Previous month:
June 2011
Next month:
August 2011

July 2011

HEADING SOUTH, FOR THE SUMMER?

Alaska is a beautiful and most wonderful place. But, it is not hot here. 

No no no, Alaskan summers are an average 65 degrees and cloudy. Sure, we get days where there's glorious sun (like today!), but it's typically a nice 65 with clouds day after day, all summer long. 

Which don't get me wrong, I'm totally ok with. I hate sweating, HATE IT. So daily life in the cool lane actually fits me quite well. 

So to change things up, at this very moment Adam and I are on a plane headed south to hang out in Sweet Home, OR to attend the Oregon Jamboree. Which I'm sorry, could they have picked a less awesome name for their country music extravaganza weekend?

What the hell Oregon? Was, "Kick Ass Country Concert Weekend of Awesome" taken or something? 

We're attending the Sunday night event so we can catch Adam and his father's favorite old time country singer, Jerry Jeff Walker in action. Before he croaks and all. Adam's mother and I are there to look fantastic and laugh and point at anyone wearing denim on denim. Extra points if they are also rocking a cowboy hat AND boots. I will also most likely drink too many cheap beers, sing along far too loud in public to be appropriate for my age, and I'd bet I'll eat my weight twice over in greasy food. 

Equally awesome is that in an effort to bask in all that is NOT an Alaskan summer, I will refuse to take my brand new sundress off. 

The. Whole. Weekend. 

New Dress
Because I know once I've left the land of 80 degrees and country and returned to the land of 65 degrees and polar bears, the next time I wear this dress it will be paired with a cardigan, tights, and probably boots.

In the middle of August. 

 

 

All in all I'm not complaining. I mean really it could be worse. I could live somewhere that considered dressing like this appropriate no matter the temperature. Like Vegas. Or a retirement community. 

80's Ashley

You guys, I was pro-stylin' as a wee one. The best part? I'm 99% sure this wasn't even a Halloween costume. 



THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS GOOD AT GROWING THINGS

Sadly, those times have past my friends. 

As much as I wish it wasn't, gardening is a science. Soil, light, water, wind, rain, heat. They have to be right for these little seeds to turn into tasty plants. The reality is that before you have a good garden, the summer before you have a trial by fire, why the hell is nothing working, garden. 

Currently I have a, WHY IS NOTHING WORKING? Garden. 

I wanted to keep it a secret you see, my garden failure, but then Grumbles went and shared her tomato monsters with the world and suddenly I had flashbacks to my masterpiece that was my garden last summer, and OH THE JEALOUSY. 

Want to see my mess? My things I have nothing to brag about seeing as it is already nearly August and I've tasted only a handful of spinach leaves? 

(sigh)

Fine, I show you my shameful excuse for a "garden." Please don't laugh. 

 

 

These tiny tiny seeds were started in early MAY. It is now nearly August and I am no closer to adding basil, oregano, parsley or cilantro to my meals than I was in the dead of winter. Why herbs, why do you forsake me? 

In Olympia I started seeds, they took off in about 17 seconds, two weeks later they were in the garden, in minutes I was picking tasty leaves. In Alaska I apparently bought snail speed herbs that hate me. And guess what? I hate you too. 

Herbs

 

Next on my list of ways I suck at gardening we have my two types of lettuce and some green onions. All of which were seeded in MAY and are still pathetic, weirdly shrived little messes in late JULY. Lettuce for those who are unaware are supposed to be ready to eat in about 30-45 days. Hmmmm.

I believe I have a few things working against me. I think first of all they are actually getting too much sun, and the fact that they sit on the balcony edge means they're being abused by wind. 

SO, in a last ditch attempt to eat something before the snow comes I've removed the pot from the ledge and placed it on the floor of our deck so that the lettuce might receive direct sun only half of the day. We'll see if I have even one leaf of lettuce before October. Fingers crossed. 


sad lettuce

OK ok, I'm being slightly dramatic. There are two areas where I have not totally fallen on my ass. Beans and spinach. I didn't get around to planting anything until mid to late May seeing as we'd just moved and my brain was having a hard time thinking of anything other than, "Where the hell did the cheese grater go?" Planting and gardening was hard to jump on board with so I got a really late start. 

Considering I also had a SPECTACULAR failure right out the gate when all my herb and bean seedlings died on me (really this has been a whopping failure in garden land) I don't think these particular beans were even planted until nearly June. JUNE PEOPLE. 

But, they're alive. They're growing! And if they keep it up I might have a bean by late September. Maybe. 

Beans

And finally we have spinach. This is my second pot of spinach, which you can see I have to get to work plucking leaves asap since it's starting to flower. 

My first batch of spinach was a tremendous FAILURE. It got all brown and burnt around the leaves and I think I only tasted ONE little leaf from my first pot. But I was smart enough to plant this second batch when I saw how sad my first yield was going to be, and this might be enough for one salad. 

I'm starting to realize that if I wanted to grow enough spinach to feed my obsession I'd need to devote my entire balcony, backyard and front yard to the crop. Crazy town. 

Spinach
As it stands I feel like I have so very little to show for my "garden." I've restarted another batch of spinach in the original container, I'm hoping the new location for my lettuce and onion pushes them to actually GROW, my herbs just make me mad, and I'm really hoping the beans come through as the winners of this miserable gardening summer. 

My only real saving grace is that I know I had to fail this summer to do it right next summer. That's the horrible thing about gardening, 95% of the time your first summer will suck. But, you'll figure out what works and doesn't, you'll spend the winter dreaming of a new arrangement, buy amazing wonderful books that fill you with inspiration and happiness, and hopefully next summer I can put to work some of the new ideas swimming in my head and actually, oh I don't know, EAT some of the things I grow. 

Either that or I'll get really depressed and spend next summer looking at pictures of the Olympia garden or standing longingly outside my neighbor's greenhouse until they become so creeped out by me they file a restraining order. 

You never know. 


DRAMA IN THE ONE CAR HOUSEHOLD

When we got word that Adam received the promotion that would move us to Alaska we had to instantly jump into DECISION mode. 

What to do with the house? My car? The dogs? Where to live? What to sell? What to take? How to get there? Do these jeans make me look fat? 

Yes. Donate them immediately. 

 

One of the things that we seemed unable to stick to a decision on was what the hell to do with my car. 

For the past couple years I'd been the proud owners of a lovely blue Ford Focus. Cute, gas efficient, had a plug in for my iPod/iPhone to rock out to my dorky tunes, and I could throw the dogs in the back. But my girl was getting up in age, and wasn't four-wheel drive, and so we wavered back and forth about what to do with the broad. 

Sell? Keep? Sell? Keep? 

The problem with our quandary was each side had pros and cons. Selling the car meant I'd have cash, we wouldn't have to drag it all the way to Alaska which would save another two thousand (towing cars, turns out is pricey!), and it had begun to act up with all sorts of issues and freak outs, so why not get rid of it before it burst into flames? The fact it didn't have four-wheel drive also terrified me seeing as I've never driven in the snow before. 

But, it was paid off. It was gas efficient. And once we arrived in Alaska Adam and I wouldn't need to worry about sharing a car, or me having to try to find a new car that fit in my price range. Which coincidentally, was in the ballpark of one penny to five pennies. High roller I tell you! 

In the end we sold the girl. Surprisingly to a couple who had just moved from Anchorage to Olympia. When I heard that I knew it was right. 

He left my house with my car, and I walked away with a check, a free pair of snowshoes, and a book on hiking in Anchorage. 

Score! 

We've been in Alaska now for about three months and the whole one car thing still confounds us. 

Some days I want to steal my neighbors car just so I can go to the grocery store without having to schedule, and plan, fiddle and over think it all to death. Times when Adam works 12 hour days for weeks at a time and I finish work and sit in the house, unable to go to the grocery store, run an errand, fucking drive around the block can send me into panic. 

But of course it's not as simple and just getting another car. Another car means a car loan, car insurance, gas, repairs. All things I've been free of for three glorious months. With the weight of car ownership off my shoulders I'm making progress on my credit card dept and on track to eliminate it entirely by December of this year. That alone, something I couldn't have done without applying the sale of my car to my debt inspires me to keep going car free. I've gotten so close.

There are mornings that erupt in anger as we try to solve how we pick up prescriptions, make it to appointments, get groceries, get to work appointments. Mornings where I surf the internet looking for a car, any car, this is fucking hell and I refuse to start another morning fighting about transportation. 

But then we breathe, refocus, and realize it's temporary pain for lasting benefit. 

Yet it's not easy, this life in a one car home, and sometimes I wonder if it should be. 

 

 

So I ask you, is anyone else out there living in a one car home in a city without an abundance of public transportation? 

Do you have a set schedule? 

Make a rule to plan out car usage changes the night before, never the night of? Trade off? Are we the only spoiled kids on the block pulling out our hair over sharing a car? Is this my cue to buck up and shut up? 

Maybe I just need a vespa. It would be red. I'd name it Velma. 

Ok, show of hands, who else is giggling at the thought of me bundled up like an Eskimo, ridding a vespa in the middle of winter, iceicles clinging to my faux fur parka?

The blog fodder alone might be worth the Vespa hell...


TWIN PEAKS HIKE, ALSO KNOWN AS THE TIME WE REALIZED ADAM IS A 12 YR OLD GIRL

This weekend Adam and I made a deal. 

He would come hiking with me, and I would watch the second Twilight movie with him afterward. 

Yes. You read that right. 

ADAM created these stipulations. 

He claims he wants to watch the Twilight movies for the same reason people see the Harry Potter movies, they're a cultural phenomenon. 

I think he just has a crush on Bella. 

Anyway, so I agreed to sit through that horrible horrible horrible trash that is Twilight (no seriously, can we talk about how much I hate those movies? Maybe another time? Oh the dialog how it irks me!) so that Adam would come with me on a hike near Eklutna Lake. This hike would give us an arial view of the lake we walked along on a couple months back our tester hike we took right after we moved here. 

I knew nothing about this hike except for where the trail started and that it was 2.6 miles one way. Turns out it was one of those hikes where you basically Stairmaster yourself up a mountain for two hours before you hit your goal. Which sure, is hard, but harder when you weren't expecting it. 

Sorry Adam, deal is a deal!

In the end Adam was a trooper. Even though his knee hurt so bad I contemplated fireman carrying him on the way down. It's always something, right? No matter the fact that I sprung a staight up hike on him, or the pain on the way down, he huffed his ass up and down that mountain.

And damn was it worth it. 

Eklutna Lake
Fireweed
Twin Peaks


The view was spectacular, the hike was hard, there was ice cream on the way home, and it turns out that Stella, as stupid as she might be, is a fantastic trail dog. 

Stella on the trail
Thankfully she's got one thing going for her besides her looks. Can't rely on those forever!




MY "SPECIAL" CHILD

I'm sure you know who I'm talking about, right? 

The one. 

The only. 

The million dollar puppy. 

Miss Stella. 

(sigh)

THIS DOG YOU GUYS. 

Stella the idiot

It has come to our attention that Stella, well, um, how do I put this... Isn't very, bright

Ok. Who am I kidding. She's fucking stupid as shit. 

I repeat. Nothing upstairs. 

I don't know what her deal is. I mean, is it because she's so anxious about LIFE that it has kept her from embracing or simply growing into normal dog behaviors? Has her anxiety handicapped her so much so that at that 9 months she has the mental capacity of a small turtle?

We recently took Stella-the-special-pup on a hike with friends and after making sure the coast was clear I unhooked Stella from her shackles. 

Which was followed instantly by laughter from all watching. 

My friend turns to me and goes, "Has she not had very much practice, running?" 

No, she's had lots of practice, she's just an idiot. 

On the car ride to and from Seward last weekend for our glacier/whale tour our packed car meant Oly was in the middle seat in the front, and Stella in her own seat in the back. But the physics of it all BAFFLED Stella. She simply could not understand that she could still sleep on the ride if she just either A. stretched herself across the welcome lap of our friend sitting directly next to her, or B. curled up in a ball like a normal dog. 

Instead she sat upright the whole two hour ride looking out the window. She also frequently sighed dramatically and loudly in an effort to let us all know how uncomfortable she was. 

But you know, I can handle the fact that Oly is our brain child, and Stella needs to take special classes. 

What I'm pretty much UP TO HERE about is that count um 9 months later, we're still battling Stella's medical issues. 

Still. 

We make progress, we think we've got it, then we backslide. HOW CAN WE STILL BE TALKING ABOUT 600 DOLLAR TESTS AND MEDICATIONS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT WORK AND GENERALLY STANDING AROUND SCRATCHING OUR MOTHER FUCKING HEADS IN CONFUSION ABOUT MY PEE SOAKED PUPPY NINE MONTHS LATER?????

 


I mean you guys, I just want to make fun of my really really stupid dog and have that be it. 

Can't she just be an idiot and not an idiot AND the most expensive dog I've ever owned? 

It's not fair the poor thing ended up with both of those cards. 

Being an idiot was definitely enough. 


THANKS MOTHER NATURE, MIND SUFFICIENTLY BLOWN

This weekend I got to view two spectacular natural phenomenons? forces? beings? entities? I don't know how you'd exactly categorize what I marveled at this weekend, but all I know is that each was more breathtaking than I expected, they both left me in awe of our planet, and one caused an involuntary burst of tears that I was most definitely not expecting. 


Saturday I was lucky enough to see a wild orca pod flick their tails, swim protectively around their new babies, and flash their dorsal fins. 

Orca pod
Orca whales

pod

I knew when I stepped on board the glacier/wildlife cruise that if I saw orcas I was going to be ECSTATIC. Whales in general, and orcas specifically (let's be honest, this most likely stems from a deep and all encompassing love for Free Willy as a child) have always fasinated me. I am an animal lover to the fullest, and seeing how viewing orca whales in the wild isn't something just anyone is able to do on their Saturday night I was prepped and ready for this cruise. 

What I didn't expect was that the moment I glimpsed this pod of whales that I would instantly find myself tearing up and unable to speak. I stood on the bow of the boat, surrounded by 100+ other people wielding cameras and yet I didn't see or hear them. The whales flapped their tails, babies came to the surface closely protected by their mothers, and the pod slowly moved towards our boat as a unit and I was flooded with emotions more powerful than I ever could have anticipated. 

I still can't exactly articulate why looking at these images a day later, or even thinking back on these amazing 5 minutes makes me tear up. Maybe it's the vast beauty of the ocean that gets me. The reality that these intelligent animals live in an inhospitable world that we still know so little about that tears my heart apart

For myself, the wild orca represents everything truly amazing about this planet. And in that fleeting moment I wanted to quit my job and devote my entire life to protecting their world. It was a truly magical moment that I know I'll never forget. 


So, after having my mind explode after seeing a wild orca pod, the next morning I stood a handful of feet away from a glacier and worried my little brain couldn't handle all this natural splendour coming at me all in a single weekend. 

Exit glacier
Exit Glacier "waterfall"
Exit Glacier, big


Each time I think Alaska has gone and shown me her best, she goes off and tops herself. What's next Alaska? Are you going to let me help a mother otter give birth to pups? Let me raise a moose calf? Show me Northern Lights in the middle of the summer? Help me win the Iditarod? HOW DO YOU KEEP TOPPING YOURSELF? 


THE PROBLEM WITH MOVING IS SUDDENLY YOU FIND YOURSELF ASKING, "WHO THE FUCK AM I, ANYWAY?"

I'm in this weird place right now. Straddling a metaphorical fence if you will. A fence between the old Ashley, the Olympia Ashley, and the new Ashley, the ALASKAN MOTHER FUCKING ASHLEY WHO EATS BEARS FOR DINNER. 

Sometimes living in my head is like hanging out in the middle of a skitzo meltdown. 

Sorry, none of this makes sense to anyone but me... 

 

For six years I was a Seattleite. Lived, breathed SEATTLE. Honestly thought I'd live there for ever and ever and ever. Then overnight I found myself changing up the game and packing my life and moving south to itty-bitty Olympia where suddenly I was living with my boyfriend in the middle of stepfordwives suburbia. In one month I had moved out of a major city, left my carefree twentysomething life and career behind, bought a fucking house, got a dog, and shacked up with some dude I'd known for a year. 

Talk about some change people. 

The lack of any real twentysomething social life like we'd had in Seattle meant we sort of introverted our lives into this home we now owned. We spent what money we had on new tile, or light fixtures. Fixing the fence, power washing the sidewalk, washing cars, installing gardens. Most Friday nights we'd sit in the kitchen, just the two of us, because again, not too many friends, talking about what kitchen cabinets we'd install, or tile we'd want, or what kind of hardwood floors we'd put on our first floor. And this was a ROCKING FRIDAY NIGHT.

So before I knew it I thought this is who I was. Ashley, the lady who gardens, stays at home most of the time, cooks a lot, doesn't really go out, and focuses on my home #1. I sort of accepted that overnight I'd become 45 years old. 

 I'm sure you know where this is going. 

Then BAM. We moved to Alaska. 

House left behind for renters to destroy, and suddenly we became renters. 

Now my brain has no idea what to do. I find myself on one hand wanting to go back to the nesting Olympian I was. I want to replace the deck, put in new grass in the backyard, research ways to still garden in Alaska, stay in watching movies and drinking wine every Friday and Saturday night, in bed by 11:30. Then the other side of me that is adapting to this new Alaska life is like, "BITCH, WE DON'T OWN THIS PLACE. Use your money for nights out, cocktails, trips, fucking anything other than fixing up this place you don't own." 

Suddenly we're getting 1/2 off martini's downtown on a WORK NIGHT. Who am I???? Hanging out with friends till 3am on a Saturday. Generally being ridiculous people in our twenties without children, but the 45 year old in me that took over while we lived in Olympia is standing there being all judgy and wants to know if after I finish my 5th beer for the night if I'm going to be able to get up nice and early Sunday morning to mow the lawn. 

And I both hate 45 year old Ashley, and also kind of love and miss her? 

Every day I flip. 

One day I'll be researching a new trip, hiking gear, vacation houses in amazing places I can't wait to visit. The next I read an article about aquaponics and I'm trying to find any way I can to bring 45 year old Ashley back and create this fucking awesome gardening world in my own home.

I don't know if there's really much of a point here except to say I'm in this strange strange middle world and I'm not sure where this will all settle exactly. I'm no longer the nesting Ashley I became in Olympia, but I'm also not fully invested in the adventurer-no-roots-rental life of Alaskan Ashley either.

Basically I'm very confused, have 12 conflicting interests, and if tomorrow I talk about how excited I am to install an aquaponics gardening system in my backyard, and then the day after that I talk about how I've abandoned the dream for a fly in rental cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, remember that I'm just as lost as you are.

Probably more so.  

 


MUCHAS GRACIAS

Thanks everyone for your feedback on my COMMENT HEADACHE

I've sent in about 12 hundred help tickets off into cyber space to a variety of companies and I have a sneaking suspicion what I'm going to hear back is, "Sorry it's simply not compatible." But the bright side seems to be that 99% of you actually really enjoy that I comment directly back to you via email. Sure, I would have higher comment numbers on posts if I could reply to you in the comment section, but that's really only beneficial for my ego, not so much for you and I's interaction. 

So it is settled. Until Typepad creates a way for you to easily subscribe to my replies I am going to simply continue to reply directly to your comments via email. I have turned on the feature for you to reply to one another, but I won't be making any noise on that front. 

Also, I love you. 

Each and every one of you that comes here, and reads what I have to say about a whole lot of nothing, and take the time to comment on my writing have become some of my favorite people on the internet. I actually had to create a folder in my google reader for those of you that I've developed friendships with because I hated that your posts were getting lost in my growing google reader and I didn't know what was going on in your lives because my reader was being clogged with 700 posts from the Pioneer Woman

Who I love, don't get me wrong, but DAMN that woman turns out the posts, and honestly, if I hit "read all" on 70 of her posts and check in in a month, her and I will be a-ok. But you? Never. I must read, absorb, comment and stalk. Because I loves ya.  

 


So yeah. The internet is a fucking cool place. I know I'd never have gotten through the depression that swirled around me after our move to Olympia without you all, and I most definitely would be feeling about 60 times more isolated without you people seeing as I now reside somewhere near the Arctic circle.

Downtown Anchorage

So in conclusion, I love you, and come visit me, PLEASE. I want to give you a real hug, no more of this internet hug bullshit. 


COMMENTS, COMMENTS, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE COMMENTS

So I've been TRYING to get a better commenting system in place on the blog beyond the normal one provided by Typepad, but the more I try, the more I want to light my computer on fire. 

Now I turn to you. 

What kind of commenting system do YOU like best? 

When I first started my blog I replied to comments, in the comments section of each post. Usually having to make a whole new post and commenting to multiple people in each entry. And sure, it made my numbers look better (yeah look how many comments I have!), but I figured about .01% of you actually subscribed to my comments, so how in the world would you ever see what I'd written back to you?

Then I moved to letting you comment, and replying directly to you via email. 

This has worked for quite a long time, but doesn't exactly allow anyone to see what in the world I've replied, and I've seen this become irritating for some of you when 4 people ask the same question and I reply with the same answer via email. Plus, it doesn't exactly set my blog up to be much of a conversational place. 

Most people love the reply comment feature seen by places like Disqus or IntenseDebate, but mother fuckers, it doesn't work with Typepad. 

I can get Disqus to install, but then EVERY SINGLE COMMENT YOU ALL HAVE LEFT IN THE LAST TWO + YEARS IS GONE. Gone I tell you. 

Well that wont work now will it. 

And then IntenseDebate simply isn't compatible with Typepad. 

I actually got the whole mention of installing IntenseDebate on Typepad blogs removed from their site entirely! 

I installed, told them it didn't work, then BAM they removed all mention of their commenting feature being compatible with Typepad from their website. 

Look at me, personally influencing another company! 

 

 

So now I'm confused. Typepad doesn't seem to want you to talk to one another. Or if you do, it doesn't want you to know when someone replies. TYPEPAD WHY IS THERE NO SUBSCRIBE TO COMMENTS FEATURE?????

I'm at a loss. 

Tell me, what kind of commenting do YOU like when you visit a blog? And more importantly, should I just stick to the old ways of replying directly to you via email? Help me people. I feel sad inside about all this commenting failure I've been experiencing.