Enough Already

EPIC snow at the Nest! Another berm left by the plow? Yes, but by now we’re used to that. But the snow on the roof over the back porch – Whoa! HW had me on belay with an old dog leash through the bathroom window, fearing I’d be swept away should the snow suddenly avalanche

Pardon the plumber butt.

Purgatory

Turnagain Pass area, on our way to the Nest. I could make out he was wearing skis. A wise choice, given conditions on the ground.

Arrived at the Nest to find the driveway blocked by a new berm of snow. Unlike the one I described a few weeks ago, this one was hardened like rock candy. Before we left Anchorage someone warned us it had snowed days earlier in Seward, about 16″ she’d said, yet we were incredulous. Although, at the last second we did think to throw the ice chopper in the car. Good thing, too. The plastic snow shovel we keep at the Nest was pointless – like chipping concrete with a spatula. Took the two of us about 30 minutes hacking and flinging ice chunks to clear a gap wide enough to get the Subaru through. Meanwhile, the Black Dog had wandered down the Beach Road into someone’s yard, where he’d dug down a foot into an anonymous pile of snow to get at a loaf of stale bread. This did not please Happy Wife.

The Packer’s loss in Atlanta SUCKED. I’m still not entirely over it. But kudos to the Falcons who played REALLY well that day. As they did in the super bowl, if only for three quarters.

Today I went to spin class for first time in like twelve years, probably more. I’m leading another bike tour in Alaska this summer (haha, summer – remember that?!), and I don’t want to wait until May to start getting fit. It’s a nice cycling studio, decent stationary bikes in a comfortable room. The Instructor Motivator was a young millennial gal, ninety pounds (maybe) dripping wet, a body tighter than a snare drum, sporting a cosmic shoulder-tattoo and a preternatural tan, a perky blonde with a ponytail and fake boobs. My fellow spinners were, likewise, mostly millenials with agendas of their own. The lights dimmed and the fun began. The Motivator had us out of our saddles almost immediately, to the deafening whomp-whomp-whomp of rap music she’d turned up to like 120 db. No wonder complimentary ear plugs are available at the front counter.

45 minutes later it was over. I’d survived. Two or three others had left early. At one point during the session, the Motivator, who was mic’d and talking over the music – Pump The Kitty!, Pump The Kitty! – the whole time, motivated us with: Reach deep now. This is where you push yourself. Focus. We’re all different people. Different goals. Different abilities.

At which point I’d had enough and gasped, with what little breath I had left, “And Different ages!”

Don’t know if anyone heard me over the din. Doubt it. But no matter, I’m going back for more. It was a good sweat.

I turned 57 this month. An unremarkable age. Neither old nor young, not wise or still naive. If there’s a purgatory for the middle-aged, this is it.

Happy Wife treated me to dinner at the Pub House. We ate at the bar, as we are wont to do, next to a former mayor of Anchorage, who Happy Wife overheard had voted for Trump. Whatever. Many years ago when he was the sitting mayor of Anchorage, we crashed his (the “Mayor’s”) New Year’s eve party at the Captain Cook hotel. It was late, after midnight if I recall. We just wandered in and belly’d up to the bar like we owned the place. Ordered drinks, tipped ’em back, and hit the dance floor like nobody’s business. What a hoot. This was back when HW and I were in our courtship phase. It was like a fantasy.

The Pub House bartender surprised me with a complimentary birthday desert…

… some super-tasty key-lime concoction HW & I devoured.

The previous weekend we went to Nest, as mentioned, and enjoyed a glorious low-tide walk on the beach

Surprised Happy Wife this week with a half day off from work – Valentines Day. She had no idea. In fact, her staff had her believing her schedule was full the whole day. Meanwhile, I conquered a phone meeting at work, smoked the ribs (Washington St. baby backs!), walked The Dog, bought the roses, prepared a nice caprese salad plate – with Burrata, HW’s fav! – set the table, primped myself and waited for her to walk in the door.

The rest is left to your imagination. Let’s just say Purgatory ain’t so bad.

Zowie

An epic snowfall at our Nest last night. We woke to 18 inches, possibly more, and it was still falling. Pretty, yes – who doesn’t delight in a winter wonderland – but 75′ of driveway covered in thigh-high drifts between the Subaru and the road did not counsel merriment. After three coffees and a hearty breakfast I got after it. The one shovel we keep down there was like a child’s toy against the berm the plow had left us. We’d heard it earlier, lumbering down the beach road while we were still in bed. Must’ve been 8 AM or so. Happy Wife jumped up and threw on a light to let the plow guy know we were there, so that he might lift his shovel as a courtesy as he passed by our driveway? Wah wah wah….

Like many things, shoveling seems futile at first, yet if you keep plugging away eventually you realize, “I can do this.” Or throw a hernia, or suffer a heart attack.

When we’d arrived the day before we found the water lines frozen, except one. A roaring fire in the wood stove, a space heater in the crawl space, and a couple hours later all was forgotten. I’d promised Happy Wife she’d have a hot shower before bed, and made good on that with minutes to spare. The Black Dog was unmoved by the snow avalanching off the metal roof. About every hour or so we heard it, a thunderous slide of a few hundred pounds or more. Didn’t keep us from sleeping like dead people through the night, though.

After shoveling, we we’re on the road early back to Anchorage. Around Moose Pass it was hard to make out where the road was. The snow was falling really hard there and the few plows out couldn’t keep up. We pressed on, albeit slowly. About five miles north of Moose Pass the snow had stopped but the road was still sketchy. To make it worse, blowing snow, low clouds, and intermittent ice fog reduced visibility. Some fun! We’d be driving along and all of sudden, Blam!, there’d be a car or truck right in front us. Couldn’t see it, of course, being the entire back of the car was plastered thick with snow.

Finally, we made it back to Anchorage and what’s this? – it’s snowing! And not softly. Pulled into the driveway (barely) to find 12-18″! Happy Wife grabbed the shovel this time and said, “I got this.” “Don’t you dare try to shovel all that yourself young lady,” I said. She wasn’t out there ten minutes when our neighbor rolled over on his four-wheeler with attached plow and did us right. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s getting a handsome gift certificate to Butcher Block 9.

Go Packers!

Go Cheese!

Over 50 holiday newsletter recipients victims this year. For those of you not on the list, here was the parting glam shot

Just so you know it’s not glam 24/7 around here

That was taken seconds before the start of the Packer’s evisceration of the Giants, or was the Lions? Whatev. On to Dallas!

Merry Christmas

Forty degrees, gray, and raining. Not the Christmas in Seward we’d hoped for. Between here and Anchorage it’s another story, biblical inches of snow with howling wind, not expected to clear until tomorrow, so we’re staying put down here, even though a simple walk down the beach this morning was thwarted by ice. Even The Dog was doing The Penguin walk.

Inside, we enjoyed a more traditional Christmas, a tree with a modest apron of modest gifts and a not-too-spicy Alaskan shrimp cocktail

I got a super comfy acrylic knit hat, cycling accouterments, a gift card to spin classes (have I mentioned I’m leading another bike tour in Alaska in ’17?), a coffee mug to remind me I’m the youngest of three children, a bottle of my favorite wine from Chateau St. Jean, Cinq Cepages (thank you Sistah!), and a box of Queen Anne cherries, these last two ostensibly to share with Happy Wife. Emphasis on ostensibly. She got slippers, a dress (one she likes!), a pastry piping bag with an assortment of tips, a recipe hook, and shoes (she needs).

Almost forgot, I also got a bottle of wicked good gin. We arrived at Our Nest Friday night to find the gin bottle nearly empty. Sensing my lament, and to lift my spirits (ha ha) HW said, “You want one of your gifts early?”

“Under the circumstances I’m hardly feeling cheery right now, Dear.”

Voila – Lament Crusher!

 

#BlackDogsMatter

No difficulty seeing him in the snow. We finally got some. After two almost snowless winters it’s good to see it back. If for no other reason than it brightens up the landscape, but of course skiers love it too. Which is fine, so long as they don’t go off on me when they spot me and The Dog on their groomed trails. A freshly combed trail is to a skier what a glass pool is to a high diver. I get it. I try to stay on the multi-use trails most of the time. But in the few instances when I don’t, for instance when we’re forced off a side trail onto the groomed corduroy by an angry moose, or circumstances of the day require I shortcut back to the car, I don’t want to be berated by an apoplectic skier who thinks just because there’s snow on the trails they are suddenly — and legally — for skiers only. They aren’t. I steer clear of groomed trails as a courtesy to skiers. As a protest sign I once saw posted at the trailhead correctly noted: 12 months of taxes, 12 months of access.

The opinions of this blogger are his and his alone, especially as his Happy Wife is an avid skate skier. (Thankfully, a reasonably minded one, sympathetic to the plights of Dog Walkers).

Lot’s going on lately, not all of which I care to share with you, and not because it’s not good, it is, but I don’t want to jinx the outcome I want by talking about it. And no, I’m not opening a Pot store.

Adding to our seasonal woes of dark and cold, the State is now officially in a recession

“I about cried when I first saw the data — it was shocking,” said Caroline Schultz, an economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development who worked on the report. She described Alaska’s current economic state as a “recession.”

How touching, an economist in tears. In my experience the best ones are coldly logical and stoic. If a grim analysis is all it takes to make you cry, maybe seek other work? In any case, no matter. I first moved here in ’89 when the State was in the trough of a pretty bad recession. For largely the same reason, too — a very low price for a barrel of oil. It rose again briefly in ’90, dipped and stayed low the following ten years, then began climbing again pretty steadily, until it was all Wine & Chocolates again (and free Halibut Charters 🙂 ) for a pretty long time. Until now

Hard to predict what that graph will look like ten years out.

So we (HW & I) have had to cut back. To wit: while traveling recently I had to stoop to ordering an anonymous bottle of Barolo for dinner.

Nothing pains me more than a look of shame on HW’s face