Monday, January 23, 2012


While I'm in school, I live in a B&B in Anchorage.  It's a gigantic three-story house with a front yard that has been cemented over to create parking spaces, and it's in a very nice residential neighborhood within 3 miles of the college and hospital where I go for clinical rotations.

My room and its private bath are on the bottom floor.  Also on the bottom floor is a large living room and full kitchen that I share with the occupant of the only other bedroom on this floor.  His name is Mark.  He moved to Alaska this past October, having spent the first 27 years of his life living in more temperate climes.  Mark is smart, tall, handsome and pleasant when our paths cross, which isn't often.  I wouldn't even know he lived down here save for the fact that he leaves dirty dishes and crumbs in the kitchen and uses my dishwashing soap and towels. Mark has been here all day (I know this because his car is parked in the driveway), as have I, and I haven't laid eyes on him.  As far as I know he hasn't cooked anything (there is no new mess in the kitchen).

An orthopedic surgeon and his wife live on the second floor during the winter.  They're very pleasant people.  He replaces hips and knees at a nearby hospital and has climbed Everest  She manages the house while the owners spend their winters in exotic places like Africa, France, and Israel.  She is detail oriented and very interested in the lives and habits of the other occupants of the house.  Yesterday she informed me that Mark has not washed his sheets or clothes since he arrived in October, and that his room is full of dirty clothes, trash bags full of trash, and computer gaming equipment.  She says that she believes they'll have to burn his sheets when he moves out (apparently he is using "house sheets" - I brought mine from home because I'm sorely addicted to high thread counts).  I was unaware that she patrolled our rooms while we're gone and wonder what she thinks when she peeks into my room, which is full of books, binders, bags of food items that I'm unwilling to share with Mark, and Angry Bird stuffed animals that my husband has begun buying for me.  I think I'll leave a big pile of plastic dog poop on the floor just inside the door of my room the next time I go home to Kenai.

There are several other transient winter residents living here off and on, and the granddaughter of the owner makes regular appearances with her two small children.  She does her laundry here and uses the internet while she ignores her children who want to follow tenants into their rooms.

We're an odd group.  At least two of us are night owls; I can hear someone wandering around above me until at least 2 am before I fall asleep.  We are mountain climbers, busybodies, computer gamers, bicycle riders, students, surgeons and hoarders.  We are US, Canadian and UK citizens, junk food junkies, gourmet cooks, bridge players, movie buffs, single mothers, married couples, neat freaks and slobs.  Somehow we blend in slightly off-key harmony.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tilt, earth, tilt!

One of the aspects of living in California that I despised most was the weather.  It was always hot (to me); I am most comfortable when the temp is between 20 degrees and 60 degrees F.  On the days that my steering wheel was too hot to touch I'd wonder if I was in hell.

Fast forward three years and northwest 2,500 miles.  Alaska is a place of extremes, but where I live it hasn't been extremely warm.  Not once.  We're experiencing our third consecutive week of sub-zero temperatures now and even I, the Ice Queen, am growing weary of the cold.

I took my Jeep to the dealer here in Anchorage this morning, as I had a 10:15 am appointment to have the service department tell my why my ride is leaking small amounts of oil (again).  When I arrived, the service department told me that whomever had scheduled me for today must have been hallucinating when he said there was availability.  The harrowed man behind the desk explained to me that when the weather is this cold, everybody's car acts up.  He said, "I have a stack of order forms for people requesting service as far back as December."  He then asked me if it was gushing oil or just dripping.  Gushing=emergency and maybe we can get you in by Tuesday.  Dripping=Lady, bring your car in next Thursday and we'll try to get it done, but plan on spending all day in our waiting area.  We have WiFi.  I thought he was going to cry, so I refrained from complaining about having driven 8 miles to reach the dealer only to find that I had no appointment.

During my winter break from college, I rode my bicycle about five times.  Each time I rode, I discovered another body part that absolutely had to be shielded from sub-zero wind chills.  I am now fully equipped with ski pants with suspenders, a beanie that covers my ears, a face shield with a neck covering, ski goggles, special socks I ordered from Canada, air-activated toe warmers, and the requisite gloves and heavy jacket.  My bike traveled back up to Anchorage with me several days ago, but it's languishing in the garage because it's too cold outside to ride until afternoon, and my classes start at 2pm and run until at least 5pm (it's dark at 5).

The moose residing near my home in Kenai have less to dine on during the winter because their veggies are buried under a couple of feet of snow.  One night early in January I was in my bedroom watching television and heard a commotion on my front porch.  I thought, "Who in the he** is at my door at this time of the night?"  Upon investigation I found a moose standing on the porch trying to reach some bark on our tree.

It's cold.