Monday, May 24, 2010

Barge equals Large

You may have noticed my considerable absence of late. I've been snowed under bubble wrap, boxes and now...barge orders. Right now there is a race to get in the barge order. If you order by May 25 (that's tomorrow), you qualify for back orders via parcel post). I'm pretty sure that's desirable so I'm trying to put this together. Under any circumstances this is a daunting task. For instance do I get the six 7lb. bags of pancake mix, or the twelve 3.5lb. bags? Who orders that much pancake mix, and when they do, where in the Sam Hill do they put it? (Maybe on Sam's Hill) The task is harder right now because I'm trying to get input from Husband who is still in Juneau. Remember, he is cleaning out and packing up that house (not to mention finishing all of those remodeling projects that had been put on the back burner--they are now flaming on!).

I find the catalog extremely interesting. Notice the ad for sugar. You can get a 25lb. bag of sugar for $15.99 that appears to weigh 26lbs! Such a deal! More to the point, just how many cookies would I have to bake to make a dent in that bag?! I don't think I've ever even seen a 25lb. bag of sugar (certainly not in any house I've lived in).

Of course the front page of the catalog has the world famous staple of all time, made famous by good ol' Monty Python. Who can even look at this picture without breaking into a hearty rendition of "spam, spam, spam, spam, spam spam spam, spametty spam!" Just think, twenty lbs. of spam for only $71.99. Seriously, I didn't order any.

There are some bonuses, too. For every dollar you spend you get one Alaska Airlines mile. Let's see, on the first pass I managed to rack up $2,000.00 worth of items. Considering it cost me $27 to mail a 12.5 lb box to Barrow, I'm thinking this is not such a bad deal. And I thank heaven for my credit card!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mutts and Mukluks

I got sucked in over the weekend watching season 5 of the Deadliest Catch. Husband got me hooked on Netflix instant delivery via the Wii. I became engrossed in the trials and tribulations of the crab guys and pretty much whiffed on the box packing for a day. These guys are so interesting to watch because the conditions they work in are so amazing. They're out there in hurricane force winds and getting doused by water in below freezing temps. And mostly they're doing it for the adventure factor. Hmm..I seem to be able to relate to the adventure factor. I just don't think I want to go that far!

Check out these mukluks that Alaska sister-in-law sent a picture of. These are the real thing and what keep your feet warm in the extreme temperatures we can expect at the "Top of the World." How fabulous that she has offered to let me have them if they fit. I'll truly be styling.

I admit I've been worried about the paws of our Border Collies in the extreme weather we will be moving to. Though born in Juneau, the "girls" haven't ever experienced what they're about to, though they did spend the first year of their lives on the ski slopes in Juneau learning search and rescue. We didn't continue after the first year, but that's another story.

So, wouldn't you know it, Husband comes up with a solution for them. Can you guess the name of doggy shoes for the Arctic? Sounds like mukluks. The suspense must be killing you...Look at them wearing their new shoes! These are their Muttluks! HA! I love the name.

You should have seen us at the store. I had both dogs in tow and sat down in the doggy outerwear aisle (yes, both of the major chain pet places have one). I had them try on two sizes of the shoes, then conferred with the sales folks to see if they thought one size was better than the other. I even had the girls walking up and down the aisle to make sure of the "fit." After all, it was Mother's Day and I was doing what all mothers do when their kids need new shoes.

Now, we're spending time each day breaking them in. The girls both walk kind of funny for the first few minutes, but once I throw the ball, they tend to forget about the boots. So far we're only up to shoes on the front paws. I think getting all fours in the gear will be an interesting project.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Swims like fish, smells like fish, tastes like fish...NOT fish.

I feel the need to clarify that I really do know that a whale is a mammal and not a fish. So in my previous post when I speak about the whale in terms of fish, it appears as though I'm scientifically challenged. I'm not, but you've got to imagine the moment. I see this mammal that swims in the ocean, came out of the ocean, smells of the ocean, and tastes of the ocean...and I think 'fish'. But it's not. One of God's little jokes on us, I think.

Barrow is steeped in tradition. This one, in which the entire community partakes of the catch of the whaling crew, was a particularly moving experience. An anthropologist likely has a detailed description of how this came about. My limited understanding is the concept of feeding the community so all are able to survive. Think how important this was 200 years ago; think how important it is today.

I feel so fortunate to have been invited to partake and to witness the occasion. I don't know how to describe what it was like to see scores of community members arriving at the house, walking into the kitchen and queuing up to gratefully receive a portion of the bounty. Congratulations to the hunters were in abundance. What a proud moment for all. Understand, this happens with each successful hunt.

When we got back to our meeting place, new delicacies were put forth. Of course I tried them! First, I tried unalik (that's my spelling, I don't know if it's correct). This was cooked maktak (notice I corrected the spelling of the delicacy I previously referred to as whale sushi). Unalik is maktak that is boiled. Our culinary guide encouraged us to dip it in ketchup...really. I liked it better than maktak (that could have something to do with the ketchup), but I'm thinking it may be an acquired taste. Next, I had a chance to taste whale meat. It tastes like chicken! (No, I'm just kidding). It tastes kind of like red meat of any kind. I understand some folks put various sauces on it. This I liked quite a lot, because it tasted more like the mammals I'm used to.

Did you know (I heard this in the lobby of the hotel I was staying at) that they figure the whale weighs about a ton for every foot it measures in length?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Whale Sushi

I haven't been here for 24 hours yet, but I already got to sample maktak. This was part of the retreat I've been a part of today. For those of you who don't know, I'm not a big fan of any fish except halibut. I don't eat sushi, and rarely eat any prepared fish, but I'm "in for a penny, in for a pound" so I did sample a chunk. I'm thinking it's an acquired taste...I hear the pickled version is pretty good. The point is the experience of it all, just gotta join in and see what it's all like.

I was able to see the outside of the house we'll be living in next year (this isn't a picture of it, I just thought you'd like to see a sample of the housing here). Our apartment is on the second floor of a structure and looks out at the water. I have always dreamed of living in a house with a view of the ocean; I just didn't have the Arctic Ocean in mind when I was having those dreams. Note to self: be more specific when dreaming those dreams. Maybe many people can actually claim this view? God really does have quite the sense of humor.

I'll Just Give You A Few More Minutes to Enjoy God's Handiwork

I arrived at SEATAC with my two large duffles that weighed 48.8 and 49.8 respectively. That was after I transferred a turtleneck shirt from one to the other. Did you know a shirt weighs 6 oz. Can't be overweight on those bags! I was expecting a charge of $40. However, the agent didn't even look at the credit card I had out. Was it because my destination was Barrow and anyone going there deserves to take extra bags? I pondered that one as I took my place in the serpentine line to get through security in Seattle.

Next I found out I was sitting in first class! How did that happen? We didn't pay extra for the ticket. I think the flight was so full when we booked it that we got the remaining seats at regular price. That explains the charge-free bags. If your seat is in first class you don't have to pay. SCORE!

It almost always happens that when you go to Anchorage, or Juneau, or go to Seattle airport from those cities you see someone you know. Despite its size, Alaska really is a small state. I often meet people who have a friend who lives in Alaska. They usually ask, "do you know xxx?". 80% of the time I do, the other 20% of the time I can usually say I've heard the name (and mean it). Anyway, I saw a friend I used to work with in Juneau at the boarding gate for the Fairbanks/Barrow plane. I hadn't told him of the move so I nearly shocked his socks off.

I'd be lying if I wrote the flight was typical. Far from it. The day was sunny and gorgeous. The mountains were amazing. Most of amazing of all was that the pilot took us on a bit of a sight seeing trip. We flew right over Mt. Foraker, at 17,000 feet, then practically kissed Mt. McKinley. The Mountain was just in your face! If there had been climbers on it, we would have been able to see them. It was breathtaking and brought tears to my eyes when I realized that I was "home".

Today's blog title is a quote from the the Alaska Airlines pilot. Great job, Dude, you made my day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Getting ready for the trip this week

So I got the suitcases. Here's what I figured out. To mail a box that is 25 lbs. it costs approx. $26 to get it to Barrow. To pay for the two extra suitcases that both weigh 50 lbs (really they both weigh 49 lbs.) it will cost me $40. It wouldn't cost anything if I were MVP on Alaska Airlines, but I haven't done much traveling in the past year, so I'm just one of the sheep in the all call.

My other strategy was to pack a bunch of clothes, around some fragile stuff I want to take but am afraid to let go up by post. We'll see if the stuff survives, but it would take a bomb to get through the multiple layers of clothes and the triple layers of bubble wrap.

The dogs are not happy. They see those suitcases and they see their food being packed up. They know they're going somewhere and I'm going somewhere. My good friend is taking care of them this week. They love being with her and her family, but one dog in particular is pretty anxious tonight.

Looking forward to a long day tomorrow, but also looking forward to a grand visit.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blog name change

The very nerve! I just found out that someone else has a blog entitled Barrow Bound. Well, there's nothing to do but change the was a good one. So I'm thinking...Barrow Babe (NOT). Don't think I could get away with that. Besides, Husband will figure prominently in the blog. Barrow Beat, Barrow Business, Barrow what? Punster that I am, I'm leaning toward....well, you've seen it, so you know. Kind of a play on words incorporating the Bering Strait and Barrow. So, let's see if anyone unearths another blog with this title.

Meanwhile, I'm going to Barrow on Monday! How lucky am I? I've been invited to a retreat with the organization. I'll get a preview of our new stomping grounds.

It was suggested that I bring a load of stuff with me. Okay, good suggestion. How and what to take is the dilemma. And how do I get it from the car to baggage at the airport (you see I'm envisioning an additional 3 boxes for baggage plus my carry on bag). You're probably thinking, 'get a cart thingy'. Yeah, but have you tried balancing boxes on those things? Maybe I should get more suitcases and do it that way. Hey, something to get me out of the house and out of the interminable packing that is overtaking my life! Clearly I've gotta go!