Monday, January 19, 2009

My Weekend

I ended up going into Bethel this weekend to take my tests. It was kind of a last minute decision and probably wasn't the best one I've ever made (and I've made a lot of bad ones over the years). I am happy that I went and got those tests over with. It was a good feeling to put my books away last night and to know that it should be awhile before I need to get them out again.

The river was horrible to travel on when Christina and I headed up. It actually reminded me of what it is like right before breakup. There were a few inches of water everywhere and I almost swamped my machine a few times. I was reminded of a couple of years ago when I had crashed my machine in similar conditions heading from Bethel to Oscarville. Just thinking of that got my heart pounding and made me extra cautious.

When I finally got to Bethel I was a nervous wreck and my clothes were soaked through to my underwear. I parked my snowmachine in front of the library and decided to walk over to the college. That was a bad idea as it was slick ice between the library and the college and I took quite a digger on my way in. So, not only was I soaking wet, but my ass and my hand were hurting like hell. Plus, I had to do quite a dance on the ice as I tried to retrieve all the gear that had flown in the air as I went down. As I entered the college I was near tears.

I walked past the room where some of my classmates were taking the test. Since the weather was so cruddy the only person to make it in from any of the villages was...that's right...me. The rest of the test takers were my classmates from Bethel. It took a few minutes to get all my gear off and get it hung up so it could dry. After shedding my clothes and hanging them up in a different room I was finally ready to join my classmates already taking the test. With my two soggy backpacks full of books I walked into the room and took my place at the very back of the room.

When I had taken my enormous digger outside the college I had been more concerned about my computer than with my own body and I held my breath as I turned it on. I pushed the button, heard some whirling noises from deep within the machine and then....a black screen. I stared in disbelief at the black screen. Sensing a breakdown of one of his students, my professor was instantly by my side asking me what was wrong.

"My computer...it's,"sniff, sniff, "it's black. I fell and...it's black!" I managed to get out.

"Hmm...and I suppose all your notes are on there, huh?" he responded. When he said that the damn of tears broke. I held my swollen hand over my mouth and just nodded. Although I recognize he was trying to comfort me and assess the situation it was completely the wrong thing to say at that moment.

"Ok...let's see....ummm," was his response, "well, there are other computers you can use and I know the technology people are still here. Why don't you get settled and then we can figure this out."

I simply nodded. Just to be sure that it wasn't working properly, I turned my computer off and then turned it back on. I held my breath as I heard it start up. I again heard some whirly noises happening inside and then...YES! the login screen popped up.

"It works now." I managed to croak out suddenly embarrassed about my leaky eyes.

I got settled in and ate the two pieces of chocolate my professor had put at my place as a little "brain food". Still sniffling I then ate the other two pieces he had put at my neighbor's place. I then stood up and grabbed the two chocolates at the place in front of me. I figured no one else was going to be making it in so the chocolate, by default, was mine. Finally, after some self medicating via chocolate, I was ready to take my test.

The next four hours of my life involved shifting continuously in my chair because my wet corduroys were making my already sore butt even more sore. I shifted constantly looking for some relief. That was pretty much my main concern. I also wrote an answer to the essay question that was posed to me. I was so happy when my professor told us time was up. I emailed my test and got a ride to my friend Brian's.

At Brian's I changed into comfy clothes and was finally able to relax. Although there was a terrible windstorm going on it felt good to be inside a warm cozy house surrounded by friends. We also took a ride in a suburban all the way across town. It was crazy to be out in such strong winds. The next morning I had to wake up early so I could take my other test. Brian and I compared dreams and came to the conclusion that the wind makes us dream some pretty crazy things.

My ride to the college showed up early and I had to run out with a mug full of coffee. I spilled the coffee all over my corduroys on the way to the college. For the second day in the row I walked into to take my test with wet pants.

Over the next four hours I answered some more essays questions. This test was a bit harder and more time consuming so I had to devote less time to eating the snacks my professors had sitting out. A little after 2:30 I emailed my test, packed up my stuff, hugged my professors good bye and was out the door.

I got a ride around the building and my friend dropped me off at my snowmachine. There I found that the wind had torn my little trunk hatch off the back and I found it laying in some bushes. What had been a little broken before was now officially really broken and it's been causing me annoyances since. It blew off again on Sunday but luckily Christina was following me and was able to retrieve all the stuff that flew out.

On Sunday morning we headed up to Bethel to see the start of the K300. We missed it though. We did see the start of the Bogus Creek 150 and it was fun to see all the dogs lined up. The two teams below are two rookie teams. The picture on the left is of the youngest rookie and the picture on the right is of the oldest rookie.






I brought Macy in hopes that she would finally understand the concepts of pulling. I still see her all harnessed up ready to gracefully pull me on skis. It's a dream of mine to soar through the snow with my trusty little dog pulling me. Usually when I harness her all up she starts to move and looks back meekly every three seconds or so and then tries to run away from the approaching skis. She never runs forward though and always ends up running to the side and then trying to get behind me. That doesn't work too well. We never really get too far before I unhook her and just let her run. Macy enjoyed the race very much.




It was too cold for her though and some friends brought her back to Brian's.




The rest of Sunday was a lazy day. I arrived back home after watching some football at Brian's house. After a nice hot shower I sort of lazed around. Christina convinced me to watch Mamma Mia and although I still prefer the live version the movie version wasn't too bad.

So, that's it. My weekend. It wasn't too bad but I did find myself wanting a "re-do" at about 9 p.m. last night. There's always next weekend though.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Repreive?

I'm supposed to head into Bethel this weekend to take my FINAL final exams for my Master's program. As much fun as two four hour essay exams sound I'm really not looking forward to it. I don't think I'll do badly, I just am not looking forward to it.

The weather here is atrocious. Really bad. It has warmed up quite a bit and we have had loads of rain. This has caused some pretty slick conditions. Apparently, the Bethel airport is closed today and I also heard that flights haven't made it out since Tuesday. Another friend said a cargo plane landed yesterday but since then...nothing.

A classmate and I have been chatting back and forth trying to figure out if our profs can make it in from Fairbanks to give us our exams. A part of me just wants to take the damn things and get them out of the way. Another part of me would like some more time to study and prepare. On top of the weather our internet was out last night so my classmate and I lost the opportunity to study via iChat.

The weather has also been causing me some frustration. I've been wanting to run outside ever since I got back and haven't been able to due to first cold weather and now this rainy wet weather. Last night I decided to try running anyway and had to turn around after about a half mile. I was hoping that I would be able to get out to the ice road and run on that. I made it part way out there when I noticed a truck driving down the road. I watched as water sloshed up over the front of the truck and realized that the ice road was probably a bad idea. I then went home and tried skiing, I got a bit farther on skis but it was still quite frustrating. I haven't tried my bike yet. Perhaps this evening I will take it out on the river.

The extreme change in weather has totally affected all of our moods as well. It's weird how the weather affects people. I think my mood has been a result that I haven't been able to exercise as much as I would like to.

I was also looking forward to attending the K300 with some friends. As of right now the start of the race has been delayed.

Sigh.

The rain has stopped at this point but the skies are kind of crazy looking and the wind is BLOWING. Take a look.




Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas in O-ville

Christmas in Oscarville is always a good time. This year was no exception. This was the first year I didn't have my students do something huge and time consuming...simply because we didn't have the time to do something huge and time consuming.

So anyway, Christmas went well. Here are some pics of our Christmas program and Santa's visit to Oscarville.









Oh yeah! Congratulations to my former student, Samantha, on the birth of her baby girl back in November!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Update

I just finished The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb last night. After reading this 723 page work it is obvious why he only writes one book every ten years. It was pretty good and I enjoyed it quite a bit and I really like Lamb's writing style.

There were parts that I did end up skimming through (it's 723 pages for crying out loud!) but in all I thought it was a pretty good story and is quite entertaining. It really made me want to go back and reread some of his other books again.



Another book I read recently was The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Where do I begin with this one? I have a few friends who are really into the whole Hitchhiker's Guide Books and although I really did enjoy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I think I am just continuously perplexed by the comedy science fiction genre. Not perplexed in a bad way..I just think it is a completely unique genre. I do enjoy the crazy characters that are in all the books and I do enjoy reading about all the crazy places they end up. My favorite part of this book was right at the beginning when poor Arthur Dent requested a cup of tea and jammed the Improbability Drive on The Heart of Gold which then set into motion a series of crazy events. I do think I will probably read the next book in the series. It was a good read.


I read Whirligig by Paul Fleishman and really, really thought it was a good book. It was a quick read but the content and the story itself was so powerful. This story begins with a young boy accidentally killing a young woman when he tries to kill himself. The mother of the young woman asks the boy, Brent, to construct four whirligigs in her honor in the four corners of the United States. Brent agrees to this restitution and armed with tools and a Greyhound bus pass goes on his journey. This was a really great book and I would really like some of my students to read it.


Finally, last but not least, I read Palestine (thanks Carey!) by Joe Sacco. I don't know where to begin with this book. It was powerful, emotional, insightful and completely opened my eyes to the plight of the Palestinian people. The drawings were beautiful and conveyed the emotions and feelings of the people Sacco encounters made lasting impressions on me. Considering the recent events and the current situation between Israel and Gaza I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. In fact, I would encourage everyone to read it. It was definitely a great read.

I'm baack!

After a short three weeks off of work I am back in Oscarville and school has resumed.

Christmas break was pretty fun. Due to the weather in Seattle I lost about a week of my vacation. Since my friend Brian and I were traveling with the companion fare we were stuck with each other for all of our traveling. You can read all about our start to our holiday break here.

It was pretty good to get home. As always, I was amazed at how big my nieces had gotten. Mairin, turned one in November and Claire will be four in June. My family was pretty good. Compared to other Christmases it was relatively calm and free of any sort of fighting.

New Year's was fun. My friends Jon, Chad, Tim and I made dinner at Jon and Chad's house and then went out for a bit. We counted down the New Year in Chad's brother's garage and were also witness to a man almost getting knocked out by a huge belt buckle. In fact, I do believe the belt buckle wasn't a belt buckle at all but a Chevy emblem converted into a belt buckle. Which meant that it left quite an egg on the dude's head. It was also better than other New Year's because everyone was more concerned with getting all the champagne bottles open as quickly as possible at the stroke of 12. Other people seem more concerned with making out with someone at midnight and it was refreshing to be surrounded by people who had their priorities straight!

The following weekend I went snowmobiling in Upper Michigan with my brother and sister-in-law and our friend Jay. We drove up to Ishpeming, MI and stayed at the Best Western there. I'm not sure how many miles we put on that weekend, but Jay said that we put on 210 on Saturday alone.

It felt so good to see soooo many huge trees. I really really miss those things. It was also a bit scary for me to see so many huge ones. I kept having images of myself flying around the corner and slamming into one. I did alright though. The machine I was using was a bit powerful for me and I couldn't seem to keep a straight line on the trail but I did pretty well. I only went into the "pickers" once when I veered off the trail to miss hitting a rabbit.

On Saturday we stopped at this really cool restaurant to eat and when I said "really cool" I mean really freaking cold. It was almost colder inside the restaurant than it was outside and none of us could get warm. At one point some guy started lighting the little decorative candles that were on the bar and we all were trying to warm our hands over those. There was also a small little gas fireplace in the building and people were huddled around that trying to get warm. It would have been a much cooler place if it were warm. I did leave a suggestion in the suggestion box to "Please turn the heat up, we are cold! Thank you!" I loved seeing all the snowmobiles outside. It was pretty rad. Thanks Brian, Heidi and Jay for letting me tag along! Always the little sister, huh? Some things never change no matter how old we all get.






My oldest brother, Brian, got me some pretty sweet pink snowshoes for Christmas and I took those out a few times while I was home. I was amazed at how much of a workout I felt I got. It had been years since I donned snowshoes. I couldn't fit them in my luggage when I came back up so my mom is sending them to me.

I also got to see my friend Jenny's little baby, Olivia. I took my niece with me to see the baby and Claire was so fun. I love that she is so outgoing and bubbly. In no time at all she was running around and exploring the Schroeder home and was "helping" Jon's mom and dad make us drinks. After that we went out to eat and after watching that little girl eat a cheeseburger, fries and a small ice cream cone I thought for sure she was going to puke. She didn't though.

Brian and I left on Thursday evening from Chicago and spent two nights in Anchorage. On the second night we got to see the Badgers beat UAA in hockey.




We rented a little Forenza and although I could see that the Forenza would probably be a nice little car in the summer it didn't perform all that well on the icy roads. We had fun with it though (although I drove like a little grandma).

I arrived here in Oscarville two nights ago and it feels good to be home. Macy is loving it as well and I hope our warm weather (0 degrees!) holds until this afternoon so we can go bike riding on the river.