somehow I sense an intertwined fate. That evening when I get home my mom asks me how the job went. I turn to her and reply, "I met the man that I am going to marry!" Grandma gives me kind of a wierd smile and says, "Oh ya, what's his name?" Suddenly I realize that I don't even remember his name!

The rest of June is filled with the hum drum of work. Every morning all the meter readers meet in a big room to be issued our "book" of meters to read for the day. Every morning the blond guy shoots rubber bands at my butt and teases me mercilessly. I do learn his name is Tom and that he goes to college in Wisconsin but he never asks me out and I am to scared to ask him. Every evening I go home talking endlessly about him and dreaming him...especially his cute, tight rear end and playful smile. My chance finally arrives over the Fourth of July weekend. I learne that July 4th is Tom's birthday and also that he has scheduled an appointment to get his wisdom teeth removed prior to the holiday weekend. I summon my courage and call him at home to wish him Happy Birthday. His mother answers the phone and agrees to put him on the line after warning me that he can't talk very well. When he picks up the phone I blurt out "Happy Birthday...I have a birthday kiss for you." (god..I couldn't believe I actually said it!) He mumbles something almost unitelligable but I finally figure out he is saying something about needing to take a rain-check on my offer because his mouth is swelled almost shut and smells like a rat's hemmroid. (such romantic words!) The next week he cashes in on his rain check and we go on our first date...out for Pizza and then to the first Star Wars movie. (maybe this event deserves a seperate posting) Anyway...the rest is history.

Dad, tell me about the first time you met mommy...

Hmm...Lets see...that was back there around 1978 or 1977 I think. "Hey, Cindy...what year was it when we first met?" Ya, mom says it was 1977 so that must be when it was. I think it was June because it was the first day of a summer job I had that summer. It was a job reading meters for the gas company that my dad worked for. I had done the same job the previous summer but based out of a different city back in Illinois. It was fun summer work and I could tell you many stories about working those summers but that is not what you asked me so I will try to stay on topic. I was a bit of a "wild child" back in those days. I had just finished my Freshman year of college and was feeling like or at least trying to act like a real man of the world. During the previous year my long time high school sweetheart had broken up with me and although that had broken my heart for a few days when it happened by the time June rolled around I was on a mission to conquer the world. I had car pooled to work that morning with another guy that I had worked the previous summer with. He owned a delapidated old VW Beetle and we had started the morning by making a "party" of the hour long commute on the Eisenhower Expressway. When we got to the office I learned that I was supposed to go to an orientation in some guy's office so I made my way there and went in the door. There was this chic already there talking to the supervisor. She looked kind of scared and rather "proper" so I flashed her a smile and introduced myself to the boss. The boss launched into rambling on about the job which was rather boring since I had already done a similar job the previous summer so I passed the time by checking the chick out a bit more when she wasn't looking. (this was easy because her attention was pretty focused on the boss man) I noticed that she wasn't bad looking. She had brownish,blondish hair with red undertones, was slim, had nice boobs that she kept hidden too well and a real nice ass. Not a bad prospect at all. I wondered how many other young ladies would also be working there for the summer. Before to long the boss finished his spiel and offered to take us out to get something to eat. The real reason he was offering the free meal was that he wanted to make his daily rounds of the nearby reseraunts to see if he could catch any of the other meter readers gooffing off drinking coffee and eating doughnuts. The company had a policy that no more than 2 company cars could be at any eating establishment's parking lot at one time. If there were more than 2 cars the boss would go inside and "write up" all the meter readers present and they would face discipinary measures. (Ask your mom about this. She has a funny story relating to it.) We drove over to a nearby cafe in a giant Pymoth Fury company car that was about as big as today's pick-up trucks...and which my car-pooling buddy totaled later that summer while I was riding with him. (another story which I will tell you later) Anyway, we got to this cafe and much to the boss man's chagrin there were no other meter readers gooffing off so we decided to go in and get something to eat. By now I was pretty hungry as at that stage in my life I had a perpetual case of the munchies but my mother had taught me well and my hunger didn't cause me to forget my manners. When we got to the door I opened it and held it open for the female in my presence. To my amazement this chick looked me in the eye and blurted out something stupid about us working together and thus she being able to open doors for herself. I thought "Oh God...a woman libber who doesn't even have the decentcy to burn her bra!" and quickly closed the door before I could further offend her.

The next few weeks were pretty run-of-the-mill summer days spent working a summer job. Every morning I would drive through the rush-hour traffic to work, either in my buddies old VW or my dad's extra Odsmobile cutlass. We would spend the first hour in a big room getting our meter reading routes in order. I learned that the chic from the first day was named Cindy and I took great joy in shooting her butt with rubber bands and making her blush. She was cute, the cutest girl working there that summer. I wasn't too sure what to make of her. She was fun but seemed kind of straight-laced which didn't fit the steryotype I had built in my mind of girls from the "city". She rode to and from work everyday with her dad who worked out of the same office and she rarely if ever hung-out with the other meter readers after we finished our "days" work and retired to the nearby parks and forrest preserves to party and play baseball or frisbee. I didn't quite know what to make of her. I never really got around to asking her out as there were other prospects around that seemed to hold a higher promise of success for less effort but she seemed kind of special just the same so I always teased and harrassed her the most when we were together. Around the Fourth of July things changed. I had gone in to get my wisdom teeth removed and the phone rang about the second day after I had them yanked. I was feeling really miserable because the first day after they had been pulled I felt great and ignored my mother's advice and walked the mile or so downtown in the blazing hot sun. That night I got deathly sick and spent the night curled up around the toilet puking my guts up through a mouth that I couldn't even open. So when my mother handed me the phone the next day and told me it was a girl calling for me I was torn between my desire to pursue any and all female possibilities and my fear of sounding like mumbling mummy through my swollen mouth. When I picked up the reciever I was greeted by your mother's sweet voice wishing me a Happy Birthday and then, quite uncharacterisically, promising me a Birthday kiss! "Wow...maybe I had mis-read this chic...maybe she was a 'big city' hottie in disguise!" Not wanting to pass up such an unexpected offer I quickly mumbled something about if I could take a rain-check. She agreed and our conversation continued for several minutes. She spoke sweet comforting words about the agony I was experiencing and I perodically grunted my appreciation. The next week I asked her to go to the Star Wars movie with me. Little did I realize that "the Force" was with her and that my "Evil Empire" was destined for doom. (or is it the other way is so confusing sometimes!! )