Friday, April 27, 2007

She was underwhelmed, if that's a word

I've started playing tennis with Richard (fellow copy editor) in the mornings before work. Of course, I get my butt kicked because I haven't really played that much before. I played squash for several years in Whitehorse and thought they would complement each other more. Anyway, it's funny because regardless of how much I suck, I'm still competitive. What I mean is, I lose constantly (Richard is not even really trying) but then, over the course of the hour, if I do make one decent shot I yell and whoop and say things like 'Yeah! Suck on that one!'
Lame? Absolutely. Maybe it's because I didn't really play sports as a kid, that now I love the thrill of competition even though I'm consistently mediocre at most things (softball, golf, biking, But it's always fun to see yourself improve, so I think I'll stick with tennis. But it's not just sports that I am overly competitive in. Sam and I play cribbage quite a bit and I can't stand losing. Even though it's just a card game, some primal instinct takes over and I feel like I have to count super-fast and even count Sam's cards because he's just too slow. We used to have woman's poker night in Whitehorse and I would get pissed if we were only playing with nickels. Sigh. And, even though I was able to be happy for Theresa when she got that butt-quarter-hole-in-one, I wanted to get it first.
Whether it's racing Meg down the driveway just because, or driving too fast just to beat someone to a restaurant or wherever, I always want to be first. I guess this drive will come in handy when I continue racing sled dogs next winter. This winter I was humbled by the competition but was mostly just there to get used to the crowds and protocol of a race. I was disappointed when I got passed, however.
I'm a sore loser and an even more pathetic winner. I even pulled a Ken Anderson recently and told the winner of this year's Chena dog sled race that the only reason he won is because I wasn't there to defend my title. (I won last year...YEAH!! WHOOO!)
So next year, I'm going to focus on be a fair competitor, but I will make a conscious effort not to put too much pressure on my dogs or myself. When so-so dog mushers get caught up in finishing say, in the top three, it's their dogs that pay the price and even though I might get caught up in trying to win, I'm smart enough to realize when simply finishing is a victory in itself. Oh yeah, and having fun, too.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Just another manic, 'expletive, expletive' Monday

It's never a good sign when you wake up Monday morning, call your friend at work and announce that you want to off yourself. Such was my morning. Last night, after working for nine hours on nine articles that are (were) due today for the News-Miner, Microsoft Word crashed. Normally, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal because my stories were saved, and closed, and nestled safely in the documents folder. Or so I thought. But, as it turns out, the unthinkable happened. Word hiccupped in such a way that is so rare; no one I've talked to thought that could actually happen. My stories were gone. Without so much as a trace. Well, actually, there was a trace but it was gobbledygook. A whole day wasted and a missed deadline to boot. I really didn't know I could curse that much. I’m being punished for something, but what? Next time I see Bill Gates or that billionaire jerk that just went into space on a joy ride, remind to punch them both in the face. So, here I sit at the News-Miner re-writing nine, count 'em, nine f**king stories. Some of my notes also disappeared but I do have some scribbles in my notebook. Motherf**ker!

Ok, sorry Gran.

I brought my laptop into the IT guy here at work. He looked at it and dinked around for a long time before explaining to me what had happened, and exactly just how rare it is that not even auto-recovery can auto-recover it. (He eventually had to tell me to shut up and get out of his office because I was pacing and fidgeting and asking him ridiculous questions...nice guy that Brian.) Well, he tried and was very sympathetic. It's so much damn work and all for nothing! Anyway, I have a buttload to do and less than one day to do it, so I better stop my whining. Once more, please? Son of bitch, c***##!!!@***!

Better, much better. It's just too bad because this mini-crisis has trumped the great evening Sam and I had last night. We got some take-out Thai and drove out of town to a little-known bluff down a windy, dirt road. We sat in the setting sun, drinking beer, eating Thai and enjoying the view of the Alaska Range and the Tanana River. It was perfect. But none of that matters now because ‘Jillian lost nine articles’ is the story of the day. At least in my little f***ing world.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Have gun, will travel

Some rootin' tootin' right-winger wrote a letter to the editor in yesterday's paper announcing that he has the solution to the gun crisis in america. More guns. MORE GUNS?! Sometimes this place is so backwards, it's scary. He goes on to say that the shooting at Va. Tech could have been prevented if only the teachers had had guns of their own. It's so sad to me that some people in this country are so paranoid and so extreme in their thinking. Yeah, sure. More guns would prevent the gun-violence epidemic in the US. Good idea. Jesus. Obviously this guy has had a little too much exposure to lead.
You know, I guess I'm just getting desensitized to it now, but when I first came here for the summer of '04, the prevalence of guns was overwhelming to me. Now, on any given day, you can hear gun shots (shotguns, handgun, automatic weapons) popping off in the distance. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not like bullets are whizzing past my head every second, but I might go so far as to say that hearing gun shots is common. In '04, I lived north of Fairbanks in a cabin in the sticks (no water, no electricity), and I heard our redneck neighbours firing off rounds every single day. There wasn't a road sign for 30 miles that didn't have bullet holes in it. There was even an altercation between Ken and a drunk, hillbilly neighbour which ended in the neighbour and his teenage son standing at the end of our driveway with guns. Loaded guns. The police came and arrested the guy, and the family (they had a few children) have since moved away. But the point is, the mentality of some people here to just grab a gun to settle a dispute is terrifying. It's so easy. Too easy. There is no conceal-carry permit needed in Alaska to tote around a hidden gun. Granted, you need the most minimal of ID to legally buy a gun, but it's still very, very easy. I have since taken a handgun course here offered by the local NRA chapter. It was touted as a self-protection course. (I took it for my back-country, dog mushing adventures and that's it. I would shoot a moose to protect my dogs. The weekend-course was so I didn't shoot my foot off. I still can't hit the broad side of a barn door, but it was good to at least handle a pistol.) The class was extensive and we learned a lot about when, and where, and why you can shoot someone. The instructor and some of the other students were just so blas
é when talking about shooting, and potentially killing, another human being. I noticed it even when I was walking around searching for my lost dog last weekend. At the end of a muddy, windy road called Constitution Drive (go figure), there were a few ramshackle houses that were completely fenced in. On the gates were huge signs with the usual 'Keep Out' and 'No Trespassing' but then I noticed some more creepy signs in the bunch. Ones that read 'It's not worth dying for.' Meaning if you step on the property, you'll be shot. I was just looking for my freakin' dog, but I was too scared to approach any house.
But I digress.
More guns? No thanks. Stricter gun laws? Of course. But who knows if even that is the answer. Japan has the strictest gun laws in the world yet earlier this week the mayor of Nagasaki was shot and killed outside his campaign office. However, the statistics speak for themselves. Last year in Japan, a country with a population of 127 million, there were only 53 gun-related incidents and only two of those resulted in deaths. Two deaths.
There were 816 firearm-related deaths in Canada in 2002.
In the US, pop. 299 million, in 2004, there were 29,023 gun deaths. Staggering. Approximately 30,000 gun deaths in the US compared to 2. Even with the population difference, it's still unbelievable. To put it in perspective, the population of the Yukon Territory died a gun-related death in the US in 2004.
More guns, indeed.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Insert funny title here

So. Spring is in the air and the dogs are frisky. I went up to Lance Mackey's (Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion) place a couple days ago to look at two dogs he has up for sale. Vinnie and Aqua are both three-year-olds with lots of miles on them and some race experience. They've both run in lead but are not command leaders. And despite him giving me a $1000 friend discount, I still couldn't afford them. So, I went down the road to Ken and Gwen's and bought Capiche. She's a bit older than I'd like, but she's finished three Iditarods, including this year when Ken finished seventh. She's a solid leader and has remained healthy, never missing a race because of injury. So, I brought her home yesterday and threw her into the lion's den, or pen as the case may be. She immediately bit Bully and Strider right on their keisters. The puppies were so curious about this tough, new broad in their pen, but very cautious at the same time. They slithered close to her on their bellies to show they were no threat. She still bit them. Nothing serious of course, she's just defensive and trying to show that she's not one to mess with. This morning she's calmed down and is starting to play nice. I think it's good for the puppies to have someone in the pen who doesn't take their shenanigans. Strider has fun with them but is not a very conscientious babysitter. Capiche is not a fighter but she doesn't back down either. She really is sweet and, better yet, a hard-working girl.
Yesterday I went in to the News Miner, even though I didn't have to work on the copy desk, to try and get some other work done. I have eight micro-stories for the visitor's guide due on Monday, a freelance piece due for the wire ASAP and a film review also due as soon as possible. The dogs were just too distracting, so I set up my laptop in the studio to try and avoid distractions in the newsroom. It still didn't really work, as I had the luxury of high speed internet. But, I got some done and will head in there again this afternoon before starting my regular shift at 4:30. I'm trying to get most of this done so I'll be able to enjoy my weekend around here, but I'm a master at procrastination, so we'll see.
Besides the new dog, not much is new and exciting in my currently-quotidian life. Sam's good, dogs are good. We're all looking forward to summer to get out on the river.

Here's Capiche telling Pete to back off in a not-so-polite kind of way. She really is sweet, but Sneaky Pete's been pushing her buttons and not in a good way.

Here's my reaction. She didn't actually bite him, she's just telling him he's too close.

Yeah, that's right, she's tough. She looks pretty ugly here, but she's actually really cute. I think all my dogs are cute though. Sam, on the other hand, only thinks that Hazel is cute. He's a bit more choosy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bully once was lost, but now is found

Bully's back!!! What a relief. This has been an emotionally-draining, sleepless experience and, I know, I know; all over a dog! Well, I got a call this morning from a kind woman named Kate who found Bull wandering around across the road...he was actually following another woman who was walking her dog. Since he didn't have any ID on his collar, Kate took him home. (He, surprisingly, jumped right into her car and tried to sit on her lap while she was driving - as soon as she told me that on the phone, I knew it was him. Not a lot of 65-pound huskies try to be lap dogs.) She called the shelter this morning and sure enough, the people there gave her my number. I went to the shelter yesterday with Sam and even though they weren't open, they let me in to look around and take my info. (I must have looked pretty pathetic with my face pressed against the fence sobbing and calling for Bull.) Sigh. So now the big boy is back, much to the chagrin of Strider and Gus who were subsequently both vying for the alpha-male position. At one point on Saturday, in my saddened and increasingly desperate state, I (only half jokingly) tried to get Ruffles (the 14-year-old, blind, deaf biddy) to pick up Bull's scent off my jacket and 'go get him!' She just followed me around for a while and then flopped on the deck with a grunt. Thanks, Ruffles.
So now I have the task of taking down all the posters (coffee shops, mail boxes, transfer sites, a church) and calling folks to let them know ol' Bully's back. The only solace I found this weekend was the hope that a kind person had picked him up, or that he would turn into the Alaska-version of the Littlest Hobo and travel around the state saving people's lives. I'm sure he's capable of the latter, but I'm glad it was the first scenario. We actually got a lot done around the cabin (the electricity is finished, and we washed all the windows and put the new screens in) just trying to busy our minds with something other than Bully.
Thanks to everyone for the kind sentiments and concern, and in the words of the crazy musher/builder called Olaf: 'If you love 'em, tie 'em up.'

Bull jumped out of Kate's car and acted like nothing had happened. I guess maybe it was little weekend getaway for him. I caught him in a big bear hug anyway.

Spring cleaning. Waiting for Bully's arrival, I started to gather and pack-up all my winter gear and put it away until next season. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about some raw-meat snacks in the dogtruck.

'Blah, blah, blah, have you seen my dog? blah, blah, blah.'

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Come home, Bully

It's Sunday morning and still no Bully. I am beside myself. We're on our way to Kinko's to copy posters. My ad is on five mushing list-serves. We're offering a reward. We've combed the neighbourhood. Friends have even looked. I've called the pound/shelter and the vet clinics. I couldn't sleep last night because every time I'd close my eyes I'd see old Bull. I watched the entire third season of Sex and the City instead. It's a nice distraction. I worked last night and, ladies, if you ever want to see an office full of men squirm, start crying uncontrollably.
I'll keep you all posted.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"I get an aggressive-hippy vibe from him"

Says Libby about a guy to pushed her microphone away like it was infected with the plague a couple years ago.
So today I took a walk with Libs and Theresa and it was like HenFest '07. We came back here to the cabin and we couldn't talk fast enough. And then there was the laughing, stories, shrieking, gossip, dancing and, the piece de resistance, the game of Butt Quarters. Theresa won and I have pictures...see below. For those who don't know, which I didn't before Theresa demonstrated, Butt Quarters is a game that entails squeezing a quarter between your (clothed) cheeks and try to hobble over to a glass on the floor and then try to drop the coin into the glass by simply unclenching. Yes, we're classy broads. Just three journalists playing Butt Quarters. What?
Try it and I guarantee you'll laugh yourself into a fit. It is, of course, better with another person or several people. Sam could hear us shrieking outside. Butt Quarters came up because we were talking about a guy, who is sort of jerk sometimes (who isn't?), whom I actually kind of find amusing. I'm not naming names, here, but he's an ex-musher, ragamuffin with an attitude. Like I said, I find him rather amusing. So, anyway, we were talking about him and Theresa said that he showed her this game called Butt Quarters. I was immediately disgusted until I tried it. So, what are you waiting for? Get a quarter (or loonie) and get clenchin'.
It was a fun day and I haven't laughed that much in long, long time. Thanks girls.
On a more sombre note, Bully took off this morning and hasn't come home yet. He's done this before, so I'm not that worried yet. Or at least putting on a brave face for now. We've walked around calling him and called the pound but nothing yet. I put a message out on the ADMA list serve and hopefully that'll get posted soon. Again, I'm not freaking out yet. He's a wanderer and I know this. For those in the Fairbanks area who read this, he's brown with a purple Taiga collar on. He's chipped but has no tags and lives on Farmer's Loop across from the big Bethel Church. Half his right ear is missing but obviously healed. (it happened in a fight, you should see the other guy!) Anyway, I'll you posted. I'm not letting myself go to a bad place right now. Must stay positive....
Peace.Libby taking her best shot.

Libby's first attempt. Close.

Theresa squeezing one out with Libby cheering her on. Man, we need to get lives, eh?

Oh. My. God. She did it! It's Butt-Quarter-Hole-In-One!!!

And look how insanely happy she is. Sorry sweetie, but you do look a little crazy. In a good way. Believe me, if I could do it, I would be this happy too.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm getting a new dog, capiche?

Sometimes I'm so funny it hurts. Well, yesterday I made a deal with Ken and Gwen. I'm buying a dog from them for $500. Now, I didn't really plan on buying dogs. So far I've managed to get some pretty good ones for no money, as there are so many sled dogs here that need homes. Pete and Parker were free because they were pups from an accidental breeding. I rescued Sister from an asshole who wasn't taking care of her dogs. I bought Strider and Raven for a token amount, but then Raven had her accident, was deemed unrunnable and so I got Hazel as a trade-off. Bull was free because he was injured and that particular musher didn't want an injured dog. The vets said he probably wouldn't run again, but I nursed him back to health and he's my best sled dog by far. Gus was free, again because he had some ongoing injuries, but, again, a little TLC from me and he's doing fine. Ruffles has been retired for a long time but was part of the Raven/Strider package. So, because Ruffles and Raven don't run, I have a seven-dog team of my own. BUT, Bully, who is my best leader, is a little old and slow and so I need a reliable leader for next season, especially for races. Sister and Hazel run in lead but Hazel is easily distracted and has tangled the team more than once. Sister is a great leader in races but she gets bored in training and likes to turn the team around. Very frustrating, indeed. I think Pete and Parker, Pete especially, will be great leaders but that will take time. So when I heard that Ken and Gwen were selling Capiche, a five-year-old who has finished a few Iditarods, including this year, and is a super leader, I jumped at the chance. I know the dog quite well and I think she'll fit in nicely here. She doesn't fight, is a good eater, is a great command leader (that is to say, she doesn't just follow the trail in front of her, she actually listens to the commands) and she's super cute. (You have to be cute to be a sled dog here at Spitfire Kennels.)
So, I'll try to get the price down a little but she's worth about $1000 because she's a proven distance dog, so they're already giving me a deal.
So, with the addition of Capiche I'll have a nice, little eight-dog team. It's still not enough to race the bigger events (you need 12 to run a 200-mile race) but it's a good start. Bull and Gus are getting older and, inevitably slower and more crotchety, so they might need to retire in the next couple of years. Retirement is good here, just ask Ruffles. When she's not lounging on the porch, she's peeing in the house...
So, to recap, Capiche is joining my gang, Bull and Gus are old but still adorable and Ruffles enjoys peeing wherever she pleases. The others are all good and enjoying the warm weather.

Here's Ken with Capiche at a mandatory pre-Iditarod vet check back in February. Capiche is getting an EKG (or ECG, electrocardiogram) which measures the electric activity of a heartbeat to ensure her ticker is strong enough to run 1,000 miles. She finished the race with Ken this year. He was seventh out of the 70 or so mushers that finished. More than 80 started this year's race.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Together, we are ambidexterious

So, break up has been mild so far this year. That is to say, with the low snow and gradual increase in temperatures, spring, or break up as we call it, isn't as mucky as usual. The mercury did, however, take a little dip last night and now the slush has become ice...I've biffed it twice in the driveway already today. It's kind of a crappy time of year because there's not enough snow to do anything and yet it's still too wet for hiking. We might join Eric, Becky and JJ next weekend for a canoe trip on the Delta Clearwater River but it might be too soon yet as the converging Tanana River is still iced up. Usually our first float trip is a short one on the Chena River through town. It's a slow, mellow day that ends with us parking our crafts at the Boatel, a local watering hole, for a beer. The Chena should be ice-free soon enough to do that one. I just realized today that the articles I'm working on are not, in fact, due this Friday but next. I've been working on one about Dawson City and it has really made me miss the Yukon, Dawson especially.
Our plan for the summer is to take lots of float trips, as we only got the canoe out once last summer (building a cabin sucks up a paddling season mighty quick). So far we have a couple weekend trips on the Upper Chena and Chatanika Rivers and a five-day river trip on the Gulkana in August planned. There is still work to be done around, however. I would like to bring in fill for the lower dog lot and build a big, fenced commune for the dogs.
Coming up we have a trip to Portland for the National Press Photographer Association's (NPPA) annual photojournalism conference. It's a chance to network and schmooze but mostly I want to meet Sam's oldest friend Chris and his wife Robin (and Vali). I was going to try and take the train into Seattle to see friends but I don't think there'll be enough time.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. All I'm sayin' is, it's going to be a good summer...if it ever gets here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's an Easter, scratch that, Facebook miracle!

Ok. This Facebook thing is pretty nuts. I guess for those who aren't aware, like me just one week ago, Facebook is like My Space, where you have an account, and a page, and people from hither and yon find you, or you find them, and then you say things like 'where have you been?' or 'what have you been doing for, oh I don't know, the last 10 years?'
Over the past couple days I've talked to people (online of calls, what the hell does that mean?) who I haven't even thought about in over a decade! Friends from all over the place who are married with kids. Crazy. Then I tell them where I am and they're either really happy, or, I'm sure, don't believe it. See, the blog, it just feels safe and cozy. Probably because I have no idea who's reading it. But Facebook announces when someone has found you or 'poked' you (not in a good way). Deep breath. I mean, it's not like I can't pull the plug on Facebook at any point, right? RIGHT? I can quit. I can. I just don't want to....
I blame Trish. Always blame Trish. She's in Africa, so she can't do anything to me.
Moving right along.
Sam and I took a day trip to Denali National Park today. Yes, the man actually took a day off. It was a beautiful, warm, bluebird day and Mount McKinley was out and it was fantastic. We didn't see any wildlife (expect for a few ptarmigan) but we were armed with our biggest lenses just in case.
Sam says: 'Spiderman had a baby.'
So, we stopped off to wish JJ a happy birthday and now we're home. Time to feed the dogs, who are all pissed because they've had no attention today. And here I am again, on the computer. This week I'm working on writing stories for the Fairbanks Visitors' Guide and then I will hopefully have some down time to start work outdoors. I'm also hoping to run the dogs one more time this week although the snow is melting at an alarming rate. Over the weekend we moved the last two dogs from the lower doglot up with the rest of the brood. The lower lot is getting very, very mucky and gross and the dogs were up to their knees in muck. So in order to stake Sister and Gus out up by the house, we had to rent a jackhammer (a real, live, shake-you-til-your-numb JACKHAMMER) to pound in the stakes. Sam did most of the heavy work which entailed him eight feet up in the air, on a ladder, jackhammering down below. It was scary and I'm glad he didn't turn into some weird jackhammer-accident statistic.
Ok. I need to get off this blasted thing and get outside.
Sam and the 'Brute' poundin' pipe, baby!

Nice view from the Savage River pullout in Denali Park yesterday.

Sam shooting a ptarmigan, with his camera of course. (although I hear they are tasty)

A Ptarmigan I called 'Better with Rice.' It was Rice for short.

Random dude. These guys were funny because they had these stickers all over their truck saying things like "organic lover" and "We love Denali" and "We're so cool because we hike in Denali and wear cool hiking clothes" Ok, I made the last one up, but the stupid thing is, these three people were tromping all over the place. There are even signs asking hikers not to stray from the trails because, well, people destroy the lovely flora and fauna in parks such as this one. So what do these nature-loving-organic-eating people do? They run off the trail and up into these rocks. If you're really such a greeny, why the hell would you do that? Trails are there to keep the impact from people to a minimum, so use them.

Hot chick trying not to fall off the rocks.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Come one, come all to the Freakers' Ball

Last night I went to the university pup with Meg and Libs to hear Libby's boyfriend's band play. The pub is actually more reminiscent of a high school cafeteria but at least there's beer on tap. I was at the bar waiting in line when a guy I kind of know (I always thought he was quiet, shy guy. Wrong.) approached, inviting me to a party this weekend. He handed me a CD and a very detailed description of what said party will be. Some of it's a little too racy to repeat but here's a little snippet: "...munchies at 4:20, drinks throughout, massacre social mores, irreverently earn the disgust of the general public. We'll see you from sunset to sunrise if, and only if, you're willing to accept responsibility of the degradation of civil society."
Sounds interesting, no? Anyway, the whole exchange was mildly creepy and I abruptly ended the conversation with 'Ok, bye!' Well, I got home and played the CD and it's really great music, complete with the Phish version of Snoop's Gin and Juice. Good stuff. Listening to the cd made me almost want to go, but reading the description again, well, I chose no. 'Come to the Freakers' Ball, a celebration of....deviant behavior.'

The music is so damn good, though. Sigh. I would have to find someone daring enough to go with me.

* * *
I ran dogs with Gwen yesterday. We took two puppy teams out and threw my dogs in the mix. This was the first time for my Sneaky Pete and Parker and oh my, they were SO GOOD! My heart was bursting with pride. They didn't falter, they didn't look back, they just ran. Now, I have put them in harness and hooked them up to logs to pull down the driveway for practice, but mostly they just thought the log was chasing them and wigged out. So, I really wasn't sure how they'd do in a team of 10 dogs. I couldn't believe it. It was like they've been doing it for months. We had to stop a lot to let the pups rest, and each time I’d run over and smother Parker and Pete with hugs. I was so proud. Really, really proud. I'm taking them out again tomorrow and I can't wait. Sister and Hazel were great at usual, though Hazel was so excited to run, she beat up a large male named Bruce, who’s about twice her size, that was hooked up beside her. He had no idea what hit him. He went down like a sack of potatoes. She's feisty and that's why I love her.
Ok, I'm still listening to this CD and it's SO GOOD. I feel like I have to go the party. If people were able to find and actually like these songs, they are of my own heart.
So anyway, back to the dogs. Bully, Gus and Strider were a little insane. They were lunging and barking and fighting (with each other...nothing serious, just a lot of yelling) and scaring the crap out of the pups. Gwen would try to calm them down but they just wanted to go and couldn't understand why we had to stop so much. They alone pulled the hook (parking brake, more or less) three times. I was little embarrassed at their behaviour, but it was quite amusing. Dogs feed off the mushers' energy. When I hook my dogs up I'm always a little anxious and therefore my dogs get a little (lot) hyper when getting ready to go. Ken and Gwen's dogs, on the other hand, are very calm because Ken and Gwen are when they get a team ready.
It was a beautiful day and a lot of fun. So, now I have seven bona fide sled dogs, one old biddy (Ruffles) and the cripple (Raven). I gave the three yearlings back yesterday and though they promised to write, I'm not expecting much.

I just remembered. I’m a part-time member of the working-stiff club and have a shift at the News-Miner Saturday night. At least I got a good CD.

Peace.Hazel screaming to go. Notice how Bruce is as far away as he can possibly get from her.

Some loose dogs came with us on the training runs. This is old Amberlin running behind. She's notorious for biting strangers in the ass.

My babies! My babies! Parker on the left and the Sneaky One on the right. Notice the tight tugs, every mushers dream. (Tugs, or tuglines, are the lines attached to the harness that the dogs pull off of. In this case, they're the green lines.)

Gwenny and I after the second run. Look behind Gwen's right shoulder, the three dogs lying down are mine: Bully, Gus and Strider. They sure do have a lot of energy at the start but fizzle out quite quickly.

More old dogs, Ruffian on the right and Kitty Cat on the left. They kept up for a while.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Behind the wall of sleep

Funny story.
I got home from working a shift at the News-Miner last night tired but happy. It was a good night, though I was little drained from the stress of having to finish an overdue freelance article earlier that day. But, I paginated some decent pages: world pages, nation pages, editorial page and entertainment. What I like about this gig is that I choose the stories that run on these pages, so even though I obviously have to keep up with what's going on in the world, it can a little less Iraq/Bush and a little more of, well, ANYTHING ELSE. I really don't have any clout but I have managed to slip in a few stories from Canada and, gasp, other countries that don't start with U and end with S.A.
But I digress. So it was good night. Skittles and Gary were on the desk, too and they're always fun...they just found my blog last night, so I have to be nice. Love your new goatee, Gar! I spent some time clownin' with the press guys over nicknames. Mark has gone from Big Tuna, to Tiny Tuna or Tina for short...this was not my doing. I swear.
So I get home, bleary-eyed from reading, reading, reading. I notice immediately that Bully is not at the door to greet me. Where is he? Instead of looking in the pen, potentially waking all the dogs and starting a bark-fest at 1 a.m., I here the TV on upstairs and call Sam's name. Quiet at first but getting louder as I approach the stairs. No answer. Indoor voice becomes outdoor voice. I climb the stairs wondering if maybe he had gone out with a friend. Then I see him. Lying peacefully in bed. I call some more. Sam? Sam! Sam! Sam? Sam? SAM?!!! Nothing. Now I'm standing over him and I realize he's not breathing! He's dead! I grab his arm and scream 'Oh my god!!' That's when Sam woke up. He did so with such a start that I thought he was going to hit the ceiling. I'm certain I took at least 10, maybe 12, years off his life. After his heart rate returned to baseline, we had a good laugh. Now that, my friends, is a heavy sleeper.
Today I'm going up to Windy Creek Kennel to run puppies with Gwen. Mine will be included to today's training session so we'll see how they do.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Libby for pointing out that a couple of posts ago, when I was in Seattle, I wrote a caption for a photo that said 'Random girl buying friend at the market.' It should have read 'Random girl buying FRUIT at the market.' I guess fruit can be a friend, however. Especially to a single girl on a Saturday night.

Photos from today's puppy training to follow.

Monday, April 02, 2007

We were dead before the ship even sank

Babe, I'm back again. I returned from Seattle yesterday and it's good to be home in AK. I have to say, however, that I had a fantastic time in Seattle. I was supposed to come back here on Thursday but after a pitcher or two of beer, Lisa and Aaron convinced me to shirk all responsibility at home and stay for an extra two days to go snowboarding in the Cascades at Stevens Pass. Well, it didn't take much to convince me seeing as I haven't been on a snowboard in two freakin' years! Or, for that matter, outside the North in over a year. (When it's bluebird in AK I tend to run the dogs instead of going snowboarding...they want to get out, too.) So, we drove to what these folks call a 'cabin' (it's actually a huge scribed-log home with all the amenities, including a hot tub and pool table) on Friday night and rode most of the day on Saturday. I was a little nervous because of the long gap of time since I last stood at the top of a mountain strapped to my purple Ride. BUT, it was amazing and, ahem, I only fell a couple times and none were serious JACs (Johnny Ass-Crackers). In fact, one fall was not my fault at all. A guy cut me off and actually ran over my board with his skis getting off the lift which sent me to the ground in a hurry. Skiers, pffft. We returned to Seattle on Saturday night as I had to fly out at 6 a.m. yesterday.
So, here I am back in the last frontier and I have a boatload of work to do. Plus, I want to get the dogs out as much as possible before the snow goes away. Luckily we've only had two days above freezing this spring so there is still lots of the white stuff.
Oh yeah, Ruffles may (big maybe here) be having pups. She's really, really old, so I'm not getting my hopes up. If she is knocked up (she and Wylie got it on about five minutes after I got home.) she'll have her litter on the first weekend in June. We'll see. If she does, I'm naming the first one which pees on the floor, Trisha. Other names are Ray-Ray, Big Turk, Simon FitzGerald or Shaneequa Jackson. Oh yeah, Jumbo Nieves is also up there...I'm sure she'd run pretty fast.