Monday, February 13, 2012

You might be an Alaskan if…

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I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a while now.  You’d think that would lead to better picture quality, but as regular readers know, you’d be wrong. (Anyway, it’s winter, what else do I have to do?)  Let’s see if I am able to properly channel comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck” shtick.  I’m not sure if this list is silly or just true.

You might be an Alaskan if:

you have at least four fleece coats. The one without dog hair or engine oil is your dress coat.

a moose ate your Halloween pumpkin.

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a roll of duct tape and a blue tarp can save your life. At least you tell yourself this as your wife is hollering at you for buying another blue tarp and half dozen rolls of duct tape.

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“there goes a man in uniform” translates into a guy wearing carhartts, bunny boots, and a fleece jacket. Gun optional.

you can ski to your mailbox

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filling the freezer with meat means an annual rifle-laden pilgrimage to the hinterlands, significant financial outlay, and eating out of a can for four days.  Then hauling largish animal bits 20 miles across the tundra to your vehicle.  Grocery store?  What grocery store?

a heat wave in December means 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees C).  “Honey, where’d I put my sandals?”

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snowmachines are how you get from point A to point B.  If you call them “snowmobiles” instead of snowmachines, you are not from Alaska.  A true aficionado even refers to them affectionately as “sleds.”

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the gladdest sight in winter is the snow plow coming down the road. Get out of the way, fool!  And don’t even think about leaving your car parked along the street if it has just snowed.  I once witnessed a plow driver lean on his horn (who knew those big things had a horn?) until a man ran out of his home and moved the car to the driveway.  Yes, I laughed.  The man ran very fast.  I don’t often witness a full sprint outside of track and field meets and TV cop shows.

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you own a gun. Three is better.  Six, you’ve got your own little armory and probably make your own bullets, too. (I received *my first gun as a “welcome to the family” gift from my future Alaskan in-laws.  The look on my family’s faces was absolutely priceless as I unwrapped it, too.  Hee hee.)

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you don’t try to pet the moose/bears. Not even the ones in the zoo. Tourists do try this on occasion.  I wouldn’t try to pet the mountain lions, jaguars, big spiders, anything with horns or antlers, wolves, hippos, etc. from the world’s respective countries.  Why people try to pet wildlife is beyond me.

the state pays you a big fat check every October. (A bribe to keep us here over the winter.)

a bald eagle ate your dog.

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winter sports are not optional.

for those in more rural areas (anywhere in Alaska outside of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau), when it’s time to go to town, you saddle up your moose.  This is what you tell people from out of state, anyway.

when the freezer (and the extra freezer in the garage) gets full, you just put the cream puffs from Costco on the back deck. Voila, mother nature’s freezer.

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you have snow tires.  If you have to ask what these are, you are not from Alaska.

you think faux fur is a faux pas.

*I included an actual picture of my first gun being wielded by a relative in a family winter Olympics of sorts.  I told you we got bored in winter….


What makes your home country/state’s population unique?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Slightly more advanced than making ice cubes

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So what do we northern idiots do when the mercury plunges so low that even jaded, long-time Alaskans say,”that can’t be right”?  Why we find something to do outside, of course!  Never mind that hypothermia, frostbite, and windburn are at the back of everyone’s mind.  Out we go! 

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The children resembled sausages in pink, Gore-Tex casings after I was finished bundling them up for our windy, downtown outing a couple of weeks ago.  My look was more “purple marshmallow woman meets Davy Crockett”, but so be it, I was warm.  The husband claimed some mechanical items in the garage needed his urgent attention and so was off the hook (and out of the cold).

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Besides Fur Rendezvous and Running of the Reindeer, there isn’t much going on outdoors in winter that gets me to drive downtown when it’s below zero.  This year was an exception.  Having heard vague whisperings of “ice sculptures” and “Town Square,” I figured we were due for a quick trip to view “The Crystal Gallery of Ice,” sculpted by a handful of gentleman whose names I can’t pronounce (and only assume are from a similarly chilly part of eastern Asia where they groom tots from a young age to whittle on ice cubes, then ice bricks, followed by ice blocks.  Following graduation, an arctic expedition to share their scholarship in that Land of Nearly Perpetual Frozen Water: Alaska.  OK, that’s all nonsense, but I kind of enjoyed my short lived ice carving fantasy). 

Fortunately, no melting had occurred (that was a joke, it was literally, to quote Dr. Evil “frickin’ freezing, Mr. Bigglesworth”) and only a dusting of snow slightly obscured the icy figures.  I’m just sorry you won’t be able to experience the heady mixture of numbness in the extremities, wind-stung face, and dash of chattering teeth as you view this post from your heated room.  Stick your head in the freezer for a few minutes for empathy, if you like.

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I was pleasantly surprised at the skill on display.  I was less pleasantly surprised at how cold it was, plus wind.  I have no number to scare you with, only this: my fingers became so numb after a few photos that I (born here) was literally compelled to exit Town Square post-haste and enter the nearby shopping mall where I became just slightly less distracted than a texting teen driving in traffic and bought things I thought I needed, but on second thought, yes, I still needed.  After which I had a hot pretzel and ersatz melted cheese (to fully thaw the fingers, you understand), and then went back outside for a few more pictures at the behest of my by now overheating children.  (You try trudging around a shopping mall in a snowsuit, grumped a wee one.)

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The picture above is probably about as close as this beast from the Galapagos (no doubt someone will let me know if I’m wrong here) will ever get to the frozen north I call home.  But I suppose this whole ice carving idea is also a lesson in making lemonade from lemons.  If you can’t beat the cold temperatures, make an ice sculpture.  Or move to Arizona and tend cacti.  The smart Alaskans do.

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Three cheers for folks who carve ice!


Making lemonade from lemons?


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