Saturday, February 28, 2009

What I do when I get homesick

There are days that make me miss home more than other days. On those days, if I have time I try to make things that remind me of home. Sometimes it's the trashiest food ever, you know the ones that take me back to my childhood, in the trailer in Iowa or in the split level house in Winchester. Today it was broccoli salad. (I think a month back it was pea salad) I remember this salad being served at Easter dinners, family reunions, summer picnics and funeral lunches. I think its the mayonnaise dressing that makes me feel as if it is trashy, maybe it's the bacon. Either way, this is a pretty tasty salad and if you have the means to lighten it up, you can. I choose to use canola mayo and real bacon and real sugar. You can use fat-free mayo, turkey bacon and splenda, but it might not be as good as the full flavored, full fat version.

My recipe is as follows...and be warned, there are not precise measurements.

1 bunch of broccoli
3 0r 4 bacon slices cooked until super crispy (this can be done in the microwave)
cherry tomatoes (sliced in 1/2)
shredded cheese (not velveta--I used pepper jack but cheddar is fine)
diced red onion (about 1/4 of a large onion)
chopped cashews (or almonds or walnuts or pecans or raisins--not chopped)

small bowl of mayo (about a cup)
some cider vinegar (a couple spoonfuls)
sugar (a couple spoonfuls)
pepper (to taste)

Blanch the broccoli. This is not necessary, but it makes the broccoli prettier and tastier. If you don't know how to blanch vegetables, it's basically just putting it hot water for a second or two, then pulling it out and putting it in cold water. If you have time, do this. It is well worth it. Put the broccoli, cheese and tomatoes in a mixing or serving bowl. Crumble the bacon on top. Add the chopped onion and the cashews.

In another bowl, mix the mayo, vinegar, sugar until well blended. Add in pepper. Pour over broccoli mixture. Chill for about 30 minutes. Enjoy. Remember the days of your childhood.

I am sad to say that not only did I eat 2 bowls of this today, but I also did not get any pictures of the salad in all its glory. It was pretty and very tasty. You'll have to take my word for it.

Icy Outing

Having not posted anything this week, I began to feel bad about neglecting the blog. This morning, after a trip to the post office and a trip to SAFE for Samara to do some work, I suggested that we grab the camera and head down to the harbor.

It's still very much winter here in Dillingham. On Wednesday, we had a blizzard that shut down the courthouse early. The police closed the main road out of town because it goes across the flats. The wind was blowing so hard there that visibility was about a foot in front of your headlights. High tide was at 4:30, and the wind was blowing so hard that there was a risk of flooding across the flats as well.

I should have taken some pictures then. But I didn't.

Instead, you get some pictures of the ice on the bay. Actually, it's low tide, so the giant hunks of ice are mostly beached.

Here's chilly Samara at the harbor.

And what's the behind her?

Why, it's hunks of ice as big as cars.

Then we drove down Wood River Road to the boat landing at the Wood River. It was all frozen over and covered with snow, as you can see.

It's a pretty view, I guess, if you like snow.

Here's a nice shot of Samara, in front of the Canyonero, with a boat in "storage" in the background.

As we were driving back to town, we saw our friend Ricky driving to his parents' house. We stopped and said hi.

Then as we pulled in at the apartment, Samara snapped a final picture of the ice in the bay right at the end of our road.

The giant, beached hunks of ice do make for a neat view.

I hope that the pictures keep you all entertained until I can come up with something more interesting to blog about. Samara and I have both been busy with work this week, so it's hard to find time to blog about the daily grind.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Anchorage training--Day five, six and seven

I had a lot of things to do while I was in Anchorage.
  1. go to Special Education conference
  2. finish up grant report
  3. go to positive behavioral support training
  4. shop for items I can't get in Dillingham (bulk food, spices, exotic food, clothes)
  5. go to dinner every night
  6. mail items back to Dillingham that can't fit in to the suitcase. (50 lb limit in suitcases)
  7. get my eyebrows waxed
  8. buy ammo for Aaron
  9. meet up with Saramay for drinks
  10. go to Mad Myrna's
  11. pick up a dog at the airport at midnight the night before we leave
  12. leave Anchorage
Guess which one of these I didn't do. I'm gonna give you a hint. I have no idea as to what kind of guns Aaron has.

At some point, I managed to go to Sam's club and buy some bulk food, such as a very large bottle of balsamic vinegar, a very large wedge of Parmesan cheese, Havarti cheese, bisquick (we just don't have that here) and a giant can of cashews for Aaron.

I also managed to go to an City Market (think local co-op store) which I had to buy stuff for other people (which I will never do again--this takes up valuable space and weight in my suitcase) such as gluten-free flour, spring roll wrappers, hawaiian salt, & chinese 5 spice. These things were not cheap and had to be packed in one of my checked bags. The nice thing about cold Alaska, is that i just kept all the refridgerator items in the car and because the airplane is so cold, I used a tub as a checked bag and just let it go into cargo storage.

Everything that wouldn't fit in my suitcase, carry one or checked tub had to go to in a tub to be mailed. This is Erin and myself waiting in line at the post office at the Anchorage air port. It stays open until midnight. Now, bear in mind that each of these tubs we are mailing are about 60 pounds each. I have one and Erin has 2. She bought cat food, dog food and cat litter. And man that stuff is heavy. As long as the tubs are under 75 pounds, we were able to send them via USPS. We could even use parcel post since it's basically a straight shot to Dillingham from where we sent them.

As we tried to be back to our hotel we saw some strange looking "cows" at the air port. And by "cows" I mean moose. Please notice the fed ex cargo and plane in the back ground. (And I have played with all the settings on my camera, you all will just have to deal with blue snow pictures)
The mountains are nice around Anchorage. They are much bigger than the ones around here. They seem to go on forever in to the sky. Some of them reach so far in to the clouds, you can't see the peaks.

At some point during this trip Erin and I went to an Indian/Nepalese restaurant. It was called Yak and Yeti. It was pretty good. I had some steamed buns with spicy meat. Erin had the saag paneer. This is the best Indian food in town. It is also the only Indian restaurant in Anchorage. We thought it was a bit funny because Erin's husband, Anthony, is a yeti/big foot fan. I will have to bring Aaron here if I ever get a chance to do so.

The last real adventure of the week end was the trip to Mad Myrna's .
It was an adventure. It made me miss home. How could anyone have that much fabulous and not miss Kentucky? We met up with Saramay who had never been to a drag show. Saramay wasn't used to so much fabulous in one day. Erin seemed right at home. We even had some creepy troll trollin' on us at one point. I believe he was asked to leave.
Thh last stop of the night was to go to the airport to pick up Erin's new puppy a shiba inu that she named Sophie. It is so cute and hyper and after being in a crate for almost 24 hours it was also stinky. But after a quick bath in the hotel bathtub, she just smelled like a barn puppy which was much better than poo covered puppy. This is Erin cuddling her new non-stinky puppy.

And this is Sofie. I Like the "f" spelling of sofie instead of the "ph" spelling (Sophie). The "f" spelling seems like an older more, ethnic spelling. I haven't talked about the spelling over with Erin so she's just gonna have to deal with how I spell her dog's name. And here she is in all of her fuzzy cutiness, not Erin, Sofie.

And thus ends my trip. I was so glad to come home. I missed Aaron a bunch. And for those that might worry about his eating habit and vitamin intake while I am away, I did buy him some Flintstone chewables while I was there so if I have to go on a trip again, he can eat all the hot dogs, chips and pretzels he wants and still get some vitamins.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Anchorage training--Day two, three and four

First, yes I am a huge slacker for not posting earlier. But to be fair, I have been going to a conference and working on "the grant report of doom" in between the breakout sessions. And unlike the last time, I have chosen not to eat super fancy food every night. It makes me sad, but Erin seems to like to eat 3 meals a day instead of me just eating one.

When I woke up on Monday, I looked out the window to see this..

Those are mountains. And no matter what I do, all the pictures turn out kinda blue. I also can see this...
This is the downtown cemetery. This is the view a lot of people get when they look out their window. It's kinda pathetic when it is compared the the Lexington cemetery, but then, that one is a couple hundred years old with fallen civil war soldiers in it. Just for comparisons sake, I thought I would add a picture of what the Lexington Cemetery would look like in the winter.
Ok, enough with that. Erin and I were so excited about fountain soda. There is a serious lack in the fountain soda area in Dillingham. Erin was pretty excited about Wendy's baked potatoes.
One one occasion, we asked what were some good Mexican restaurants in the area. We went to Don Joses. We were told that they made the guacamole at your table. We were told they had good margaritas. We were told...You get the idea. The point of the matter is we were told a lot of things and were disappointed. There was no guacamole. The place couldn't make real maragrita because of some city ordinance about liquor. Erin was so disappointed, she went to the car and got her hot sauce.
She felt like she needed to sneak it in. It was sad. We are hoping to have better adventures in the last few days here. But we'll see.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Office Makeover

Samara is in Anchorage, slaving away at a grant report in between attending conference sessions. In the meantime, the judge is out of town and I'm left to my own devices at the courthouse. Since we've decided to stay for a second year, I decided that my office could use a little cosmetic help. It was not particularly well set-up for my tastes, and it needed some decoration.

Well, don't take my word for it. Take a look at the "before" pictures.

As you can see, there are a number of issues. It's a mess, for one. Also, I have to walk an entire circuit of the office to get out from behind my desk. There's also not much decoration on the walls, and I haven't really put my personal touch on it. My printer is also stuck in the corner. That sucks because when I print envelopes, I have to feed them one at a time and then run back to my computer to hit print.

So I did some rearranging. First, I moved the looming cabinet and hung up my diplomas.

I think it added quite the personal touch. You can also see the bundle of sticks and peacock feather that was the last law clerk's contribution to the office art.

And yes, that's the Canyonero in the parking lot. You can also tell that I've moved my desk up against the window. That leaves a nice space for me to walk through to get to my desk. Now I can jump up and go right out my office door when I need to grab a file.

You can see the other art piece contributed by the judge's first law clerk. Her father visited from China and painted the piece to the right of the window. My printer is also now on the desk, which means I can reach it without getting up.

The looming file cabinet had to go somewhere, so it's in the opposite corner. I also hung a bulletin board and re-centered my map of Alaska on the other walls.

And finally, I snagged a more comfortable chair for any visitors. I think my office is much more pleasing now. I'm happy with the makeover.

Really, it didn't take that long. I did little bits over two days and still had time to push some paper and grease the wheels of justice.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Anchorage training--Day one

I am once again in Anchorage for a training. This time, I am in for a special education training with a emphasis on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome education and Positive Behavior Support. So on to my adventure...

First, I have to mention that my flight out of Dillingham was an hour late. So instead of leaving Dillingham at 5:30, I left at 6:30. Which in turn, meant that I arrived in Anchorage at 8:15pm. Have I mentioned that I Anthony's wife Erin is with me? I'm sharing a room with her all week. So we arrive at the airport, grabbed our checked baggage and went to find a taxi. The taxi driver was to take us to our rental car place which is closed at this point. He kept asking if we were going to be ok, I assured him that our car was going to be waiting for us, so he pulled away. As it turns out, the car was not waiting for us. So here we are some where in Anchorage, with all of our luggage and no rental car and no taxi. Erin is smiling, but I think that is so she doesn't cry.
I call my boss who tells me to just get another taxi. Strangly enough, we were able to flag down another taxi. It was pretty weird since we were on a seculded strip. Anyway, this taxi drive was like, "hey, you don't mind if I stop by up here to pick up my money from a woman I just dropped off?" "Uh, sure dude." He took us here...

Yes, that is PJ's Darts & Adult Entertainment. Some nice stripper tried to pay the taxi driver with a $100 and he isn't allowed to accept them, so she needed to get change. She paid him in mostly in ones. (Ewww...) He then took us to the hotel and said that if we wanted to party later on to give him a call. He even gave us his number. He ws such a nice young man. Here is Erin posing with him.
Poor girl, she has no idea what kind of stuff I will get her in to. (Just joking, Anthony) We then walked 8 blocks to the 5th ave. mall for food. By this time, just about everything was closed and we were just wanting something. We ate at Sullivan's Steakhouse. I ordered the filet migon and Erin got the Ahi tuna. It was over priced and not super, but I was hungry, tired and cold. I didn't take pictures of dinner this time, maybe tomorrow. I have to call the car rental place and sort all that out. UUGH! Well, tomorrow brings another day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Alaska Weather Report

Let me start by apologizing that I don't have pictures. I'm sure it's more interesting to read about Alaska weather when there's pictures of the snow.

Last night, the wind started blowing really hard. I had never really experienced "blinding" snow, but this was it. The snowflakes are blowing around so hard that they sting your eyes, and you can't really look around. You've just got to put your hood up and trudge wherever you're going.

As Samara and I were getting ready for bed last night, the wind was blowing really loud. It wasn't a howling wind, really, but more of a low rumbling wind. It was blowing hard enough that our large picture window in the living room was visibly bowing inwards with the hard gusts. That kind of wind really has a tendency to create snowdrifts.

This morning, when I went to clear the snow off our car windows, the brush wasn't working--I had the use the squeegee side of the scraper. This morning's snow is big, wet, nasty snow that sticks to everything. You know how they say that Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow? Well, I can believe it. There are so many different types of snow.

As I look out my window right now, the snow is coming down fairly hard, and it's still very sticky and wet. We have a blizzard warning in effect until 10am. The wind is still blowing. On the plus side, it's warmer. Only 33 degrees. Snow accumulation should be between 2 and 6 inches today. It's funny how that used to be amazing weather in Kentucky. We get that kind of accumulation every couple of weeks in Dillingham.

I'll try to get some pictures later.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Snowmachine Trip

Today I took a trip by snowmachine with Anthony. He's housesitting, and there were two snowmachines available for us to use. One was a Polaris Snow King 700 and the other was a Arctic Cat 600. I drove the Polaris for the first half of our trip, and then we switched about halfway.

Remember those other pictures of Snake Lake that I've taken? Well, it took us about ten minutes at the most to reach the place where I took most of those pictures, and that's including driving the snowmachines TO Snake Lake Road. I think I'm going to have to drag Samara along on the next snowmachine outing.

Anthony and I parked at the outlook.

We took a few pictures up there.

As we were sitting there, admiring the view, Anthony exclaimed, "Look, a moose!" And indeed, there was a moose down in the woods.

It's right there in the center. It's at least 600 yards away, I'd say. If you click on the picture, you may be able to see it a little better. That was full zoom on my camera. But hey, that's my first big Alaskan game sighting.

After the break, we got back on the trail and zoomed on down to Snake Lake. Yes, the actual lake. Here we are, parked on it.

The lake itself is frozen, and probably have five feet of snow on top of it. It was also very flat, and made for some very nice views of the surrounding mountains.

Here's Anthony with the two machines on Snake Lake.

His hands were very cold at this point. The hand warming grips on the Polaris work much better than the ones on the Arctic Cat, which he had been riding. So we switched at this point. The Arctic Cat is a much lighter machine with better handling and speed. That's probably why the rest of the trip was so interesting, but more on that in a minute.

We took off back up the mountain, with Anthony on point. Within moments, though, I passed him and took off like a bat out of hell. He was having trouble keeping up on the larger machine, I think. It was fun.

Once we got back to the top of the mountain, we took a side trail that branches off before the first lookout. There were some good jumps in that area. We got to the top of the next hill and turned around to take them again.

After Anthony gave me the thumbs up and took off, I followed him down to the jump. I caught about two or three feet of air, came off the snowmachine and landed in the snow on my left side. I really hit my arm fairly hard, and was worried that I'd broken or brusied something at first. But I recovered after a minute. I think I may have scared the crap out of Anthony, though. That'll teach me to slow it down on a machine that I can regularly drive 40 mph over snow, with speeds as high as 50 or 60 in bursts.

We went back to the top of the hill and I took a picture of Anthony OFF his snowmachine. The snow was pretty deep.

Then Anthony took some action shots as I went down the hill, made a turnaround and then zoomed back up.

After that excitement, we followed some trails around. Anthony was in the lead on the heavier Polaris, and he pulled it to a little cove of trees where there was probably a small pond when the snow wasn't covering everything.

We took a break for a few minutes, and then when Anthony tried to make a turnaround, breaking trail through the deep snow, he got stuck. The front of the machine was up in the air, but the rear of the machine was dug deep down. The tracks on the rear that drive the machine just dig into the loose powder.

I was thankful that I'd packed my snowshoes. They made it much easier to walk around, break some trail for the machine and dig it out.

As we were digging the machine out, we realized that the drive belt was shredding. We popped open the front of the machine, and the drive belt was toast. Thankfully, there's a spare belt right on top of the belt guard. It took us a while to get the belt on--it wasn't easy. But once it was on, we got the machine up out of the drift and moving. I told Anthony once it got going to get it back up on the trail and then wait for me.

After he took off, I started my machine and tried to follow his trail. Instead I veered off into the powder and rolled the machine onto its side. Yeah, it sucked. I called Anthony back, and he came back around on our now-broken trail on the Polaris. We rolled the machine back, pulled it out of the powder and I drove it up to the trail. Then, as Anthony was trying to follow ME out, he got stuck again.

So then we dug him out and headed back off on the trails. We got back onto Snake Lake Road and took some trail that went back off the other side. We only made it a little ways before Anthony decided to break trail again. Well, let me tell you, that heavy Polaris just wasn't having it. He got stuck again. We were both fairly exhausted from pulling machines out of the deep, loose powder. (We're talking about five feet of snow above the ground.) Once we dug him out this time, we decided to call it a day.

I would say it was a successful trip, since both machines and both riders arrived back at the house without injury or damage. We probably both learned a few lessons about snowmaching as well.

This is the sort of adventure that Alaska offers, and I'm happy to be taking advantage of it.