Dec 30

Last night, we watched “Open Water”…and like the Tsunami, I am officially freaked out again. I woke up this morning thinking about the true events that inspired the movie. And also tried to convince myself that it was still okay to live on a tiny island in the Bering Sea and scuba dive…and that Tsunami’s and being left behind in the middle of shark infested waters are things that rarely happen. So far, it ain’t workin’. In fact, the freak factor? is working overtime.

On a lighter note, we followed up the movie with “Anchorman” which was is so unbelievably stupid, that it actually works. You know, like “Dumb and Dumber” (though the sequel completely sucked a**) and “There’s Something About Mary”, both of which I currently own and view probably once a month when there’s nothing on tv and we want a good laugh. Last night, I was belly laughing, holding my stomach at some points. Some of the humor is obvious, slapstick, and easy to get. Some of it, is well just really so stupid, that it wasn’t funny. But all in all, considering the previous screening, it was just what we needed. Though it didn’t keep me from obsessing and thinking about the first movie.

Well, it looks as though, this will probably be my last post of 2004 and I have many plans for this wee little blog in 2005. Plans that should start happening in the next couple of weeks and more than likely while we’re on vacation. I’m really excited and can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

Happy New Year everyone. I wish you all good health and much happiness.

Dec 28

My guilt is so bad, I purchased two monogrammed sweatshirts for Lucky and a fleece hoody. He’s gonna look so cute. Then again. He’s gonna be so pissed, he’ll be glad I’m gone for a whole month.

Oh I am smart!

Dec 27

..because I have lots of time on my hands and because I am insane.

“Things I plan to do on my much needed vacation”

-Get Drunk

-Go to a tanning salon. Shut Up. I am not going to Buenos Aires at the warmest time of their season looking all pasty and gross. Skin cancer be damned.

-Will flaunt new Chanel purse.

-Get Drunk

-Shop at Wal-Mart because I can.

-Shop at expensive, snooty high end department stores because I can.

-Eat sushi

-Eat out a lot just because I can.

-Get Drunk

-Feel guilty about leaving cat and dog for entire month.

-Will call every other day to check on dog and cat, and will ask very little about how the store is doing.

-Will post drunk posts via laptop.

-Will send drunken emails as well.

-Get Drunk

-Will run around like mad crazy lady trying to visit everyone, nevermind that WE are the ones who came 3000 miles across the country.

-Will do girly things with best girl Julie and get drunk!

-Eat waaaaay too much.

-Go skiing, fall down too much, will retreat to lodge and get drunk and laugh at all the clumsiness.

-Allow grandmother to spoil me, as she always does.

-Will visit grandfather’s grave and talk to him. Will weep much and get pissed that he’s not here to welcome me back.

-Will get drunk because of extreme sadness at grandfather’s absence.

-Will see everyone we know at Wal-Mart and explain well over a 100 times how we came to live in Alaska.

-Will visit foreign country and rely heavily on Howard’s Spanish because I have been one slack bitch though he has shoved tapes and book in my face at least once a day.

-Will dress in skimpy slutty clothes because it is hot in Buenos Aires in January and like no one there will ever see me again, much less care.

-Will raid the mini-bar in our room and bitch about the bill later.

-Will flirt with hot latin men and take a tango lesson just so I can rub up against some of them shamelessly.

-Will think Howard gives a damn, meanwhile he’s in a corner fighting off all the latin women.

-Will dive headfirst into Argentine steak.

-Go horseback riding even in 90 degree heat and humidity.

-Visit Eva Peron’s grave.

-Go to museums.

-Go to Las Vegas and see Howard’s dad who luckily has not disowned us for not coming to see him in so long.

-Will meet new members of the family.

-Get drunk.

-Go to champagne buffets and will wear “fat jeans” so I won’t be able to tell that I’ve gained 15 lbs in a damn week.

-Gamble just to get free booze.

-Will spend money at the forum shops at Caesar’s.

-Will brunch at the Bellagio and ooooh and aaaaaaah at their million dollar chandalier of blown glass made to look like pansies.

-Lose way too much money gambling.

-Drive to Death Valley and see the Hoover Dam again.

-Pray that our layover back to Anchorage is long enough to see my other best girl, Jen.

-Will be very hungover and won’t be able to think about alcohol until my next vacation.

“What I got for Christmas”

-Three beautiful handmade native dolls from Howard
-Another handmade doll from dollmaker of other three dolls
-Chanel handbag
-Hand knitted Christmas ornament from Melanya
-Hand knitted pot holder with SMK 2004 emblazoned on the front from Melanya.
-Scented candle that smells like Egg Nog and causes my mouth to water.

Handmade anything is huge to me and is worth way more than Chanel purse (though I love it!), the sentiment and love that went into it is priceless. I have awesome friends and family.

The rest of the gifts I will post after vacation because we are going to celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts with the family when we arrive in NC.

….oh yeah and we now have water!!!!!!!!!! Woo HOO! I’ll consider that a Christmas present from the administrators of our village.

-

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Dec 27

..that whole Tsunami thing, freaked me the f*ck out. Especially living on a island surrounded by ocean. The Bering sea is pretty temperamental anyway…and the thought of Tsunami sized waves…well scares the bejesus out of me. I am somewhat relieved that we live on the highest part of the island but…still. Am freaked out.

Dec 27

So yes, I had a wonderful Christmas in spite of the lack of water among other things. Christmas Eve, Alex and Melanya came over and as Melanya and I were on the phone earlier..her idea of making black bean lasagna flew out the window as I discovered we were out of not only black beans but also tofu. So we ditched the idea and decided to just make what we make best which turned out to be…dun dun dun! Melanya’s eggrolls, my (well actually Howard’s but I made them Christmas Eve) homemade tortilla chips and mexican dip, and the trusty cabbage salad and the tres addictive dressing. Alex also made these cookies, which are, quite possibly the best f*cking cookies I’ve ever had. Seriously. They were a concoction of dried cranberries and coconut and lots of butter. Kind of like a pecan sandy only with cranberries and coconuts instead, but still the same consistency. Holy damn, they were goooooooood.

We exchanged gifts with each other and had a blast! However, during all of this, our computer “crashed” and I solicited Alex’s expertise and we spent part of our night, sitting in the spare bedroom, defragmenting our computer.

We took lots of funny pictures and laughed much and loved our gifts from each other.

Christmas Day was pretty quiet except for the phone calls with our family and a raging blizzard outside. And that is no exaggeration. The wind speeds peaked at 80mph and we thought the house was going to fly away. In fact, the old AC house which is right next door to us, lost part of its tin roof and in the midst of the flying tin, knocked our satellite out of whack and we’ve yet to get it back up and running. So we camped out in the bedroom and watched Dr. Zhivago on DVD. Alex and Melanya were supposed to come back over for a real Christmas dinner of Prime Rib, mashed potatoes, cabbage salad and more of Alex’s cookies. We were convinced they wouldn’t brave the wind and snow to get over to our side of the island but behold! they made the journey in spite of it all. Now that’s friendship people! So, we spent the night watching DVDs and chowing down…we also formed an obsession with this toy I bought for Howard, which is really a cheap flying hovercraft thingy I saw at the Discovery Store online. We must have played with that thing for a solid hour, passing around the remote, laughing and watching it hit the ceiling and crash to the ground. (Ah, it doesn’t take much to entertain us…trust me, you learn to appreciate it up here) Melanya is knitting a sweater for Lucky and spent part of the night chasing him around the room (well not really chasing but it gives you funny visual doesn’t it?) trying to fit him with the sleeves.

Howard and I were so excited to have two full days off together, we hardly knew what to do with ourselves. Our moods were upbeat even without water! Late yesterday, realizing we didn’t have enough (hauled) water to boil to properly wash dishes, we decided to bring them to the store with us (okay we did work a little bit but we were closed so it didn’t really feel like work) and wash them in the produce sink. Love that produce sink…doubles as a shower and kitchen sink. I also did my “due by Monday” paperwork and faxed in payroll. The highlight was calling the head office to leave a message for Tess about someone’s holiday pay and actually having her pick up the phone! Turned out, she was workin’ on her “day off” as well. We had a colorful, pleasant conversation, just as we always do and Howard took his first shower in the produce sink. Ah, a lovely day indeed.

We ended the night with a visit to our friends, Victor and Alberta, and tried Beluga whale and ate some dried Herring. Before you even wonder, I felt incredibly guilty about the whale…so there.

All in all, in spite of computer problems (which still aren’t fixed and apparantly I’m going to have to ship it off to Dell and have it worked on), no satellite tv, no water and no immediate family with which to spend the holiday, I’d say Christmas 2004 was pretty darn sweet.

Yes indeed.

Dec 24

…once again…

and in the form of water. Or lack thereof.

This will be our second Christmas in this village and more importantly our second Christmas without running water.

Well, let me clarify that. Last year we really didn’t have any running water. Our water system proved faulty in these negative temps (though we still haven’t figured out what kind of crack the construction crew was smoking when they decided to put our water system OUTSIDE!) and pretty must stayed frozen until a kind man named Dave came out and saved our lives by ante-ing up a whole new system…pipes and all…on the inside. Nonetheless, this was way after Christmas and I’m digressing…anywho.

So, last year we sat on the phone with our familes, giving them the whole schpeel about what it was like and how we couldn’t wait to go on vacation and have the luxury of taking a shower everyday and flush toilets and the like….and then wished them all a Merry Christmas. It was very tough, I’ll admit. We came here pretty much urbanized. City folk, especially compared to “the bush”.

This year, we actually do have running water, but it all depends on if we get water delivered to our holding tanks by the city. And guess what? This year? the pump that actually gets the water from our truck to our holding tank is broken. And with how our tanks are set up, we can’t haul water from the store and just pour it into the tank…so…here we are…out of water. Another “waterless” Christmas. And in case you’re wondering…only half the village is plumbed on a central water/sewer system. And it’s the opposite half of the village. Everyone on this side has to install their own independent system or wait until they are hooked up to the city lines…and that’s been an odyssey in itself. See? Digressing again.

I am happy that we can, at least, flush our toilet with the water we haul but tonight we are having guests over for Christmas dinner and I’m about to boil water on the stove to wash dishes. Howard and I drove to the washeteria last night to take a hot shower and we’re grateful for that too. Tomorrow, because the washeteria is closed, the produce sink at the store will have to be our shower. Trust me. I can make it work.

But it does put things into perspective. Howard and I realize how much we take for granted. How precious just having water is. When you compare that to wishing for a new Chanel handbag, or the latest electronic gadget or toy…or that cute little pair of Manolo’s….you realize…well just how lucky you are to have the luxury of fretting over such things.

I can say that we are grateful that we’ve experienced hardships like this…while not fun…and we would prefer not to experience them if given a choice…it keeps us in check. Gives us that little nudge of “hey, it could always be worse…”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Dec 23

I was somewhat relieved to finally see a backlash against the upcoming “Who’s Your Daddy?” reality/sick game show on FOX.

I mean people, that’s a SERIOUS and INTENSELY PRIVATE issue. (and trust me, I speak from experience as do a LOT of people) You’re going through so many emotions, and while I’m a fan of reality tv, this just crosses the line. Is 100,000 dollars worth such a private and emotional event that you can never change or take back? A million bucks isn’t worth it to me. And I’m shallow. And I like money. So that speaks volumes. VOLUMES people.

Okay, my hats off to people who have the guts to go on any reality tv show, you’re putting yourself out there, allowing people to judge you and form opinions about you (right jonny?)….but I just can’t get my mind around this one. The whole issue leaves me almost speechless….and the sick thing? is I’ll probably watch it and contribute to the ratings…even though it goes against my own moral fiber. (any “oxymoronic commments” and you’ll get a coal in your stocking…without a shiny diamond in the middle)

And in the case of the retail madness that is my daily life, if I don’t get a chance to hop back on here…or on my soapbox for that matter…..

I do want to take this moment and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Very Happy New Year. Remember to count your blessings.

Dec 20

He/She would be turning 6.

He/She would inevitably be opening gifts from mom and dad and flashing his/her dad’s inherited dimples.

He/She would probably have brown curly hair also inherited from dad.

He/She would be wearing cute overalls with a red or blue shirt underneath.

He/She would be exclaiming to everyone that it is his/her birthday.

He/She would no doubt be displaying “high drama” moments, inherited from mom.

He/She would be begging him/her dad to go fishing.

He/She would be finicky about which slice of birthday cake we would be cutting into.

He/She would be tormenting the cat and dog.

Dog and cat would be fiercely protective of him/her.

He/She would be spoiled by the grandparents on both sides of the family.

He/She would love to read and be read to.

He/She would be getting ready to go see “SpongeBob: The Movie” with mom, dad and extended family.

He/She would be rooting around under the Christmas tree to shake gift boxes.

He/She would be wishing and hoping that Santa Claus brings exactly what he/she wished for.

He/She would hate having his/her hair combed.

He/She would have heart stopping hazel eyes inherited from Dad.

He/She would be showered with hugs and kisses on an hourly basis…and pretend to hate it, all the while secretly loving all the attention.

But all things happen for a reason…and if He/She had come to be we would have never:

Moved to Wilmington and met Cindy who…

was sisters with Katie who…

is married to Jim who…

works for AC who…

is always recruiting adventurous people to work in rural Alaska and run their retail stores who…

get to live the adventure of a lifetime.

But who would give up all of this in a heartbeat if it meant having him/her back.

Dec 18

Thursday night, we had dinner at a friend’s house and as we walked up to the door, we heard various instruments being played, specifically a banjo and a harmonica.

A small child with enormous brown eyes and mile-long eyelashes answered the door and merrily welcomed us in.

I recognized our fellow dinner guests and inquired as to where the music was coming from and all of a sudden the guest and our host whipped out at least 5 different harmonicas, a guitar, and a banjo.

They were recording music on the host’s iNotebook. We quietly helped ourselves to some Egg Nog and insisted they continue, and we sat and listened as they played tunes, making it all up as they went along. I think what fascinated me the most was the reaction of the guest’s children.

Two boys, and a girl, were your typical children, arguing about who gets to sit in the best chair, who’s on whose side of the couch, asking the adults endless amounts of questions, etc. However, once dad started on the guitar or the banjo, the kids immediately tuned in to the music and started clapping their hands, tapping their feet and the youngest, Sherae, was playing air guitar all to the beat of their dad’s rhythm. Once the music stopped, they went back to doodling on paper, wrestling in the floor, and I even taught Sherae how to thumb wrestle and tried to see who could make the scariest “bear face”. However, once the music started, everything was forgotten and kids became entranced once again.

This was pretty much how it went most of the night. Howard and I sat back and relaxed while Andy and JD provided the entertainment. We stopped long enough to eat some of the enormous spread Andy provided and after the table was cleared, we all gathered back at the dining room table for more music. Howard and I were drawn in….and it wasn’t so much the music as it was the kids. Andy came up with an idea to let the kids clap their hands and snap their fingers for backup while he played harmonica and JD played the guitar. It was amazing to watch. They were right on the money, never skipping a beat. Their faces were lit up and little Sherae was jumping up and down, dancing all around the table, and all the while keeping in time to the music. She paused only to climb in Andy’s lap and to mimic his harmonica playing. She would study him for a few seconds and then mirror his actions. Then she got more ambitious, she began to mimic JD (her dad) by air guitar and then alternated with the harmonica imitation. Just watching her was a moment of pure joy. It really was. Her oldest brother Dominic, was more serious about keeping the rhythm, he was the hand clapper. He would walk over to Andy’s computer, watch the screen with his little brow in a serious fold, as the music bars were being created and to make sure he was keeping a steady beat. The middle child, Tristan, was mainly the finger snapper. At one point, during a music break, little Tristan became tired as it was past his bedtime, he walked around with a “dammit I’m tired” look on his face while helping the adults clear the table…but as soon as the music started up again, his little face lit up and he forgot all about being tired. We stayed until nearly midnight and finally left while Andy and JD and the family were still rockin’ out.

Growing up, my mother had precious little time for herself, much less two needy children, and was often out working one of her two jobs in order to rustle up a paycheck and keep us off the dole. Music became like a friend to me, a refuge, a place I could find that happy little nuclear home I’d dreamed of, my friends belonged to. I’d sit in my room with my tiny little radio/cassette player and sing my heart out. I’d sing into my hairbrush, pretend I was on a big stage in front of a captivated audience. My sister loved music too and played the flute well into high school. On many occasions, there would we would be, my sister practicing her flute in one room while I was singing at the top of my lungs and pretending to be Pat Benatar in another. That was until mom couldn’t take it anymore and we’d get a big “SHUT UP!!!!” from the living room. I imagine it would give anyone a headache. Mom did a good job however, being supportive of our talents, coming to watch me sing in church and in the school plays when I was in high school, going to Kim’s concerts and putting up with her flute playing….but only for so long. Music was huge for us and as an adult, watching the Richardsons literally make beautiful music together as a family was heartwarming. I think as a child, music is one of the most important aspects of his/her upbringing. Music conveys every emotion. Be it happiness, anger, sadness, redemption, hope, love… I know that I am not alone when I said music was my” friend and refuge.” We’ve all experienced it and if you didn’t…well….you missed out.

I have a very good friend who dedicates a lot of his free time to a radio show especially for children. He has said many times that it is a true “labor of love”. And when I say “free”, I also mean without wages. This, in addition to raising two young boys, being a good husband, and owning his own business. And he does it without complaint and is passionate about it. He recognizes the benefits of musical exposure to children. I rarely get to listen because of the three hour time difference (it’s based in New Orleans) but wholeheartedly support him not only as a friend but also as a big fan. Next week, he will be having a very special Christmas show, giving away gifts, and once again playing a variety of children’s music…and if I’m not mistaken, the original radio version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” So, if you can, check his website on how to tune in and he also has a link to the station’s 24 hour webcast, so even if you live far away (like me) you can still tune in on Saturday mornings 8:00am until 10:00am Central Standard Time. I guarantee the kids and probably the adults will it enjoy it.

Dec 15

but I saw this quoted by Jonathan on his website. (you should see their guestbook today!)

“If your going to lead, lead. If your going to follow, follow. Anything else get the fuck out of my way. We are
playing a GAME for One Million Dollars. ”

That statement says everything doesn’t it? He’s right, it is just a GAME and apparantly his relationship with his wife comes in SECOND as well.

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