29 March 2006

my first dollar

Woo hoo! My first jewelry sale! A co-worker commissioned two necklaces and a pair of earrings for her kids’ 18th and 21st birthdays. I'll really have to start thinking about getting a business license now...



The lariat uses glass beads of red, orange, yellow and pink in various shapes, accompanied by silver spacer and accent beads. The red earrings are silver, red glass and orange Swarovski crystal. The pearl earrings are pink glass, silver and freshwater cultured pearls. The masculine necklace is bamboo, wood, bone, onyx, tiger eye and carnelian with silver accents.

22 March 2006

Still looking....

I’d heard it before, and not that I doubted it, but now I know it to be the unadulterated truth: location, location, location.

We’ve toured several houses now, and many of them are either great houses in not-so-great spots, or great spots with not-so-great houses. All three of the ones we checked out last night were fantastic houses, but all three would either demand a huge commute for Eric, would not be pedestrian-friendly or would have a view of the used car lot on Lake City Way (blech).

13 March 2006

'Tis better to have loved and lost....

We didn't get the house.

Even after we upped our bid, at the last minute, there was another offer from someone who was willing to waive the home inspection. Needless to say, that wasn't going to work for us, so we walked away.

I really liked that house.

Fortunately, this reality check will likely sober me for the hunt ahead, and I'll be less likely to get carried away in the looking process.

Actually, I'm glad that the first bid is overwith. Now we're pros and will better know how to handle the next one.

Wish us luck.

We’re not in love with it, but we sure are smitten….

2200 12MAR06 home
I arrived home in Seattle last night, safe and sound. Eric and I headed out this morning for a round of house hunting and ended the day by putting an offer on an adorable 2 bed, 1 bath, 1800 square foot bungalow on a quiet residential street in the Broadview neighborhood of Seattle (near Bitter Lake, if you're familiar). It’s about three-quarters of a mile from Puget Sound, and has a great back yard. The crowning feature may be the mature Japanese maple in the front yard. We are so excited.

10 March 2006

travelogue entries 6, 7 & 8

Travelogue, entry 6
2230 08MAR06 Petersburg, Alaska
We exited the office a little early today to clearing weather and some extra daylight, so we drove around the northern end of the island to see the sights. At the northern end of the island is Sandy Beach Park, where we found several bald eagles in the trees surrounding the inlet where the park is located (the eagles are also rather fond of hanging out around the fish processing plant at the northern end of town). The tide was out so I walked out on the sandy flats, utilizing the digital macro feature on my camera to take artsy photos of barnacles. One thinks of Alaska for the quality seafood. Tonight I attended a dinner party and ate some excellent grilled tuna from….Oregon.

Travelogue, entry 7
0840 09MAR06 Petersburg, Alaska
I took a walk this morning before meeting my coworkers at the one and only coffee shop in town. I walked down to the harbor, frost and ice crunching under my feet the whole way. Much of the water in the shallower water in the harbor was frozen for the first inch or so. I watched a variety of ducks float and take off and land, hoping to spot a sea lion. I was just about to head in for my latte and bagel which has been my morning routine when I heard a loud pffffffft sound, and turned in time to see a large brown body surface and then slide down into the water in my direction, about one hundred feet away. I watched it surface four more times as it curved away from the pier and out of the harbor. What a great way to start the day.
<< edit: in the harbor photo I've added, you can barely make out the sea lion's head in the reflection of the piling that is second from the right.>>

Travelogue, entry 8
0730 10MAR06 Petersburg, Alaska
This morning I walked to Eagles Roost Park, at the northern end of the main drag. After I scooped my jaw off the ground from the sheer number of bald eagles present, I started taking pictures, and desperately wishing I had my telephoto lens. The birds were just everywhere—probably around twenty all together.
The other large bird that was prevalent in the area were raven/crows. The cynic in me began to see why the bald eagle was selected as the American icon. One of the eagles started dive-bombing (bullying) a crow that had collected some food (presumably from the fish cannery that the park is located next door to). The eagle finally grabbed the food from the crow and found a high perch to sit down to his stolen breakfast. It made me think about American foreign policy….
For those of us who don’t see bald eagles on a daily basis (or even close), they are depicted in art as very solitary creatures, which I think is why it was so strange for me to see five of them hanging out in a tree. The clearer weather also allowed me to see the Coastal Range on the mainland, including Devil’s Thumb, a huge crag on the Canadian border. Were I in Seattle, Portland or coastal California, the smog undoubtedly would have blotted out the distant peaks, and seeing them would only occur on a windy day.

09 March 2006

travelogue, entry 5

0815 08MAR06 Petersburg, Alaska Petersburg receives an annual average of 100 inches of rain*. Not a lot of snow, but lots and lots of rain. In town today we awoke to about two inches of accumulated slush on the ground. Not snow, not rain, just opaque, slippery slush. Here at the office, which is a few miles out of town, there’s about three inches of fluffy white snow on the ground—I even spotted ducks floating on the Wrangell Narrows who had snow on their backs. I had my very first moose burger last night. It was good, but tasted an awful lot like hamburger. I learned earlier in the day that hunters will usually add beef or pork to moose and caribou meat because the two latter animals are so darn lean, the meat doesn’t stick together very well and needs some added fat to keep it together. I have learned more about hunting in the last few days than I ever really expected to know. I miss Eric immensely, even more so than my “normal” field trips because I wish he were here to see this corner of Alaska with me.

* One of the people I am working with told me that when considering new hires, the federal agencies up here will ask “can they handle the rain and do they really want to live here?” before they even look at job qualifications.

07 March 2006

travelogue, entry 4

1015 07MAR06 Petersburg, Alaska
It had snowed during the night—I awoke to a light dusting on the streets and rooftops, and it had started again as I was preparing to leave the hotel, but then stopped as soon as I got out the door. I had bundled up in a fleece-lined wool hat and gloves, a long soft scarf, and my yellow winter jacket only to find that it wasn’t nearly as cold as it looked. Sure, it wasn’t toasty (though I did see a young woman later on wearing flip-flops), but it wasn’t face-numbingly cold, either. It was probably right around freezing.
I made a point to get out early this morning to get a look at the town during daylight hours. I was also on the hunt for postcards: the trick is finding a place that’s open while I am not in the office. So I was wandering up and down the street, stopping and starting, checking out the hours of shops that looked like they might have postcards when a woman popped her head out of the not-yet-open convenience store across the street and called to me in a half-yell, “are you lost?” I answered that no, I was just looking around, but when it came time to head back down the street I saw her through her window talking on the phone. I imagined she was calling the police to come check on me…clearly I was out of place and maybe suspicious. My paranoia increasing, I tried to look purposeful, causing me to pass up five pennies on the ground, dammit. And I didn’t get any postcards.
After that, I walked down the main wooden pier for a good view of the harbor. It becomes plain that the industry of Petersburg is fish. Whether on a commercial, personal or recreational level, fish are it.
We’re having a break from our meeting (as usual, it’s been extended due to computer issues). As promised, we’re snacking on caribou summer sausage. It tastes great, and acts like meat potpourri in the room (a vegetarian’s nightmare). It’s denser, moister and less smoky than the goat we had yesterday. And to my delight, one man offered to bring some moose burgers to our fresh king salmon dinner tonight—I expect to be completely full of fish and meat tonight…they’ll probably have to roll me back to the hotel.

06 March 2006

travelogue, entries 1, 2 & 3

Travelogue, entry #1
1521 05MAR06 Juneau, Alaska, awaiting the arrival of flight 64 from Anchorage (delayed for mechanical reasons, they tell us, for about the next three hours. Good thing the scenery is spectacular and the weather is clear.)
It was apparent from all the necks craning towards the nearest window on the packed 737 that I was not the only person captivated with the fact that I was going to be landing in Alaska soon (as we landed, a woman near me sighed “home again”—I was instantly jealous).
My project manager dawdled for a while before giving me the go-ahead for going to Alaska, so when I made my airline reservation, my choice of seats was pretty grim. Nothing forward of the wings, no aisle or window seats remained. I settled on seat 24E. I am usually ambiguous about where I sit (I mean, no one likes the middle seat), but then I am usually not flying through such majestic scenery, either. I was almost heartened by the overcast forecast since I didn’t have a window seat. I managed to sneak some looks out the window over my snoozing neighbor though, and saw that it was clouds as far as the eye could see over northern Washington, and what I expect was British Columbia. After the beverage service, I looked up from my book and saw islands and what I thought were more clouds. When my eyes adjusted to the bright light, I saw that the clouds were in fact snow-topped peaks. Gorgeous. From there on, I stared out the window over the newspaper of my now awake neighbor. The snow-topped peaks stretched to the horizon and became increasingly jagged as we flew further north. One ridge I spotted looked to be inspired by a child’s drawing of pointy mountains. Sharp angles up and down, right in a row.
As I look across the airport parking lot, the coast range looms within what looks like walking distance, and there are wispy clouds around the lower mountains. Old snow is piled in the parking lot and along the roadways, and it’s about 35 degrees (my best guess).
The airport has six, count ‘em six, gates. This, I must admit, is five more than Platsburgh, New York, which I had the pleasure of flying into and out of last November. I got about fifteen steps past the gate, still orienting myself in a new airport when I realized I was already leaving the security area. I hadn’t yet passed the metal detectors, so I turned myself around, only to be met with an Air Force-type person who was sternly telling me to keep going out of the security area. And of course, even in a tiny airport, once you’re out of the security area, all the signage area is geared for those intending to leave the airport. I could have found baggage claim, ground transportation, and the cafeteria, but no signs for “all gates” or “ticketing” where I could have asked for directions. It took me a while to figure out that I just had to keep moving around the right-hand circle I had started to get back to the security checkpoint.
I wish I could jump on a local bus and take a quick tour of the city, but I don’t think that’s practical, so I guess I’ll just tour the stuffed animals again (a brown , polar and two black bears, a sheep, ptarmigans, a pair of spectacled eiders, a snowy owl and a green sturgeon) and then settle down with my book while I await my chariot.


Travelogue, entry #2
0800 06MAR06 Petersburg, Alaska
The clock radio in my hotel room receives two stations—both of them are NPR. And this is a red state?
For those of you waiting to be enlightened, Petersburg, Alaska is located in southeastern Alaska (the panhandle) at the northern end of Mitkof Island, which is located just to the southeast of the larger Kupreanof Island. It’s about halfway between Juneau and Ketchikan. From my window seat on the starboard side of the 737 from Juneau to Petersburg, I watched the sun set over a spectacular island and mountain setting, with the Pacific Ocean in the background, under a layer of low clouds. I am told that it was an exceptionally clear day for this time of year, and great for flying. Even the locals had glued their noses to the windows. With a few small exceptions, the islands are mountains, standing straight up out of the water. A pair of peaks I noticed actually curved slightly to the south, resembling The Grinch’s Mount Crumpet. The flight was maybe 30 minutes, just long enough for the flight attendants to pass out three ounce cups of orange juice and a bag of mixed pretzels. We got into Petersburg around 1730.
I was the only one of the three of us staying at said hotel that was up for some dinner, so I headed to one of the only places open at 1830 on a Sunday night in Petersburg, a place called Rooney’s Northern Lights. After dinner, I strolled down the main street, about three blocks long. I counted two bars, one convenience store (open until 2200), one grocery store, a drug store, a hardware store, two banks, a small handful of clothing/book/gift shops, two coffee shops and a quilting store. It was about 15 degrees. I could live here.
Driving to the office today, we saw seven Sitka deer (a relative of the Mule deer, they were feeding in front yards, not minding the green Suburban at all), harlequin ducks, and a sea lion. I am told that there are moose and bears on the island, and that the northern end of the island—where the Stevens Passage and Frederick Sound intersect, is a popular hang out spot for whales. The USFS folks say they’ll try to get us out there to take a look. Probably unwisely, I am holding my breath for a sighting. They’re forecasting snow today and tomorrow. The clouds are high, so I can see the local mountaintops, but I can’t see where the sun should be. Now I am settling down for my first meeting of the week.

Travelogue, entry #3
1315 05MAR06 Petersburg, Alaska
Looks like I won’t have the opportunity to try moose meat while I’m here, but on our way back from lunch, one of the FS guys stopped by his place and grabbed two packages of mountain goat jerky (sausage style – tasty!). He promised caribou for tomorrow.

05 March 2006

hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go

Here's a link to the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, if you want to see where I'm going. Sometimes I can't believe that I do this for a living. Of couse, I am going to be sitting in an office from 8-5, and the sun does go down around 5:30 (only 2o minutes earlier than in Seattle, these days), so it's not like I'll have too much daylight to play in, but maybe I'll be able to get a feel for the place. I think I'll have the opportunity to go back, and I am already keeping my fingers crossed for that one.

01 March 2006

you're kidding, right?

On my way home from work today, I passed a woman running on the shoulder of the road. She was clad in running shoes, black capri exercise pants, a bright green track jacket, which contrasted with her white i-pod earbud cords. She was keeping up a good pace, considering that she had one hand in the track jacket pocket, the other was .... holding a latte from Starbucks.