Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Knitting Keeps Me Sane

Ah... my sanity has been tested today. We had the first of our appointments at Children's Hospital. Being surrounded by so many babies made me realize that Little Nugget is, well... REALLY little. Apparently the doctor agreed because he wants more tests than previously planned AND... he's going to give her a feeding tube for supplementary feeding. Sentences like, "It's imperative that she gain a few pounds" and various other phrases have been running my mind into knots. We were informed that we would need to check out of the hotel in the morning and plan on staying overnight in the hospital tomorrow. With new and extra tests scheduled for Friday (the day we were supposed to be going home), everything is in the air. Depending on the outcome of the tests, we might return home Friday, and we might not.
My sanity disappeared when the realization that my daughter was coming home with medical equipment in tow hit me. And for those of you who know my type-A, preplanning, organized personality, you KNOW that not being sure of when EXACTLY I'll be heading for the airport is enough to maybe send me to the ward where you wear white coats that button in the back.

So I'm doing what any sanity tested parent would do. I made a few tearful phone calls to J and a friend back home. I called our regular pediatrician to be SURE that she absolutely 100% trusted the Seattle doctor's advice. I texted my mom (Not daring to call because explaining to your baby's Nana what is going on without crying is close to impossible).
Then I boarded the bus and wandered around the aquarium.
Stress is best handled by completely numbing the brain so it is impossible to think too much about it. Since I gave up mind altering substances about 15 years ago, I've found the best way to numb a brain is by overloading it with activity and useless information. Did you know there are over 600 species of fish in the Puget Sound? Do you know that a fair number of those species are residing in my freezer? (grin)
With my brain somewhat numb and my feet somewhat tired, I headed back to the hotel in time to give Little Nugget a quick diaper change and a nursing break, then headed out again to the knitting store.
Aside from the cab ride (where I was SURE I was going to die in an auto accident before having to take Little Nugget back to the hospital), it was the highlight of my day.
I want to say that nothing could replace my great group of knit-sters back in Delta Junction, BUT... the gals at Hilltop Yarn were a hoot! I was taught a few new skills by a lady younger than me who can knit without even looking at her work. We talked about everything from yarn to turkey sex (don't ask. But if you must know, mainstream turkeys are incapable of breeding the old fashioned way.It's been bred out of them to reduce agressive behavior in turkey farms. Modern turkeys are artificially inseminated). We had a blast doing it, and I did find myself wishing that these girls and that yarn shop were part of my local gang.
The yarn! OH, the YARN! I had no idea what I was missing! This was some high-end fancy pants stuff. I was spoiled the moment I starting running some of that stuff through my hands. I won't lie...a good part of my "fun money" was spent in that store!
But don't worry, Delta gals... I missed you this week, and I sure can't want to see that Blooming Tea and let you all touch my new yarns! And Lucy (our resident knitting pro!), I hope you are ready to do some teaching! Some of this yarn is worthy of a more daring project than a stockinette stitch hat!

The trip to the yarn store was just what I needed. Sitting and gabbing with a handful of gals and counting stitches actually WAS enough for me to forget my troubles. I almost nearly forgot until I was packing up and heading out, and all the ladies wished Little Nugget and I luck and prayers.
It's a good thing when you really CAN forget about life for awhile. As addictions go, knitting is a good one to have, I suppose.

So we have a big day tomorrow. I will probably not post again until we get home and get comfortable with whatever equipment we have to bring home. I should have more definite news by then of what's going on with Little Nugget, and tales of what it's like to come home, back to the cabin, which I miss more than I thought I would. Seattle is nice, but I DO miss the snow covered tundra and the woodsmoke curling from the stovepipe.
Hopefully I'll also be sporting a new hat made of super crazy soft woolly goodness! I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of knitting tomorrow, while waiting for answers.

Keep us in prayers, good thoughts, or whatever you believe brings good luck and good karma...

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

Knitting keeps me sane

Knitting keeps me sane

Knitting keeps me sane

Knitting keeps me sane

Knitting keeps me sane

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You Know You've Lived in Alaska for a While IF...

-There might be some child-inappropriate language in this post. I am only repeating what I've heard from folks, NOT using a potty mouth on purpose. But if you don't want your kids to ask, "Mom, what's an 'f-bomb'?" then this is a good time for your youngsters to stop reading.
-I KNOW I haven't been in Alaska long enough to be "Alaskan". So don't think I've gotten too big for my Outsider Underpants. I know I'm still mostly chechacko.

Now that I have the disclaimers out of the way, let me tell you how I know I've lived in Alaska (especially rural Alaska) for a while now...

-If you wonder what the heck people are talking about when they ask where your child's jacket it. (For Pete's sake, it's 50 degrees, people! I wore a long sleeve tshirt and was SWEATING all day!)

-If you go to Pike Market and begin to laugh out loud at the prices in the fish market, you have probably lived in Alaska long enough to go fishing.
My loyal readers know I have been known to be a little catty about J's fishing trips. Never again. I had no idea that we probably have over $1,000 worth of fish in our freezer. Maybe even $2000. I almost snorted coffee out of my nose when I saw the Alaskan Prawns" (fancy name for enormously sized shrimp) labeled "ONLY" $17.99/lb. I have about 15 pounds of these in the freezer from J's week long "Man Trip" he took to Valdez. Not to mention the halibut ($20 a lb in Seattle, folks!), china rock, monk fish, and various other creatures of the deep that J and his brother dragged into my perfectly clean house this summer.
You couldn't tell by looking at me, but I am apparently a fish millionaire. WOW.

Continuing... you know you've lived in Alaska for awhile when you find yourself being a bit of a Salmon Snob.
This is not the first snobbery I have committed in my life. Having worked for several different coffee places in my life (including opening one with some friends), I am a certified Coffee Snob. I have been known to not even mask my disgust and surprise when my dad offered me a Folger's Single (coffee in a tea bag? Are you serious? Just tell me how to get to Starbucks.)
The coffee snobbery has mellowed a bit. Living in rural Alaska does that to you. I can still get Fancy-Pants coffee where I live, BUT... it's ridiculously expensive and when you make it in a percolator, it all tastes the same. (That said, I still will not stoop to tea-bag style coffee unless I'm desperate.)
But today...ah. I discovered a new kind of snobbery. Fish Snobbery. Previously Frozen Chinook Salmon? No thanks. Not when my hunter-fisher husband can drive to THE Copper River and bring home dinner.
Goodness. I never thought I would think there was a type of Salmon not good enough to spend money on.
And when the guy at the fish market (dressed like one of the guys on the Deadliest Catch, I should add) really did his best to convince me that I should try the halibut, I almost wet myself from laughing so hard.
See... I have a confession. NOT a big fan of halibut. Don't get me wrong! It tastes good and is a very versatile ingredient. But good grief. If you have ever caught one, you know they are REALLY big fish. If you are lucky enough to catch several of them in a fishing trip (or have family that can't take their catch home), you end up with a freezer full of the stuff. You'll spend the rest of the year inventing ways to cook it because you'll start to get very tired of it. As winter moves along and the summer harvest in the freezer dwindles away, you'll realize that you have more moose, salmon, and halibut than you really want to eat. You'll have to convince your kids that the halibut fish sticks they SAW you make are really store-bought. Or see if you can make them believe that it's chicken. You'll find yourself telling your family that tonight's dinner is "Gourmet Fish Tacos". Not the same halibut you've been trying to make them eat for months now.

Ah.... I am cracking myself up just thinking about the poor guy in the rain gear at the Fish Market. He probably thought I was crazy, standing there taking pictures to send to my husband and laughing to myself.

Of course, I would have fit in.
Here's another reason I know I have lived in Rural Alaska for awhile...
I have started to smile and say "hi" to everyone. This is good if you live in a small town, and downright rude if you don't do it.
In a big city, it is dangerous.
As I stepped off the hotel shuttle into Seattle's busy street, I did just such a thing, smiling and saying "hi" to a seemingly sweet little old lady. I was a bit surprised when she replied with, "Bah! I am so sick of you and your F-ing kid!"
I was hoping she was the only crazy person I was going to meet. Nope. Within my first ten minutes of being at the market I met people raising money for homeless cats (though I'm still wondering why all the cats smelt like weed), people who want to sell you some kind of religious propaganda, people who want to ask for your money, and even people who will follow you through the market asking you insane questions. I jumped out of my skin as my phone rang and found myself retelling this story to a friend from Salcha, AK. The concern in her voice grew more apparent as I realized I was laughing hysterically to keep myself from simultaneously crying and freaking out in public.
I eventually pulled myself together, reminding myself that I DID grow up just outside of Washington, DC. SURELY I could handle an afternoon in Seattle.
I turned tourist long enough to spend more money than necessary and consume more coffee than I should have. I should be able to stay awake until next week. After one more near nervous breakdown (resolved by a phone call to J who told me I hadn't been gone long enough to miss and that if I was that freaked out, I should call the shuttle and return to the hotel. Hmph.)... I finally ducked into a wonderfully quiet Greek sandwich shop for a wonderful lunch and a generous slice of real, fresh baklava. After THAT, I took J's advice and headed back up the BIG, BIG hill to the shuttle pick-up spot.

I'll admit it. I'm homesick. I am also VERY surprised at the impact that living in Alaska has had on me. In such a short amount of time, I have truly turned from city girl to wilderness woman.
Have you ever had the kind of Zen-ish out of body experience where you see something happening outside of yourself? I spent much of my tourist time today watching from outside myself. I've asked myself, did I really used to be the person I was? Where did she go?
A friend of mine recently commented that I had changed "a lot" since moving to Alaska. I was aware of some of the changes, but not to the extreme. I can't even conjure up the woman that would have confidently walked through a busy downtown with a destination in mind, or the gal that would have ordered some crazy-made expensive coffee drink without missing a beat.
I had a chance to conjure up that gal today, but when I got to the counter at The First Starbucks In the World, I found myself like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" when he finally reached Santa Claus. Instead of telling the gal what I really wanted in my coffee cup, I squeaked out that I would like a "MEDIUM COFFEE". Me! Coffee Snob! Good grief! I used to work at Starbucks, for Pete's Sake! I used to BE the girl (ahem, "barista")rolling my eyes at the obvious non-Starbucks customers and sarcastically saying, "You want a GRANDE coffee?" (Don't forget the condescending note on the word "coffee". This is used when you don't order a drink that requires any actual skill to make.)
And just like poor Ralphie, I stopped myself from spiraling down the slide just in time to ask for two pounds of froo-froo coffee to take home with me. (Never mind that it's going to taste the same as my $6, 2 lb can of Yuban coffee when I make it in the percolator.)

I think I amused the shuttle driver with my answer to his just-being-polite question of "Did you enjoy your time at the Market?" I think he's hoping that I don't dare go back into town. At least not on his shift.

I was relieved to return to the hotel. I know we HAVE to be here for Little Nugget's tests, but I am looking forward to returning back to my little town, population 900-ish, and my little cabin.
I missed knitting group for this.
Something good has come out of my day, however. I found a kindred spirit among the crowds (and it wasn't the lady who told me she was sick of me and my f-ing kids). I saw an ad in one of the hotel magazines for a fancy-pants yarn shop and called to see if they have a knitting group meeting this week. Turns out, they do, and the kind lady on the other side of the phone said she agreed that a couple hours of gabbing and knitting with some other yarn-sisters would do me some good. I've got an official date for knitting tomorrow. I know, I know. SUCH an exciting night-life while visiting the big city. But it's perfect for me.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

P.S.- Little Nugget is completely undaunted by the change in surroundings. Her motto: Have Momma Milk, Will Travel. She could care less. She's currently entertaining herself by licking the baby in the mirror on the bathroom door. (Fabulously funny, I might add.)
Beans is surviving her week with dad, so far.
J is, well... he hasn't called crying for mercy yet. Yet.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back in the "Lower"

Greetings from... Seattle, y'all!
Sorry it's been so long since the last Moose Nugget entry, but we've been a bit preoccupied in the Moose Nugget Household. Hold yer horses, I'm fixin' to explain...

We had some busy holidays. We decided on a whim to host a Christmas party at the Little Farm on the Tundra. Amazingly enough, our 860 sq ft of home-ownership COMFORTABLY housed close to 30 people during our revelry. Kids upstairs, big kids in the TV room, grownups in the dining/kitchen area, and a handful of guests around the burn barrel outside (if you keep the beer out there, the men tend to congregate around it, regardless of the temps outside). The party was fun and J and I plan on making it an annual event. J's goal for next year is to replicate a scene from a Chevy Chase film with Christmas lights (Goodness, help me!). My goal is to set up sled rides for the kids, if the weather will cooperate.

The holidays in themselves were, um.... a little crazy.
I woke the night before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve?) to a lonely bed. My sweetheart had snuck out of bed and I could hear him rustling around in the den. "Hmmm," I thought to myself. "I must be getting something REALLY good for Christmas if he's sneaking around downstairs!"
This is what I thought until I heard the unmistakable sound of vomit hitting porcelain. J landed himself a case of food poisoning just in time for the holidays.
Christmas Eve was spent simultaneously nursing J back to health while fussing at him to get the rest of the Christmas stuff accomplished. I won't lie, and I won't sugar coat. I was grumpy and mean about J being sick for Christmas. Top that off with the fact that no matter how sick moms are, WE don't get sick days, I wasn't going to humor J with a day of rest. Nope. I think sometime around noon I *MIGHT* have said something like, "Aw, put your big boy undies on and quit whining like you have female anatomy. We have stuff to do and I am NOT doing it by myself."
Yeah. I know. It was pretty mean. Especially since he really was pretty sick.
Don't worry. Karma found me. Turns out it wasn't food poisoning, but the flu. And I got it Christmas Day. And I didn't get to stay in bed because there was Christmas Dinner to prepare. And just when I thought that I had paid the Karmic gods, J left for work and BOTH girls got the flu the day he went back to work. I think J is still snickering something about "paybacks"...

Well, we survived, anyhow. The holidays were also a little hectic because of a phone call we got Christmas Day. Little Nugget hasn't been feeling so great the last few months and was having a few health issues. The doctor called us Christmas Day with the news that her lab work came back and that we needed to take her to Children's Hospital in Seattle for some tests that can not be done in the entire state of Alaska.
Should know what's going on within the week, so keep watching for a post.

So thus, our New Year begins. It was with a heavy heart that Little Nugget and I gave Beans and J kisses and got on the next flight to Seattle.
I just want to say that leaving a toddler waving goodbye in the airport can really break a gal's heart. Calling her to say "good night" from a hotel room and hear her little heart break when she realizes that mommy's not going to be there to "snuggle you to bed" or read stories is just enough to make you want to hug a hotel pillow tight and cry your eyes out.

The day was not lost... Turns out that Little Nugget is a much better traveller than her sister. A little nursing on take-off, and the sweet pea slept through the entire flight. She woke and cooed at the other passengers when we deplaned, and giggled at the driver that picked us up at the airport.
My hotel room is lovely (if not entirely too quiet!), the hotel has a nice view, and we have a free day before all our appointments at the hospital start. I've never been to Seattle and always wanted to go... so tomorrow, Little Nugget and I will be bonafide tourists. Nervousness over the hospital trip aside, how bad can it be to be in a town where I can find a coffee shop on every street corner (and then some)?
Will I conquer my fear of heights enough to visit the Space Needle? Probably not. But I may run out of money before I make my way through Pike Place Market.

I wish I had fun and witty things to say today. The only commentary I have worth noting is that I caught myself giggling at people in the Seattle airport that were complaining about how "cold" it was (um, 51 F), and explaining to people that no, I really didn't think my daughter needed a COAT. And I should mention that after spending almost two years in a town with a population of less that 1000 people, I felt a bit like Jed Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies, when he first arrived in Cal-EE-Forn-EE-Ya. Star-Struck and Mooney-Eyed...

Y'all don't worry too much about Little Nugget. If you are praying types, pray, or meditate or do whatever you think brings good news. I'll post when we know something definite.
Until then, I am going to be basking in the 50 degree heaven with a cup o' joe at my beck and call.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!