Friday, July 27, 2012

Lessons in Moving

Today the movers arrive to lift and carry our heavy stuff 13 miles across town to our new, forever, I'm-not-moving-out-of-it-alive house.  We didn't mean to buy a house this year, or even next. However... yeah. The bank told us we could afford one, and the search began, mainly in a quest for more garage space for the man. Okay, so I wanted a change too, but that's almost beside the point. 

Since we're through the purchase phase and into the moving phase, I have some random thoughts. In no particular order, these are things I've learned -- again. I'll happily forget them once the last box is broken down and toted off.

1. It's almost impossible to have too much packing tape.
2. Boxes packed by males will have almost no detail written on the outside.
3. It's fun to unpack pictures that have been in storage since the last move, especially when it's been a few years.
4. Silver needs polishing after being packed away for several years. Buy silver polish and prepare to spend a day doing it. Or shove it in a cabinet until the next holiday dinner.
5. Unless you start packing weeks in advance, do not expect the males to adhere to your box labeling/numbering system. Once they start carrying things out to the trucks and hauling, they won't bother. If you want them numbered, do it yourself. EARLY.
6. Plants appreciate getting into the new digs as early as possible. Probably because mine were starving for water. Now they're spread out, easy to reach, and living in a lighter, airier space. They also add a touch of life to an empty building or a spot of color in a sea of brown boxes.
7. Tunes on the stereo help keep tired workers moving.
8. Packing and unpacking are more fun when you have help. I've had a chance to spend a little more time with a niece and nephew who came to help. 
9. Whenever possible, recruit tall people. I call them my walking ladders. My niece is ten inches taller than me and could easily reach the top of cabinets when I'd need a ladder to do it. I love tall people!
10. Avoid other appointments moving week. They take far more time than you have. Schedule the massage for after the move.
11. Avoid embarrassment, pack your private things yourself. Otherwise you have family/friends holding up the odd DVD with a raised brow. Fortunately the friend who found the "O" DVD has also read my books... ahem. (It fell down behind a shelving unit - oops)
12. Make sure you get your sleep!
13. If that new house has a big tub, be sure to test it at the first opportunity. Mine works great! I had to test it twice to be sure.
14. Keep cell phones charged and easy to find. No joke, the first day of moving mine was dead and I couldn't find it. My husband's fell down in his truck and he couldn't find it. And a couple of times when I tried to reach the kid and hubby, they had their ringers turned off!!!  Makes it hard to communicate. 
15. Keep a notebook, write down as much as you can, and hold on to receipts!
16. If the title company offers you a copy of your papers on disc, take it! I was able to email the file to my accountant, saving time and paper. And she'll be better prepared next tax season when I can't find the papers...
17. If your move is scheduled during fishing season, your pool of available volunteers will be greatly diminished. Same if you move the same week as RWA National.  -_-
18. Feed your workers! And hydrate them. Also, a beer at the end of the day will help ease tired muscles, theirs and yours.
19. The more little stuff you move, the less you have to pay someone else to do it, but save your back and hire out the heavy stuff to the pros. I'm not moving that industrial sized air compressor, and neither is my husband. 
20. If someone offers you space to store packed boxes early on, jump on it. Mom gave up her garage to store boxes so we'd have room to move around. Bless the woman.
21. Keep a good book, or three, handy!!!  I have my Sony ereader nearby at all times. When I need a break, out it comes and for 15 minutes I can escape it all...
22. Remember to breathe. It will all be over soon! Just keep moving. Each item wrapped, each box packed puts you that much closer to your dream house!

Oh, and one last thing, Weathering the Storm, Book Three of the Open Window Series is coming very soon! Early September it goes on sale, so be ready by reading Books 1 and 2. Both can be found at Amazon and other places ebooks are sold.

Blurb: On the road to recovery, sometimes it helps to circle back to where it all began. She wants a new life, he wants a low maintenance wife. When the storm clears, they both see exactly what they want.

My accident had interrupted the contract I was deeply involved in. Progress had been stalled once I was out of the game. No one else had been quite able to follow my thinking, a fact the Director of Research and Development had griped about one of the times he came to see me. He’d kindly waited until after I could identify myself and count my fingers and toes again. The rants were not because he wanted to make me feel bad, but rather, I think he wanted me to know I was missed. And he wanted to me to heal fast and get back to work before he had to find someone to take my place.

I missed being there and it was my supreme goal to get back. However, that required a doctor’s approval, and until I passed a few more brain tests, they weren’t signing on the dotted line. Which was why I’d flown to Alaska in the first place. To build new paths around damaged memory cells. Part of which included new experiences, such as, maybe, wooing the opposite sex.

And Mr. Paul Bunyan looked like a viable candidate to practice on.

Morgan Q. O'Reilly
Get Some Tonight

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Just Being There

Living in Alaska, many of us take the beauty around us for granted.  Tourists pay big bucks to come to here. It’s the trip of a lifetime for many. And like most good Alaskans, I know where to send visitors for great day trips or if they want to see something cool.

I don’t actually see any of this stuff for myself. I’ve live in Alaska for 40 years.  It’s home. It’s just where I live.  I’m busy. I work, I write, I play a little golf.  And on particularly pretty days on the golf course, I stop and look at the scene around me and remember how gorgeous Alaska is.

This past week I got the chance to go into Denali National Park. I went because my job sent me and it was an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss.  We drove three hours to get to the location.  It took a special permit because private vehicles are not allowed beyond a certain point in the park.

And it was gorgeous.  In the space of the day we saw caribou, a couple of bears, a wolf (so cool) and some Dall sheep, which came right up to the edge of the road.  I understand why visitors sit on buses for hours to ride deep into the park.

But what amazed me the most was the mountain itself.  I’ve seen pictures.  I think I even saw it in person when I was eleven. But this visit, I realized how massive it is. I’ve never comprehended that just by looking at pictures.

The top is often covered in clouds but when you stand there, the image is deceiving.  You look, you see the mountain and think, “it’s pretty.” Then you peer a little closer and realize you’re only looking at the bottom half. If you look through the thin layer of clouds, you can see the outline. (Note: in the picture the mountain goes all the way to the top of that cloud cover. The picture doesn't do it justice.)

The whole crew working that day was made up of long-time Alaskans.  But every one of us stopped several times during the day to look and we all said it, “dang, that thing is huge.” It’s something you know intellectually but seeing it—this giant mountain amidst the others in the range—was awe-inspiring. 

I came back a little stunned and so excited to share it.  Next time I have visitors, I’m not going to send them driving away...I’m going to take them to Denali to experience it myself. Sometimes, you just have to be there.

Tielle St. Clare
(Oh, and I have new book out, Scarlet, book 2 of the Red Panty Diaries. Check it out!)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First, Love What You Do

  When I was young, I announced that I was going to run an inn. Not just a bed and breakfast, but an old-fashioned inn. It would be the embodiment of elegance and sophistication. Staying there would be like joining an exclusive club. Holidays would be by invitation only. Gazillion thread count sheets and Waterford crystal would be so normal they weren't worth noticing. While I was making all these plans, an adult friend of mine said "I hope you like cleaning toilets."
Wait, what? No. They hadn't been listening. I wouldn't be cleaning the toilets. I would be the proprietor. Socialites and heads of state would have me on speed dial, hoping to book a floor of rooms for this celebration or that get away. Someone else would clean the toilets. To which this person replied "Perhaps eventually. But until then, you better like cleaning toilets."

Skip forward several years to a cab ride I was taking just a few weeks ago. The cabbie was talking to me about how he'd like to be a writer, how he gets lots of stories driving the city at night, and how he could write them all down. I was encouraging him, because, quite frankly, I think it's a really cool concept. Then he asked if people would read it, because he didn't want to write it if people wouldn't read it. My immediate reaction was "he doesn't like to clean toilets."

  Okay, so maybe liking to clean toilets is too much. But you do have to be willing to clean toilets, be willing to do the dirty work. Because yes, sometimes even being a writer includes doing dirty work. Sometimes, being a writer is just like having any other job. You slog through it, hating every word, every edit, every character and plot twist. You hate every agent, every editor, every query and cover letter. At this point, you'd better be writing because you love it, because you love the story you're telling. It isn't enough to write so that other people will read it and you will become a famous author. It isn't enough, in these moments, to want to see your book on a shelf and attend a book signing. This is the point where, unless you love it, you will quit.

Which is basically what I told my cabbie. What I tell anyone who asks how to decide what to write. When you sit down to write, don't worry if it will sell, if anyone else will want to read it. Write the story for you. Write the story you love, that you want to read. Funniest thing, all those years ago, my friend was right. The story you love is the one that makes it worth cleaning toilets.
--- Pauline Trent

Thursday, July 5, 2012



Because our beloved nation’s birthday fell on this awkward Wednesday, like so many others, my family opted out of throwing a party until this weekend. However, we did not forget to reflect upon the meaning or purpose of the holiday. Just a few of my favorite things… Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Did I happen to mention freedom?

I read the Declaration of Independence today, and will share my favorite part below;
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government…

  I extend my warmest gratitude to these wonderful men who realized a dream and pursued it with such vigor and passion that I am able to sit here today and share these words. So thank you Mr. Hancock, Jefferson, Rush, Adams, Thornton, Paine, Chase, and Franklin (just to name a few)…
To commemorate such a holiday, I often adopt a service man/woman every couple of years and really connect with them. Recently, I spent a couple of weeks at Shemya Island, the most remote air station in the United States. There, I met a new friend from the U.S. Army. He’s stationed in Alaska for the next three years. To him, and every service man/woman that braves foreign lands or guards our homeland with their precious lives, my deepest gratitude for defending the Constitution and everything it stands for.
Happy Birthday America, I love you.
--- Elizabeth Komisar

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Good Samaritans...

Alaskans are independent, yet friendly people. Even in the big city of Anchorage, people tend to nod or say hello when they walk by. And that friendliness extends to lending a helping hand.There are letters to the editor every week thanking good Samaritans who help strangers with car trouble, medical emergencies, troublesome moose on the bike trail, etc. I think it stems from our frontier history. It used to be that a friendly neighbor or passerby would be the difference between life and death. We got used to helping each other out, knowing in the back of our minds that we might need help next time we had an accident or illness. 

I’ve been researching the Kantishna Mining District around 1905-1920. Kantishna miners were independent folks who liked living by themselves. They often didn’t see any people for weeks or months. But if a traveling hunter or explorer came by a cabin, he’d usually get invited in for a meal. And they’d help each other in time of need. Fannie Qugley often treated sick prospectors with medicine she made or bought with donations, since there was no doctor or clinic in the area.
Fanny Qugley & others
When distemper broke out in 1914, the residents brought their surviving dogs together and created teams to haul freight for themselves and Athabascan neighbors.People pulled together when they needed to.  

I’ve heard the same kind of things happen in the Western states. Is this unique to Alaskans, or do others have the same experience?
--- Lynn Lovegreen
Sweet Alaskan Historicals

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