Mar 31

So I can honestly this has been one of the worst weeks of my life…in a very long time. But not quite, and I’ll get to that in a minute…but in the meantime…

The paychecks arrived finally on Wednesday but not after one of my cashiers decided to “buy the farm” courtesy of herself. She was unsuccessful, thank God. If you get what I mean. However, she’s landed herself in a treatment facility and won’t be back for a while.

And today? I had to let another employee go, because I’m just sick and tired of people coming in when they feel like it and not according to how I schedule them. It sucks to have to fire anyone, and this employee was no exception. Though I do feel a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.

Now to the “not quite” part…

So, there’s this oil rig run by a “major oil company” of which I will not name in case someone decides to sue me and this week? It could very well happen.

Anyway.

This oil rig serves gourmet food to the workers and anyone who wants to venture out on the ice road (yes I said Ice road…and I realize all the irony that entails) can drive there from the village and eat for free. F-R-E-E. Well you know I’m all over that shit.

So tonight, Howard and I decided to treat ourselves and drove the 18 mile trip in our super duper Ford F350 that kicks ass. Ice? We don’t care about no stinking ice! After stuffing ourselves on salad, greek chicken, all the fixings and gourmet desserts, we trek back out to our truck and find a guy has us blocked in because he’s filling up some of the trucks with gas. The trucks that belong to the major oil company of course.

Howard, never one to meet at stranger, jokingly said “we’ll take about 30 gallons”.

The guy, never flinches and says “Sure man, what company are you with?”

Howard, going along with it for a second tells him who we work for.

The guy gives him a questioning look and Howard says
“Hey man, I was only kidding…”

Do you know that man did next? He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said “oh hell, I’ll give you as much fuel as you need, you runnin’ diesel or gas?”

How cool was that? And we were running low on fuel anyway and frankly weren’t sure if we were going to make the drive back home.

I was already in the truck, and had no idea what was transpiring outside. I figured Howard wanted to chat with the guy, because that’s just what he does.

So, he filled us up, shook our hands, told us his name and we left with a smile. Even offering to pay him and getting turned down.

Man? How can I type and bitch when there are people like that still in this world?

What’s with me getting all corny lately? It’s gotta be the cold air.

Mar 29

Today was a horrific day for me.

I woke up super early and could not go back to sleep and found that Howard had been up for an hour already and so I curled up in his arms in a little ball on the couch and wished all my troubles away like I always do.

Of course, that shit never works.

He then cooked breakfast and we both took long, hot, showers and went on to work. Though I had this nagging feeling that we should just pretend the sun never rose and then turn the ringer off, lock the door, and go back to bed. It sucks to KNOW you’re going to have a bad day. You just pray to God (or whoever you pray to, if you pray at all) that you’re overreacting. I didn’t today.

Yesterday, in an attempt to defrost one of our freezers, Howard turned off the compressor to what he thought was that particular freezer. Well. It was for that freezer but also all the other freezers, including the refrigeration cooler and the produce case.

Long story short, we had to mark everything 50% off and throw out what wasn’t salvagable. You would have thought this would have made us “heroes” to the town but I swear I think I had a “hi, please shout at me and cuss me out, and watch me grit my teeth and smile right back at you” placard on my forehead.

Also? My employees were hyperventilating about not getting their paychecks in the mail. NEVERMIND that I don’t fly the damn planes that bring the mail in. They are all convinced that between myself and Tess? Well we’re just withholding their money, dammit, and it just ain’t right. I have two words for all ya’ll. DIRECT DEPOSIT. Grow up and get a f*cking bank account okay?

I sent Tess an email and angel that she is, she caught the vibe in my message, that not only did I need a tracking number so I could trace the damn Express Envelope but I also needed to vent, or I was going to go apeshit quickly. She picked up the phone and called me and I unloaded on her. I then, felt bad later because she told me she was having a bad day as well and I just ignored her problems and made the phone call all about me.

Luckily she called me back a few minutes later, because? God love the woman, she not only got me a tracking number, but she took it upon herself to trace the package. I then, asked her about her bad day and I let her unload on me. It is good to have an ally.

And selfishly? I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one having a bad day.

I gotta go, I have a big warm husband to snuggle up to and good movie on HBO to watch.

Mar 26

Tonight, we had dinner with the city administrator.

Yes you read that right, we have a restaurant and the city actually has an administrator. I know you’re impressed, so were we!

So anyway, she asked us questions about what we were doing before we moved here, how we liked our old village, what we did on vacation, and we were just babbling away when she smiled a half smile and asked:

“How long have you two been married?”

Howard replied:

“Almost 12 years”

Kathy then said:

“I so rarely see people who have been married that long and still act as if they are newlyweds…Howard, it is so obvious that you adore her.”

I wasn’t sure what to say…I was flattered but then I wanted to say..
“hey doesn’t it look like I adore him?”

We’ve never received a compliment like that…or in that context. We found ourselves looking at each other and blushing. I have to admit it felt good to hear her say that.

We all tend to get into a routine and before you know it, years have gone by, and the things that seemed so important when you first married, don’t seem worth the effort anymore…and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You just know your comfort areas, you feel more secure about where you stand. It was nice to know that even though Howard and I take each other for granted at times, our love is still obvious to other people.

Okay, you can go hurl now.

Mar 26

I’ve been meaning to say this for some time. Howard and I saw “Sideways” during our brief stayover in Anchorage during the move to Nuiqsut, and we both agree we haven’t seen a movie that funny since “Grumpier Old Men”. We were laughing so hard in the theatre, I was in tears. Thomas Haden Church plays a dumb but lovable, old roommate from college sidekick. And usually I don’t laugh at such characters but I did this time. I think my favorite scene from the movie is Paul Giamatti’s character vehemently telling Thomas’s character “If they open up a bottle of Merlot, I’m outta here, I am NOT DRINKING FUCKING MERLOT!” You have to see the movie to understand and I know the people who have seen it will agree with me.

Mar 26

Courtesy of Amy, who stole it from Chris who stole it from…oh nevermind…just check it out and pass it on if you so please:

1. What book would I like to be? One of those underground sensations that get whispered about and passed around in “secret clubs” because it is waaay too controversial for mainstream.

2. Have I ever had a crush on a fictional character? Yes..and I plead the fifth on who it is.

3. What is the last book I bought? “DRY” by Augusten Burroughs. Couldn’t Keep It To Myself: Testimonies from our Imprisioned Sisters by Wally Lamb. (Me too Amy!)

4. What is the last book I read? “Witness” by Amber Frey (yes I’m a media indulgent, can’t help myself!)

5. What book am I currently reading? Two actually: “DRY” (the copy I just bought) and “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf

6. What five books would I take with me if I was stranded on a desert island? “She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb (this is my all time favorite book!) “The Education of Little Tree” by Forrest Carter (lots of life lessons), “Illuminata” by Marianne Williamson (I pray a lot, yeah, I know, shocking right?), “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss (for comic relief), “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck (because EVERYONE should have read it before Oprah finally recognized it and put her stamp on it…took her long enough, dammit)

7. What three poor idiots am I tagging with this FUN FUN FUN? Like I said, fair game for everyone, unless you want to be tagged as an idiot.

Mar 23

If someone is feeling charitable…or not even charitable, cause I’ll reimburse you the postage and everything..but if someone feels like packaging it all up and shipping it, I would really really love Plumeria body lotion from Bath and Body Works. There isn’t a store anywhere in Alaska and you can’t buy anything from their damn website. (what kind of business doesn’t have an online store?) Also? Some lotion with Shea butter. Our skin is without moisture. Dry and ashy as the day is long, ya’ll. I’d tap into my “Anchorage connection” but he can’t help me here, only when it comes to hair dye (God love him).

Any takers can leave a comment and I’ll give you the skinny on my address. No pervs (unless you’re one of my pervs) please.

Mar 23

Remember in “The Vacation Blog” otherwise known as the “Mother of All Blogs”,(But not really because I forgot to use that damn title, I am shit when it comes to consistency) when I said I gave Tess a hug? Well I also gave her a spork. She’s the queen of sporks. She also fantasizes of using them in torturous ways.

I think I may have enabled something evil and when you read about her on CNN?

Well let’s just say it’ll be one time that I will really love living way up here on the Arctic Slope.

Even though her actions will definitely be warranted. That girl ain’t no fool. If she’s gonna use a damn spork, it’s gonna be for a good reason.

Mar 21

First and foremost, today is my big sister’s birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIMBERLY DIANE BRANNOCK KELLER! She is going to be so pissed that I wrote her name a) in this silly little purple color (she’s pretty “no-nonsense”) and b) and revealed its entirety to all of you in blogger ville. And I get a kick out of calling her “Big” because she sure as hell lets everyone know I’m her “little” sister. Just think Kim, when you turn 40, I’ll still be in my thirties! Hee! I LOVE YOU!

We got TWO care packages today. TWO! See? I told you my friends ROCK. One was from Melanya and she knitted an ADORABLE sweater for Lucky. It fits him so perfectly and he is prancing I tell you, PRANCING! She also sent Howard the hat he’s been asking for forever and these hats are hard to come by, trust me. She also wrote that she and Alex miss us and do we ever feel the same. Living in the bush doesn’t seem near as fun without them.

The second one was from Cindy. (the one we hooked up with in DC). She sent us all kinds of cool trinkets, magnetic picture frames for our vacation pictures, silly (in a good way) little miniature Tonka trucks encased in Easter Egg thingys. and a funny card having to do with monkeys. The girl totally gets us, ya know? And I must add Cindy is so good about the whole care package thing. MUCH better than Howard or myself.

Next week is the season finale of Carnivale…and then, the long wait for my beloved SFU’s final season. For a girl who loves such lighthearted items like mini-Tonka trucks, I do love me some dark, creepy shows.

Well, it’s like I told a friend the other night. They don’t call me a nutcase for nothin’

Mar 20

Aaah, what a glorious month it was. I can think of only a few things that would have made it better. And that was not getting to see everyone we love and miss. Other than that? It was the best vacation ever.

We started out in North Carolina, spending time with family, having “get-togethers” with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, etc. Jason, Eddie, and I didn’t get to do our rendition of “Landslide” at this year’s party but we did laugh and cut up a lot. I only wish I could have spent more time with them but they’re all promising to come visit once we’re back on the road system and you’d better believe I’m going to hold them to it.

I also got to see my best girl Julie! She and I hadn’t seen each other in five years but of course it was as if no time had passed at all and we just picked right up where we left off. I also spent an insane amount of money on makeup at the Clinique counter. Makeup. Did I mention that I rarely wear makeup in the wilds of Alaska? Well Howard politely stated that maybe I should try to make an effort, I and my credit card made a huge effort, thank you very much. I also made Julie buy a tweed suit in which she looked gorgeous, and then she talked me into a pair of cute strappy stilettos to wear in Argentina. We were sickeningly girlie but it was so good to spend time with her. (I also got a thank you note from the lady at the Clinique counter several days later)

We went to our nephew Tate’s wrestling match and took lots of pictures. He’s growing up so fast and of course gets more handsome with each birthday. Our niece Blake, plays volleyball and we also took in a game. I was able to hold back the tears this year but she cried when she saw us. She is now every bit as tall as me and also gets more beautiful everytime we see her. Our other niece, Brittney is developing quite the personality at five years of age and had no qualms about chatting us up and dominating the conversation at all times. She’s getting so big and of course, beautiful! (I feel, that all my nieces and nephews are most beautiful children in the world) And finally little Bradley, who is four and could break your heart, he’s so gorgeous and sweet. He’s a bit reserved but once he comes around, look out, he’s one smart and talkative little man. It’s tough not being able to see them more and watch them grow but thank God for technology!

After two glorious weeks of familial, friendly bliss (yes there is such a thing) we boarded a plane headed for Buenos Aires. Unfortunately a mechanical delay caused us to miss our connection in Washington D.C. and the airline had to put us up in a hotel. It turned not to be so unfortunate when we were able to get in touch with our friend, Cindy, who lives in the area. We’d been sending emails back and forth trying to set up a plan in which to get together but just couldn’t make it fit into our schedules. She picked us up and took us to dinner and to the new Air and Space museum. We were able to catch up and admire her new and improved body, thanks to hiking almost the entire Appalachian trail last summer. The lost day in Buenos Aires was more than worth it to see her and we boarded the plane in high spirits.

The weather in Buenos Aires was amazing. 85 degrees on the average and sunny every single day we were there. We stayed at the Loi Suites Recoleta which of course is in the heart of Recoleta. The hotel overlooked the famous Cementario Recoleta and the huge open air market. We visited Eva Peron’s grave and it took us two days to see the entire cemetary. We walked all over the city, drank lots of wine and ate lots of meat. And let me tell you, the meat in Argentina? is every bit what it’s hyped up to be. So damn tender we cut it with butter knives. We visited one restaurant and had three different kinds of Caviar and complimentary champagne. The people were warm and friendly, the women were gorgeous and the men were HOT! We spent our last night in a Tango House drinking more wine, eating more beef and watched a mesmorizing Tango show. (I finally got to wear my stilettos that night) We were house hunting by the time we left, we loved it so much. We’re definitely planning another trip there.

We spent a couple of days back in North Carolina before leaving for Vegas and I got to see more friends I hadn’t seen in ages (April and Danielle) and Howard and I rested up, did laundry, etc.

The flight out to Vegas was a lot of fun due to a flight attendant having a fascination with Alaska. (Howard was wearing a cap emblazoned with a logo and the name of our village) She kept getting in trouble with her supervisor because she was spending more time sitting and talking with us than working. Luckily her supervisor was also her best friend and it was her birthday and she cut the flight attendant some slack. She also gave us the dirt on a few, amorous passengers sitting in the backrow. It was hilarious and made the four hour flight go by quickly.

We got lucky with the weather in Vegas as well. It was great to see Howard’s dad and stepmom. Larry tends to spoil us a bit when we’re there and I can’t deny that we enjoy every minute of it. He cooked for us, took us to dinner, and we did a bit of sightseeing but we mainly hung out with both of them and took it easy. Howard and I did spend one day doing all the obligatory tourist things. We took a Gondola ride at the Venetian, rode the roller coaster at New York, New York and had margaritas with lunch at Margaritaville. Howard’s cousin Jeff (Amy, when you go back, ask for “Red” and tell him we said hello!), works there and we surprised him by sitting in his section. There were lots of hugs and lots of picture taking, etc.

The last part of our vacation was the most lifechanging and memorable because we were finally able to meet Howard’s sister Carla (who, coincidently also lives in Vegas). There is a long, beautiful story that goes along with it but we’ve spent the past year corresponding since we located her and built a relationship, anticipating the time when we would get to meet in person. She and her husband Michael are two of the most beautiful people on the planet. They could not have been more warm or open with us. We were all surprised by how comfortable we felt around each other. Carla is even more beautiful in person and reminds me so much of Howard’s mother. It warmed my heart to see how easily Carla and Howard interacted with each other. The wait was worth it. On another night, she and Michael took us to Battista’s Hole in The Wall and we ate some of the best Italian food, we’ve ever had. It felt like we were with old friends. We later, went to the comedy club at the Riviera and laughed so hard our throats were sore. The end of the vacation was topped off with Carla meeting Howard’s dad (they have different fathers) and stepmom and all of us having one last dinner together. It’s funny, I imagined us all crying upon our intial meeting but the tears only came when we parted that night. We spent two days in Anchorage before heading back to our village and I was able to see and hug Tess at the office.

So, that’s pretty much it, like I said, it was amazing. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to top it….and hopefully someday I’ll actually be able to share the pictures.

Carla, you are a precious gift and we cannot imagine what it would be like to not have you in our lives now.

To our family and friends, you are our heart and soul. We are truly blessed. We consider ourselves so lucky to have you. Thank you for making this vacation so fabulous and meaningful.

Mar 19

…my stepfather makes a very good argument…this in fact, may be the only way, I can give him and my mother a grandchild.

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