Reading is Fundamental.

January 21, 2013 at 12:53 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land | Leave a comment

I love to read.  My mom says that we aren’t supposed to love things that aren’t alive, so I should probably say something more appropriate like, “I enjoy reading very much,” or “Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.  But those don’t sum up my lifelong relationship with books and print.  So, “love to read” it is.  Sorry Mom.

Upon listening to a local teacher encourage parents to get their kids reading, my mother asked, “How do I get Stephanie to do anything else?!?”  I resent that.  I do plenty of other stuff.  I write reviews about books I read.  I go to the library to get more books and to return books that I have read.  I read about books on the Internet.  I tell people about books I’m reading.  I help the guy who can fix everything build more bookcases to house the new books I drag home.  I totally do more than just read!

But I do love, love, love reading.

So I can totally relate to Dr. John Sotos, a cardiologist and amateur historian who likes to do things like speculate on the health of U.S. presidents gone by.  An avid reader, as most of us who love dusty corners of knowledge are, Dr. Sotos walks the Stanford “Dish” trail for two hours every day, while reading a book.  He says, “It’s paved.  Except for the time I stepped on a snake, it’s completely safe.”

And some people think of readers as genteel and mousy library-bound people.  HAHA!  They’re so misguided.  Readers have guts!  Readers have dedication!  Readers are VERY INTENSE PEOPLE who ignore danger!

Here are the things that I have done while reading:

1.  Turned on the blender full of cranberries and juice.  Without the lid.

2.  Pulled a pot of simmering pasta off the burner and onto the floor.

3.  Torched three teakettles that I allowed to boil dry.  Note: I now have one with a VERY LOUD WHISTLE.

4.  Stepped on Artemis the Cat.  She’s not poisonous, but she is very pointy in places.  Also very yowly.

5.  Walked into a tree.

Loving reading takes grit.  And fortitude.  And Band-aids.  And mops.  And maybe visits to the emergency room (be sure to bring a book).

I’m not sure why there isn’t a superhero based on a truly dedicated reader.

I would totally read about that.


What would you call this?

March 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, We Have a Bear on our State Quarter | 2 Comments

Flying David

Here is my husband flying around.  The question for you is, what is he flying?

See, I can tell where you are from based on your identification of the machine in the photo.  If you refer to it as a “snow mobile,” it means that you are from what we in Alaska call “The Lower 48” or “Outside.”    If you would say that is a “sled,” you are probably from the Pacific Northwest or maybe Alaska, but probably from one of the communities on the fancy road system, like Anchorage.  If it’s a “snow machine,” you’re from Alaska in general.  If you call the thing a “snow-go,” well, now I know that we probably know some of the same people because you are from rural Alaska.  From the village.  Keeping it vill!

Despite my rural upbringing, I am not a fan of ripping around on a snow-go.  It’s cold and noisy and smelly and you have to wear this huge helmet that makes you look like a gigantic gear shift.  And there are hidden bumps in the snow that send you crashing around and my idea of fun isn’t dragging a 1000 pound machine out from wherever I got stuck most recently.   And a lot of times, someone shoots a caribou and then you have to drag that thing home which means keeping track of the sled you’re pulling along with trying to watch for spots where you may fall into an unfrozen swamp.  My husband, on the other hand, is a snow-go fanatic.  Except that he would say “sled” because his family is from Wasilla, a community on the road system.

When we were dating, I agreed to go riding with that guy because it’s important to support each other’s activities and all that.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I have never been so scared in my life.  Did you know that it’s possible to do a jump like the one above with TWO people on the machine even if one is using all her molecules to try and remain on blessed Earth?  Add a  gigantic gear shift-head behind the guy in the photo.  If you really want to add authenticity, pour a smoothie down your back and stick your gear shift-head in a fan.  You have to imagine the screeching since the helmet holds it all in.  But it was there, make no mistake.  Banshees have nothing on me.

Now, it’s not that I’ll never go riding again.  However, we have reached the mutual understanding that should David feel the need to jump over the moon, he needs to be prepared to either let me sit it out or to be extremely nice for the next few days while I am undergoing therapy and compulsively eating cheesecake.  It’s important to support each other’s activities and all that.

Poor, sad iPod.

March 14, 2012 at 8:48 AM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, And then I thought..., I'm related to these people. | Leave a comment

I’m clumsy.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  On a recent patient information form, it asked if I bruise easily.  Hmm.  Not sure.  Hard to tell since I spend an inordinate amount of time clunking myself into things.  If I got into a normal number of furniture altercations, would I have normal bruisability?  And how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

The upside of being clumsy is that the human body is a magical thing that heals itself with cheesecake and Band-Aids.  Actually, you don’t even NEED the Band-Aids!  The downside of being clumsy is that things that are not the human body (or other living creatures) do not heal themselves even in the presence of Band-Aids or cheesecake.  Exhibit A:


What do you mean, my pictures are fuzzy? That is a special photographic technique. It's tough to get that look. I try not to brag about it though.

This is not awesome.  Not awesome at all.  It’s sad really; see how the crack looks like a little frown crossing the corner?

Now, my father is Mr. Fix-it.  So is my husband.  They use words like, “Spanish windlass,” “awl,” and “Now, what did you do?” They make water come out of wells and stop it from Old-Faithfulling out of the washing machine and toilet. They bring life to dead cars, many of which were “a good deal.”  They pull the yarn and cat hair out of the vacuum cleaner and can even do amazing things with mysterious entities called “fuses” which makes electric things work again.  And they make it look easy.  And I get tempted to try to fix things according to their examples.  And that doesn’t usually end well.

But, I am not a quitter!  I keep trying despite my very, very, very limited record of things that I have actually fixed and the fact that I usually drop heavy, sharp, pointy tools that make gouges in the floor.  So, since my iPod Touch still worked, indicating that the touchscreen is okay and that only the cover glass is cracked, I figured I could totally fix that.  So, hop-dee-do, I surfed around on the Internet and found lots and lots of articles and videos about how to replace the glass.  I found sources for parts.  And I realized that trying to replace the screen myself is about as good of an idea as diving into a tub of rusty scissors since there are A LOT of little, teeny, expensive and complicated-looking parts in an iPod Touch.  And you can’t lose even ONE PART during the repair process or bats will eat the sun and all kittens will go bald.

I can’t have either of the Mr. Fix-its in my life do the repair either.  My father is not a fan of iPod technology.  I only know this because of our deep, nearly ESP-level connection and by the way he says, “I’ll step on that thing” when he sees it.  He thinks iPods are communist and in league with the microwave.  My husband refuses to pay a lot for parts that cost nearly as much as a new version of the broken thing.  He believes it takes his spirit away.

So, since the iPod still works and all, I guess I’ll live with the cracked screen.  But I’m going to be very annoyed about it.  It will be character-building.


January 22, 2012 at 3:59 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, We Have a Bear on our State Quarter | Leave a comment

Productivity. That's what these are.

I am not a coffee drinker, but this week has required a little help to get going in the mornings since it’s dark and continues to be about a billion degrees below zero.  Fortunately, the guy who can fix everything got chocolate-covered espresso beans for his birthday. A couple of those (the espresso beans, not birthdays) down the hatch and…








I’ve been advised that I have had enough chocolate-covered espresso beans.  The guy who can fix everything says the world is not ready for me + them.  He also said something about “detox.”

As if I need that.  I could have stopped on my own.

And the world is totally missing out now that my yodeling career has been cut short.  For a second there, the hills were alive!

But, we’ve been promised ten degrees above zero this week!  In balmy weather like that, I may not even need a jump start.  I’ll be out tanning.  And maybe adding some finer details to the roof mural.

On Apples, on Oranges, on Raisins and Dates!

December 21, 2011 at 9:32 AM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, Eat this., I made this., I'm related to these people. | 2 Comments

There's a whole orchard in here.

First, an apology to Dan.  Mincemeat inventory status was not reported here to Mincemeat Central.  That is why there was no mincemeat pie at Thanksgiving.  I apologize for the shortage and have informed the DLG Turkey Team that status reports are to be more accurate and timely.  She will be creating an action plan to prevent mincemeat shortages in the future.  Feel free to check her progress on this, but also be prepared to dodge because she likes whacking people.  And hi Marjorie!

For the rest of you, above is a jar of mincemeat.  As a kid, I loathed this stuff.  Of course, I hadn’t actually tried it because I was sure it would be too disgusting for my delicate and advanced palate (the one that also ate Cheetos and and longed for a mother who would buy Kraft macaroni and cheese instead of making the homemade stuff).  However, I should have known that something was up when my dad never expected me to eat mincemeat pie.

See, my dad is the founding member of the Clean Plate Club.  This fine and hallowed organization celebrates the eating of EVERYTHING on one’s plate in the spirit of the founder’s ancient and revered motto, “Because I said so.”  But mincemeat pie was never a club eatable despite it similarity in grossness to other club eatables like steamed rice and waffles (which, for some other delicate and advanced palate reason, I also found revolting).  Mincemeat pie was a food club eaters could choose not to eat.

I have solved the mincemeat mystery (which would also be a very good name for the Ford Bronco that The Guy Who Can Fix Anything And To Whom I am Now Married acquired as a “good deal”)!  Mincemeat pie is dee-licious and completely worthy of hoarding.  Unfortunately for the founding member of the Clean Plate Club, he now has to share his pie.  Fortunately for him, I like making mincemeat almost as much as I like eating it.  Okay, that’s a lie.  Eating it is WAY better.  But, making it is still pretty fun.

Now, turn those noses back down, mincemeat-haters, I know your world.  I used to be one of you.  But, I have repented of my past and now spend a large part of a day here and there chopping approximately 1.3 billion apples, forty-seven oranges, twenty-three lemons, a bathtub-full of cranberries, a whole bunch of figs, dates, raisins, golden raisins, and a paaartridge in a pear treeeeee! Just kidding about the tree part.  And also the partridge.  My mincemeat is certified partridge-safe.  After the chopping-pa-looza, I shovel the whole fruity mountain into a huge stock pot and begin stirring, stirring, and stirring.  And then, I start inhaling the evaporating brandy and sherry that splashes merrily into the mix.  That’s when I get all crazy on up in here!   Fa la la la la, la la la laaaaaaaaaaa!  And then some other stuff happens in the brandy-sherry fog involving some spices like cinnamon, maybe, and somehow, at the end of the day, the house has not burnt to a crisp. no one’s face has been scalded off, and all the little jar seals have done their sealing thing.

And mincemeat pie is in the future which makes everything merry and bright!

And then I wash a million dishes.

Note: numbers may be slightly exaggerated in this post due to brandy-sherry fume inhalation.

Also, I am not good at math.

Slightly More than Nothing

October 16, 2011 at 12:49 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, Intentions | Leave a comment

Know what I want to do today?  Nothing.  Guess what I’ve accomplished so far?  Nothing slightly more than nothing:

I’ve got the bear meat that I corned this week cooking in my trusty 1972 Crock-Pot.  This is actually my first experience with bear meat, corned or otherwise, since we never ate bear in my family.  This is because bears in my hometown eat a lot of often-rotten fish and the occasional buffet de la garbagio.  You are what you eat, even if you are a bear.  But the guy who can fix anything comes from an area where bears eat berries and plants, therefore, his family eats bears.  So now, I will eat bears too.

I fed Levi the Dog and Artemis the Cat.  This doesn’t really count as something, but it’s technically more than nothing.  Plus, if you ever want to feel like a superhero, find a dog and feed it.  Their standards of heroics are low, low, low, but their enthusiastic responses are off the charts.  Levi the Dog is currently composing an ode to my greatness:

I have read the news.  If you haven’t experienced the news today, I will sum it up for you: things happened and people did stuff.  I’m not sure why CNN hasn’t offered me a cushy desk job yet.

I caught up on my Old Farmer’s Almanac daily calendar.  I was two weeks behind.  See, I teach seventh grade, cook 90% of the meals we eat from scratch, write book reviews, and sort of run a jewelry business when I have a spare moment, so my days sometimes don’t allow for things like reading non-essential calendar pages.  Or sleeping.  Or moving at less than a sprint.  This is why I wish to do nothing on weekends.  Today’s calendar page inquires if I know which person was not a child of Erik the Red:

A.  Freydis

B.  Olafur

C.  Thorstein

D.  Thorvald

Answer: B.  

Finally, I spilled tea all over the desk which was covered with papers that I am supposed to be grading.  Awesome.  I will tell my students that I antiqued their writing in order to add character to the pages.   I’m crafty like that.

What needs to happen today is some letter-writing on real paper as a personal effort to aid the ailing U.S. Postal Service, decluttering the kitchen table since it has somehow become the junk mail center of the universe,  going to church in clothing other than my pajamas, filling the three necklace orders that came in this week, and walking Levi the Dog so that I might achieve sainthood in the Kingdom of German shepherd-huskies.

Ready, set, go.

Forty-five Dollars.

May 5, 2011 at 8:32 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, I'm related to these people., We Have a Bear on our State Quarter | Leave a comment

This is Peninsula Airways, affectionately commonly known as PenAir in rural Alaska.   Due to Alaska’s charming lack of connecting roads, this is the only way in or out for many communities, including Dillingham.  Thus, it was the only way to send birthday raspberries to my dad for his birthday on Sunday.  The only FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS way.

Extravagant?  Well, yes.  Absolutely.  Great Jehosophat.  In fact, I can’t quite believe I did it.  But my dad is cool.  So, I shelled out the cash and sent the little, perishable, non-mailable raspberry guys on their big adventure.  I’m trying to think of it this way: Dillingham is 350 miles southwest of Anchorage.  If there were a road between the two communities, it would cost me a tank of gas for The Black Thing each way as The Black Thing is not a dainty consumer.  We’d be talking over a hundred dollars for me to deliver the raspberries.  So, I’m actually saving money!  Hooray for thriftiness!  I am a financial whiz-kid!

And my dad isn’t really the gift card type.  This is the guy who advises me to grab my students by their ears if they are not behaving and who thinks that you turn off a computer by unplugging it.  He thinks the microwave is communist.  He’s sort of from a different age.  Raspberries, however, are always current.  Haha–I was sooo tempted to write “currant” since raspberries are a berry and currants are ALSO a…sorry.

Raspberries are always appreciated, especially in rural Alaska places like Dillingham where produce prices rival that of fine jewelry.    The birthday raspberries will be a nice treat, especially since most fruits and veggies arrive at my mom’s grocery store looking like they traveled with a screwdriver in some hefty guy’s back pocket.

Besides, I think I still owe Dad for the time that I high centered the truck on a log and maybe also for the time that I melted an entire box of crayons down the side of the wood stove.  Forty-five dollars in raspberry plane fare seems like a good start.

Lots of Scary Shots, Treatment, Complications, Repeat.

April 2, 2011 at 3:08 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m not sure what dark force of modern dentistry I offended, but that force is fairly annoyed.  Has been fairly annoyed.  Will possibly continue to be fairly annoyed with occasional launches into full, screeching rage.

Quick history of Stephanie and the dentist: lots of scary shots, treatment, complications, repeat.  Add in a number of impacted extractions just for fun.  The dark force really likes those.

Note: I am  NICE to my teeth.  No hard candy and lots of brushing, flossing, gross fluoride rinse, etc.

The latest round started in December with a cleaning and exam.  Of course, I needed a filling which the people at my dental office are now calling a “restoration.”  My dental office people are hip to the very latest dental jive.  Of course, I also had a tooth that had cracked and now needed a crown.

I had the filling restoration done.  I scheduled the crown treatment despite every panicky voice in my head that told me not to, that reminded me it would involve scary shots, and that demanded we run away instead of accepting the appointment reminder card.

The filling restoration hurt for the next three months.  Hooray for restoration!

The crown fitting appointment was supposed to take place on Thursday at 9:00 A.M.  I like to schedule my dentist stuff in the morning because otherwise, the panicky head-voices spur me into pulse-fast forward and hyperventilation as I wait for the looming appointment hour.  It’s better if the panicky head-voices don’t have a chance to get their performance together.  Due to an office problem, my crown appointment couldn’t take place in the morning.  The panicky head-voices began warming up as I was rescheduled for 4:00 P.M.

Note: I realize that most people are able to get a crown fitted without freaking out.  I realize that I qualify as a chicken-wimp.

At 4:00 P.M., the crown fitting did not go well.

I was back in the dentist chair on Friday to try and adjust it.  Drill, drill, drill some more, drill.  That didn’t go well either.

We all go back on Wednesday.  I am thinking about opting for a head transplant since I think that might be less invasive than my string of recent procedures.

The panicky head-voices have begun material for a new album.

Under a rock deep in a hole inside a cave.

March 25, 2011 at 9:54 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land, Another Day Another Dollar | 1 Comment

I’m grading research papers.  I’ve been grading research papers.  Tomorrow, I will still be grading research papers.


Since I have been grading research papers, I haven’t been with the rest of you up on the crust of the planet.  So, I didn’t know that Elizabeth Taylor died, and I didn’t know about that movie with the cartoon animal guy in the desert.  Actually, I still don’t.  I have no idea what I’m talking about with this movie, but an acquaintance mentioned it as a happening thing.  And I wasn’t a fan of Elizabeth Taylor, but she’s a big enough star to notice and respect as her life ends.

But I’ve been grading research papers.

I’m getting tired of grading.  So, I’m engaged in an evening of carefully justified procrastination.  I finished a library book instead of grading research papers because it needs to be returned…in two weeks.  But someone might want it before then, right?  I made a relatively elaborate dinner because I will need energy to grade the research papers.  And now I am blogging because I haven’t blogged in a long time, so I should post something because the world is, after all, waiting for what I have to say.

Oh, someone looked at my sketchbook today!  I better go check the details of that.  That’s my artwork out there, you know.  I need to keep an eye on it.  Right now.  I better post a picture here too:

One picture really isn’t enough.  I had better post another one:

It’s too late to start grading now.  I need to go to bed.  Maybe the papers will grade themselves while I am sleeping!  That would be great because then I would have time to figure out what that movie with the cartoon animal guy in the desert is all about.

Or if it even is a movie.

Or if I’ve missed any other events of pop culture relevancy.

Or I could just spend a weekend without grading papers.  That would be nice.  Of course, then I wouldn’t have these exercises in justification.

I like to keep my brain molecules sharp.  For grading research papers.


February 24, 2011 at 10:38 PM | Posted in Adventures in S-Land | 1 Comment

I am getting the sheet music from The Phantom of the Opera.

The neighbors are going to LOVE this.

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