Thursday, May 2, 2019

Feels like Day 39

I turned older recently. It tends to happen once a year. This year I celebrated in one of my happiest of places because I was on the ROAD.

You know it's been a tough year for all of us, posse, so you know how badly I needed to be out there with my kids again, driving through a whole lot of wide open expanses with a whole lot of nothing stretched before me on long, long roads.

I rented a car for this trip. Alex helped since he has a membership for rental cars given all his travels. We picked the car up together and as soon as we hopped in, we were like, "Is this what cars are like now?" and then proceeded to push every button like kids with a new toy. I'm surprised we didn't break anything.

It's been a long time since I've had a new car. My 2006 model is still kicking it but has most definitely seen better days. I love my car and don't want to part with it yet but I'll admit -- pretty thrilling to have an affair with a hotter younger model for a couple weeks.

My road trips are ambitious. It's the norm for us to pull 14-hour days in the car as we get to where we're going. The kids and I have a system that has been refined over many years of doing these trips -- an intricate schedule of bathroom breaks and snack bags and surprise bags and road trip games and countdowns and music playlists to fit each landscape. We know what to expect in a car and it doesn't take long to get back into the road trip frame of mind.

Climbing into a car together at dawn to begin another adventure is like climbing into an old friend. That sounded creepy but I meant it to feel cozy.

There was one feature I found jarring on my hot young rental car as I cruised along. Every few hours or so, the dashboard would light up and a message would flash in an annoying way: "Would you like to take a break?" And I would get kind of offended and say aloud, "Take a break? Take a break? Have you ever met me, car? God you don't know me at all."

My old car would never ask me such a stupid question. She knows breaks are for wimps and road trips are for driving.

This trip was all about California. Our first day ended in Eureka. I love Northern California and all the many, many quirky roadside attractions you can search out until your kids start getting crabby and telling you they're sick of them and wish we could just go to the hotel. Lame!

Giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox
Babe was anatomically correct.
Lucien jumped out of the car and yelled, "Mom, look at the balls on that bull!"

For the tour-thru tree, my rental car's dashboard
flashed the message,
"Get me out of here I am claustrophobic"
We're really getting to know each other now.

A house carved out of a giant Redwood tree

The Gravity House at Confusion Hill

The Grandfather Tree

We ate dinner our second night at a Cheesecake Factory in San Jose. It is not an experience I would recommend. My first question, which has been on my mind for a long time: why is The Cheesecake Factory decorated in a tacky faux Egyptian theme? Shouldn't it be more of an industrial factory-type place? What is it about the words "cheesecake" and/or "factory" that made someone snap their fingers and say "Cleopatra!" This is one of many things that bother me about that restaurant.

Our table was wedged between two tables of men at The Cheesecake Factory.  The men on my left were complaining about the women in Silicon Valley. One said, "If you're not payin' 'em, ignore 'em, because at least the ones you're paying will do what you say." I had to resist throwing my bowl of overpriced pasta primavera at his head because it is my firm belief it is better for a misogynist to wear a bowl of pasta than not wear a bowl of pasta.

I was hoping the kids had not overheard but Lucien looked up from his book and said, "Mom, I think that guy's single for a reason."

The conversation of the men to my right was slightly less offensive. They were discussing how one of them had drunkenly killed a chipmunk one time. I don't think I want to be friends with either table but at least those to my right seemed sad about what they were saying.

The kids and I were in San Jose to visit the Winchester Mystery House. It's been said the Winchester Mystery House is the most haunted house in the country, inhabited by the vengeful spirits of those killed by the Winchester Rifle.

Sarah Winchester, an eccentric lady, understatement, was told by her medium the only way to keep the ghosts at bay was to build on the house continually, 24-hrs a day, which she did for over 30 years. There were no blueprints, no plans, she would just tell the workers to tack on this room or that room as it went along. It is an immense labyrinth of 170 rooms with no rhyme nor reason as to its layout. We were warned by our guide not to leave the group, that if we wandered off it would be very difficult for us to find our way out. I bet half the ghosts in that house are just former tour participants trying to find the bathroom.

The Winchester House was as beautiful and creepy as I'd hoped.

staircases leading straight up into the ceiling

The door in Sarah's seance room.
It opens onto nothing
but is a handy shortcut
if you'd suddenly like to be down in the servants' kitchen sink.

Another "door to nowhere" up on the second floor.
If you open that one and aren't paying attention,
you're face first in the garden now.

I must add the tour doesn't begin in the best way. The guide says "We're about to climb a staircase with seven switchbacks and a hundred low-rise stairs, all just to take us nine feet above to the second floor." So you're crisscrossing back and forth across the narrow low-rise stair switchbacks, giggling with your fellow tourmates like, "Oh gosh, Sarah, you were so weird!"

But then you get to the top of the stairs and the guide says, "Those are not the original stairs. Sarah had the normal stairs ripped out and those low-rise stairs installed towards the end of her life because she could barely move due to her arthritis."

And then you feel terribly guilty, like a total jerk, for giggling and calling an old lady weird who sufferred crippling arthritis and was just trying to get into her big dang weird house. Hang your head in shame, tour participant, in shame.

After San Jose we headed over to Highway 1 to experience the winding and wild beauty of Big Sur.  This is the morning I jumped on the kids to wake them up and said, "Guys, time for Day Three!" and Lucien groaned and said, "Jesus, Mom, it feels like Day 39." Maybe that's how it feels to read about it, too.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Bunnies gone bad

Posse, thanks for the love after my last post. Phew. It was not an easy one to write (obviously, it took me months) but now that it's on the screen, I feel freed up in an incredible way. I dreaded sharing the news with all of you, even though I've never met most of you. I felt I was going to disappoint you in some way, that despite all our adventures in Paris and beyond, which hopefully you enjoyed once upon a time and cheered for our little family, Al and I couldn't hold it together in the end.

It is what it is and I hope you will still hang around. Alex will still likely be a guest star here on the regular, such as in the Spring Break post I'm about to write. We also spent Easter together yesterday with our crew of best friends. Always a lot of laughs. It's a big crew and our kids have grown up together. They all fight like siblings. Chosen family can be as awesome/tricky as real family.

I'm sure it's confusing for the friends that Alex and I can still hang out together and have a good time yet don't want to be together as a couple anymore. I think they're happy they get to keep us both, though, so they're not making too big of a fuss about it.

Most of the parents had gone with our collective children to the egg hunt nearby.
We didn't. We are old parents tired of egg hunts.
Instead, Alex held some sort of dildo-looking baseball training thing
and I swung at it with a bat.

Lucien and his bestie.
Seattle Mom sent this to me with the caption
"Bunnies gone bad"

 Alex loves the Loosh.
Everyone loves the Loosh.
When asked how he's going to afford his new gaming computer monitor,
which he wants very much,
he said "Mexico will pay for my monitor."

Spring Break was a beauty. An ambitious beauty. I may have packed more into this road trip than most road trips. I roused the kids from their sleepy beds a few days in and said, "Guys, time for Day Three!" and Lucien groaned and said, "Jesus, Mom, it feels like Day 39."

There's just so much to see in California. Good thing for the kids I cut out half of the itinerary right before we left because I finally figured out we are not superhuman.

That's it for now. I'm tired. Easter was exhausting with the bat swinging and the bunny fighting. I've got plenty to share about California but for now, even I am overwhelmed by my own trip and can't get there yet.

Before I go, I will address my love for Notre Dame. The pompiers of Paris are heroes. They are also unfairly hot looking people but that is not related to their hero/heroine statuses. Virginia Mom used to trail the pompiers on their training runs through Luxembourg Gardens in the early mornings. If I had been a runner, I would have done the same. What a fantastic motivation to run, both to chase the hot people and to hope that the running will make you exactly as hot as them someday.

I am reminded of the time the pompiers came to our apartment door selling their annual pompier pretty people calendar and Lucien told them at length about the bag of Coco's poop-filled diapers sitting next to our front door on its way to the garbage. He just kept saying "caca" and pretending to poop. It was awkward. I should have bought more calendars.

I'm grateful I saw Notre Dame on the regular back then, walked in front of it a couple times a week since it was a 10 minute walk from where we lived in Saint Germain. Towards the end of our years in Paris, I sometimes didn't even glance up at the towers when I walked nearby. It had become everyday and old news.

I should have looked up every single time. The extraordinary should never become the ordinary.

Following a three-year-old Lucien to Notre Dame.
He loved it.
But was suspicious
after I told him about Quasimodo living up in the towers.

It's a whole new world here.
But life goes on, mes choux.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Ode to a marriage and to the pits in our stomachs

I've started this post, then deleted, then re-started, then paced a lot, then deleted and re-started this post a million times. I can't decide if it should be a post of epic length or if I should keep it short then run away fast.

I disappeared for a long bit, yes, and in a blogger that is usually the sign of something sad -- or of just being over the blog.

I'm of the sad sort. I could never quit you happily, blog. It just felt disingenuous to continue writing about Alaska, or about the regular ridiculousness of life, without addressing the biggest thing. Yet I wasn't quite ready to address the biggest thing until right now, wasn't sure I would do it justice with words, and wanted to make sure I could honor everyone involved before I sat down to write it.

But boom, here it is. Alex and I separated after the Alaska trip. Boooooom.

It's been nearly six months since Alex moved out. I'm not going to get into how hard our past year has been, how hard, honestly, it's been since we returned from Mexico. There was a pit in my stomach every day since then, with many reasons why. But I knew something had gone way bad, something had changed, and that my ability to live with Al, my partner of over 20 years, had been taxed to the point of no return. I won't go into details here out of respect for all of us. The details are between me and Al and shall remain that way.

Alex is my friend. I hope he always remains my friend. He moved into a loft apartment nearby, within walking distance, and he and I are sharing time with the kids, sharing life in a different way than before, yet still sharing it.

He comes over once a week for family dinner and has the kids every other weekend. We've taken trips together since our separation. Here is a very awkward family photo we took in Vancouver, BC at Christmas --

We just wanted to help Coco become King of the World
at the Titanic exhibit
but it turned out weird. 

I'm not sure if it's the right thing, seeing each other as often as we do. Maybe we're too afraid to sever our daily ties for real. It feels scary sometimes out there without our backup of 20+ years. We are meeting up again for a part of Spring Break at the tail end of another of my ambitious road trips with the kids. I cannot wait to hit the road because hot damn I need some long stretches of road right now.

I think it's OK. And I think it will change. Al and I won't always need each other this way. With time, our relationship will naturally grow more distant. Mindy and Alex have been a thing since 1998. It's hard and devastatingly sad to move on but it has to happen. Someday I will have no idea what he does with his days. And he will have no idea what I do with mine.

We were trying to look badass
but I'm not much good at that.

Alex and I knew we would separate soon during the Alaska adventure. I am so grateful we still took the trip. Al and I had some great laughs throughout. One long drive on the Kenai Peninsula stands out in particular. when we laughed so hard we had to get out of the Winnie B and run up and down alongside the road taking videos of each other being assholes. What a drive. Sometimes we would just look at each other in the middle of a beautiful place, and feel the tragedy of it, and hug for a good long time. The kids took this as regular everyday affection between parents and rolled their eyes but they had no idea it was one in a long series of goodbyes.

Al and I had a good cry together the Saturday morning we told the kids. The kids were off watching TV as we sat at the kitchen counter, grasped each others forearms and wept silently, bracing ourselves for the conversation to come. We were about to change everything for them. That was as hard a day for us as a family as we've ever had. When we finally stood up and called them to the family table, the kids were surprisingly not surprised. Lucien said later he was a little relieved to know what was going on, that he "knew it." Sometimes kids feel pits in their stomachs, too, but don't have words for it.

Our baby Coco girl in France.
Our semi-disastrous summer trip to Picardie in 2010.
Because Lucien was bleeding profusely ten minutes after arrival
and required stitches.

The kids are good. It has been many months of processing and talking, often late into the night, fielding their sad or angry feelings and hugging and saying "I'm so sorry" a lot. Lucien has a therapist now, per his request, because he was having a hard time. He's doing better now and is his usual optimistic funny self most days. He still sees the therapist. He's also still obsessed with ants, is growing his own colony with a long-saved-for queen ant and her handful of workers. Bobo is still alive though moving very, very slowly. Lucien is 13 and in seventh grade and dealing with all such issues contained therein. He is still quirky and funny and smart and awesome. Not a day goes by I don't admire and adore that warm-souled child.

The Loosh with Daddy at Versailles so, so long ago.

Coco is good, too. She's younger, and may not fully get the bigger picture of what all this means. She says "Daddy traveled and worked all the time anyway so it isn't much different he's always somewhere else." I've told her it's OK if someday if feels more sad, more different, than just the usual work travel schedule.

I've often told her the best part of my day is the very early morning when I wake her up. She's a reluctant waker, my Coco girl, and I get to kiss her soft sweet face a million times before she starts batting me off with, "Mom, STOP IT!" Coco is not a morning person, you see.

She is in the drama club now, and is passionate about the environment. She's traveling with her environment club to Olympia to give testimony before the Washington State Senate about climate change and saving our local endangered Orca pod, and raise some hell about how they'd like an Earth hospitable to their growth and well being well into the future. I am so proud of that pistol.

I am often in my kitchen. The above picture is the wall in my kitchen. I stare at it every day while doing dishes or making dinner and depending on the day I am full of sadness and/or full of joy. All of the pictures on this wall happened because Alex and I met long ago and got married and took each other on in all of our imperfect glory. It wasn't for nothing, our marriage. It was for everything.

I am relieved to have reached a friendly plateau months after the initial upheaval. Alex and I get along better now with space between us, and the kids have settled back into the rhythms of their lives and seem cheerful as usual. They tell me they're OK when I ask how they're doing, that they've gotten used to our new schedule and are happy we can still all spend time together as a family. I hope that's true. Al and I are absolutely committed to doing the best we can by them.

Sometimes there is crazy love. And then sometimes. far off in the future. for whatever reasons, that love fades and it's just over. I never thought it would happen to us and didn't want to acknowledge its presence for a long time but sometimes the pit in your stomach starts getting fidgety, trying to break out of you so it can jump up and down in front of your face and shout, "Helllooooooo? What are you even DOING?"

The pit is gone now, the one I lived with for a long time, desperate to make everything OK and keep it together and make things work. Sadness is in its place, and fear sometimes. But the pit is worse than all that, a nagging thing that constantly reminds you you're stuck in limbo and something isn't right. The body sometimes steps in and says, "Woman, this isn't working, you gotta change this shit up" until it eases and says, "Woman, it's hard as hell but you are on the right path."

The body knows even when the mind is in denial.

Alex and the baby Coco girl in Switzerland

Even knowing what I know today, I would still marry Al way back when, with full knowledge of how it all ended up. It has been such an incredible journey with this man. The best adventures, the most stepping outside of myself, the having of the most amazing of children. Even absorbing how sad I am now, I would do it again. He was my companion on the journey for a good long time even if he wasn't my companion until the very end.

I love you, Al. I'm so sad for where we ended up but thanks for it all.
Now let's raise these kids up right good

Marriage may not be forever, mes choux, but love is.

PS. Now that it's out in the open and I'm breathing regularly again, I just may be back here soon writing the rest of Alaska. And writing about my foster puppies (I'm on number four now and she's a doozy). And the beauty that continues on the regular in the raising of kids and living amongst the best community of friends a woman could hope for. It feels like the 40s have not been kind to any of us lately but we're getting by with a little help from our friends.

Plus... I'm about to hit the road again in a few days. Who loves a road trip tale on top of a road trip tale? Hopefully everybody!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fairbanks: Sled Pups and Sibling Smackdown

I'll talk more about Alaska now but likely will not have much time to do so -- the foster puppies are fixin' to do something awful soon, I'm sure of it, and I'm going to have to stop them. They've so far today peed on my pile of papers destined for the filing cabinet, chewed up a flip-flop, and ripped a hole in Lucien's jeans with their shark-like puppy teeth.

Atticus is off to live his new life
but I've got a newbie, Pickles the black lab, now
and still have Waffles the foxhound mix. 
Pickles and Waffles.
Who the hell is naming these dogs.

When I was last here talking about the road to Alaska (Chapter One here, Chapter Two here), we had crossed into Alaska "for real" and were heading towards Fairbanks. Driving through central Alaska is a strange thing. The isolation of the place is so palpable, you feel the most chilling sense of being all alone immediately after crossing the border at Port Alcan.

Port Alcan is not like our usual border crossing between Washington State and British Columbia where you can expect to sit in line anywhere between 10-1000 hours. There's nobody around at Port Alcan. You go through with no fuss after a nice chat with the border agent, who honestly seems a little desperate for company. Then the road stretches ahead of you into nothing, the surroundings so wild and expansive and still, it sometimes feels like nobody has ever been there, you are the first, you are a pioneer!

The rusted cars sitting alongside the road will eventually tell you otherwise. Sometimes those old abandoned cars are down in ditches or wedged between trees. Try hard not to think about how they got there. Just maybe slow down a bit.

One of the reasons those cars may have ended up there was ominously insinuated by the numerous "HIGH ELK COLLISION AREA" signs showing elk being gratuitously smacked down by vehicles. Those signs are unnerving. I pictured unassuming kindly elk coming at me from all sides, maybe not realizing what a car is since there are so few around, or maybe not paying attention to their surroundings due to a riveting elk conversation with a friend, when suddenly whammo. I did indeed slow down a bit. Or maybe a lot. At one point Coco asked, "Are we even still moving?" to which I replied, "Coco, the elk need you to be patient right now."

Our first day in Fairbanks was a catch-up day. Alex and I don't like catch-up days because we're itchers. We're fidgety and antsy to get out there and see all of the stuff that needs to be seen but sometimes laundry must be done and storage containers/label makers must be purchased to make more organized use of the space inside the Winnie. Even though living space is minimal inside the RV, maybe the size of your average walk-in closet, none of us can ever find anything. Sometimes even toothbrushes get lost in a bathroom that is the exact size of your body. Lucien lost a shoe in there somewhere and it still hasn't been found which makes no sense at all.

The Fairbanks Fred Meyer store is pretty nice, FYI, though they have way too many storage container options. We spent an obscene amount of hours in the aisles thinking hard and staring at storage containers and measuring them with our hands in a haze of indecision.

We watched a movie that first night in Fairbanks, cozy in the Winnie with fresh laundry hung outside for a final dry. During the movie, an overwhelming stench of sewer wafted into our space. It burned our eyes, it was so, so bad. Al and I opened the door and tumbled outside frantically, hoping and praying we didn't have a big problem on our hands. Thank the RV gods, it wasn't us. But somewhere in the campground, a row or two over, we heard angry shouting. Lots of swear words. Then people were running back and forth with buckets of water.

Somebody, somewhere in the campground pulled the wrong lever under their rig and paid for it dearly. It's a real downside to traveling with a container of poo strapped to your house. We watched the rest of the movie with scarves pulled up over our faces. A canister of Febreze was generously deployed yet we wished we had another.

The sun never goes down in parts of Alaska during the summer months. The further north you go, the more hours of sun you've got. It would set to a twilight-y level in Fairbanks and stay that way all night. We have blackout shades in the Winnie B so weren't much bothered by it sleepwise. In fact, I was bummed we weren't more bothered. I wanted to be bothered, to see it, to suffer it, wanted to experience what it's like to be in the middle of permanent day.

I set my phone alarm for 3:00 a.m. that first night but I didn't need it. My body was so excited to see light all the time I awoke every hour to peek out the window and giggle.

I took this picture out the window at 2:30 a.m. 
Delightful giddy stuff.
I'll see you in another hour, permanent day.

As for Fairbanks, I loved it. It's a sleepy city in the summer, not much going on, not many people walking around. We hear it comes alive during the winter when residents are out and about playing winter sports on the frozen Chena River in giant snowsuits, revving up their snow machines (that's what they call snowmobiles up there), plugging their car's engine block heaters into outlets posted in all the parking lots so car engines don't freeze and can start again after grocery runs, getting their sled dog teams in order, and generally trying to stay alive.

Unfortunately, unique of a place as it is, Fairbanks is where all hell broke loose sibling-wise. It was an outright sibling fight in downtown Fairbanks. It may have been too much constant togetherness in a confined space yet we weren't even half finished with our trip so....ohhh shit --

"Fight! Fight! Fight!"
(Alex and I were not yelling this,
though we may have been speaking it softly to each other
behind cupped hands.)
Get it all out, kids, we've got a couple weeks left to go.

Regarding this next part, I'm not going to debate the merits/cruelty of sled dog teams. I know I felt one way when I went to Alaska but felt another way when I came back. I suggest only that, if you've got an opinion on an issue that doesn't really effect your life, go talk to someone whose life it actually does. (Related... don't tell an Alaskan to give up their guns nor be a vegetarian. They will roll their eyes hard then stroll away to shoot animals to smoke and store for their long ass winters.) 

Sled dogs are breeds born to work, born to run, born to pull. These are working dogs, not pampered pets like my spoiled Natani and two foster puppies who are currently sleeping on top of the heater vent because they felt a slight breeze. Sled dog breeds are instinctively more ready to work hard than my posh doggies who are like, "Huh? Work? Does that mean I have to eat my own poop today because... -- okey dokey, actually I'll just do that, you don't gotta ask twice."

The above pups playing in the water are descendants of Susan Butcher's dogs at her home in Fairbanks, viewed from aboard the terribly touristy but ultimately awesome Riverboat Discovery tour. Susan Butcher is a famous victor of the Iditarod with a handful of wins and another handful of impressive records to her name. Besides her many Iditarod wins, she was also the first person to take a sled dog team to the summit of Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America. I have no idea how she and her dogs did that. How did ya'll climb a mountain in a sled? I just.... I don't.... so much stuff I don't understand in this world.

Susan Butcher died of leukemia in 2006 but her husband and children carry on with raising and racing the descendants of her beloved team at their family home.

Below is a video of the sled dog running demonstration. Susan's widower, David, is doing the presentation via microphone on the ground and riding the four-wheeler behind the team. The dogs were ready to roll -- those who had not been chosen for the demo were circling in fits about being left out and those attached to the "sled" were anxious to get moving. 

(The tiny little dots back to the left behind that fence are puppies. I did not take one home. It was hard.) 

The dogs were happy and healthy and so breathtakingly strong, and I say this as an absolute dog lover, I was in awe of their drive and power and loved every single minute with them. 

It's a shaky dog video indeed

If you are still not a fan of sled dog teams, here's a picture for you depicting your feelings. It's a sled dog taking a poop in the middle of the demonstration --

We saw a handful of other demos from the Riverboat, too, one of them being a bush plane take-off and landing by a gray-bearded man who's been doing it his whole life, since he was a teenager. People in the more remote areas of Alaska depend on him to bring them supplies at any time of the year because as I mentioned, there are no dang roads out there. He can take off or land on whatever surface the season requires anywhere in the state -- land, water, snow -- he just changes the "feet" on his plane from wheels to floats to skis and lands soft as silk with one leg lightly skimming the surface first, then bringing the other one down gentle as a sigh to meet it.

I was like, "Man, I should stop complaining when there's a slight chill in the air and I can't get the first several spots next to the Safeway entrance." At least some dude doesn't have to bring me my groceries in a plane in subzero temperatures once a month.

But The Dude does have serious pilot skills

The best part of the Riverboat Discovery tour was listening to the tour guide describe what winter is like in Fairbanks. I hear it's harsh as hell with almost 24 hours of darkness and temps down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit yet also a rosy hunky dory example of the best of humanity coming together for a common goal (survival). He spoke at length about how everyone helps each other, stops for every stranded motorist with a broken down car no matter what because it's a life or death situation, shares their moose with their neighbor if their neighbor didn't bag a moose that year, and most importantly of all, "likes" all of their neighbors' Instagram photos.

He said, "In Fairbanks, we don't care who you're holding hands with, or what color your skin is, because all bodies freeze at the same temperature and we all need each other to get through the winter."

It kinda sounded like a place I wanted to be. I am a real sucker for humans being human to each other. I immediately set about dreaming of being there for a full winter some year. I can't wait to be one of those helpful people saving the lives of my neighbors on a regular basis, even if I scream in agony every time I step outside and see their confused expressions when, after I save their lives, I ask them where to find the tastiest quinoa bowl in town.

I may not be able to share my moose, though, because I don't even know how to go about getting one of those giant suckers home with me. At least I'll have the Northern Lights to keep me company on my fool's journey -- an earthly phenomenon that, alas, you cannot see in summer in Alaska because THE SUN NEVER F*CKING SETS.

We also panned for gold at an old gold dredge outside Fairbanks. We compiled the tiny gold flecks found in all of our pans and made them into a necklace for Coco instead of cashing them in to retire for maybe about thirty seconds --

And we visited the Ice Museum. Not much to look at from the outside but very cold fun inside. I was so cold, I often had to retreat through the insulated doors to the warmer heated part of the museum. This does not bode well for my future winter in Fairbanks.

Ice slide

We saw other sights in Fairbanks but that's enough, I think. My eyes are crossing from trying to locate all these pictures in my massive photo library. I may take too many pictures. 

Next Alaska chapter -- where Lucien's childhood went to die! (or so he says...)

I call them my "not-quite-ready-for-the-sled" dogs

Mush on, little doggies,

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Alaska is on hold because Waffles doesn't give a damn.

I'd like to get in here and talk more about Alaska -- I've had a post in the works for weeks now -- but I've gone and done something that has made doing so much more difficult than it already was. My thought process on this one was enthusiastic and brief, perhaps too brief. It was a spontaneous "Imma do that!" without much thinking about what came after. I'm an Aries, which, from what I understand of astrology, means I am easily filled with childlike enthusiasm for stupid things.

I must have been longing for more chaos and less sleep. Maybe I wanted to buy a lot more paper towels. Maybe I just wasn't happy with the level of poop on the floors of my house because my recent foray certainly fixed that last one --

Waffles and Atticus

They're not mine forever, I swear! I've volunteered to be a foster dog mom for an organization that rescues pups from high kill shelters in the South. These are my first two charges, a brother/sister duo, hyper little foxhound mixes from sweet peachy Georgia.

It's tough to keep up with two puppies, even with both of them barricaded in the kitchen most of the day and watched with exhaustingly constant vigilance. If I see Atticus sniffing suspiciously and run forward to grab and run him outside, Waffles will definitely take advantage of those two seconds of inattention to pee and poo in all corners of the kitchen and chew through Lucien's headphone cord. When she's done destroying the place, she pounces on my ankles with a jubilantly wagging tail. She's always so dang pleased with herself.

I'm so tired. It's kind of like having an infant again minus the "they sleep in a cage and I can put them in that cage when I go to the grocery store, too" parts.  I hear you definitely can't do that stuff with human babies.

Natani loves the puppies. I think she sometimes yearns for her lonely days, stares into the distance and pines for solitude as puppies crawl all over her and chew on her ears, but overall she is the best foster dog mom I could have hoped for.

This is my life now.

I mentioned in my previous post we'd lost a pet. It obviously isn't Natani, thankfully, because I need her right now. We thought Bobo would be the next pet to go -- he is one old, old lizard -- but no, Stella the parakeet went first.

Stella made us crazy all the time. The chirps were redundant, constant, loud, shrill, and made us all mental. "STELLA, STOPPPPP!" was a regular refrain from dawn to dusk. Yet the day they disappeared, those constant chirps and learned phrases ("You're a pretty birdie!" was a regular one and unfortunately, thanks to the siblings, "Shut up" was another), the vastness of the silence that descended upon this house hurt our ears more than her constant noise ever did.

I emptied out a box of checks and lined it with cotton balls. I placed Stella's body on top. I wanted the kids to see her comfortable when they came home from camp. I didn't have time to bury her after our tearful goodbyes were said so I chucked that box of checks into the freezer, where it remains to this day. I feel intense guilt whenever I open the freezer to grab some frozen peas for dinner and see her check box coffin lying there. One of these days we're gonna bury that pretty, pretty birdie.

I am now assisting Bobo in daily exercise routines and feeding him a high protein/low carb diet. We can't lose another pet so soon, dragon!  Keep moving those little lizard legs!

I'm throwing my big Halloween party this weekend. And after the weekend, I'm taking on yet another foster puppy. Somebody stop me, what the hell am I doing?

they're just so damn cute

Waffles doesn't give a damn,