*Names and identifying details have been altered to protect the innocent people who could sue me.

January 28, 2011

Day 25

Hi everyone,

First of all, I know I promised to send these out more frequently than every 10 days. If you count my failed attempt two days ago, then I succeeded. If you don't count that, then I'm sorry, I lied.

Secondly, sometimes I'm bad about being in touch with the people I care about. I was hearing from family members that they were forwarding on my messages to friends and others asking how I was doing, so partly by request and partly by arrogance (I'm vain enough to assume you'll want to receive updates on how I'm doing) I've added a lot more family and friends to these emails. If you don't want to receive them, I won't be offended - just let me know. If you want to order any back issues (Alaska-gram Days 1, 5, and 16) just give me an email. They cost 3 cookies apiece (I accept chocolate-chip or oatmeal, no raisins).

So, to answer the question "what exactly are you doing up there?" here's what my week often looks like:

Monday: Cooking/Baking. I've made a lot of soup, a little bit of meatballs (which, surprisingly, turned out ok) and a lot of bread. I also tried to make croissants, which was a disastrous failure, but oh well - it just means I can only improve next time.

Sometimes the three-year-old at the house helps me cook. Here was our conversation while counting the butter sticks needed for the croissant dough.

Me: One stick of butter ...
E: One ...
Me: What comes after one?
E: Um... Not-one!
Me: Well, true. Also - two. Two sticks of butter.
E: Two!
Me: What comes after two?
E: Um ... one!

Tuesday: Continuing Attempts to Learn the Guitar. No photos of this one, sorry. Tuesday night is "Bluegrass Night" at Guido's Pizza. (You can't make this stuff up, people.) It's a motley collection of people in their 40s and 50s learning to play guitar, fiddle, banjo, and one guy with what looks to me only like a stick, washtub, and a big string. Well, some people are learning to play, and some already know how. (And some who apparently already know how still appear, to me, to be learning.) Chester plays fiddle there and I knit. I'm working up the courage to bring along his guitar. After all, I already know the three chords they play.

Wednesday: Bible Study. Chester gets together with a bunch of his friends from high school and I contribute in the best way I know, namely, food. Last week I made a big stir fry and, that's right, Bible verse fortune cookies.

Thursday: Miscellany Night! Sometimes we go to movies at the Bear's Tooth, which is a local restaurant that also happens to have a movie screen. They took out every other row of seats and replaced them with tables, so you can order your pizza or burrito and then eat it while you watch the movie. Here's my advice: if you are going to see an action movie with lots of killings (RED), don't order something with lots of tomato sauce (chicken and mushroom pizza). Both would probably be pretty good, if separate from each other.

Sometimes we hit up thrift stores to buy things like wool pants for hiking and ice skates for, well, ice skating. So far I'm sticking to things that require a level surface - hiking, snow shoeing, ice skating, and hopefully soon cross country skiing. Maybe soon we'll up the stakes, so to speak, with something more downhill. But first I'm still getting used to the cold -- I only lasted 10 minutes when we tried ice skating, but I'm hoping to try again this weekend. As long as it above 20 degrees.

Last week on Thursday Chester and I went to the local Brewer's warehouse and picked up the supplies for beer. I tried to take pictures of the process, but it basically just looks like a giant pot of really gross tea boiling on the stove, so it wasn't too picturesque. The beer is currently sitting in the bucket, doing its fermenting thing, but I think there'll be some bottling this weekend so stay tuned for updates.
(Side note: we picked the combination of malts by taste, but if I had the choice I would have picked the recipe for "You're-A-Peein' Altbeer" or "Stinky Hermit Stout" just for name alone.)

Fridays we try to head to the Peninsula where Chester grew up, for outdoor adventuring (for me, "brief strolls" for Chester) and meeting up with friends and family. In the times between, I'm looking for work, trying to get my licensure transferred (a simply ridiculous series of red tape hurdles), and reading some books I've always meant to read. I just finished Kavalier and Clay and, for those of you who kept telling me to read it, you were right. It is simply wonderful.

As are all of you.

Love –

The video that failed to work in the last email -- I've put it up here. (Or I will, as soon as I can figure out how.)
This should (will) show up as little video. If so, you can click on it. If you click on the triangle symbol on the bottom left-hand, the video should start playing. If you accidentally click twice, it will start to play and then pause itself, so you'll have to try clicking again. If this doesn't work, you might need to ask a Grandchild. The video is short - 15 seconds - and the sound is mostly just the noise of the truck. AT the end you can hear me say, "I don't think I did that right" (which I hadn't), and then Chester starts laughing.

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