Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top Ten Signs You are Near the Arctic Circle

10. You have dined at three spots recommended by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, North Pole Edition.
9. You resemble a marshmallow - or that kid from A Christmas Story.
8. Your cocktail comes in a martini glass made of ice.
7. The walkway into the Chena Hot Springs has a hazardous handicap railing.

6. You thought your husband had big feet-- and then you saw them in bunny boots.

5. Everything is so dry you do not have to clean your ears 'cause there is no wax (gross but true).

4. Caribou hides cover your bed.

3. Cars take shortcuts along the frozen Chena River rather than the road.

2. Sled rides are in high demand.

1. The road signs read: Fairbanks, 10 miles; Fox, 18 miles; Circle, 162 miles. That's right: they drop the "Arctic" because the temperature alone lets you know you are close!

Monday, January 25, 2010


The Fairbanks Curling Club was built entirely by its members. The pride of the establishment's heritage shows in the historical photos that line the walls, featuring men and woman with brooms; and in the trophy cases filled with championships both young and old.
The sport of curling is amazing. To me, the scoring concept is similar to bocce; and the technology that has been introduced to the game itself lends to precision and practiced methods. We began with an overview video and then headed down to the sheets (or lanes of ice on which the game is played) to practice what we learned. We split into groups, shook hands, said, "Good Curl" in the tradition of good sportsmanship and proceeded to have a great time.

The students loved it, and their energy in sweeping generated lots of laughter and even a couple of spills on the ice. Here I am in the racks, or for those with track backgrounds, the blocks. These are frozen into the ice. Only one foot goes into the hack. As I am right handed, my right foot dug in while my left foot was placed on a slider (since we were in non-curling shoes). For lefties, it is just the opposite. In my hands is a modified broom (to stabilize my stance) and a rock/stone. To curl, you squat, center your weight, then lift up your bum and draw back your left leg and the rock. Your hand holds the rock in the 12 o'clock position.

And then you launch. As one fluid motion, you have to glide out of the hack and place your weight onto your left leg, extended the right leg behind you. As you do this, you need to turn your wrist to either to the 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock position to enable it to curl down the path and head in a particular direction (to either bump another player's rock or strategically place your own for the team).

You release the rock either before or at the hog line (not my terms), which the thick black line you see below. My form is not perfect, as my leg should be extended without my knee touching the ground (hence the large purple bruise on it now); but I blame my shoes; but back is straight and my shoulders square with the hog line.
And my lil' rock that could glided along the center line the whole way to the tee line, well almost the tee line.

Unfortunately, Kodiak does not have a curling club nor a rink suited for sheets. Hopefully, Seward will offer me the chance to hone my skillz (yeah, with a z).

Winter Orientation

Our venue was the Pike's Lodge, whose vast lobby is home to Princess cruisers in the summer travel season and Alaskans - furry and bipedal - in the winter. Our evening dinner started with a speech from Lt. Gov. Campbell, who hosted students in the past and is very big supporter of the Rotary District 5010.
And after the speeches, the fun started. The students who had interviewed the day prior find out what language they would need to learn for their new host country. To increase the suspense, the organizers use a power point to showcase the student's name, and they stand. Clapping and cheering ensue. The flag of the student's new home fills the screen, and the shouting and excitement begins!
The students race to the front of the room where the country flags hang. Each student is joined by the Alaskans who recently returned from an exchange in that country and those foreign nationals currently on exchange in Alaskan towns. Their energy, excitement, and celebration was palpable. I loved the smiles, the shock, the awe.

Here is our current exchange student, Sagar, with the Alaskan who went to India last year and the adorable young woman about to embark on her own adventure!
I really love working with this program!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I am in Fairbanks for the annual Winter Orientation for my Rotary District's Youth Exchange Program. Gathered at the Pike's Lodge, we are hosting exchange students assigned throughout Alaska; Alaskan students who returned from exchanges abroad this past summer; and those new students vying for a country to host them for an exchange in 2010. We donned color coded tshirts that break students into those groups and designated us Rotarian Youth Exchange Officers.

This weekend, we are part mentor/chaperone/mom/dad/best friend/role model/resource for these students to learn from each other: culture shock, adapting to new family life, language challenges, and regular training (sexual abuse awareness and first aid).

As for fun actitivies, our group will be curling tomorrow afternoon. I am wicked excited about this event and will have my camera on hand to showcase my mad sweeping skillz. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti: In search of a friend

FOUND! Maggie checked in via radio station. She is alive, well, and safe; but now she has to locate supplies and shelter before leaving the island. Thank you for your support. Please continue to think about those whose loved ones are still missing.

In search of a friend who is in Haiti, Magalie Brunet (Maggie). She is 5'1, very petite, long wany brown hair, blue-green eyes. She is a French national. She was supposed to be staying at the Montana Hotel (which collapsed), but might have been outside of Port-au-Prince, on her way back from Camp Perrin.

If you have any loved ones providing relief operations in Haiti, please send them this message with the attached picture. Please let me know of any whereabouts, status, anything.

She is a dear friend who went there to help set up villages for ecotourism, to better the lives of families who need money for food, sending their children to school, etc.

She has the biggest heart and is a seasoned traveler. Still, friends in Belgium, US, France, and Iraq (yes, even one stationed in Mosul) are clammering the phone lines in search of this dear friend. Please, pass along the word. My plea has been posted on coastiechicks.net, cnn..com/ireports, facebook, and now here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Annual Rotary Dinner

Last night, Brad and I attended my annual Rotary holiday dinner and auction. My Rotary club postpones our celebration until January. With all the parties in December, there would surely be a conflict in schedules; and in Kodiak, many continue to celebrate the holiday season as Russian Christmas is not until 7 January.

In the morning, I joined a small crew of Rotarians to decorate the party space in the local sushi restaurant, the Old Powerhouse. Our theme was a traditional Christmas, complete with strung popcorn on the tree, sugared fruit in the centerpieces, and strung chestnuts hung over the gift table.

Later in the afternoon, I placed the finishing touches on my gift baskets. Each year, each guest brings a gift to auction off. We either seek donated items, make it/them ourselves, our buy an item from a local vendor. We then auction them off to each other and all proceeds go to a local charity. Last year, we raised over $2000!

Brad and I arrived during cocktail hour, placed my two gift baskets on the table, and proceeded to mingle among guests and order drinks from the bar. We took our seats next to the club's secretary, Lorna, and her husband, Mike; and newest member, Heather, and her husband Matthew. Lorna works for Senator Gary Stevens (also a fellow Rotarian in the noon club) and her husband Mike is a retired Bering Sea fisherman (which gave him and Brad lots of stories to exchange). Heather works in the school district, and her husband Matthew works at the local print shop and is responsible for helping me create those great holiday greeting cards we sent out. The sushi buffet opened, and with plates piled high, we dined and began our short awards ceremony: Rotarian of the Year, recognition for our committee chairs, and a round of applause for our most beneficial project: Coats for Kids. Each year, we stage boxes in key areas around town and collect coats for children in Kodiak and surrounding villages. This program is made possible via the generosity of the local dry cleaners, who donate the cleaning of all donated coats. This year, we collected just shy of 500 coats. The owners of the dry cleaners, the Ames, joined us for our dinner and received well-deserved honors for their contribution to this successful program.

The highlight of our evening was the entertainment: St. Innocent's Academy lifted us up with carol singing. They sang both traditional song, such as O Come All Ye Faithful, and then some Russian tunes. After a standing ovation, our local group headed out so we could start our auction.
Reprising my role as Vanna, from last year's auction, I carted items around to each table, showing off their best features as Lindsey, a former Mr. Alaska, took bids via microphone. With the amount of gifts to auction through, we enlisted fellow member, Diana, to tag team with me. Some of the best items included bear viewing from SeaHawk air and 40,000 Alaska Airline Miles; and then homemade gifts of apple pie, blankets, and pillow cases.

We ended our evening by auctioning off Indian dinners, cooked by our current exchange student, Sagar. What a deal: he comes to your home, cooks, serves, and cleans up! He has three menu selections and feeds up to four but can do more as necessary. He is raising money to extend his exchange and go on a tour of the West Coast before heading home to Pune, India.

It is because of programs like this that I will miss this club immensely. I intend to transfer my membership to another club when we move, but this family of friends will be missed, truly.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Rock Solid Support

The rain prompted me to leave my camera at home, and of course, what do I pull up and see upon entering the base: this guy. He had been on the rock in the bottom left corner, but by the time I checked in with the gate guard, parked, and walked out with the blackberry, he was perched on the Rock. Why is it that when the sun is shining and you can see the ships at the pier- providing me with that oh so perfect backdrop- that this never happens?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tok the Model

Tok's picture is proudly featured in the March 2010 collage for the Kodiak Humane Society's 2010 Calendar. For $12.00, you can purchase his first foray into pet modeling and help a no-kill shelter sustain their staff and facility.