Tuesday, December 31, 2013

AK 3 The Master

So the reason behind my trip to AK was my brother and his installation as the Worshipful Master in his Mason group.

What is a Mason?
A Mason is a fraternity of men dedicated to doing good works. 
For instance Masons raise money selling onions and donate the money raised for charitable purposes like medical care for those that do not have insurance, scholarships and a host of other very worthy causes.

My brother is the first in our family to be a Mason and I'll admit I do not really understand a lot of it, but I will say being apart of this unique fraternity makes him incredibly happy. 

Jeff waiting for the Installation to begin.

My sister in law Elizabeth's' Uncle Chuck is an 11th generation Mason, going all the way back to George Washington time, and came up from Washington state to preform the Installation for my brother. 

Not sure if it was the high ceilings in the room, but a lot of my pictures turned out grainy or blury - ugh.

After he was installed he gave a wonderful speech about his plans for the lodge in the coming year. 
Jeff is quite dramatic in his speaking and really put on a good show. 
I've got to say though that I bawled practically the whole time.
Why? I guess I was just so proud of him. 
He was incredibly well spoken, confident and sure of himself. 
And damned if he wasn't absolutely handsome too. 

My nephew Cody is also joining the ranks as a Mason.

After a fantastic steak dinner that he put together we went back to the lodge for pictures.

 Our family. 

And Cody's lovely wife Kelly who took professional pictures of the Installation for Jeff. 

I love you Jeff!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be there with you during this epic time in your life!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Balmy and more

Yesterday we got up to an incredible 43*!
After breakfast I spent the remainder of our daylight hours outside and it felt so good!

You know that first smell of spring?  That scent that is a promise of summer yet to come?  There was a hint of it in the air so I opened windows and aired this place out.  Should have hung some sheets out, but I didn't think of that until too late in the day. 

Chyann and I took a ride and it was wonderful!
We didn't go too far as a lot of the trails in our area are used for snowmachine riding and we could hear them in the distance roaring around. Which freaked Jenny out every once in a while. 

This picture may be a bit blurry, but it's one of my favorites. 

Too bad the weather is going to turn outrageously cold today, I'd miss the Packers game for another ride like we had yesterday. The high temp is going to be about 5* with some seriously blustery winds making for dangerous wind chill -20 to -35 AND this freezing/windy weather is apparently going to stick around till the end of next week. 

Tater decided to follow us on our ride. 
Hopping like a rabbit in the horses' tracks, she ended up going back home after about five minutes of that.

The rest of our day was spent cruising through the snow. 
We  had a blast. 

Poor Caden was totally tuckered out.
Of course no ride is complete without spending an hour or so after in the hot tub. 

A few pictures taken with my new camera - it's a Canon powershot with a great zoom - I was afraid to take it on our ride lol 
Guess I'll have to get over that, since it has the zoom and fast shutter speed I have been wanting for taking better action pictures and it's small enough to put in my jacket pocket.
Nothing too fancy, just a step up from my old camera. 

 The detail and colors seem a whole lot more vivid to me.

Only thing about it that irritates me is that other than a one page quick start guide no other documentation came with it. No actual manual or anything, however the quick start guide does direct you to their website and from there you can download a pdf manual. 

HELLO! I don't want to read that shit on the computer and it's almost 200 pages long so I definitely wont be printing that sucker out. 
I had in mind leisurely going through the manual learning all the new tricks and options sitting on the couch! NOT parked on my computer. 

Oh well, maybe I can download it to the kindle and sit on the couch with it.  
I say maybe because several times now I've attempted to download docs to my kindle only to find out the format is not supported by kindle - ugh. 


Happy Sunday.

Go Pack GO!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

White Chritsmas

Merry Christmas a little late :)

We had ourselves a white holiday here. 
Probably about 5" of snow total between Christmas Eve and Day. 
Made for some seriously treacherous driving conditions. 
Big fun having to shovel and snowblow on Christmas, but no one complained.

All the snow of course means we've been spending a good chunk of our free time outside riding the snowmachine aka snowmobile aka sled or insert your regional term.

It's going to be about 33* today.
 I'm planning on rolling Chyann out of bed soon so we can go for a ride. 
It's beautiful out and there is not even a hint of a breeze - yet. 

Jennifer looks ready to ride doesn't she?

Scotch on the other hand just wants the snow off his back.

Casper looks a mite cranky. 
He thinks I've got a treat for him and I just missed getting a picture of him turning his head and giving Jenny a huge bite right on her chest. 

Favorite picture from Christmas - Caden just opened the WIIU and was so excited!
He turned to Colton and said "I finally have a system you don't have!"
It's been a Mario and Luigi marathon ever since. 

It's time to start thinking about taking down the tree and getting a big clean going.
Maybe next weekend, when it'll be super cold again.

I got myself a Keurig for Christmas.
I don't know if I like it as well as I thought I would. 
Sure it's convenient and fun, but for work days a pain in the ass. 
Picture me going up and down my steep stairs carrying ONE cup of coffee at a time.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster if you ask me.
Come Monday I'm going back to brewing in my old pot and transferring it to the carafe to take up to my office - multiple cups readily available with no dangerous steps to traverse - because we all know how graceful I am :)

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

AK part 2

This is Duchess. 
I don't think I've ever seen a cat as big as her.
She was the sweetest, always wanting pets and love.
In the morning when we'd all gather around the kitchen table drinking coffee and I'd marvel that a cat could be this big and yet agile at the same time - she can jump and go where she wants. What a cat. 

The place to be at my brothers house was around the kitchen table.
We spent hours upon hours gathered there talking and laughing.

Of course while I was in AK it snowed over a foot.
Jeff and I were at my Dad's favorite restaurant for drinks when I saw this guy walk by.
I couldn't believe he was dressed to ride a motorcycle, so I followed him outside and as he was getting ready to pull away asked if I could take his picture.
Apparently he rides this motorcycle 365 days a year.

Jeff, Dad, me and Jeanne
I had a great time meeting all their friends, that have over the years became like family to them.
You couldn't meet a nicer bunch of folks.
Never had a better margarita too, made Mexican style - delicious!

 We ended up taking a taxi home back to Jeff's place and it was a harrowing ride!
The roads were completely shitty, we slid all over and I wondered if we'd make it in one piece.
Thankfully we did.

Caden had his first concert this last week too.
He played the sax like a pro.

and sang some fun Christmas songs.

Caden and his best buddy after the concert.

Yesterdays basketball practice.
Their first game is on the 4th of Jan.
I can't wait!
He is still struggling w/the Sever's but doing well.

Alas it's Sunday.
Pretty decent weather here, not sure what we'll do.
Maybe get out the snowmachine and ride.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Alaskan adventures part 1

I'm home!
Took me this long to rest up. Too many nights with little to no sleep.
It was an amazing trip.
Loved absolutely every minute of it!

I took the shuttle bus from Eau Claire to the MSP airport and people watched for hours waiting for Gerry's flight to come in from OKC. 
Do any of you watch that show Bering Sea Gold?
Well I was sitting there and Scott Meisterheim walked right up to me and stopped looking around.
I'm thinking this guy sure looks familiar and of course when he started walking away is when I realized who he is.
Of course we watch all those Alaska reality shows. More often than not the Hubby sees people he knows.

Anyhow I found Gerry and we listened to two folks singing some amazing opera in the airport until it was time to board.

I'll admit as we sat in the plane getting ready for take off I was pretty nervy.
Which surprised me since I used to be a seasoned flyer. Living on the Aleutian chain you had to fly to do anything - literally.
Once we were in the air I was quite relieved.

My first glimpse of mountains somewhere over Montana I think.

Our plane got in a little early so after we got the rental car we were almost to Jeff's house when they started calling to see where we were. Gerry and I decided not to answer the phone and to just show up at their door.
It was so wonderful to see them for the first time.
Sitting here tearing up just remembering it.
We stayed up late visiting and laughing.

The next morning we all went to breakfast and met up with my Dad.
Felt good sitting in this restaurant with my family all around the table.
The darkness thing got me though.
I had forgotten how short the days are in Alaska this time of year.
It was pitch black out the windows and that made it feel very early in the morning when in actuality it was almost 10am. Weird right?

My niece Amanda works almost right next door to the restaurant so we decided to drop in to see her. 

The lovely Amanda.

They've got this cool fountain that flows chocolate

modeled after Charlie and the Chocolate factory.
An autographed picture from the cast of the movie hangs next to it.

My Mother, Brother, Thor, Amanda and Gerry.
Thor was Amanda's 18th birthday present from her boyfriend.
My Brother takes him everywhere if Amanda doesn't have him. 
He is a sweetie - 12 weeks old and full of puppy fun.

I had some Tillamook cheddar cheese when I was in AK and have been jonesing for more ever since. 
Unfortunately it's not sold anywhere near here, so I decided to go online and order a few baby loafs.
Shipping cost more than the cheese so scratch that idea. 
Went to the store last night and got five different kinds of cheddar hoping to find something close to the Tillamook extra sharp. It's a cheese palooza at my house today.

Are you ready for Christmas?
I am, can't wait.

Colton is home from college. It's wonderful having him home and knowing he'll be here for a while. 

Happy Saturday folks.
More to come on my Alaska trip.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Go outside in this cold?

I don't think so, but the cold doesn't stop my kids from going out and having fun.
Sometimes I wish I still had that kind of pzazz.

After my first outing on the ski's last week Caden had to give it a go too. 
He had a hell of a time keeping the ski's straight at first. 

 Didn't take him long at all to get the hang of it. I think we need some new wax and proper application techniques though. 

Chyann decided on a whim to play with Casper too.
He hadn't pulled anything in probably a good two years so I was a little nervous (ok, but not nervous enough  to leave the warmth of the house) and kept an eye on them through the windows.

How's that for a redneck harness?!?! lol
 He apparently is too chubby for the leather one we have for him so Chyann improvised with numerous ropes.

And off they went!

Speaking of off - tomorrow is the big day!
Can't wait!! 
I'll be back with a full camera of pictures in no time at all :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dreams and irritation

It's warmed up a little here, only about zero this morning and lightly snowing.
Maybe 3-5 inches today.

We got all the cookies made yesterday and the Christmas picture taken.
A successful day.

I woke up entirely too early for a Sunday; I kept having weird and scary dreams. 
After the last one I decided to just get up. 
We were out on a lake, the guys were going to go ice fishing - they cut a hole about 1 foot x 3 foot in the ice.
A friends little boy had snuck away from his mother, I just turned in that direction when I saw him fall into the unguarded hole. I ran over, got on my hands and knees leaning in trying to fish him out when I fell in.
The water was so damn cold.
Someone threw a rope in for me to grab, I went up for air and yelled that the little boy had fallen in and I was going back down for him.
In my dream I went down many times looking for him - not quite seeing because I couldn't really open my eyes, more feeling for him with my outstretched arms, trying to go out further under the ice.
My movements were getting slower and slower as I moved through the icy water and I knew I could only look for another moment before I'd have to try and get out of the water myself - then I felt his jacket.
Seemed like it took forever to get my frozen fingers to grasp him and drag him up to the hole, where strong arms pulled him up and out of the water.
Then I woke up, my heart thundering in my chest and covered in sweat.

When we were kids we'd ride our three-wheelers on frozen lakes and even on the frozen ocean within feet of open water. I look back on that now and think that was some of the stupidest shit I've ever done. Scares me just thinking about it. 


Back in November I ordered some x out face gunk for Chyann.
Some friends of hers swore by it and she wanted to try it.
Introductory price of 30 bucks - came with lots of bonus shit.
The day it came in the mail the invoice stated that unless I called to cancel we'd be put on an auto fill program and my debt card, which I used to purchase the item with, would be charged monthly.
I immediately called and cancelled.
Got the woman's name, id and a confirmation that the auto fill program had been deactivated.
I would no longer have an account with them and when/if we needed more I'd call and order.
Done deal right?
Imagine my surprise when I was reconciling my bank account last week and see a fracking charge of 37.99 on my account!
Call those folks up and said now wait a minute, this is bull shit I cancelled this account because I did not want the auto fill.
Oh we are soo sorry.
The gal says they will send me a label to put on the box when it arrives and to send it back. The money will be returned to my account within three business days. 
A few days later the label arrives, but no box.
I check the account and now I'm being charged only 7.99.
Call them up AGAIN.
Oh we are soo sorry, but the 7.99 is the shipping and it is not refundable when you return an item.
I did not place this order. This is your companies mistake, I refuse to have to pay return shipping on an item that I did not order. Get me a manager on the line.
We are so sorry you are upset.
The box will be there on the 10th, put the shipping label on it and send it back - then call us to confirm the package is on its way and we'll refund you the 7.99.
This is not acceptable to me.
Those rotten assholes.
Don't know what all I'm gonna do, but I'm starting tomorrow AM with my bank.
Pissed off and irritated.
What a fricking scam and the thing is Chyann really liked the product, but damned if I'll get it for her again.

Another picture from the past - Chyann attempting to teach Caden to ride Casper.
The Elm tree was alive and well back then. I sure miss that tree. 
You can see along the house the yard is all torn up - we had a trench dug and buried a new electric line and water pipe out to the barn. It was a wet summer and every time I put new grass seeds down it would rain so hard and wash the seeds down into the yard - which made for some thick beautiful grass that I couldn't keep up with mowing. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday morning coffee

It's about -15 this morning.
Freaking cold out!
When I went out to feed the animals my eyelashes and nose hair froze.
The horses will not stay in the barn.
Does that mean they are just bone heads or are not really too cold?
No idea. 

I can say for the first time EVER that I am ready for Christmas!
Sure I've got a bit of wrapping left to do, but anything that had to be purchased or made is done!
Feels good to be able to say that. 
That is how I say relief/no stress for this holiday season.

Now I can focus on stressing for my upcoming trip lol
Which, if anyone is counting, is in 5 FREAKING days!

I had Colton bring home my good suitcase from school so I can start packing today.
Not that I'm really taking a lot, but still need to get shit organized. 
Decided I needed some new levi's though so we took a little trip to the local goodwill yesterday.
Two pairs of practically brand new levis for cheap!
Much better than trying to wear those crazy low waist-tiny zippered-made for someone who has no muffin top-expensive pants that everyone seems to be wearing.

No big plans here for the weekend. 

I am going to attempt to get everyone together for some kind of Christmas photo.
No idea how this task has gotten away from me for so long, but we always seem to be missing one of us for the picture. I am putting my foot down today though - when Chyann gets home we are taking the damn picture! NO if ands or Butts! 
I've thought about cutting/pasting the missing kid into a randomly selected photo just to get it done.

Caden and I are planning on making Christmas cookies too. 
Found a new recipe I'm going to try called Ms Clauses' lemon cookies.

Side note Caden had basketball practice last night and pushed to the edge of his limits and was quite sore in the feet last night. 

Picked up my new glasses this week too.
Love the lenses in them - no glare at night and crisp vision. The frames tho - ugh - they are ok. Feel like they are a smidge too wide for my face. Oh well, I'll get use to them some day.

Random photo from the past circa 2007
Caden wrestling with Grandpa and Chyann looking so young and sweet.
(yes that appears to be the back of my head) 

Anyhow have a wonderful Saturday.
Stay warm :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Winter wonderland

We got our first good snow this week.
Maybe four inches in all. 

Apparently Gypsy and Scotch didn't have sense enough to go into the barn when they started getting wet.
Gypsy was just shivering and shaking.
I walked her down to the barn and dried her off then locked her in.

Casper and Jennifer however were nice and dry.

Jennifer craning her neck to see the bus at the top of the drive way and watching the kids get off. 

 We've got cat houses built out in the barn for the cats. 

I broke out my cross country skis yesterday after work.
It was pretty comical when I first got them on.
The brain/body had no clue how to motivate, which ended with me down in the snow several times.
My arse is pretty tender today lol
Finally got the hang of it and ended up having a blast.
Would be nice to find someone around here that knew what they were doing and could give me some pointers.

Some serious cold weather is moving in today. 
We'll have highs in the single digits and some serious wind!

Welcome to winter.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday morning coffee

Holy cats it's December 1st!
Way back in June when I talked to my brother about going to AK in December, it was a lifetime away.
One of those far off things that may or may not actually happen.

Well here it is December 1st.
I've got my ticket and my shuttle pass.
Looks like I'm actually going to AK in a mere 11 days!

I'm the only one going.
I feel somewhat guilty about that, but what can you do.

After not having been to a place in so long - 11.5 years give or take a month, I can't imagine how things have changed or by chance stayed the same.
There is so much I want to do and see, but with limited time I'll be absolutely content with anything that happens.

My Dad will be there! Haven't seen him in several years.
My Mom and Gerry will be there too!
KRISSY is there now!

I'm getting butterflies just sitting here thinking about it all. 

Deep breath.


In other news:

Caden's feet are doing better. He has participated in one basketball practice and did well. He says he knew just how far to push it before he was done. Let's hope he can continue to do that.

Colton is doing alright in school. Finals are coming up and he's been cracking the books.

Chyann has two more drive times left before she goes for her drivers license test. Her big thing right now is a car.
For some reason she thinks a car is required on her 16th birthday because she doesn't want to ride the bus anymore and because well she wants a car NOW!
I'm thinking life is going to be getting a wee bit more complicated after she turns 16.

Just three short years ago her biggest worry was getting Casper to pull her and Caden on the sled.

No ride for us yesterday - just wood and the wood is now officially done.
Or so I sincerely hope.