Rained on Glerum’s Parade

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The change in the weather is thanks to the Glerums. Since the last snowfall on May 20th, Anchorage baked in a warm buggy summer. We saw days in the 80’s and blue skies enough to suggest global warming’s arrival. One day we got spits of rain. Another day it was overcast for the afternoon. One morning a creepy fog rolled over the city. The other 40 days it was sunny and B E A Utiful.

On Thursday night the clouds rolled in just about the time my old drum corps friend Mary Glerum, her husband Shawn, and their kids Nate & Grace landed at the airport. We haven’t seen sun since. If its rained, I didn’t see it but it walks the line all the time. It is expected to rain most of this week. They got to see glimpses of Mountains yesterday and some today. With plans for Girdwood the next 3 days we can only hope things get clearer for them to “see” Alaska.

Their visit did mean the christening of the bear den for guests. I finished the bedroom, complete with closet doors (upside down closet doors), with 45 minutes to spare. It was, of course, given a name – The Brad Barns Throwdown Emporium – intended as an open invitation to get out mutual friend (yes I am friends with THE Brad Barnes) up to Alaska to visit. They are actually starting their 2nd week if vacation, so this weekend was more of a recharge weekend. The highlight was a nice dinner of grilled salmon and lots of sparkling mead (HEAVY on the mead) and good conversation with the Glerums and Ryan & Melissa Morse (Ryan & Mary are related and Mary hooked me up with the Morses when I got to Alaska).

So they vacation on, and I go back to work to work tomorrow. I hope the weather clears for their sake, but if the rain and winds does something about these Mosquitos then I am kinda okay with that.

De-Bacholering the Pad

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I am cursed by closet doors.

When I bought my house, my planning included guests. Living in a major tourist destination put me knowingly in the travel plans on anyone choking down the cost of a hotel room during tourist season. When I lived in Kansas, I held a “2 week notice” rule for anyone stopping by just because the house was that messy, I slept on a mattress on a floor with no place but an awful couch for anyone else, and the dust/heating/cooling in the house was more of an acquired taste. I embraced the bachelor pad life there in Kansas — and in Alaska, I had no choice but to reject it. The Bear Cave has a guest bedroom, though not very big, it is complete with a bed and clean linens. Two bathrooms make for good rotations for visiting parties. I have the big couch, the deck, and an airbed all ready for come what may. I even have a cleaning lady come through every two weeks to keep me in check.

This week, that gets thrown into action. My old drum corp friend, Mary Glerum, her husband and two kids are staying at the bear cave between their Alaskan adventures. In an instant, this house will go from having good space for a man and a dog, to being filled with twice as many more living beings in it. That being said, I became acutely aware that as much as I rejected the bachelor pad feel of the house, it still was a bachelor pad. So, I got to work on “de-bacholering” the place.

That starts with the simple things, having enough pillows / towels / blankets /stuff that make you feel you are a hotel. Pillows are what took me by surprise; since I am so proud of my “pillow theory” (that’s a different story) I was surprised that I had only 6 pillows in the house, and two of those smelt like dog. So … that number was doubled. Speaking of which, smell is a big part of this transformation. Let’s face it, we get used to our smells, and for people to enter your world you don’t know what they do and do not smell. I don’t want the place stinking with man/dog mess, but I don’t want it stinking of girly stuff either. Enter “Yankee Candle Company” and their man scents (I chose “lawn mower” over “2 by 4”). Then on top of all that, I needed to install a jungle. Okay, some plants, something to fill up the front room and give it some color. But its surprising how quick it can fill up.

The guest bedroom has been a labor of love, and it’s turned out nice. But for three months I’ve been mostly putting off but at times struggled with closet doors for the guest bedroom. It remains the last thing needed for the guest bedroom to be complete – but I am out of time.

As all those plans came together, a curveball was thrown. Auggie, during a walk by a lake on Friday, drank some creatures from the lake. We saw a vet and he is on the mend, since Saturday he has been flowing like the Russian River off the poop deck. My routine included hosing down his kennel (and him) twice a day. While part of the issue is it takes time needed for final preparations – it’s just gross.

So in my last rush (I have until 10pm tonight), I have a list to complete. Mowing the lawn, folding laundry, hosing down the dog (if necessary), and … Finally … Getting those closet doors up.

Almost Missed It!!!!

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I said there would be anniversaries, and almost missed a few.

A year ago this week, I had the business meeting of a lifetime.  It was a week in Berlin, Germany for a Nadcap Meeting.  After 10 years as a member, and seven years as a vice-chair, I took over as the Chair of Nadcap Heat Treat Task Group.  Basically, I was placed in charge of the quality direction of the heat treat industry for Aerospace.  Those who held that position before were considered the  most influential in the heat treat industry, and I was ready to take it over.  This week anniversary represents the first and only time I led that meeting.

A year ago as well, I met one of my best friends, nut slinger, and occasional Bear Feed commenter.  She also happens to live in Germany, and when visiting her, I was introduced to Currywurst.  I was jet lagged from flying & riding the train all day but I still somehow found a way to stay awake some 30 hours just because it was just too good of a chat.

But today marks the one year anniversary of a phone call I got.  I was standing outside of a beer garden just down the road from our meeting.  I was half a liter into my liquid starter and was expecting a really good traditional german meal, when I got up to take this call. A few details were shared, some numbers discussed, then with as much of a straight direct tone I could say I said: “Consider me accepting your job offer.”  From that instant my life began changing directions. Of course, at that moment I was still an employee of Cessna, living in Wichita Kansas, and the Chair of the Nadcap Heat Treat Task Group — but with every second that passed from that point on, I was on a path that would eventually lead to me quitting all that I was, and becoming all that I am now.

 

Summer of Anniversaries

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Summer has arrived, and like most of y’all I have my summer plans.  They don’t sound as exciting as they did last year (I mean, my summer plans last year included going to Germany, visiting Gettysburg, hiking in Appalachia, and … oh yeah .. moving to Alaska), but they still have some depth to them.

As I thought about the summer to come, it just seemed to be loads of anniversaries to come, best I can count:

One 150th anniversary
One 50th anniversary
One 20th anniversary (actually, seems like a whole summer of 20th Anniversaries)
Whole bunch of first anniversaries.

Some of it is going to be obvious, like .. I don’t know …  a year since moving to Alaska.  Some of it is going to be cute, like a pup’s first birthday.  Some of it is going to bring me back to see friends.  Some of it is going to make me remember days gone by.

I remember at the start of last summer excited about what the future was going to bring.  I am not thinking like that to start this one, only excited to remember what was.

Rutter’s Magnificat

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I should have realized how this day would be when I, on a whim, flipped my IPhone music over to the orchestral / choral work by John Rutter called Magnificat. The music rolls through waves of high tempo accents to soft raised voices. Entirely approachable, it speaks simple moods and while the Latin biblical lyrics are easily missed it can leave an impression to even a casual listener. For me, it has this ability to bring a calm, quiet day to its furthest threshold – in peace, it helps me find bliss. Magnificat has had that ability since my first deep listen while taking a calm quiet day off in London’s Hyde Park in 2005. While I listen to it regularly, it’s those days that Magnificat finds me that returns me to a mood like no other.
It is solstice weekend in Anchorage, the official start of summer and the longest days and shortest night of the year. The weekend is marked by the Mayor’s Marathon (Anchorages primer running event) and downtown festivals. In my opinion, the events are underwhelming, in the land of the midnight sun there seems to be little to celebrate midnight nor the sun, but that didn’t stop me.
Friday was the first overcast day since our snows in May, but we barly got a sprinkle to go with it. After an evening (like you could tell) walk with the pup, I won’t downtown for a few drinks and meet some new friend at the Irish pub. Once midnight rolled around, I took a walk to get the flavor of things – but it was like any Friday night bar hopping night. Still, seeing the first light at 2AM when it never really got dark was worth seeing; and heading home I wondered what Saturday would bring. 41 year old bones don’t usually do well with a 2AM bed time.
What I woke to was blue skies, a cool morning, and a happy relaxed mood. Rutter found me soon late and wafted through my mind through a playful breakfast and a few errands. Auggie and I won’t downtown where we spent a fair bit of time wandering, chatting, relaxing.
For some reason, I thought about a friend I really hadn’t thought much about for years; leading me to dig out old pictures, find some old things to make me remember. Being the technical age, I poked around and learned probably more that I wanted from google and I won’t lie .. It made me shed a couple tears for the days long gone by. Not for something bad; but just one of those stories that reminds you that you are alive. It’s not a story I want to blog about, not all are, but I pulled the pup onto my lap while sitting in the park and I told him the whole thing.
Maybe that is what that music is to me. Magnificat is this subtle, simple piece. But it finds a place in me to be in the subtle simple moments. It helps me and reminds me that within the calm is something great to appreciate. I don’t know the meaning or content of Magnificat, but in it I am most aware of everything … everything … that can make one happy.

Confession Time

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For those of you know knew me well over the last three years, you may know the big story before my move to Alaska was the weight loss program I was on.  I had lost over 200lbs, and for the months before the move I was in a fight to maintain that loss.  Most who know me directly these days may not be aware of that, because they are likely seeing the opposite.

Truth is, I have put on alot of weight since coming to Alaska.  While it’s not the full return to where I was before the big weight loss, its enough.  Those of you who knew me before the move will notice, you would be blind not to, and likely you wouldn’t have known if I didn’t tell you here.  40 years of weight problems means I know how to avoid the issue, especially with those who don’t see me every day.  There are fewer pictures taken with me in it, fewer photos used from recent history, finding those right places to stand so not to be seen – I’m an expert on those things.

There are alot of reasons I can point to.  One is a job in Alaska that is way way more sitting at a desk.  Harder to find fresh food in stores makes cooking at home either more unhealthy or less likely to happen.  The great beer here, the great restaurants, and the bad habits I find myself doing with letting those into my diet.  The dog keeping me from tricks to make workouts a routine, and workouts with the dog becoming ineffective.  There are as many reasons as there are excuses.   In all honesty, though, my weight problems are more than the standard “you eat too much, you don’t exercise enough” though that is the direct cause.  The fact that I feel that I have to “confess”  to gaining weight should be proof of that.  The fact that I needed a hospital based program to actually be successful is proof of it too.

Don’t consider this a sign of me giving up though.  I need to make changes, and that means the simple things.  Change what I can change, seek help for the things I can’t.  This is actually the first step … the first step is always admitting you have a problem, and while I have admitted it to myself its time I become accountable to y’all as well.

So put up with the fact you won’t see many pictures of me, at least not without a fight, unless I can start winning this battle again.  Put up with the complaints, the confessions, the other junk … because that’s just what happens.  40 years of weight problems, I know that this is what happens.

Skeeter Madness

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Where you are at, it might get bad.  It might get to be annoying or chase you from cool places.  You may even call it the state bird.  In Anchorage, Mosquitos make front page news.

http://www.adn.com/2013/06/17/2943159/mosquito-invasion-in-southcentral.html

Alaska has had a magnificent run of good weather.  Since the last snow day (May 19th), we have had only one day where the weather was a touch of grey for a little bit.  Otherwise, we’ve seen sun sun sun and a little more sun.  It’s typical for June to be the best weather month, before rains start becoming more of a habit later in summer, but this is a remarkable run.  It’s even “Hot” today – breaking a record high.  The heat is a trend that even broke all time records around the state, including Talkeetna who’s high on Sunday of 91° was a temperature reached only twice before in recorded history and was an all time high, until it was beaten on Monday, by another 6°.

The heat has been something that we just accept it seems; it comes with the great sunshine and long days.  No one seems to be complaining about the heat at all.

We are too busy complaining about the Mosquitos.  I was noticing it the last couple of weeks, and I chatted with some folk about it when we were in the middle of being eaten alive; but then it came up over and over everywhere I went.  Every bug prevention thing out there is running short.  There are propane burning mosquito killers that, while stupid expensive, are really effective.  According to the paper, those are in really short supply — the three Wal-Marts in town report they have in stock one of those things, and its broke.

It turns out, we can blame last Autumn for this.  It rained loads in August & September, I am sure I complained about it back then, which was perfect for mosquito breeding, then the colds of October came and protected the buggy eggs.  Add the great weather, with little wind, and we got a blood sucker fest.

My house is short of screens, so there are more than a few of the bugs flying around the house.  Auggie seems to have more than a few bug bites everyday when I get home.  And I have to put more than a few layers of bug spray on me just to mow the lawn.

But I guess this is the price of great weather too.