Thursday, October 30, 2008

Run Away Mommy

Height: 5'0"

Weight: Oh, we are so not going there, buddy

Hair: Black

Eyes: Brown with flecks of gold

Accomplice: Crazy redheaded and conniving best friend who stole her from the newly minted god daughter

Last seen: Eating sushi as if it was the most lavish experience that life offered to a new mother.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Novelty Item

"Oh, this is my friend/relative/social butterfly, Christina. She lives in Alaska!"

I walked around DC in a sleeveless top and no coat. Fellow citizens pass me, casting crazy glances from their muffled necks and bundled torsos. It is a balmy 50 degrees, and suddenly, I am the novelty.


Fast forward to me in a tank top, driving down I-95 in 77 degree temps, desperate for some sunblock. I stop in a Travel Plaza where I am sure to find everything from beef jerky to slushis, and hopefully some much needed SPF. I ask the clerk, "Where do you stock your sunblock?" "It's winter. We don't carry that anymore." "Honey, it is 77 degrees outside; this ain't winter." Alas, I have more freckles on my left arm than my right thanks to the 16 hours of driving I completed in the past week.


We bowed our heads in prayer over dinner. I sat among my fellow alumni and some new students in the renovated student athletic complex at my alma mater. The chaplain, an old mentor of mine, read from her notes, asking God to bless our meal and thank him for the safe travels of the board members who came so far to join us that evening--- "even from Alaska," she concludes. I smiled and raised my head at the end of the prayer and was greeted by eight smiling faces around the table, all looking at me. "So, are you the alum from Alaska?" the sophomore next to me asks.


Sipping beer and wine at a Friday night tasting event, I remark at the varying degrees of yumminess. "Another pour for my friend. She came all the way from Alaska to taste these wines with you this evening," boasts my host.

Perhaps, a la Palin, I should create my own line of bobbleheads.

Coastie Chicks Re-Unite

Cafe Atlantico in Penn Quarters boasts table-made guac and a cotton candy twist on their mojitos. Around the table sat Judith and Ann Marie, two dolls I met on coastiechicks. In my last year in DC, they became fast friends who laughed as much as they talked and loved as much as they smiled. We got along instantly, and we miss each other very much. Tonight's dinner is just what I needed-- smiling faces laughing with me as I recounted my adventures in Kodiak.

L-R: Judith, me, and Ann Marie

Cotton candy delight
Cotton candy all gone!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Economy in the lower 48

I pay $5 a gal for gas, $4 for a bag of spinach; $2 for coffee. When I flew into DCA, I took a look around and realized how much the economy is hurting people down here, in plain view.

Multiple people queuing for taxis asking to split fares; in years past everyone took their own. Few share in this beltway.

Every restaurant features a special, low price menu, coupon to come back and see us promotion.

The annual gala that draws 500+ people each year because of its venue, timing, and theme, hosted a measly 260 revelers who barely covered the marble dance floor.

I asked our host if he was planning his typical, over the top New Year's Gala, and he said yes. I asked if he were worried about the price of tickets keeping celebrants at bay. "No. When Obama wins, people will be ready to celebrate and ring in a new year!"

How many days until the election?

Ana Sofia and God Mother Play Time

First impressions: Still not ready for motherhood myself, but gosh is she fun to make funny faces at.

Like me, she is budding red hair, has blue eyes, a hell of a temperment, and she sleeps in the fetal position-- sound like anyone you know? 5000 miles away and I am already rubbing off. God help the poor girl.

Have Corporate AMEX, Will Eat

While in Seattle, I had a chance to entertain my boss and a few teaming partners. I arrived Monday night, and I went straight to the hotel. Tuesday morning arrived way too early and started with a conference call for an east coast project. From that call, I hopped in my teaming partner’s truck and was whisked from the downtown Westin and onto a small business parks near the harbor and Alki. After three hours in front of a white board—then decorated with my color coded markings—and high on those markers, I was starving.

We dined at Salty’s, overlooking the Seattle waterfront, decorated with moving barges and USCG boats. On a rare and gorgeous sunny day, we enjoyed the view and ate asiago cheese crusted halibut served over purple potatoes and accompanied by roasted pears. From lunch, he dropped me off at my downtown office, where I reviewed emails and made dinner reservations.

My boss arrived in Seattle at 1900, and an hour and half later, he found me already sipping on a Cote du Rhone at Purple. Knowing that he too is a wine snob, I picked the perfect place for the two of us to relax as we spoke of the next day’s strategy meeting. I feasted on their roasted pork tenderloin accompanied by sweet roasted apples and onions. The meal was delicious, as were the pumpkin-chocolate truffles we had for dessert. For wine, he ordered a sweet pinot noir from Williamette Valley, while the chef recommended an Oregonian pinot grigio that was tart against the sweet apples in my dish.

Not done with our conversation about office changes, we headed to Vessel, where the bourbon selection more than pleased my boss. I ordered a dark and stormy and those fabulous roasted notes and marinated olives they serve on the side. My boss ordered a flight of 4 bourbons and took notes on his pda to look for at least two of them in his Anchorage liquor store.

Early the next morning, my team and I locked ourselves into a conference room and do whatever it is you do at a strategy meeting. We invited our teaming partner to join us for lunch at Wild Ginger. Enclosed in a private dining room, away from the loud, regular, lunch crowd, our sampled spring rolls, and laughed at each other using chop sticks to eat soup. I ordered their Wun Tun Mein, a phenomenal soup with lo mein noodles and fried, chicken and shrimp filled dumplings.

Over the course of the afternoon, I rcvd notification of a new Request for Proposal (RFP). Eager to utilize my teaming partner’s past performance, I called our lunch companion to meet for dinner. Very much like the morning prior, he whisked me away from my office and through Seattle traffic exiting the city. The afternoon turned warm; convertibles with tops down whizzed past us, and there I was, highlighter in hand, systematically breaking down the components of the RFP and chatting about what past projects would meet the requirements.

We passed soccer families as we pulled into EIlliot Bay Marina and parked at Palisades. Opposite from Alki and downtown Seattle, our seats offered us a view of the marina—filled with sail boats—the sunset, the ferries pulling from the harbor and into the sound, and the lights atop the needle. We started with oysters Rockafeller and ordered a bottle of Firesteed Pinot Grigio. We unfolded our notebooks and outlined our response and charted our projects while the chef prepped our dinner. We took a quick break to eat cedar plank salmon (him) and seafood chop with shrimp and dungenous crab (me). We wrapped our notes and palates with dessert—a white chocolate cake with raspberry glaze.

When my head hit the pillow at 2130 PST (early for me, I know), I started to add up my receipts from the past three days. Thank goodness for corporate accounts, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tulip Time!

This past spring, my sister and her SO invited my mother and me to Holland, MI's Tulip Festival. Besotted about the new digs and actual yard, I bought tulip bulbs--after verifiying that, yes, they do ship to Kodiak.

I did not think too much more of them until those bulbs arrived a few weeks ago. I strained my willpower to let the last of the summer flowers enjoy the sunny days this past week. But after the rain beat them unmericfully over the weekend, I tore up the beds on Monday. Rather than plant on the clay-ridden, shale covered ground, I have raised barrels in the front yard: two on the opposite corner from the front porch, and one greeting guests as they meander from the driveway to the front stoop.

With a dozen or so planted in each tub, I chose to plant the varities in, well, variation. The colors I selected are red, yellow, and hybrids of those two pallets. According to my dear neighbor they'll bloom sometime in June...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Disneyland in Japan

Yesterday, I rcvd a postcard from Brad. He had sent it from his trip to Disneyland in Japan-- during their last portcall.

Brad accompanied his BM1, the Capt and his wife. The card commented on the differences in the lands within the park and the differences in height between the Japanese and these coasties. The CO comes in at 6'6", Brad is 6'4", and the BM1 is somewhere around 6 feet tall, too. Needless to say, they, um, attracted attention, as noted the Capt's blog entry:

(Along with the other cutters, CGC Munro blogs on the D17 Public Affairs website.)

Tokyo Disney was definitely a different experience than either one of the parks I've been to in the U.S.

I think the biggest things that stood out were myself and Lieutenant Anderson, our Operations Officer, who came along with me for the day. We were probably the tallest people there and our height and physical appearance attracted a lot of attention. There were lots of park visitors who stopped to take our picture.

It was definitely one of the most unusual experiences I've ever had. There was a small child who bumped into LT Anderson and then just stared up at him. It was pretty obvious that he had never seen anyone so tall in his life. His family quickly scooped him up and they were talking to each other and making hand gestures about our height and size which was funny and a little awkward, but it was all good natured.

Everyone we met at the park, both employees and tourists alike, were very friendly and animated. Everyone seemed to move with a purpose almost as if they were on a schedule and had to get everything done before the end of the day.

The park was very clean and well tended and I noticed that although the layout was very similar to the Disney Land in California, it was a lot smaller than any other Disney theme park I had ever been to.

We went on just about every ride at the park, even the "kid" rides like Snow White and Peter Pan. My favorite ride was Space Mountain, which was very similar to the ride in the U.S.

The difference in food stood out as well. There was one store that actually sold Ratatoullie, like from the movie, on little rolls. There was curry popcorn, which was delicious but not something one would usually find in the States.

I also noticed that there was more of an emphasis on the cartoon characters like Winne the Pooh, Goofy and Mickey Mouse. I tried to find some Disney Princess things for my daughters but there wasn't any in the souvenir shops or toy stores.

The parades were amazing and they had very intricate floats. The park was having its Halloween celebration while we were there and some of the floats and characters were way scarier than anything they would have in the U.S. There was a float made to look like the head of the witch from Snow White and one was an animated dragon from Sleeping Beauty that moved around and snapped its jaws. I don't think my kids would have enjoyed the parades as much, but all the other people at the park were clearly having a good time and had no problem with the scarier floats.

We spent the entire day at the park and had a chance to ride all the rides we wanted to and took a lot of pictures for my family back home. I would definitely come back with my family.

The whole trip was definitely a unique experience and I'm glad I had a chance to get off the boat and have a little fun while we were in Japan.

P.S. From the Captain: I went to Disney along with my wife who thankfully came to visit. I'm fairly certain I was ACTUALLY the tallest person in the park as I beat BM1 and Ops by a couple of inches in the height department. We all experienced quite a few people with cameras who would obviously be talking about us then someone with a camera would move away, pretending to take a picture of the group but actually taking a picture with us in the background. Some were a little bolder and asked to pose with us. Guess they had never seen a 6'6" guy with Mouse ears...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tubby Tok

In the past week, Tok has expanded...width wise. I have had to adjust his collar as he starts to fill out. I am bound for another growth spurt. The last time he did this, he gained ten pounds. We may have a 60 lb puppy when Brad comes home in November.

I brush him each day, so he is not as fluffy as you would imagine a malamute (read: as seen in movies and shows), but his neck is started to "poof." I cannot quite explain it, but his breed has substantial necks for pulling (um, naturally), and his is starting to fill out more. To me, he is getting very long, but now he is starting to pack on some pounds.

In my limited research, I learned that he will look like this in the near future (different coloring, of course):

See how crazy thick is that neck? Yep, that's why they mush. Tok continues to love being socialized. Today we had a Boy Scout ring our bell, selling popcorn. Tok ran to the door with me, and I had to hold his collar as the little boy began his pitch. I accepted his pitch and asked that I settle in Tok before I filled out his order form. Tok followed my commands to sit on his living room cushion and stay while I filled out the form. I welcomed the scout and his dad into the house while I fetched my check book. They closed the door and I called Tok over to greet our guests. He loved the attention; and so, reluctantly, he went over to his cushion again as our guests left.

My goal is to have Tok used to this routine for the holidays, when many a friendly faces will grace our home. I wonder what he'll weigh then?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ode to Skype

After 4.5 hours of conference calls this morning, I was organizing my desk and making motions to take the dog out for a bit of play time. Onto my screen pops a request from Paula. In what was the highlight of my day, for 25 minutes, I got a chance to speak with my best friend. I took the laptop and its camera around the house, giving her a tour of our home and the yards. She watched me toss the ball for Tok, complimented me on my flowers in the front yard, and admired the view of my pond-- all from the little camera set into this laptop.

She and I chatted about life, work, and I got some face time with my god daughter. I grabbed the flamingo and made silly faces at the screen in hopes of establishing some sort of recognition before my arrival in a few weeks.

The best part: neither of us had showered, both had on our blue flannel pjs, both had on our glasses, and the biggest frickin smiles you can imagine.

To see her-- and Ana Sofia-- made my heart soar.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Domestic Goddess, Covered in Coconut

Tonight, I prepped to host our friend, Lance. Lance visited us when we first arrived in Kodiak. He is a Coastie from DC, and like last time, is on another business trip that brings him to the Emerald Isle....on his way to Hono, no less.

Excited to have company, I have gone all out. He and fellow Coastie (from DC but stationed here now), Mike, are joining me for dinner. I am making Halibut with a bacon and spinach side, Alaskan beer biscuits, and a banana flavored cake with cream cheese icing, topped with coconut and almonds.

Where as I am still learning how to decorate a cake with just regular icing, the cream cheese icing really threw me. So I was delighted to (literally) throw coconut and almonds on the cake in an effort to hide icing flaws and create a "messy" charm to the creation itself.

Now, if only I can resist the temptation to have it for breakfast tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lost & Found

As displayed in the Kodiak Daily Mirror:

Silver in Buskin, upstream from road. G-Loomis, 8-weight in the tail. Keep fish, reward for rod and reel. Call 907 XX-XXX.

Man did I laugh at that one...

7 October: Our First Snow (Dusting)

For the past two weeks, forecasters called for snow showers and ice, and none of it came. We enjoyed cool 32 degree mornings that would warm to 50 desgree sunny afternoons. Fishing and hiking became everyone's focus as we enjoyed a dry spell in late fall.

Today, I left the house for a morning meeting, and I could smell it. Yes, you can smell snow coming. Those olfactory senses of mine tuned into a fresh, crisp air; and suddenly, I was taken aback to coming out on the back porch of my dorm in NC and then my house in Vermont, heading to class. You don't forget trudging home in the 2 foot dump that accumilated while you were in class.

At 1045, it started to snow...ever so slightly. And then started to pour. I put Tok outside and he stared up at the sky, opening his mouth and trying to determine what was this non rain stuff coming down at him. It stopped about five minutes after it began, but it was a sign...


A friend shared this story with me. Grab some tissues.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mrs. Arden or Mrs. Anderson?

Our new Red Door

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mountain Views

This weekend, Tok and I took a couple of hikes to enjoy the spectacular change of seasons. Enjoy the views.

Barometer Mountain with a touch of gold

Barometer from Near IslandFloat plan over Barometer
Range from Old Woman Trail
Coast Guard Base from Old Woman Trail

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Berry Picking

Introducing: Kodiak's newest Rotarian

Yesteday, during the Morning Rotary breakfast, the President announced that I would be inducted next Wednesday, 8 October. For me, personally, this is a huge goal accomplished. A Rotary scholarship helped me become a first generation college student, and now, as part of this active Rotary, I can give back.

To learn more about Rotary International click: here. And yes, I plan to take my camera so my mama can print pictures and brag about her daughter.