The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

My First Day Off- And An Amazing Day It Was! (Part 1) May 20, 2015

Filed under: Alaska Summer — DDKlingonGirl @ 10:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hello, all!  It has been such an amazing day that I don’t even know where to start.  How about here:

Riding the 7:00 a.m. shuttle into Talkeetna, Alaska, my first day off after the start of the season, the exhuberance of my spirit was quiet, but could not be repressed.  It was already such a beautiful day:

Waiting to start my Day Off adventure!

Waiting to start my Day Off adventure!

*

The tour I had been hoping to do was with a company called Mahays Jet Boat Tours.  It was the Devil’s Canyon Adventure.  When I got off the shuttle, I went straight to the tour place (which was a short trip, since the shuttle parks in the tour place’s parking lot!) and checked on the tour.  Sadness.  The particular tour doesn’t start until May 25.  On to Plan B.

*

Plan B was a river float tour.  I walked through town to the Talkeetna River Guides office (stopping at the post office to buy postcard stamps, but they weren’t open yet) and checked on their tour schedule.  There was one getting ready to leave right then, but it was almost full, so I opted to sign up for the next tour, which didn’t leave for about two and a half hours.  Perfect!  Just enough time for breakfast and some wandering.

*

Breakfast was Plan C.  I had heard many raves about a local place called the Roadhouse.  Every little town has one, right?  The Roadhouse was basically right across the street from the river float place, so I walked on over.  It was crazy busy and crowded, with a very interesting feature that would prove instrumental in what was the first and perhaps most amazing of the day’s great moments:  family style seating.  All the tables were like Christmas-Dinner sized, and you just sat wherever there was an open chair.  At first I was seated in the window seat bar, facing out at the street, but then I decided to be social.  There was a seat at one end of a table with three couples, and I moved to sit there.

*

The server was an interesting character.  I wasn’t quite discerning enough to tell where he was from, but his accent kind of reminded me of Russian.  I had already been advised, luckily, to order a half-order of whatever I was having, because their famous sourdough pancake was literally bigger than the plate.  Everything there looked good, and they had a bakery counter with some Ah.Maz.Ing-looking food in it.  They had breakfast quiches, cinnamon rolls the size of your head, and a coconut cream pie that would feed about 20 people:

I took a picture once of a counter like this at a French bakery on St. Martin!

I took a picture once of a counter like this at a French bakery on St. Martin!

This was my breakfast.  Sourdough pancakes from starter that dates back to like, 1912 or something, reindeer sausage, and birch syrup, which I had been dying to try. :)

This was my breakfast. Sourdough pancakes from starter that dates back to like, 1912 or something, reindeer sausage, and birch syrup, which I had been dying to try. :)

The smell of the place was very distinctive.  Something about the food and the coffee and the atmosphere reminded me strongly of the town where my Dad’s mom lived, where my dad and my middle sister were both born, a place I have never really felt a strong affinity for.  But so strangely, I suddenly was almost overwhelmed with a nostalgia and a sadness for the town of Shamrock, Texas.  Maybe it was more a moment of missing my Dad’s mom, who passed away several years ago, or maybe it translated into missing my dad, because that was his hometown.  Either way, I had to text my mom to tell her about it.  I mentioned it to the lady next to me, and we talked about how smells can be powerful memory triggers, and I said I think they are the most powerful.  I’ve had another experience with that, but I’ll share it some other time.

*

All of the couples were on their way to their cruise ship and were very friendly.  They asked about me, and I told them I was a summer employee at McKinley.  They asked where I was from, and I told them Oklahoma, and then one of the men asked where in Oklahoma, and I told him Southern Oklahoma, Ardmore area.  (The first incredible moment of the day is coming up… can you feel it?  Ready to be amazed? Here we go…)  So when I said Ardmore, the lady says, “Oh, we have some really good friends who live in Ardmore…” and she named them, and I practically screamed, “OH MY GOSH, YOU KNOW (insert name of completely awesome couple I know and dearly love here)!  Holy cow, I know them!  They are completely awesome and I dearly love them!” and so it went.  I practically teared up, and then we started talking about taking pictures and just quietly posting them on Facebook and waiting for our mutual friends’ reaction.  After we finished our breakfast, we went outside and took this:

Unfortunately, the excitement has erased their names from my mind!  Mary and Bill, maybe?

Unfortunately, the excitement has erased their names from my mind! Mary and Bill, maybe?

*

After the pictures, we said our goodbyes and they headed off down the street and I went back to the general store to use the ATM, then on to the post office to pick up some more postcard stamps.  Then I decided to check out the Talkeetna Historical Museum, to see if I could squeeze it in before my tour.  As I  approached the door of the museum, the curator and a park ranger were just coming out the door.  Or more accurately the park ranger had come to see her before the opening and was leaving.  They let me know they wouldn’t quite be open for a while, and I told them I had a tour in a while and asked if I would be able to do justice to a museum tour between opening and the time I was supposed to be at the raft place.  Turned out I couldn’t, but the park ranger invited me to come down to the ranger station and watch their short movie presentation about climbing Mt. McKinley.  I figured it would be a good way to kill time, so the ranger and I walked the couple of blocks down to the station.  Here again was an enjoyable moment, meeting a local and having a nice conversation.  The ranger’s name was Jay, and I found out he had once worked in Oklahoma!  We arrived at the ranger station and I watched the move and used the facilities.

*

The lady at the float place had told me to be back there by 10:30, and it was only a few minutes after 10 when I left the ranger station, but I went ahead and went back to the float place and checked in.  There was a little coffee place right next door, called Conscious Coffee, and I sat there and enjoyed an Irish Creme latte while I waited for my float trip:

Ahhh, caffeine!

Ahhh, caffeine!

*

Ok, now I am going to be really cruel and mean, and break this entry into two parts.  In the next part, I’ll tell you all about the float trip, my river guide, my super tasty lunch, and the conclusion of the evening. Stay tuned! :)

*

Until next time,

D.

 

Scenes From A Gift Shop and Postcards From Nowhere May 19, 2015

Hello, all! It occurred to me that I hadn’t really posted much about *where* I actually work. Well, I mean, you know the main part. I’m in Alaska, at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. I work in the Gift Shop. It is quite the unexpected experience, to be sure. Now, I have been in gift shops before. I have been in the Statue of Liberty gift shop, and the Mount Rushmore gift shop (I think) and Branson, South Padre, and Disney World, and I have never given enough thought to what a unique work environment it is.

*

The view from the counter.

The view from the counter.

To start with, it is BUSY!! FIrst of all it’s like a really expensive garage sale. There are people hanging around outside the door waiting for it to open 10-15 minutes early. I’m pretty sure I have never done that, either at a garage sale OR a gift shop. The second thing is that there are predictable lulls and rushes. We know ahead of time when there are going to be four or five buses rolling in and how many hundreds of people are expected to pour out of them. We also know that they will either be jumping off their motor coach and on to another excursion bus (and be ravenous for snacks and water in the few minutes between), or they will be checking into their room for a night or two (and thinking about all the things they either lost or left behind from their luggage or have decided they can’t live without RIGHT NOW), or they will be remembering the last lodge they were at, with its gift shop full of things they loved but for reasons unknown decided to pass up and are now blessed with a second chance, or they will have spent the last several hours on a bus chatting with their fellow cruisers and admiring/coveting the totally adorable things they picked up at their last stop and wondering if they can outdo the Joneses in bling and/or snagged bargains. And sometimes they will be wishing that everyone they know and love from their parents to their offspring to their next door neighbor and his adorable toddler granddaughter could be with them but since they can’t, let’s take some tiny part of Alaska home to ALL of them!

The kids' section makes me wish my kids were still little so I could bring them all the awesome books!

The kids’ section makes me wish my kids were still little so I could bring them all the awesome books!

*

In a way, the next few months are going to be an interesting experience in Wildlife Viewing. Already I have met Impatientus Husbandus, the surprisingly sneaky specimen who smiles tiredly at the perky, stalking sales girl and then snaps the head off his wife who just henpecked him for going ahead and paying for his water and pocket knife with his credit card instead of waiting ten seconds for her to pick out one more postcard.  I have met Rowdyus British Bratus who bounces the moose ball high enough to ricochet off the ceiling, and gets into a scuffling match with his younger brother for the last cast replica, made in China, $1.25 authentically painted bear claw. I have glimpsed the Bling-Fingered, Big-Butted Boobie Hatch, who tries on every ring in the jewelry case and bemoans the fact that they are all prettier than the one she already got on the ship and she just has a suspicion she was tricked somehow. Also spotted were the English and Australian Sugar Slopper, super sweet and polite specimens who (in their accents that just make you want to take them home and listen to them talk all day) just can’t say enough good things about your darling shop and your precious merchandise and your lovely helpful counter girls; the Plain American Weird Bird who wants to know if we carry belts and lighters (?); and finally the Asian Artfinder who wants to buy a print of every painting in the entire lodge.

Shot glasses, key chains, and magnets, Oh My!

Shot glasses, key chains, and magnets, Oh My!

*

i jest, of course. Almost every guest we have met has been perfectly lovely. We have not even been open for a week and we will experience variations on these themes for the next four months. We will patiently point out the water cooler and the Tylenol and the key chains and magnets over and over and over again. And sometimes we will come away changed. Like when we meet the lady who enthusiastically shares with us that this vacation is her and her husband’s 50th state to visit and their 50th year together and that with their health declining the way it is, she is sure they won’t live to return. And the man we chat with for a few minutes before we notice his Navy cap and ask the obvious question and when we get the affirmative answer we expect and thank him for his service, his reply, “It was my honor. Thank you for your support.” makes us want to go hide in the storeroom and weep for an hour or two. And the somewhat older lady who is buying children’s books for grandchildren she doesn’t have and doesn’t know when she will, and the lady who, when we share with her that our mother is watching out for our kids for us while we are here, shares the tale of her opposite experience wherein she had to take her 90 year old mother to her 20-something daughter’s house at the last possible minute to be cared for while the lady is on her vacation, and how the old matriarch was suspicious and then sad when she found out she didn’t get to go to Alaska too.

The Christmas tree right inside the side entrance. I love the flat gold cutout ornaments.

The Christmas tree right inside the side entrance. I love the flat gold cutout ornaments.

*

And there are rock star co-workers who, thanks to their mission service in Taiwan, can speak fluent Chinese to our Asian guests when the rest of us feel like complete clods not being able to understand what they need. And managers with the patience of Job when we ask for the millionth time which key we press to do this or that function. And ornery, sassy, older co-workers who make us feel less lonely because they remind us of our moms and their sisters.

*

I was going to talk about the postcards I have sent to friends, family, and theater people, and the postcards I have yet to receive from anyone, but I think this is one of those moments when what has been said is all that is needed.  Basically, working at a cruise line resort lodge gift shop is nothing like I expected. It is busy and it is slow. It is funny and it is sad. It is challenging and it is easy. And it is going to make me a better person in ways I could never have imagined.

Until next time,

D.

 

Another Day, Another Destiny, and Master of My Own House May 16, 2015

Hello, all!  Things are going well here in the Last Frontier.  Today is Saturday, and it marks a two-day hot streak for me, attitude-wise-speaking.  See, Thursday was rough.  It was the first day of the gift shop being open all day.  We were busy.  I was physically and emotionally tired, and I was aggravated about things beyond my control at home.  Now, I know there will be more days like that before all is said and done, but I’m not going to lie- that day… I was wondering if I was going to make it through the summer.  Obviously we know, that’s not an option.  If I were to have to go home before I am supposed to, I would be crushed.  It would be considered a failure of epic proportions, both by me and by everyone who has had to listen to me talk about this adventure for the last 5 months.  I would never live it down.  In short…an attitude adjustment was in order.  Needed to clean up my mental house, so to speak.

*

So yesterday morning I woke up with a plan.  I decided that I was going to break out and get adventurous.  I packed my backpack with a change of clothes, my ID and my money, various medicines needed to get me through the day (for pain and for energy) and I went to work.  I worked all day, just as busy as the day before, but focused on trying to do a good job and keep a smile on my face.  I made sure to stay ahead of the ache in my feet by taking Tylenol and ibuprofen as needed.  I took some energy-giving medicine in the early afternoon after lunch.  And speaking of lunch, I had been astounded how much my energy had picked up on Wednesday evening after supper when I had been dragging so hideously, so I made sure that I took my lunch on time and that I ate as healthily as I could and drank more water.

*

Finally, it was the end of the shift.  Lucky for me, I did not have a cash register in my name yesterday, so I was able to leave as soon as I finished my task.  I clocked out and went to the front desk to make sure I knew what I needed to do to make my plan happen.  Then I went straight to the employee restroom and changed clothes.  It felt soo good to be wearing normal clothes for once instead of my uniform.

*

And then…I went back upstairs and out to the shuttle stop for the bus to Talkeetna.  Now, Talkeetna is the little tourist town that is near the lodge.  As the crow flies, it is only 14 miles from the lodge, but thanks to some stubborn townsfolk, apparently, as I learned on the bus ride, highway couldn’t go through the town and they had to build a spur road instead.  The result?  The aforementioned bus ride to Talkeetna takes a solid hour.

*

Anyway.  No worries.  I gave the driver my ID and my shuttle slip for the trip into town and boarded the bus.  There were only two other employees going to town and I didn’t know them.  Prior to my departure, I had asked some very kind ladies at the Naturalist Desk what there was to do in town, and had received some stellar advice.  First on the list was Shirley’s Talkeetna Burger Barn.  I was assured the burgers were to die for.  Then I was informed that there was a special treat available there that I needed to check out. More on that later.  I also asked about the general store in Talkeetna, because I discovered, out of ALL the ridiculous amount of junk that I brought with me on this little Alaskan Adventure, the one thing I apparently forgot that I would need was laundry pre-treater- Shout, Spray N Wash, or some variation on that theme.  (I basically cannot get through a day without getting something down the front of my shirt.)  So I was going to try to locate some.

*

So.  I got on the bus and enjoyed a nice ride into town.  I might have enjoyed making the trip with some new friends or something, but nobody was available, and for the moment I was actually more satisfied with my exercise in independence.  We pulled into town and stopped across the street from the Princess tour services office, in the parking lot of one of the tour operators, Mahays Jet Boat Adventures.  They do some of the tours offered by the lodge, so I know I will be going there again.  I got off the bus and after retrieving my ID from the driver, I walked across to the famous Burger Barn.  It was a little trailer like what you would see at the county fair, complete with wooden picnic tables out front and a refrigerator from which you choose your soda after you order.

$5 for anyone who spots the misspelled sign.  Ok, not really. :)

$5 for anyone who spots the misspelled sign. Ok, not really. :)

*

So I ordered the McKinley, which had mushrooms and Swiss cheese and I asked them to add grilled onions.  It came with fries or chips, and I had some fries and I chose a Diet Dew from the fridge.  I sat at the table and waited.  It was shady and windy, and so cool I was getting goosebumps.  Finally my food was ready and it was as good as promised.  I finished my burger and most of my fries and took my drink and went walking in search of the general store.  Now, you may remember if you have read the trip report of my cruise in 2012, I am terrible with directions.  Like, so bad there should be a medical treatment for it.  But how lost can you get in a town that basically has one street?

DD5 *

I had asked the driver for directions to the general store and it was easy to find.  This is the town that has a cat for a mayor, btw.  I think his Honor’s name is Mr. Stubbs.  Anyway. Talkeetna’s other claim to fame is that it is the town that Northern Exposure was loosely modeled after.  It is quite a cute place. The general store had no laundry pre-treater spray, but it did have a dog sled and animal skins on the walls.

View down the stairs in the general store.

View down the stairs in the general store.

I stopped in to a couple of other gift shops on my way back to the bus (comparison shopping our prices at work and theirs, if truth be known.). There were a couple of items I really wanted, but I decided to save my money instead.  The tie-dye hoodie with the moose in hipster sunglasses was really calling my name.

*

The last thing I did before I went back to the shuttle stop was stop back by Shirley’s for a treat you can’t get anywhere else.  There is a plant here in Alaska that in the summer grows into a beautiful purple-red flower called ‘fireweed’ and Shirley, bless her creative heart, has found a way to make Fireweed Ice Cream.  I tried and tried to come up with a common flavor to compare it to, but I couldn’t.  It was sweet, creamy, and delicious. DD3 *

Soon the shuttle bus arrived and I was headed back to the lodge.  I had entertained my co-workers earlier with an impromptu performance of Master of the House, from Les Mis.  So on the bus ride back to my temporary home, I occupied my mind by singing to myself, all the songs from LM and then all the songs I had been learning in my voice lessons and hope to sing at auditions someday. Finally back at the lodge, I stopped in the gift shop to say a quick hello to my co-workers and to tell them that my adventure had been a success.  I hiked the killer hill to my room feeling quite proud of myself, both for the good day and the trip to town.  Once back in my room, I quickly collected my laundry and got it started.  I was in a hurry because they had posted a sign on the door that stated that the door would be locked at 10 pm and if your clothes were still in there at that time, they would just be held prisoner until the door was unlocked at 8am. I watched for them to come lock the door and I was prepared to beg and plead for the freedom of my clothes, but nobody ever came to lock the door.  My clothes were finally done about 10:30 and this was the sky:

This is 10:30 at night.

This is 10:30 at night.

*

A peaceful end to a really good day.

Until next time, D.

 

New and Unexpected May 11, 2015

Filed under: Alaska Summer,Freaky Happenings — DDKlingonGirl @ 10:27 am
Tags: , ,

Hello, all!  Life continues here at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.  Yesterday was my first day to actually see my work area, which as you may remember is the Gift Shop.  It was a long, busy day, stocking, placing bar code stickers, practicing with the register.  We had a lot of fun with that last part.  Most of the girls I will be working with have been here for several days already, and I felt like I had a lot to catch up on.  But we were practicing on the register, and we were trying to trip each other up.  “Can you suspend that sale for a second?  I forgot to get something for Great Aunt Gertrude?” “I want 20 of these, for all my Asian relatives.”  “What is this made of?  Is this REALLY an Alaskan product?”  “Which of these scarves goes best with my skin?”  “Why are the prices so high!?” “Can I charge that to my room?  Well why NOT!?”  But my favorite was when I pretended to be the other girl’s child: “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, buy me this!  Why not?!  I’m going to sit right here in the floor until you buy me that!  Nooooooo!!! I don’t wanna go back to the room!”

*

It was awesome.  There are about 10 employees in the gift shop, not including managers.  What is really helpful to me is that we are all different ages.  Basically what I’m saying is that I don’t have to work with all fresh-out-of-high-school college kids and feel like on OLD lady.  Several of the other ladies are older than I, and they are a lot of fun.  One lady reminds me of one of my aunts.  She’s very funny.  But it was a very long, tiring day.  We were all absolutely dragging by the time we clocked out for supper.

*

I got my uniform yesterday.  It is a long sleeved, blue button down shirt, fleece vest, and small black apron.  The pants, socks, and shoes were our responsibility to bring from home.  I had bought some pants from Walmart that were a little on the tight side, especially in my freakishly large thighs, and after 3 days of climbing these hills… yeah, they’re already loose.  SCORE!!! :)

An abbreviated glimpse at the uniform. Hi! :)

An abbreviated glimpse at the uniform. Hi! :)

*

Today we are doing what we call ‘dry runs’ which is where we use all the fellow employees as guinea pigs to test our job readiness.  We were all assigned to eat our meals in the guest restaurants, free for us today only, so that the staff could practice before the lodge opens for guests, which by the way is Wednesday! My breakfast assignment was at the 20,320 Alaskan Grill, which is the upscale dining venue here.  And… I had reindeer sausage for the first time.  It was pretty good, not a lot different from a polish sausage, maybe a little more texture.  Another interesting feature of this ‘dry run’ endeavor was that we were assigned to sit at tables with other people so that they had practice with parties of different sizes.  So I had breakfast with two people I’d never met before.  That was interesting.  Both my table mates were in their early twenties, but we had a nice breakfast.

Yum!

Yum!

*

I had gotten up way too early, and there was some confusion as to whether we were supposed to wear our uniforms to breakfast or not.  Our manager had told us yesterday that today was the first day we were to wear them to work, and to go ahead and wear them to breakfast, but then I was told that my work shift for today isn’t until 2:30.  So I had the impression that I probably didn’t have to wear my uniform to breakfast, but I did it anyway.  Just to be on the safe side.

*

Having a roommate for the first time in years is taking some getting used to.  We are always trying to be super quiet for each other and I’m afraid it’s going to get old quickly, feeling like I’m always on guard, trying to be as polite and inoffensive as possible.  My roomie is nice, don’t get me wrong.  She’s been perfectly polite and amiable, just not particularly warm and friendly.  She’s not one of the ‘fresh out of high school’ variety, but she’s not my age either. I’m hoping we’ll get more used to each other, but right now it feels like she doesn’t like me very much.  Of course, I do still SNORE, apparently! :(  So embarrassed about that, and it’s hard to feel like you’re resting well when you’re worried that your roommate is lying awake wishing she had the guts to smother you with a pillow in your sleep.

*

Also, I don’t have any hangers in my room yet, and I haven’t had time to reorganize my things, so it feels like living out of a suitcase, and I’d really rather that NOT be my life for the next four months.  Four months.  Wow.  Part of me can barely envision the reality of being there that long.  I’ve only been here for four days and looking at the weeks and months ahead feels surreal.

*

Speaking of surreal, get a load of this.  One of the girls I work with was wearing a necklace yesterday that read, “Keep Calm and Write On.”  When I noticed it, I had to ask the obvious question:  Oh, are you a writer?  She said she was an aspiring writer, so I told her I write also, told her I am a poet, and then I said, “And I have this blog I write, called …” and I named my blog, and she goes, “Oh my gosh! I’ve read your blog!  I feel like I’m meeting a celebrity!”  And she shook my hand and we got all squeal-y for a bit. It turns out she just likes to search random words and read a lot of different blogs, and she searched ‘Klingon’ and found me!  AND she said she thought mine was pretty good and she liked it.  So yeah, there’s your Incredible Coincidence of the Day.  It was a really fun moment though.

*

So now I’m off to tackle the hills back to my room for a while.  Since I was early for breakfast I took a few pictures this morning.  It was sunny and bright today, and you could actually see the mountain all the way to the top.  What a lot of people discover when they visit here is that on any given day you only have about a 30% chance of seeing the full mountain due to the clouds and atmospheric conditions and all of that.  So it’s nice knowing we’ll have all summer to see it.  It really is an amazing sight.  I’m assigned for lunch at the 20,320 again this afternoon and supper at the Mountain View Dining Room.  AND… we are also going to be assigned to sleep on one of the guest rooms tonight so the housekeeping staff can get their practice in.  Looking forward to that, I can promise you!

The main lodge building with the mountain in the background.

The main lodge building with the mountain in the background.

FullSizeRender

Here is is- the Mountain Itself!

*

Until next time,

D.

 

Welcome to Alaska!! May 8, 2015

Filed under: Alaska Summer — DDKlingonGirl @ 1:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Hello all! Greetings from Anchorage, Alaska!  And so the adventure begins.

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So far it has been all I had hoped.  I stepped off the plane and was greeted by a blast of cool air coming between the plane and the tunnel, and it just felt AWESOME!  My mother had called me just as we had stood up to deplane.  She said, “So where are you?!” And I had the excitement of telling her I was stepping off the plane, that very second!  It was pretty cool timing, if you ask me. :)

*

The trip to the airport was a disappointment that doesn’t bear repeating.  Suffice to say, my poor mother is a saint.  And DFW stinks! Construction was the biggest obstacle.  I would like to think that flying out of that place would be a pretty good experience if it weren’t being so extensively remodeled at the moment.

*

Anyway, the flights were very good.  The first leg was tough.  I cried a little, I won’t lie.  But what was really interesting was that just when I was starting to get pretty sad, I suddenly realized we were flying over mountains that had snow on them!  I assumed we must have been over Colorado, and sure enough, a little later the pilot announced that we had just flown over Telluride!

You can always count on me to be distracted by snow!

You can always count on me to be distracted by snow!

*

Another time when that happened, I was listening to my iTunes on shuffle, and I had just started getting weepy again when I heard the song “Someone” from the musical Young Frankenstein, and it made me think of one of my favorite theater friends from home, and how well he performed that song when Ardmore Little Theatre did that show, and all I could do was smile and laugh.  I’m sure if the flight attendant saw me, she probably thought I was dangerously unstable. I was flying first class, for the first time in my life.  It was nice.  That section of the plane wasn’t necessarily nicer or fancier, but being able to get through security faster and being able to board faster were EXTREMELY nice!  They offer meal service to all classes on Alaska Airlines, which is a nice touch.  On the way to Seattle they served a “Cuban sandwich” with chips and a candy from Seattle Chocolates.  It was margarita flavored, right down to the salt.  It was actually very good.

Fooooood!!!

Fooooood!!!

*

I had a fairly short layover in Seattle, and killed time in a little restaurant called, appropriately enough, Alaska! But boy was it expensive! I had a beverage and some soft pretzel breadsticks and it was $19!  But it was very good, so I just looked at it as a celebration of my journey thus far.  One thing that made me smile about the Seattle stop was that there were happy little yellow flowers growing all around the runways at SeaTac.  I’m sure they are a normal everyday flower there, but I felt like they were there to welcome me. :)

*

The layover was shorter than I had expected it to be, or at least it *felt* shorter.  In no time at all I was back on board another plane, delighting in the fact that the next time I put foot on the ground, I would be in ALASKA!  The second flight was much less emotional than the first.  It was very foggy most of the way, so I ended up watching a movie on one of their free entertainment devices.  It was a good way to kill time.  You may notice I didn’t mention anything about my seatmates.  On both flights, they were men, one a sporty looking guy who reminded me of a radio DJ from back home who passed away recently, and the other a businessman who alternated between sleeping and fiddling with his laptop.  Neither of them ever spoke to me.

*

Finally we landed, and even the airport was beautiful to me.  There are huge windows with mountains all around, and everything is shiny.  It was so satisfying to step off the plane and into that environment.  I shared a bit of conversation with a nice man in the baggage claim who blessed me and wished me well when I told him why I was there.  I claimed my bags, took a cab to the Westmark Hotel (the corporate stay-place) and have been resting and taking advantage of their wi-fi ever since.  That was one big disappointment on the flights- I thought we were supposed to get free wi-fi but I never could figure out how to get it to work.  But I managed to kill the time anyway.  :)

*

I rested well and woke up pretty early.  I took a shower and took my time putting on makeup and getting all “purty” for my first day in Alaska.  Then I took my first Alaska Selfie from the balcony of my room and am now ready to explore a little before time to head out to the lodge.  I am so excited right now, except for knowing there is bad weather at home.  Love and blessings to all, keep me in your prayers, and stay tuned for more! Until next time, D.

From the balcony of the Westmark...Hello from Anchorage!

From the balcony of the Westmark…Hello from Anchorage!

 

A Good Day, A Bonsai, and A Warm Blanket April 13, 2015

Hello all!  Today is a little bit of a weird day.  It’s my last regular day at my job. For one more day I am the secretary of a TV/Radio/Internet ministry program.  Tomorrow it moves to Tennessee and I will be one day closer to my summer job as a clerk in a gift shop in a wilderness resort in Alaska.  I was a little emotional walking into my office today.  My formerly pleasant work space is half-packed, cluttered, disrupted.  The sky outside my sixth floor windows is gray and rain weeps down the glass.  I’ve spent three and a half years at this job, and one year in this office.  It has been a journey.  This program has been through three boards of directors, three computer techs, and lost its main speaker in my three years with the program.  Now that is all behind, and what lies ahead is a summer adventure in Alaska like none I have ever experienced.  I am so excited!

*

Yesterday was a really good day. I’ll tell you why.  I took a moment to spend time with one of my best friends before I’m out of the state for four months.  We went to a high school production of Grease, which as my loyal readers will remember, I stage-managed in community theater this past summer.  A couple of the kids who were in my production were also in this one, in their same roles, and they were absolutely wonderful!  I was so proud of them and their efforts.  Even in the short time since they last performed the show, they have grown and improved so much. It was impressive to witness.

*

Another reason yesterday was good was that I was actually able to acquire something I have always wanted:  a bonsai tree.  There was a van set up by the side of the road in the town where the show was, and we stopped and checked them out.  I had only ever had artificial bonsai trees before.  I had two of them when my house burned in 2009, and had always wanted a real one.  (Probably, if I were to confess, a side-effect of being a child of the 80s and watching Mr. Miyagi care for them in The Karate Kid! Ha!) One of my dorm-mates in college had one and she was always leaving it in the bathroom sink to water it, and I have rarely ever been so tempted to steal something! Shocking, I know.  Wherever the fascination originated, I really love them.  I felt a little guilty buying something that was going to require care and attention when I am about to be leaving for Alaska, but I knew either my mother or my daughters would take care of it for me.  I spent a good portion of the evening trying to think of a name for it.  Yes, I’m a little goofy.  I wish I could take my new little tree to Denali with me, but unfortunately I cannot.  Here’s my new friend:

It still needs a name.

It still needs a name.

*

I made up for that with another purchase, though.  My daughter recently started working in the electronics department at Wal-Mart, and she was tickled to discover that you can get photos put on things like mouse pads, coffee mugs, and blankets.  She is an artist, a cartoonist, an animator.  She declared that she wanted to get some of her artwork put on a blanket so “I can be surrounded by my art!” She got that done quickly and easily, and I was inspired.

Daughter S. with her beloved blanket featuring her character, Random Colors.

Daughter S. with her beloved blanket featuring her character, Random Colors.

*

I may not be able to take my new Bonsai friend with me to Alaska, but I can take my babies! Not in person, sure, but I can take my Sweet Baboos (thank you, Sally Brown) to the Last Frontier with me on a blanket!  I can take them out on the deck, snuggle up with them and watch the mountain, and they will be with me any time I want!  Here is what I ordered:

Notice the yellow border.  Not exactly a surprise, now, is it? :)

Notice the yellow border. Not exactly a surprise, now, is it? :)

*

All the pictures are from our cruise in 2012, which was our biggest adventure to date.  This Alaska thing will trump that, I think, what with all of us becoming grown-ups and striking out on our own and all.  I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  People keep asking me what I am going to do when I come back, and I don’t have an answer.  That is the beauty of life at this point.  I am a little like Forrest Gump’s feather.  I’m just floating along and open to whatever adventure I happen to land on next!

*

Stay tuned for more blog adventures, soon to be coming to you from the great state of Alaska, complete with  (I hope) lots of gorgeous pictures!  Thanks for stopping by.

*

Until next time,

D.

 

Maybe I’m Too Easily Entertained March 25, 2015

My motto for life, apparently!

My motto for life, apparently!

Hello all!  Ok, I don’t think this is likely to happen:  I don’t think I am in any danger of anyone thinking I am cool.  Or hip.  Or with-it.  Or fleek, or whatever the word is these days.  Ok?  Pretty sure nobody has ever mistaken me for any of those things, BUT.  Just in case I’m ever on the verge of being thought of as having or possessing in any way, any modicum of cool-ness, let me dispel that notion right here and now.

*

See, because it takes a certain kind of person, a certain kind of personality, to enjoy at the age of 42 something meant to entertain 6-year-olds.  Today on the way to school, The Boy and I were listening to a CD recording of a book in the Hank the Cow Dog series.  First of all, if you have never heard of this adorable series, let me just say it is Hilarious.  With a capital H.  It is, in fact, so cleverly written as to border on brilliant.  The books themselves are adorable, but listening to them read on CD is even more special.  They are read and voiced by the author himself.

*

Now, the particular story we were listening to was called The Case of the Tricky Trap, wherein:

Someone has been stealing feed out of the feed shed, and Hank knows that it’s his job to do whatever he can to help nab the culprit. Slim sets a live-animal trap in the shed, and Hank checks it in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the trap is a little trickier than Hank anticipated, and in the process of his investigation Hank manages to get himself…well…trapped. Can Hank find a way out of this sticky situation?

*

The thing I enjoy most about these stories on CD is absolutely the voices.  What intrigues and entertains me about these voices is that they are all done by the same person, but each one is a completely different, completely developed character.  For the last two evenings I’ve been watching auditions for the new show ALT is doing, their final show of the season, Tuna Does Vegas.  I usually love watching auditions because it’s interesting to see how people interpret characters, and it’s something I am just learning.  Sometimes people take things in a way you would never expect, and the result is usually pants-wetting funny!

*

So back to Hank.  As you might expect from a story set in the Texas panhandle, there are two buzzards in the series- a father and son duo of buzzards called Wallace and Junior.  In this episode, Wallace is getting a huge kick out of the fact that poor old clueless Hank has gotten himself stuck in a trap, and decides to entertain him with a song.  (There’s almost always a song in these stories, and they are genius!)

*

Right about the time it was time for The Boy to get out of the car and go in to school, this song was cueing up.  Now don’t we assume that most moms would turn off the kid music when the kid gets out of the car?  Aren’t most moms dying for adult music, news, ads, talk radio, or anything you might hear on your morning commute?  Well, not this mom. The Boy gets out of the car, flashes me a wicked grin, and says “Enjoy your song, Mom!” And as he shuts the door, I crank up the volume a little more and listen to this:

*

…and laugh and laugh.

*

Maybe I’m just blowing off stress because I leave for Alaska SIX WEEKS from tomorrow!  I have three weeks to pack up my office and get it ready to move to Tennessee.  Then three weeks more to get new clothes bought and ship a few things I can’t take on the plane with me.  It’s going to go super fast.  Yikes!  Stay tuned for my new blog detailing my Alaska adventures.  Also plan to join Instagram for the purpose of sharing all the pictures people keep begging me to post, so watch for that.

*

Until next time,

D.

 

 
Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

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