Monday, March 19, 2012

Still standing after all these years

I know, I know, the porch broke. Materials, not craft. Explanation coming.

Anchorage has had nearly a record snowfall this year. Not the kind of snow where I used to live, but significant nonetheless. A lot of snow in Anchorage also means a lot of snow at the East Pole. It took a huge snowload several years ago, according to figures by a fellow at the National Weather Service there could have been 37 tons on the roof. I doubt it was that much but it was a lot. That load moved some things but caused no real damage. Still I hadn't been there since last June so I thought I would make a quick run in and check on things. There was an ulterior motive that made it necessary but more about that later too.

The trail was a surprise. Apparently there is some work being done on the power line we go under about five miles in. Bulldozers have been over the trail recently and it looked like a four-lane highway, smooth and wide, and fast.

I was tearing along on a pace for less than half an hour to the cabin, a trip that usually takes 40 minutes to an hour. Once took three hours. Tearing along until I came upon three people stopped in the trail. I was about to wave and pass them when I saw the moose. When the snow is deep like it is, moose get on a hard packed trail and they don't want to get off it. This moose was standing perpendicular to the trail apparently staring off into the woods. But a moose's eyes are on the sides of its head so most likely it was staring straight at us, ears back, hair on the back straight up. The people said it had sort of bluff charged them once already so they were just waiting.

Also a consideration was this winter has been hard on them and they are in a weakened condition this time of year and I don't like the idea of adding to their stress. We shouted a couple of times but all it did was walk a few steps, then stop and assume the same pose. I tried firing my .44 once; that got its attention but it didn't move so we gave up on that. Then it walked off down the trail. I followed gingerly but not too closely. Pretty soon it stopped and began nibbling some twigs. Then I had an idea. We had always stopped with the snowmachines in a line one behind the other, giving the moose a view of only one which probably didn't look all that threatening.

That was when the wide trail came in handy. I suggested we bring all three next to each other and see what happens, a wider more imposing presence. We all stood up on the machines when we had moved into position. The moose took one look at that and took off trotting away from us. I was glad it was trotting and not running, not too stressed. We followed at a good distance, just enough to keep it in sight on the winding trail, being careful about blind curves and hill crests. I was in the lead when I saw the moose step off the trail and trot into the deep snow. Quickly I hit the throttle and raced past it and the others did too. The last I saw it, the moose was standing about 30 feet off the trail nibbling on some branches, so I am guessing it got away without too much stress.

That was the most eventful part of the trip. I was at the cabin10 minutes later or at least on the property. With the deep snow there was no way I was going to make it up the hill. I put on snowshoes and that was easy going given the compacted nature of the snow. Made it up without exhausting myself, happy at first just to see it still standing. Then I saw the porch. It shouldn't have broken and the fact that the whole thing didn't collapse made me think something different was going on. Sure enough, upon close examination, there was a vertical row of three large knots right where it broke, so it was a weak piece of wood and I can fix that. Might try to put a glue-laminate beam in there next summer.

The rest of the cabin was fine, the door swung open easily and all the windows slid open meaning there was no crunching pressure reaching them from above.. I shoveled some of the snow off the porch right over the break and let it go at that. I wanted to go up and shovel the roof ridge but the energy wasn't there. If you just break the tension at the ridge the rest of the snow tends to slide off sooner.

Then I found what I came for, what the trip was really all about. I have always resisted brand loyalty, but one brand sneaked in. Years ago I discovered absolutely nothing handles a headache like Excedrin. When I found out about the dose of caffeine in it, I understood why a couple in the morning always made me feel a little more mellow and more like tackling the day. Admittedly it became what I am sure is an addiction, but I seem to suffer no ill effects though I am aware of what they could be. At any rate it has been a habit for years. Then a couple of months ago came the recall. I had a pretty good supply so I wasn't too worried, but they are not back in stores yet, the company's web site says late spring or early summer and my stash slowly emptied until a couple of days ago I discovered I only had a few left with no hope of finding a substitute. That's when I remembered the huge bottle at the East Pole. I wasn't sure how much was there but figured it was worth the trip. What I found was a bottle of 250 capsules that was just about full. That much will last me between three and four months. Woo Hoo. Life is good. But, I wonder how many Excedrin addicts would drive 160 miles then take a snowmachine another 20 miles into the Alaska wilderness just to find a few pills. Probably more than you might think, given the number of posts on the Facebook page.

I did get to spend time outdoors on a sunny March day, make sure all was right at the East Pole and pretty much just be in the woods for a while. I even took a picture of my friend's cabin because she was worried about it.

One problem. I got a flash of what it might be like living there again and it looked pretty darned good. More to come on that.

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve