Posted by: glacierwave | November 29, 2010

Anything is possible…in a Hallmark Christmas Town


Anything is possible…in a Hallmark Christmas Town

Last week Hank Stuever, Washington Post staff writer, reviewed the newest of more than 200 Hallmark Hall of Fame special presentations.  A bah humbug review, I must say, to kick off the season that represents the most sentimental of holidays…Christmas.

"Bah Humbug..."

Just as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, and Frosty have become annual traditions, so have movies made by Hallmark.  I hope they continue to make these heartwarming celebrations of simpler and kinder living. Especially when so many families are running around at 4 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to buy, buy, buy the latest toy, electronic gadget, and more, so that Johnny or Janie won’t be disappointed come Christmas morn.

Simple Gifts

I really enjoy watching a feel good movie that promotes giving simpler and even more precious gifts than the ones that come wrapped in a fancy designer labeled box. Stuever wrote that, “One has to wonder how many of the millions of viewers drawn to Hallmark’s made-for-TV holiday movies watch them in the earnest and simple way the producers and writers (and advertisers) intend.”  Well, count me as one of those viewers.

Newest Hallmark Presentation: November Christmas

I know they are going to be sappy and idealistic, and that I will need a box of tissues handy for most of the movie.  That’s O.K.  I sit down to watch because I want to escape for two hours into that mushy world where “miracles can and do happen,” and “anything is possible.”

Hallmark’s newest offering, November Christmas, does not disappoint. Heartthrobs at any age, Sam Elliott and John Corbett, are nice to look at too through tear-filled tissues.  Had Scrooge Stuever not pointed out the seam of the bald cap in one of the final scenes I wouldn’t have noticed. Having worked in television production, I too, often watch shows with a critical eye for these stumbles.  However, unless it’s incredibly awful, I choose to overlook these imperfections when I’m already emotionally vested in the outcome.  In this case it’s more of a coloring difference, and when focusing on the warmth of that moment, not at all noticeable.  This tells more about Stuever’s fears of certain feelings, than it does about the behind-the-scenes make-up team at Hallmark Productions.

Of course growing up watching these may be part of the reason I am a delusional optimist (See related post).  But, I would rather shed a few cathartic tears, and believe that anything is possible, over Stuever’s approach of pointing out cosmetic flaws while using sarcasm to call attention to movie moments that are more idealistic than realistic.  It’s a choice to protect and deflect by putting up a shield of wise cracks rather than to let hope, dreams, and maybe a few tears flow.

There’s nothing wrong with helping people, if only for a few hours, to feel that they could be like one of those thoughtful giving people on the screen.  Just maybe that warm fuzzy feeling will last for awhile after the movie ends, and they will take that dreamy example into the real world to positively touch another person’s life.

Stuever may consider this part of the Hallmark cliché, but there’s a reason clichés exist.  It really is the gifts that cost the least in dollars that give the greatest rewards, and are remembered the longest. Time spent with family and friends making holiday cookies and spiking the eggnog; Time building snow forts and trading snowballs with the neighborhood kids; and hiking through the woods with family, or a new boyfriend, to cut a tree. Those are the memories I have held onto for years and will continue to recall every time I hear the familiar Hallmark Hall of Fame jingle.

Now if only Dolly Madison would bring back those wonderful zinger’s commercials that were as much a part of the experience as that voice and musical notes that announced a break in regular programming for a CBS special presentation.Team Zingers & Peanuts

Gifts that come from the heart are better than ones that break the bank…or they should be.  Those are the lessons in the Hallmark movies, as well as the classics that never grow old.  We may be in the age of 3D movies on the big screen, and soon our TV, but Jimmy Stewart in black and white still captivates in It’s a Wonderful Life. Because we long for this time to be about more than just getting, or being disappointed about what we didn’t get.

A Christmas classic.

Even though it may not be obvious to Mr. Stuever, there are still small townspeople who band together to make a down-on-their-luck family’s holiday brighter. They exist in small towns and in neighborhoods within cities, or even between a handful of friends. I have witnessed, participated in, and benefitted from this type of giving.

To be fair, in true Scrooge fashion Stuever does finally, yet backhandedly admit, that while he relishes his twisted and critical viewing style that even he is not immune to the dream state created by Hallmark. Finding…”A slight sniffle, a single tear? A hot-cocoa sigh of comfort?”  Proving the underlying Hallmark theme, that even for an irreverent sarcastic realist like Stuever…anything is possible.

Next book to add to my nightstand stack.

Now I’m curious to read his book Tinsel. A non-fiction offering about his experiences following three families as they celebrate Christmas 2006, 2007 and 2008.  What will it say about modern day Christmas?

Ho, Ho, Ho…Readers, What say you?

What do you say about Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentations?  Thumbs-up? or Thumbs-down?  Do you allow yourself to shut out the cold cruel world for a couple of hours to feel the warm cozy Hallmark glow, or do you turn the channel or watch with a twisted viewing eye like Stuever?

Posted by: glacierwave | November 26, 2010

Smelly Memories…


…that make you smile.

What is it about certain smells that trigger you to remember times-past? A few days ago I stepped outside and immediately thought of the woods and then Christmas. Yes, I do live in Alaska, so I am surrounded by woods, but there was a much stronger pine scent in the air than the usual outdoor Alaska smell.

Twinkly lights and festive smells.

I kept inhaling deeply. The overwhelming scent of fresh cut pine trees made me smile both inwardly and outwardly. It took me back to those years growing up when my dad would bring the Christmas tree inside to decorate. Always December 10th. For some reason that I don’t recall that was the date each year when we were allowed to put up the tree, sometimes after, but never before.

That wonderful woodsy smell also brought me back to my years living in the Washington, DC area. Nearly every year I and a friend, or a guy I was dating (or hoping to date), would go to Krop’s Crops, at the intersection of Georgetown and Udderback Store Roads in Fairfax County, Virginia, to select and cut a tree. That same pungent smell of fresh cut pine would fill the air along with burning wood from the outdoor fire pit near the tree barn. There we would warm our hands while the tree was being bundled with twine and loaded.

Nobel winners Richard Axel (left) and Linda Buck. From Henrik Montgomery/AFP/Getty Images

Odor Memory

This blessed of things called odor memory brightened my day.  Odor memory refers to both memory for odors and memories that are evoked by odors. The study of how the brain interprets smells has even been honored by a Nobel Prize. Researchers Richard Axel and Linda Buck published a groundbreaking paper in 1991 on olfactory receptor and brain connections that led to winning the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

According to a Discovery Health article, smell’s have such an influence on our mood and memories because our olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system. This system is associated with memory and feeling, and includes the parts of the brain where we process emotion and associative learning.

As a young child we are exposed to new scents. Each new scent becomes linked to a moment, event, person or object, and subsequent “smellings” cause our brain to recall that link. There’s even scientific evidence that these links occur before we are born as our mother’s exposure to scents transfers to the womb. This is why many memories triggered by smell take us back to our childhood.

Because of my great memories of Christmas-past, and the wonderful brain-nose connection, no fake tree will ever do. And, just to keep that warm fuzzy feeling alive well past the holidays, I’ve sniffed many a candle to find one that captures this scent I love so much. So far only two have passed the sniff test–“Forest Pine” from Mineral Creek Essentials, Valdez, Alaska, and “Frasier Fir” from Thymes. All others smelled like cleaning solution, or that awful tree-shaped car freshener. Ew!

The Culprit and The Reward

The source of the scent.

Of course I had to find out what was prompting this recent trip down memory lane. I followed my nose, which led me just around the corner, to where Alyeska Resort’s mountain crew was clearing a small section of pine trees near the terrain park and Chair 3. I must say I am not a fan of taking down trees, but I am thankful for this delightful olfactory trigger.

Fa..la..la..la..la  La..la..la..la.

Wonderful memories have now been flooding back to me for more than a week while the chopping and clearing continues. As I walk around breathing in this smelly treasure, I wear a jolly rosy cheeked smile of joy while visions of sugar plums dance in my head. “Ho ho ho…Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.”

Posted by: glacierwave | October 19, 2010

Better to have loved and lost than…


photobucket image

to never have loved at all….

This is a good saying.  I agree.  Except it really does suck when it happens and happens…and happens….

But then, maybe the loves that I’ve had didn’t really know I loved them?  Or maybe they did and didn’t care.  Or maybe they just weren’t the right guy.  How many times have I told myself that one?

Ever just wanted to kick yourself? or call a Mulligan?

Have you ever just been angry, or had those moments of anger when you realize that you liked someone, put in the time to get to know them, and then someone else arrives on the scene and has the guts enough to just step on out there and go after the person you like.  Of course that person get’s the guy (or gal) because I suppose they were brave.  They took the risk, they didn’t spend time thinking too much, or being careful, cautious and slow about getting to know the person.  That boldness can be more attractive to guys too.

This has happened to me many times.  It makes me mad.  Damn it.  It never seems to matter that I put in the work, the time and the care to get to know someone.  All of a sudden there’s that girl that comes along that is just so cool, crazy and cute that waltzes right in and takes over, while I stand there dumbfounded.

Grr....photobucket image

I thought the guy liked me too.  I thought that we were building something, a friendship and then more, rather than more, then the friendship.  I thought that it was obvious that I liked him, but weeks, months and sometimes years later, I find out that he wasn’t really sure what I was thinking.  All my actions that seemed obvious to me were really ambiguous or too cautious and thus not clear. Of course I could say the same about the guy’s actions too.

Guys just aren’t that complicated

Guy friends remind me all the time that they are dumb, or just simple and they need to be hit over the head.  Over the years I feel like I’ve gotten bolder. With each guy I think, yep this time I’m getting it right. I’m more confident and bold.  Then it happens again and I realize, nope still not overt enough.

I am really sick and tired of coming in second.  Most of the time I tell myself, it wasn’t meant to be. Or, the reason why I hung back was because I could sense the guy wasn’t ready for me.  He had just gotten out of a relationship, or was still kind of hung up on the previous gal.  Really not good to be the rebound girl.  That doesn’t work.  Been there. Let some other girl do that and train the guy, so that for once in my life I get him when he’s ready for someone for real.  Someone real like me.

AAUGH! photobucket image

Then there are days or weeks like this one where I just feel irritated.  I see that the guy I like and think that we’d really be great together, is still with that other gal.  Thought it would be over months ago, but it’s not.  Damn it.  Then I recall the patterns in my life.  I think back to times when this has happened in the past and realize it goes back as far as high school.  [Insert Charlie Brown-like aaarrgh! like when Lucy tricks him with the football.]

How is it that I have the guts and confidence and gumption to be the head cheerleader, the yearbook editor, and then break into tv production with a bunch of good old boys in college.  Then I move to Washington, DC  where I eventually lead a national media campaign, and then drive myself and my dogs all the way to Alaska and back, by myself.  Now I travel to Hawaii and I run a shop and yada yada yada on down the line.  BUT, I can’t seem to take hold of that guy I like so much and say, “look right here! This gal is something special and not to be missed!”  Why am I so fearless in all of those other instances that scare most other people wit-less (or worse) and yet grabbing hold of  “that guy” scares me to death?

AAUGH! photobucket image

AAUgh, I could scream.  I want to kick that other girl to the curb, and the guy in the ass.  But, there is that part of me that says, no be patient.  She is a nice gal, but is not the one, and eventually we both will be in the right place at the right time and the friendship and work will not be for naught.  Still patience has always been hard for me. My mind works up all kinds of scenarios as to what is happening at each stage of their relationship as time goes by.  That is also a product of fear.  When my rational brain takes over I realize that even when I look back to my own relationships even as time goes by and events occur, it didn’t mean that I was any more serious about that guy than when we first got together. Sometimes you are just having fun or passing time as long as it doesn’t get too heavy. So, just let it be.

The new bolder me

Anyway…this past couple of weeks the frustration has gotten to me I guess.  It has made me do some pretty overt things that I’ve not done before.  And, because I survived these silly things I’ve done I think I’ve grown to realize that it’s o.k. to be overt. Guys seem to understand, at least the good ones.

Last week I was planning to go see an old flame, use some frequent flier miles, and have a long needed weekend of “cuddling” by the fire.  A bit of fun with no strings.  The one thing I remember most about this person was that “cuddling” was awesome, but we aren’t likely to go the distance in any other type of relationship.  Well, it didn’t happen.  The guy is still as immature and unreliable as when we first dated and so weekend cancelled.  Damn.

Dreaming... photobucket image

With certain frustration built-up I searched my brain for someone I could call who would be mature enough to understand and safe enough to join me in some silliness.  I did something I have never done in my life, sober or otherwise.  I called up a guy and propositioned him.  Just matter of fact.  I really did not care what anyone thought, that guy or me.  I had finally reached a point in my life where damn it, I was just going to ask for what I want and not be ashamed, self-conscious or embarrassed.   Turns out the guy was flattered, and taken completely off guard, but not in a position to accept…right now. Damn it.  His living situation is a bit complicated currently and so I understood he was sincere. He was great about it.  We laughed and when I hung up the phone I felt o.k.  I felt empowered.  I felt bold and proud of myself.  Then a couple of minutes later, the guy calls me back and says, “I just want you to know that I really need a cold shower right now.”  and we laughed again and hung up.  I went home giggling and smiling to myself for hours.

Still dreaming... photobucket image

Then a few days ago I was at a fundraiser in town and I spotted a guy that I had not seen before.  He was bartending at this low key event.  I went up and talked to him.  I asked him a few things to get the conversation going and invited him to stop by my shop.  I later asked someone who works for the resort whether he has a girlfriend.  They said he did not, and was a teacher in town and he worked the resort only once or twice a week just for the ski pass.  Nice, not your typical resort employee.

The point…

Next time watch out! photobucket image

So the point of all this rambling.  I may not be able to be with the guy I really think I am meant to be with right now, but I am at least growing in confidence.  Even if this growth is due to some pent up frustration, at least I am being a lot more proactive. Maybe then the next time I’m in a situation where I like a guy and feel it’s mutual, I will step up.  I will be the one that gets her man and not some other gal who comes late to the party with more balls under her skirt than me.

Posted by: glacierwave | October 18, 2010

[Liz] Lemon Days continued…


Liz Lemon continued…

Yep, it’s been that kind of day.  I have a memory, and I think a very good one. This can be good and bad. Sometimes I tend towards the literal a bit too much.  Takes me a second to get some jokes, and I believe people at their word–the first time at least.

Lemon Out. Photo courtesy of Sidereel.

Today I was having a pretty good day at the shop.  Life there is improving.  It’s the other part, my social and freelance life that I am wondering about.  I have been helping someone out with their marketing.  We’ve met a few times to discuss projects.  I think I have a plan, but then the next time we talk it changes, or the initial plan is forgotten.  Sometimes this works in my favor–like those times when I haven’t finished working on something I should have finished already.  But, there are times when I just wind up saying, WTF?  Like when I ask for a logo for a website, we spend time trying to transfer the file, but then after I get it and am about to use it…oh by the way…”forgot to tell you, you can’t use that on-line.”  Um…o.k. WTF?

I realize that most of the confusion is because this person is really busy and has a high stress job. I have found that the person forgets conversations and tasks unless it’s written down or done in the office.  I try to give the benefit of the doubt. I get it, I’ve been there in my own life.

Exasperation days

Some days though this just exasperates me.  When I attempt to sort it out verbally, instead of appreciation for trying to be clear, I get the distinct impression the person thinks I’m nuts and being bitchy.  There are days when I just can’t win for trying.  If I don’t, or when I don’t clarify, or get things in writing, then I lose too. Not necessarily with this person, but in other instances.  Such as…

Today I also heard back from the Alaska Attorney General’s office regarding my complaint against a mechanic in Eagle River.  This incident happened two years ago, and I’m now just getting a response!  This mechanic and his wife are crazy, I have the voicemails to prove it.  In the end though, their written response to my complaint made me out to seem the nut. I never got to see their response before this paralegal intern ruled on my case. The mechanic got to see my complaint and to respond of course. I would think there would at least be a chance for me to rebut.  For that I apparently now have small claims court.  Except two years have now gone by prior to getting this lame response.  I am not sure that I have the time, money and energy to mount the proper case and deal again with that ass and his wife.  Yet, they should not get away with the ridiculous behavior, lies and horrible service.   If I did have all that I would find a way to put them out of business.  Or, there is the approach I took two years ago of, take a deep breath, let it go, they will end up getting what is due to them some day–Karma and all.  I have other things in my life that need my focus more than letting the poison of that couple’s behavior get into my veins.  I had put it aside, but then this week I hear from the AGs office. I think maybe this is good, for once I will prevail.  I could really use some good news.  Alas…No.

Is it my small town upbringing?

Incredible!  I really hate being misunderstood or being thought the one that is in the wrong when I am so clearly in the right.  That is a major pet peeve of mine, yet it happens a lot, so I clearly need to work on my approach.  I think I trust maybe a little to easily in some situations, and in others maybe I don’t trust enough.

I grew up in a small town.  This was a place where people who were the supposed pillars of the community and church were the worst offenders and hypocrites.  So often I went through life wondering what was real and what was not, what people’s motives were, whether they were real and upfront or was there something else there behind the mask.

At the same time, in this small town I learned that customer service is of utmost importance and that the customer is always right. I will never forget how many times I had to serve a customer at Super Duper, even though it was after closing time and I’d already cleaned all the parts of the deli slicer.  But, because I was still a body standing there in the deli I could not say no. I learned that you never turn down a sale.  If only that were the case elsewhere, like the time years later when the reverse happened.  I was in a Wegmans, with five minutes before the deli closed.  I asked to be waited on and I was told rather rudely that they had already cleaned the slicer and I was out of luck.  I complained to a manager, but that person did not have the guts or proper training to stand up to a subordinate and said sorry can’t help you.  I was livid!  I mean I was there before the deli closed!

Also in this small town upbringing I learned that word of mouth is everything and having a reputation for quality products and service would take you far.  These I have tried to carry into my own business in the small town of Girdwood.  If you see me in the shop, even after hours I will serve you.  Yet, in the last few months an unstable gallery owner in Lahaina called me an “ungrateful dog” after I spent hours monitoring her shop and posting her items on craig’s list for sale.  I got several tickets in HI because my bumper was a foot over a line into a crosswalk and the officer was having a let’s throw the book at her day.  Another artist and gallery owner in AK, that I thought was a friend, called me a “liar and a fake” thinking I made up the whole HI ticket and cop fiasco just so I could not give her back her art.  As if I could or would make that up.  Oy. (See post, “It was a beautiful  Maui day, until I almost got arrested.”)

Oh Blerg!

Again, where is the candid camera?  I feel like Liz Lemon when she turns and says “oh blerg!” Do I speak a different language that just doesn’t translate.  Why am I misunderstood?  Is it misunderstanding?  Is it that I need to just not trust anybody, or take people at their word?  Is it that I must give in to the way of current society where everything must be in writing, in triplicate, just in case a friend decides to have a memory lapse, or a hormonal surge?  or for back-up in every he-said, she-said argument like the auto mechanic and the Lahaina gallery owner?  In that case I even had statements in writing and she still told me I had a screw loose.

I think it’s time for my periodic rereading of the bestselling book The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Agreement One: Be impeccable with your word.  Agreement Two: Don’t take anything personally.  Agreement Three: Don’t make assumptions.  Agreement Four: Always do your best.

I have a hard time with agreements two and three in particular.  But, even when I try to keep all four, I have to realize there are others out there who won’t.  That’s when I just got to say “Oh Blerg!!”

Lemon (doppelganger) Out.

Posted by: glacierwave | October 16, 2010

Doppelgangers…who’s yours?


From Bionic Woman to Liz Lemon

College Days - Lindsay Wagner phase

So I’ve been told by several people that I look like someone they know “…hmmm just can’t figure out where I’ve seen you,” people say.

Lindsay Wagner in her Bionic Woman days. Courtesy the Lindsay Wagner unofficial fan page.

Back in college I would get this from folks. Then my hair was longer and people said I looked like Lindsay Wagner, aka Bionic Woman.

Now, I’ve matured and my hair is a bit different.  Most often in Alaska, where I wear my fun glasses rather than contacts, I hear, “where have I seen you before?”  I smile now and wait for it…then if they don’t figure it out I say…have you seen “30 Rock”?

About a year ago folks pegged me for Tina Fey.  It’s the glasses I tell you, and my affinity for the color red.  Tina Fey yes, but don’t say Sarah Palin, whom Tina Fey is now best known for mimicking.  Ugh no way!  I certainly can speak better and have enough smarts to know that Russia is very close to Alaska, but I can not see it from my house.

Tina Fey, courtesy of Tina Fey fan site.

Today a friend and former boyfriend from college days facebooked me. “You are Liz Lemon,” he posted to my wall.  I assume he had watched the latest episode of “30 Rock” last night.  Another friend in my current life then responded how she had thought that too while watching the show.  That made me laugh and smile.  I don’t mind it.  I take it as a compliment.  I like Tina Fey.  I wish I could be as vocally funny as her in front of an audience. She is braver than me.  She is able to be funny in front of a live audience on national television as a former cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and now live episodes of “30 Rock.”

I am definitely not beyond poking fun at myself and others, or commenting on silly situations, but usually it’s just among my close friends.  I find that I can make my friends laugh and smile, and I like that. I didn’t think that about myself years ago, because I was very self-conscious.  Now, I consider it a compliment and a real plus when someone laughs at a story I am telling.  I like to find humor in just about everything I do.  I may not always voice it out loud, but I am certainly thinking it. Finding humor and laughter in daily life is the one of the best ways to get through any road blocks or over bumps.  It is also a great way to remember all the good times.

Absurdities of Life in TV Land and on the outside too

So yes, I am Liz Lemon’s doppelganger.  Not just in looks either. I worked in television production as a producer, writer and camera person.  Of course not at the level in NYC that she is, but never-the-less I understand the business and the absurd moments that occur in TV land as well as in life.

For instance…there was the producer/director I worked for who would walk around saying “for all intent and purposes…” at the beginning of nearly every sentence.  It became such a noticeable thing, at least to all of the production crew, that we would count the number of times while he was talking.

Sunning at Alyeska as Liz Lemon.

Or, the producer/director who thought he was so cute and funny to all the women, he often commented, “if the production truck is rockin’ don’t come a knockin’…”

Or later, when working in media for a government agency, there was a director who had been appointed to the position of heading the public affairs department. This was where they most often put political appointees.  The thought was that anybody could “do communications,” and it would be the place they could do the least damage.  Um… hello it is communications and media, the face of the agency…but this was an agency run by biologists and scientists…so that should explain a lot.  Anyway, this “director” would be observed through his window falling asleep at his desk.  Then when you did see him wander through the halls he would flash this big grin and do this thing where he’d point both of his hands like a gun, make a clicking sound with his mouth while winking and saying “how ya doin’?” It was the cheesiest, most ridiculously phony thing I have ever seen.  Sadly, very few people took him seriously. Then again, I suppose the joke was on us, as this guy went home every night with his huge salary and title.

So anyway… yes I am Liz Lemon, noticing and noting the absurdities of life and people around me on a daily basis.  Thinking sometimes, am I the only sane one?  Or perhaps maybe I’m the only crazy one…?

Friends and readers tell me: who is your doppelganger?   In looks only? or do you have their personality quirks too?

Posted by: glacierwave | October 14, 2010

Simplify…simplify…simplify….


    Simplify…simplify…simplify….

    Simplify…that is what the mantra is in my head today.  I am spread way too thin in jobs and in possessions.  Or, maybe I should say too far and wide.

    Glacier Creek with Snow Capped Mountains

    As I walked to the shop this morning in the crisp autumn air. I looked up at the clear blue sky and then the snow capped mountains surrounding Glacier Valley. Breathing in the fresh air and the beauty around me I kept thinking about simplifying my life.

    I own a house back in Arlington, Virginia. I haven’t lived in it for any length of time in the last three years. With it, is a Subaru Forester–my trusty vehicle that made it twice and back between Virginia and Alaska, and even more trips up and down the East Coast. My biggest investment and commitment.

    Here in Alaska I am renting an apartment, and space for my pet supply, gift and green goods shop.  I own a truck and an RV.  The RV was a grand plan about 4 years ago to simplify.  I would live in my RV for half the year while staying free at various parks in exchange for being a park host.  It was a great plan for a year, but then I decided to try a winter in Girdwood, AK in a house, because the RV wasn’t set up for winter living.

    Sally in the RV driver's seat in Kodiak, AK.

    It was supposed to be one winter.  Here I still am in Girdwood, now with a shop and more stuff. I have accumulated more possessions including a whole coop full of hens and a rooster.  You see we sell eggs at the shop now. Great idea, yet, more things to further complicate rather than simplify.

    My hens...

    When I was laid off at US Fish and Wildlife I decided to go back to free-lance marketing and writing.  But, rather than do that here in Alaska, I figured why not try Hawaii.  So, I now have a few things on the island of Maui–mainly, clothing, a bicycle, yoga mat and a few other odds and ends.  I did have office space and a vehicle, but both have since left my life, one by choice, the other by circumstance.  If anyone is out there reading and paying attention, you can find out about the vehicle and office via past blogs (see purple jurple).  Even the few things mentioned above are not all in one place on Maui.  They are spread from the West Side to Upcountry with friends.

    Rainbow along Turnagain Arm, Alaska.

    For many people I know, this boggles the mind.  Several back East told me they could never leave their homes for part of the year, or even just a summer, let alone travel between two places.  Right now it’s not the travel that boggles my mind, it’s the baggage…literally.  It would be oh, so easy, if I were a millionaire, but I’m not. But, if I were, it’d be ok to have multiple places and then I’d have a staff to take care of them. Nice to dream eh… So, since I don’t play the lotto, and I am not destined to inherit cash, and I refuse to marry someone just for their money and security…it may be time to simplify and sell off a few items.

    Ugh…selling is such a commitment though….

    Huh…selling a commitment, rather than buying?  Yes, actually.  When I bought the house it was a HUGE commitment then, but it made sense because I was living and working in Arlington, I had two dogs and I did not want to have to move.  I was not really ready to buy, but the owner of the house I was sharing the rent on did not want to keep managing it. So, I scraped up all I could and the landlady, owner helped me with the closing costs and there I was a homeowner.

    Once I bit that bullet, I loved the house.  I loved being able to paint the rooms each a different color and decorate them.

    My 50s style red kitchen.

    I used some equity and bought a hot tub. Originally my Dad was still alive when I purchased, but he’s gone now.  I’d have never lived across the country if he were still there to visit and care for.  But with him gone, and after 10 years at a job that infected me with a travel bug, I opted to rent it out and explore.

    Travel Bug

    I never thought I’d end up living and working in Alaska and then Hawaii, and ultimately leaving my sweet government job.  Still I hung onto the house thinking that if I ever wanted to go back to work in Arlington, or DC again, I’d never be able to afford another house there like the one I have, now that prices have gone way up.  I also have a brother and nephews in Arlington.  I kept thinking, well, if they move then I’ll move. Rumor had it that they were going to move south where my brother’s wife has family, but that has not happened.

    Me on my recent birthday in Girdwood.

    …so here I am spending  most of my time on the Pacific Coast, immediately north or way south with the mantra simplify…simplify…simplify repeating in my head.  That and huge debt due to my business interests and not being able to yet come close to what I made at my full-time job.

    Past and Present Mind Boggling

    I had built a solid career and a reputation for creative, proactive and quality work. Here in Ak or Hawaii, no one knows about my past life.  They may have heard me tell a bit about it, but they have never witnessed me in action at media or outreach event.  They have never seen the events I’ve put together, or realize the amazing people, places and animals I have seen. Here I am the pet shop gal or that girl who goes to Hawaii…lucky her.

    The view from 505 Front St. Lahaina, Maui

    Most think it’s just to tan on the beach. No matter how many times my shop manager tells people I am looking for work, or working, when I return most people say, “oh hey, you are back.  How was your vacation?”  Again, see paragraph six above – “for most people I know, this boggles the mind.”

Posted by: glacierwave | October 6, 2010

A Bumper Crop…


.

…of Lemons that is.

Lemon Tree on Maui.

I am going to keep going with the lemons to lemonade cliche.  I could use “when it rains it pours,” but I really prefer lemons to days on end of rain.  I really like lemonade, it is one of my favorite drinks, when it is fresh made.

It is a good thing, because the lemons are still coming.  Now, the clutch appears to be nearly gone on my truck.  I got back from HI and now the one and only vehicle I depend on here in AK will need fixing, requiring more money that I don’t have right now.  The pumpkins that were healthily growing along with cucumbers when I left, are pretty much dead.  I asked folks to keep at least those two plants alive while I was gone.

I had prepared myself for the possibility that I would not get pumpkins, despite my hope.  I asked on the way home from the airport, and was told that I did have pumpkins, small ones, but they were still there.  I looked and no.  Maybe this person had a bit too much to drink when last looking at them, because these pumpkins are not going to make it to harvest.  When folks moved the warmer greenhouse overtop they took out the light source and heat.  So, my poor plants formerly huge healthy green leaves are now shriveled and pale.  The pumpkins only about the size of a golf ball. From the nearly 10 potential pumpkins, I now see less than half and all are a pale yellow.  A shame, and a waste of all the time, water and care.  UGh….but my fault ultimately, since I left them and traveled instead.  I’ve often been told my expectations are way too high for myself and others.  Maybe this is one of those times.

So today, I decided to take a rare day of complete self-pity and avoidance.  I didn’t open the shop.  I just said to myself, I know this is not a great response, but I just do not care.  For once, I just do not care.  I slept in and cuddled with my dogs.  I wanted to just cry, but every time I’d only get as far as teary-eyed and that’s it.  That’s all I seem to be able to do, because I know that life could be worse and then I’d really have something to cry about.  I have had those moments, when my mom died, and then my dad.  Those are the times you get to cry, right?  These things that are going on in my life now, yes I could cry, but the inner stubborn optimist in me hasn’t given up yet.  There must be a way to recover, to get back on top of the wave.

I didn’t have my phone today, having left it in a friend’s truck after being picked up at the airport.  I had no idea people were worried and trying to reach me.  Scott had reliably picked up the milk and egg order and dropped them and my truck at the shop. He texted that he was sick and dropping the orders and going home.  He had no idea I was not going to be in either.  Sean wandered by, as he usually does to look at what’s left of the garden, and wondered too where I was and called.  Gina and the folks next door at Casa thought it was odd too that the shop was closed, and also called.  They even checked facebook to see if I had gone on there.  All was silent because I didn’t have my phone and I was being self-absorbed.

I found all this out because I eventually did walk down to the shop breathing in the crisp fall air, kicking the leaves on the ground, and looking at the snow covered mountain tops.  I was ready to suck it up and kick my ass in gear again.  When I got there I looked through mail, bills, bills and more bills, and my dying plants.  Gina was at Casa and she told me all of the above.  She said that she was glad I was o.k. because people were worried.  So unlike me to not answer or the shop to be closed.  I didn’t mean to draw such attention, but it is a reminder of the great friends I do have and that there are people in my life who notice.  Then she tells me something that makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

A lady had come by the shop while it was closed.  She wanted to set up a puppy shower registry for a friend.  Her friends, she told Gina, were not going to have children, but they were going to get a puppy.  Instead of the baby shower, they were going to throw their friends a puppy shower.  So she wanted to have people come to my shop to purchase gifts for the shower off the registry list she would set up.  I just burst out laughing.

This is a new one for even me.  I threw my puppy a 1st birthday party 13 years ago.  It was a great reason to get friends together, who all had dogs too, to have a barbecue and let our pups all run and play together in the backyard.  I even baked a liver birthday cake for Mickey and all his pals from the dog park.  Each person got a piece on a plate for their dog.  On the count of three, we set them down at the same time in front of our respective dog.  That way all would eat at the same time and hopefully no dog fights would follow from any attempts to steal an extra piece.

So, it does not come as too much of a shock that someone would have a puppy shower. It just was such great timing for Gina to tell me this.  That means some regular and needed business, plus another moment to make me smile and laugh and lighten the weight on my shoulders.  Ahhh…yes.  All will be o.k.  Maybe not right this second, but this too shall pass.  Soon I’ll have made it through all the lemons dropped on my doorstep and the unshed tears of frustration will turn to shed tears of joy and thanks.

Here’s to getting back up on top again, and perseverance…to me and to anyone else out there with one too many lemons and not enough sugar in the pantry for lemonade. Well, at least not yet.  Perhaps tomorrow I will run down the street and ask a neighbor for a bit of sugar and we’ll share the lemonade.  

Cheers to tomorrow.

Posted by: glacierwave | October 4, 2010

Bring out ye lemons…bring out ye lemons….


The current mantra is …All in all my life is pretty damn good.

Today I wake up, pinch myself and say, “darn that whole run-in with the law, not a dream.”  As most people who are reading this know, when life gives you lemons, it gives you a whole lot of them all at once.  It is as if the universe says, “let’s see how much you can really handle.”  I used to get downtrodden, or frustrated and vent for days, but now it lasts a few hours instead.  I’m quicker to figure out that a barrel full of lemons has my name on it.  So now I say “bring it.”

Lemon Tree on Maui.

As if yesterday wasn’t enough, on top of other stresses related to having a wonderful business, but limited cash flow since it’s all stuck in inventory, I hear from an artist friend.  This friend, who seems supportive at times, and a sounding board on my ventures in Hawaii, decides to text me in this rude sounding abrupt and unfriendly manner.  If a text can “sound” harsh, she makes it so.  This gal tends to do this, and I think not realize how her texts, or e-mails, or even some verbal remarks, comes across.  It is one thing to speak this way to someone who you don’t know that well, or have a non-friend work relationship with, but to a friend?

Perhaps given recent events, I am a tad sensitive, but this “friend’s” texts remind me of that grumpy police officer.  I feel like the approach immediately assumes the worst about me, or my actions.  She says she is wondering about her merchandise and is not the only one wondering.  She says she staked her reputation to support me.  Um, excuse me?  I have one other person’s art who, if disgruntled, has not chosen to contact me directly.  I think…wait a second.  This now pissy acting friend was originally going to give me really great items that I had pointed out and thought would sell well on Maui.  She was also going to sign a contract with a monetary retainer to market her more awesome work.  Instead, after the second month of not providing items or a retainer, she explains that things are tight and she’d rather just go with the Glacier Wave Option C, which is a no money retainer and consignment at 60/40.  However, instead of items I had originally asked for, she decided to offload some of her art that wasn’t selling at her shop, and that had her, no-longer valid, married name on it.  She has since divorced and wanted said art to be out of her space along with the psychological baggage attached to it.  Being a friend, I said o.k.  No loss to either of us, and only possible gain.  She was even going to ship it so I wouldn’t have to transfer it between AK Air and HI Air.  But, of course time runs short and instead I end up lugging it with me.  The art hasn’t sold at all, and now all of a sudden she has to have it back, and I’m the one who is the shitty friend.

Enough is Enough.

At this point I have had enough.  In the grand scheme of all I’ve got going on, this does not even register.  I had planned to get her tub of art yesterday, but the whole Paia cop incident occurred and now SOL.  It will have to be next month.

Yep, here’s some more lemons.  I think, dump them all on now so I can make a really big batch of lemonade and drink it and be done.

I tell her, hey read my blog and you will know why I can’t get your stuff yet, because right now I have to catch a plane.  She responds, “just give me back my stuff and there is no problem.”  I say, “trying to do that, but I can’t make it any faster, and that sorry that she’s has chosen to assume the worst about her art and our friendship.”  She responds with, “I am not assuming anything, I’m just stating my expectations.”  Wow.  O.k. Really?  Then please phrase it differently or via phone or in person.  Because, maybe a better way from a friend would be, “hmm…Julie doesn’t usually do this, or is more reliable, something must be wrong, or really busy in her life.  Let me ask before I jump to conversing in a pissy way…Again, not saying I always handle confrontations perfectly, but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt first.

Anymore lemons…bring out ye lemons….

I call back to the shop while waiting for my flight.  I tell Scott, “o.k. bring-it-on.  Now is the time, if you got anything let me have it.”  I tell him about this other friend.  He agrees with me.  He says, “nope I’m good.  I already dumped on you a few months ago.”  He laughs, I laugh, and say “well let others know, that now is the time.  Bring it on.  Let’s get it all out and over with.”  He laughs and says he’ll put up flyer for me.  Ah yes…if you can’t at least have a sense of humor then your sunk.

Posted by: glacierwave | October 4, 2010

The moments that make you go….


Chasing Daisies and Rainbows

It’s those little moments…those brief encounters and observances that make me smile and take me through the rough spots.  Well, that and friends and some family.  I am a delusional optimist after all.

Now, mind you, I am no saint always thinking of daisies and rainbows.  While I am going through these struggles, or times at the bottom of the wave, I am cursing up a storm in my head, or shooting daggers with my eyes at certain people.  I just have gotten so used to being self-reliant, and the nuns and my parents taught me to be nice, so you won’t notice this under my polite exterior.  I just try to put things in perspective to keep one step going forward.  Don’t take this for being a pushover though…because pushed enough I will bite back with passion and with as much tact as I can muster.  If you start to see my eyes narrow and glow just a bit, step back.

I wasn’t always able to do this, but I’ve learned.  I’ve done the work.  I’ve talked to wise elders, to mentors and a few psychologists to become more enlightened to circumstances, either in putting a positive spin, or by standing firm and biting back.

Oh wait, there was a point to all this rambling…yes moments.

It’s the little things….  Thank God for the little moments that I so appreciate that make me smile.  Like the little girl, named Julia, who gravitated toward me, and my red hard-sided carry-on luggage, while in line at the Maui airport.

Me, in my younger years.

She actually looked like me at that age of 4. Her blonde hair pulled into a ponytail, on each side of her head, and a big shy smile.  I looked down as she stood just a bit taller than my bag, and asked her if red was her favorite color too.  Her mom said yes, as little Jules nodded in the affirmative.  I smiled as her mom called her Jules, one of my nicknames too, and she walked off looking behind smiling at me, and my red bag.

Me at age 4 in red with my bunny.

I waved and she waved and I thought,  “Go Jules, keep liking red.  It is a good color and will take you far. Even when you are shy, if  your tastes continue to gravitate toward reds you will eventually come out of that shell one day and embrace all that goes with such a bold tone.”

Next, a shout out to Dave, the AK air agent who operates the MVP desk in Kahalui.  He was the agent who helped me repack the goat cheese last month from the Styrofoam cooler that Surfing Goat Dairy said would be ok, but come to find out is not allowed in checked baggage.  Fears that it will bust in cargo.  He was at the counter again today, running around and working hard for customers.  I asked him his name so that I could use my new MVP Gold status to send a call-out award for great service later.  Mahalo Dave!  Keep up the good service.  It means a lot.  

Then there was the husband and wife in their seventies-plus, who were being pushed in wheelchairs by one airline attendant.  He managed to push them both at once, keeping them even, while each held their matching walkers in front of them.  They both seemed content and happy and were chatting away with each other as they were pushed to their gate.

These are all small, but special, things that I notice that make me smile.

Time to make the lemonade.

I get on the plane and sit down in, yes thankfully, first-class.  I’ve earned enough miles now to at least enjoy this free perk.  I overhear the guy in front of me talking on his cell phone.  He’s telling the person on the other end, “…this is one option—fire the guy before the press conference.  But, after the press conference is over, be careful.  Be aware of your surroundings, because this is the type of man to pull out a gun.”  O.k. yikes!  In the whole scheme of things, I’m having a string of lows, but I could be the person he’s talking to.  Note to self: check the newspaper for any disgruntled employee shootings in Portland, Ore.

Lemon Tree on Maui.

Time for me now to sit back and enjoy a nice big glass of lemonade (plus a free shot of gin), a movie (on my complimentary digi-player), and rest for what lies ahead for me back in Alaska. Fasten seat belts, power off all electronic devices, tray tables locked and seats forward.

Stubborn, delusional optimist Jules signing off…for now.

Posted by: glacierwave | October 4, 2010

“Aloha Sister…You’ll be on top of the wave again…”


Human Fallibility Part III

Feeling completely humble and stupid, I take a deep breath and think, now what?

I let my platinum Triple A membership lapse recently because other bills were more of a priority, and I would renew it soon enough.  Besides, it had been a few years since I had needed it anyway.  Of course when I have needed it, AAA was awesome.  I always tell friends to spend the money on this because it can be a lifesaver!

Now I am reminded that I did not heed my own advice while calling AAA to see if I can renew my membership over the phone and then use the tow service.  Silly me, it is Sunday and I’m in Aloha vacationland.  There is no one in the membership office to help me and they cannot find me in the system.  Of course the friendly agent in Honolulu says, “but if you can wait till tomorrow when someone can help you?!!”

I pull out my computer to look up one of the many insurance policies I own to see if any of my roadside assistance packages cover a vehicle that is not mine and in Hawaii.  A nice young sounding former military guy, physically located in Georgia, answers my call to Geico.  He is extremely nice and puts me in touch with a tow truck driver in Wailuku after telling me that sorry, my insurance does not include roadside assistance.  Ah yes, that’s right, I didn’t want to pay additional for that because I had Triple A!!   I finally get a hold of Scott, the manager at my shop who is also a friend, to ask if his parents have AAA.

After telling him what is happening, and after he stops laughing, literally.  I say, “Do you know how many insurance policies I have in my name and not one of them will help me right now?”  We laugh again and he says, “you’re the most responsible person I know.  I say, “yeah I know right?”  We laugh again… He tells me of another part-time employee and friend who, to my surprise, has a Triple A membership.  Great, but he’s not answering his phone because he’s out climbing Goat Mountain. (seriously!)

Sometimes You Feel Like and Idiot

I say, “I feel like such an idiot right now.”  As a good friend should respond, Scott says, “it could be worse, you could have run off a cliff in that jeep.”   Regaining perspective, I say thanks, and realize that it is usually me who is on the other end of the phone with my friends who get themselves in situations like this.  It is usually me putting things back into perspective for them saying, it is ok.  Instead, this time I am the one who has run afoul of the law—the person who has more insurance policies than most people: one for the shop, one for the vehicle in AK that is registered to the shop, one for a vehicle back east that I used for working in the DC office of USFWS.  I have homeowners insurance for the place I used to call home in Virginia that is rented out.  I have health insurance, and life insurance.  But, I don’t have insurance for the purple jurple in Hawaii!!  Everyone says, “Alaska is different,” well for the purposes of driving, Hawaii is way different.  No other insurance that I carry is good for Hawaii and this is why I now must appear in court next month.

Saved by the Good Cop

In the middle of Scott cheering me up by saying how it will work out because people in Alaska, Virginia and Hawaii are all working on this for me, another police officer pulls up.  I tell Scott I got to go before I get another ticket.  I jump out as the officer, younger with a genuine smile on his face, takes out his ticket book.  I explain that I already got ticketed and what the other officer told me.  He looks at me and says, “really?”  Well is it drivable?  At least could we move it to a safer location off the street.”  I again explain that this is what I’d like to do, but when I asked the other officer this I was told I’d be arrested.  He says, “who and when was that?  Why did he do that when there is a very easy solution to this?  We just push you out of the crosswalk while you wait for a tow.”   Mahalo!! My kind of person, one who doesn’t assume the worst about someone, and has a voice of reason!

Officer George, bless his kind heart, asks a guy walking by if he’ll help push me.  Then another two women walking by offer to help too.  They ask me how long I was here, assuming I must have left the vehicle for hours in that illegal spot.  I told them just a couple of minutes.  They cocked their heads knowingly and with empathy.

I thanked the officer and asked his name and he wished me luck.  The guy who helped, said “hey sister,” you need a ride somewhere?  I am headed to Haiku if that helps?”  I thanked him and said I was headed to Makawao and that my friend there would hopefully pick me up.  In the meantime I was thinking I would walk to the beach to regroup.  Somehow wriggling my toes in the sand and watching the waves always helps.  He smiled and said, “all right sister, Aloha. We all have waves, sometimes you’re at the bottom of the wave like now, but soon you’ll be back on top again.”  Ah yes, thank you brother, this is true.

For some reason being called “sister” in this way makes me smile and feel good.  Things happen for a reason, even if at the time we don’t understand it, and with faith, things work out.

Aloha purple jurple!  Lessons learned this trip so far: there are no shortcuts in life, or at least through Makawao, and have good Hawaiian specific insurance.

P.S.  I couldn’t help but think, as I was changing into my bikini in the back of the jeep–if this was a sitcom, this would be the perfect moment for that grumpy officer to return and site me for indecent exposure on top of everything else.  🙂


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