Monday, July 27, 2009

T minus one

i just returned from getting my manicure and pedicure - only the second time in my life i've had a professional pedicure - and the first time for a professional manicure. i asked the nail technician if she liked her work. In very broken english she indicated that she did: nine years she's been a nail tech. But then she went on to tell me how she works two jobs, always has - not wanting all the eggs in one basket - but that her husband and her son who is 24 worked for the same company and lost their jobs a few months ago. I already had the ten dollar bill out on the table (can't reach into the pocket w/ a fresh manicure) which was a little more than 20% tip, but I was feeling as if I should give her more.
My bags are packed, with the exception of the items that will go in my carry-on: my binoculars, my camera, my cell phone, a clean shirt and change of underwear, toothbrush and paste, soap and moisturizer. It has been years since I've checked baggage: in my air travels over the past 4 years I've always managed and prefered to carry on. This trip, however, is for 14 days, and includes backcountry hiking as well as formal night on a luxury cruiseline. I'm checking two bags. I could fit it all in one, however when I get to the Denali Park entrance, and board the bus to the backcountry lodge, i'm limited to 35 lbs. of luggage. So I will leave my "cruise bags" at the park entrance and take the second bag with me into Kantishna. I have to pay for my checked baggage, but because this trip is such a big deal to me, the trip of a lifetime - I'm not going to quibble over a few dollars for bags. I want to do what I want, have what I want, wear what I want, etc.
It is...all about me, right now!
Sarah came by earlier and took Gracie's crate, her treats and toys and an 18lb bag of kibble. She'll be by after work to take Gracie and her dog dish to her house, where she can hang with Ruka and Lola - two one-year-old labs. I gave Sarah some $$ - told her if she needs anything for Gracie to buy it - and before I could finish, Sarah asked Gracie: "you want to go shopping?!" .. then I explained that should she need anything for Gracie to buy it, and let me know and I'd pay her back - that I was paying her for caring for Gracie. That changed her complexion right quick! Heck - it's better'n a kennel and a heap cheaper.
i am not taking a computer, so probably will not be posting to this blog until I return. I may try a post from my Blackberry, but then again may not.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tee minus three

It's been quite a week. Events at Town Hall went national - I heard it even went international. CBS morning show, Inside Edition - even Conan O'Brien mentioned it. Quite exhausting. Politics and Porn. When I left work on Tuesday afternoon, I was riding high in pre-vacation mode. That all changed within the course of a few hours. Smacked in the middle of a media blitz. I spent three full work days fulfilling public records requests, redacting, fielding and deflecting. Reporters are quick to site "Freedom of information", but have no clue to what the law provides. One of the requests I received was for a copy of Janke's personnel file. He is in a protected class, so information such as his home address, phone number, his children's names and addresses, drivers license number, photographs.... all this information is exempt form disclosure. Then there's the matter of e-mails. I had to review hundreds of e-mails, to be sure that personal information was not being delivered to the media.
Instead of taking the day off or leaving early on Friday, I ended up working until 7:00 PM.
I am officially on vacation.
Today was spent being sure all the laundry was done. Tomorrow I pack. Monday I plan to get a manicure and pedicure, hopefully spend some time on the beach (relaxing and getitng rays!) and getting to bed early.
Tuesday I fly out at 7:40 AM. I land in Fairbanks at 8:00 Fairbanks time - midnite my time. Sixteen hours. Yikes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Savoring Saturday

In my childhood days, we did chores every saturday morning - often well into the afternoon, sometimes, too. At breakfast, which was an assembly-line chore in itself, Dad would hand out his single sheet pieces of paper for each of us with our list of chores. Saturday morning chores was a way of life for me well into adulthood. When I married and had babies, my husband couldn't understand why I was housecleaning etc. on my day off! Why not go boating/fishing/to the beach? That was a battle I ultimately lost...
So yesterday was a Saturday cleaning day. I woke with no set plan for the day, but knew I had a hand-full of odds n ends to accomplish. One thing led to another and I was in full-blown cleaning mode: washing floors, shampooing carpets, cleaning out cupboards - everything but the windows! Although I have 8 days before vacation, I'm already in pre-vacation mode: I want everything in order before I leave, so there's a chance it will be in reasonable order when I return. It felt really good to have a clean home, but it was alot of work. I sat down on the sofa and exhaled a long deep sigh. It was nearly 5:30 in the evening. I was sweaty and dirty, and hungry. I decided to treat myself to a very nice dinner - out, off the island, hopefully somewhere that I wouldn't run in to anyone I know.
I took a nice hot shower in my squeaky-clean bathroom, wrapped myself in a freshly laundered Turkish cotton robe, moisturized my skin with Black Currant Vanilla aromatherapy massage oil.
I dried my hair, slipped into a white cotton skirt, black halter top, and my great liz claiborne black sandals. Some mascara and lip gloss, a straw handbag and sunglasses, and I was out the door into my nifty CR-V.
I thought I would try the Sandy Butler, a relatively new restaurant - they've been opened a little over a year. It's just off the island up on San Carlos Boulevard. I hear it's quite nice, large, unique and pricy. I pulled into the parking lot and it looked like there weren't many patrons. The very large parking lots had cars scattered about - a look of employees' cars more than patrons. For a woman to dine alone on a Saturday night, it's usually best if the restaurant has ample clientele: dining alone is amplified in a large, empty restaurant. I pulled out of the parking lot and headed up the boulevard.
At the light at Summerlin, I decided to turn left and head toward Sanibel Island. I ran over in my mind restaurants that I might try: It was about 8:00 and the sun would be setting soon - a restaurant on the water with a sunset view would be awesome. Just passed the Tanger Outlet Mall, and on the approach to the Sanibel Causeway, I spotted Port Sanibel Marina on my right. The Lighthouse Restaurant was at the front of the Marina. I had lunch there a few years ago and it was quite lovely, so I pulled into the parking lot. The cars in the lot indicated the restaurant was enjoying a good business.
I was offered a choice of dining inside or out: "It's not buggy, is it?" I asked the maitre d'. "It's screened in.." he replied, and so I took a seat on the large, white wrap-around porch overlooking the marina. The sun was dropping to the horizon as I took my seat. Paddle fans circulated the balmy air. A waiter in crisp cotton uniform wished me good evening. I had a beefeater martini that was perfectly chilled that went perfectly with a half dozen oysters on the half shell served in an equally perfect dish over crushed ice, with lemon wedges, horse radish, cocktail sauce and saltines. Divine. After a salad of fresh greens and a house dressing, my entree arrived: Ahi tuna with wasabi and ginger and soy. Perfectly rare and delicately sliced. A glass of cabernet was a fine accent. I picked up the chopsticks and chuckled to myself as I looked at them trying to determine whether they were chinese or japanese. I was pleased with my abilty to use them without much ado. The sun set flooding the sky with deep pink colors that faded to darkness. Gradually the marina lights came on bouncing off the yachts along the docks. "I deserve it" I found myself saying to myself. A wonderful dinner and a wonderful evening.
"Would you care for desert?" he asked. "No..." I said hesitantly. Hesitating not because I wanted desert, but that I was savoring the rich glass of wine, thinking that I already had desert...
I paid my bill, tipping the waiter 25% - not that his service was so spectacular, or for any reason other than I thought he just might need a few extra bucks. I was just in the mood.
I returned home to my ultra-clean digs. Gracie had been sleeping, but the minute I came in, she grabbed her toy wanting to play. I took her outside and we teased the very large moth that darted around the front porch light. She barked at the newt that seemed to fancy the moth, although the moth was twice its size. Eventually, I crawled into the crisp cotton blush pink colored sheets - read a short story about the Athabascan Indians in my "Denali - a literary anthology" book before turning out the lights and drifty sweetly to sleep.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WAVES across the country..

The Gulf of Mexico waves hello from Southwest Florida!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Annual Cut

I walked into Ollie's for my twelve noon appointment. The atmosphere was immediately lively. i sat down in a wicker love seat and picked up a copy of today's edition of the Island SandPaper. Across from me sat a man I guessed to be late 20's, early 30's in a T-shirt and denim shorts. Ollie was holding court. She'd stepped away from the head she was styling, and stood in the middle of the room, directing her voice to Linda Gale, who worked at the station across the room. Comb in one hand and shears in the other, Ollie told her story to everyone who would listem. With her Portuguese accent and flair for exageration, we all heard about Daniel's attempt to be a truck driver and getting stuck in a drivethrough window.
The manicurist was finishing up with a client, instructing her to hold her fingers apart while her nails dried. Her client was a young girl about ten years old, who quickly joined the man sitting across from me in the Tshirt and denim shorts. "Michelle, you wanna shampoo?" Ollie called. I nodded and she gestured to the sinks in the back of the shop.
I hate this part. I never remember if I'm supposed to hold the towel around my neck, I sit up too high in the reclining chairs and am never sure whether I've got my neck properly cradled along the sink. Then comes the worst part: The shampoo -ist's arm pit inches above my nose. Of course they lather twice and rinse and condition, all the while the pit is at the nose.
I sat in the chair and Ollie commented how long my hair has gotten. "It's been nearly a year since you last cut it" I told her. I pulled out a photo I'd printed that was taken of me last year, just a couple of weeks after Ollie last cut my hair, in September 2008. "This was a great cut, but I don't want it quite so short today." I told her. She chuckled and chattered and went about combing and pinning my hair.
Ollie clipped and quipped, cut and chattered. I could tell she was totally ignoring my request that it not be as short as when she cut it last year. Why did I bother? Ollie's been cutting my hair for years, and understands the waves and cowlicks in my head, and always gives me a beautiful cut. It's always what Ollie thinks looks best.
With a "finished style" I paid her - she always whispers under her breathe.." Just gimme ...x dollars..." Today it was $25.00. I grew up with the Miss Manners advise that one doesn't tip the shop owner. I haven't tipped Ollie, but it's always bothered me that she thinks me cheap. I have tipped the shampoo girl and bought a product or two in the past. Today, I tipped Ollie. It just happened that I paid cash and she was making change so I just let the change be a tip.
It's a good cut. It makes my hair look a heckuva lot healthier. I feel "perkier", not so drawn and weighted down. Considering i only do this about once a year, I'd say I sure got my money's worth!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three weeks and counting - day 1

Today is Tuesday, 7.7.09. Three weeks from today I fly out of Southwest Regional Airport, into Miami International Airport for a 6-hour flight into Seattle, WA, then Alaska Airlines to Anchorage and then on to Fairbanks. A courtesy vehicle will pick me up from AAC and take me to the Alpine Lodge for the night.

The next morning, very early, I'll board the Alaskan Railroad to the entrance to Denali National Park.There in the care of the hosts, I'll leave my extra luggage, and transport to the bus that will take me deep into the heart of Alaska - into Denali National Park, into Kantishna - by Wonder Lake.

We'll arrive at supper time, about 7 or 8 PM. We'll check in to our cedar rustic cabins, only to return to the main lodge for family style dinner. Here is where I'll plan the next few days: fly fishing, mountain biking, naturalists' tours, or gold panning - or relaxing.
I am very excited about being so remote - by myself - yet safe. No phones, no TVs, and 23 hours of daylight!
Come along with me, my friends, on this journey. I know the trip is 3 weeks away, but the planning is underway. Today I booked my "shore excursion" from the cruise ship in Juneau. I booked the Mendenhall Glacier Tour and Salmon Bake! Wikipedia rocks:
I am yet to book other excursions in Haines and Ketchikan - and then in to port in Vancouver.
Exciting times, these next few weeks!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I woke this morning from a dream of Vince Vaughn trying to kiss me. I dodged his advances because "everyone knew" that he was only looking for sex. I amused myself with the thought that I must be as attractive as Jennifer Aniston!
Dreams sure are crazy things!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Week Recapped

Just finished another week of "clerks' school" as I like to call it. Another round of continuing education. This annual conference was held at the Sanibel Harbor Resort. Our incoming president is the clerk for the city of Sanibel. Being so close to my Town, I didn't stay at the resort. It was a different experience commuting. Considering i usually bicycle to the office - a whole 60 second bike ride - getting in a car and driving for "work" each morning was quite a change in my routine. i surprised myself at how well I did it. Some of the presenters were local professionals that I have dealt with for years. The Lee County Director of the Emergency Operations Center presented one session. Our Supervisor of Elections for the county and her qualifying officer gave another session. Add to it that our district was the host district (second year in a row) I felt "special" - being recognized by the speakers and the president(s) and the board of directors.
Today is a holiday - good deal. A 3-day weekend after an arduous week of school always a welcome relief. My brother and his wife have a bus-load of company - her sister and husband and children and children's children and friends. They're a delightful family and I'm sure we'll be adding to the annual fireworks displays over the next few days!
I am finally beginning to feel like myself again. Smart folks probably would have gone to the doctor months ago. I of course believe that I can heal myself, which I have done, it just takes a heck of a lot longer! I fell in love with Arizona brand green tea with Pomegranate & Acai. I have a tall thermos that I keep filled all day long. It has worked wonders - the benefits of the warm water as well as the tea. My newest 'fad'.
The weather has been hot and humid. Combined with my low energy level and full work schedule, I haven't given Gracie the outside exercise she needs. Regardless, she looks healthy and hasn't exhibited behavioral problems such as destroying the furniture. She has her 'toy' which is a knotted rope that she loves to try to destroy, her ball (a big red rubber one) and her 'Kong' which she has mastered the treats-retrieval. She's really a good girl.
Three weeks til VACATION!! Whoo hoo!!!