Monday, December 20, 2010

Travelling to warmer climes this Christmas?

How does maroon and purple carpet grab you?  I feel the same way, perhaps even more strongly, but alas, maroon and purple carpet is my fate.  At least until it gets replaced.  Priority one: getting the ceilings and walls in the bedrooms painted before we move in, which has been slightly more labor intensive and time consuming than I had supposed.  Also, I had forgotten just how much paint a person can acquire on one’s body in the space of three days.  The magnetic paint (don’t ask) was the absolute worst.  I’m still picking off traces of it on my wrist.  Maybe it will help with any iron deficiencies I have. 

Translation of above excuses, whimpering, and whining: I am out of time and energy, so relying on that old trick of picture=thousand words seems the logical move, even for me.  For those lucky enough to be heading south this holiday season: 

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This charming little display was part of a temporary reptile exhibit in no less a place than Palmer, Alaska.  Which I assure you has no native vultures, reptiles, or desert succulents.  More’s the pity.

Any painting counsel for me?  Times you ran out of water in the desert?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh, Alaska! The Twelve Tarps of Christmas….

Never one to content myself with writing about a local quirk/pet peeve just once, I have canvassed the sprawling metropolis of Anchorage, Alaska and surrounding areas for the most glorious use of blue tarps, bound to induce feelings of civic pride within any resident of this 49th state.  Now knowing I couldn’t possibly do this on my own, I enlisted tarp scouts to track down this brightly hued but sometimes elusive polyethylene beast.  (First, do yourself a favor and brush up on my fascinating account of the magnetism blue tarps exert upon those carrying a Y chromosome.)

So look on, if you dare, but don’t blame me for various diseases of the eye and mind that may occur as a result….

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There’s A Partridge wintering in there, And A Pear Tree, too, I just know it.  I’m half expecting an astronaut to walk out the door: “Houston, we have a problem….”  (There is a Houston, Alaska, and this ponderosa wasn’t ten miles down the road from that fair town.  I call that irony.)

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 Two Turtle Doves.  Or maybe one RV and one woodpile?

Three Feet Over the Property Line.

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Four Lolling Boats.  The nicest one gets a tarp?

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Five Ashen Cinderblocks.  (My imagination seems to be running out of steam here, but they’re not golden now, are they?)

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Six Tarps A-Laying?

Seven Swans A-Swimming, but not ‘till spring and the (rare and shy) brown tarp is removed.

Eight Frayed Neighborly Relations.

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Maybe they have Nine Ladies Dancing in there.  A little privacy, please….

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Ten (thousand) Boards A-Sleeping.

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Eleven Pipes Crumbling.  OK, it’s a column.  Our city is in a bit of a budget crunch, so those much needed repairs are camouflaged Alaska style.  Fancy, isn’t it?

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Twelve Summers Sitting (there.)

So you see, no matter how bad it is, any situation can be made even worse with the addition of a blue tarp.  I’d like to thank my unsuspecting neighbors here in Anchorage and a few choice residents of the Mat-Su valley for their inspiration (and unwitting participation) in my Tarp Roundup this year.  Keep buying those blue tarps and spreading that blue tarp love around!

Is there anything more noticeable than a blue tarp?  I just want to know why blue?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This just in: Last Frontier Gardener finds home!

And perhaps just as important, a garden.  Some of you may recall that we recently sold our home (and my garden) of ten years.  For a refresher on my angst click here.  I have been gardenless (and homeless) for over a month.  Not homeless in the street person sense, but shoehorning four people into a one bedroom apartment doesn’t make me feel like calling this itty bitty place “home”.

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On the upside, our little rental does have a few perks.  I have the city bus schedule for a stop by our window memorized.  And for those looking to rent or buy in the area, the police response time is fantastic.  Three sirens a day is typical, but all bets are off on Friday or Saturday nights.  My record is eight in a row, but that included the ambulance and fire trucks, too.  I won’t mention the incident of the inebriated pedestrian falling into the road and getting hit across the street, but you get the idea by now.

Another perk, for some: we’ve got built-in babysitters.  My sister lives next door.  My brother lives upstairs.  And my mother’s office is two doors down.  We’re like the Clampett version of the Kennedys and their family compound in Massachusetts.  I’m trying to convince my other sister to move in, but strangely, inexplicably, she has resisted the idea so far.  Maybe she doesn’t want to babysit my kids.

And finally, the best perk of all, my vehicle now has a remote auto-start function.  So on those cold days (like the miserable, single digit weather we had last week) I can press a button in my apartment and my car starts, warms up, and manages not to get stolen before I get in it.  This delightful feature would never have been installed without the on-street parking we now enjoy.  A few weeks of the cold temps and the LFG hubby broke down and took the cars in for the old fixeroo.  Thank you, bitterly cold weather, thank you!

So I’ll be really sad to leave all this, as you can see.  But we are to sign our lives away (otherwise known as closing on a house) this week.  Wish me luck, or at least, a well with no arsenic in the water.

Any good reasons for living next to family?  On a busy street?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

“Have a snarly, gnarly Christmas” & other classics

Surely the tone of this piece is clear right from the start.  If not, for those perhaps half asleep or jet-lagged, let me be understood.  After enduring the traffic, the icy roads, the brown snow, and the single digit temperatures, the one thing I’m not is jolly.  Sensible folk would do something to effect a cure, perhaps drink a mug of hot cocoa adorned with whipped cream and sprinkles, buy a pair of warm boots, or get on the next plane to Hawaii.  Me?  I am sliding deeper into my “winter funk” and strangely, perversely almost, enjoying it.

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I notice the Christmas songs are now on twenty four hour rotation.  The oldie but goodie category (Frank Sinatra, Eartha Kitt, etc.) seems to escape my snide observations, but the more modern recordings are easy pickings.  Some of the singers actually sound deranged about the thought of the upcoming holidays.  This seems like a good place to mention the synthesizer, an instrument waaaay overdone in Christmas songs from a certain decade.  And the station gets changed immediately if there is a solo more than two octaves above how the music is written.  I prefer to keep the windshield intact, thanks.

What’s the point of all this grumpiness?  I want to share the coping mechanism that gets me through “all Christmas songs, all the time”, plus a heavy dose of “winter funk.”  My breakthrough came when I began to substitute alternate lyrics and titles.  Suddenly, life was bearable, or at least, the twentieth Mariah Carey holiday tune in one hour, less inclined to tip me over some psychopathic boundary. 

Can you guess what these used to be?

1. Mocking Aloud the Christmas Letter

2. Sarah Got Run Over by a Hater (In A Volvo)

3. Congress Fighting in an Open Mire

4. All I Want For Christmas is j.crew

You see, it doesn’t have to be clever or make sense, just fun!

Here are some for you to try:

1. Do You Hear What I Hear?

2. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

3. Over the River and Through the Woods

4. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

5. (and my new favorite…) Please Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas

Care to share a coping mechanism?  Christmas song spoof?


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