Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anemic Amnesia

One of my (many) physical quirks is that I am anemic. Now, it's not a major anemia. It's certainly nothing like pernicious anemia (which, for the record, is fun to say and sounds like a creature from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory even if it does, apparently, really suck to have). The problem with having a low-level anemia is I forget I have it.

I will be diligent about taking my iron. Life will be great. Then something will happen. My iron will get packed and not unpacked after our next move. I'll run out and keep forgetting to get more. Whatever. Something. Then, it will slowly creep back up. Inevitably, along with an event that allows me to justify why I'm tired. Oh, the late night we had is finally catching up with me. Oh, I can tell I'm stressed, I'm tired. Oh, I haven't adjusted to the new time zone/hotel room/work schedule. And I make those noises for a little while. Still not remembering I have anemia.

Eventually, my time of the month will come around and the tired, laggy feeling will turn into full out all-the-time exhaustion. At which point, it usually takes Lithus saying (although sometimes I do come up with it on my own) "Are you taking your iron?"


So I dig out my iron or buy more or whatever and get back to taking it. After a few days, enough gets built up in my system that, wonder of wonders, I'm not tired any longer. Amazing how that works, isn't it? One would think that after more than five years, I would either a) not stop taking the iron in the first place or b) realize why I'm getting tired when I have stopped taking it. For a very smart woman, sometimes...

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Botox ~ I Get It Now

First off, no, I have not gotten botox. In fact, not just no, but hell no. You know what I have gotten? 


You know what happens when you get glasses that work? You stop squinting. You stop furrowing your brow so that you can see the words on your computer screen or the movie on your television or the street signs at the intersection ahead of you. And that line between your eyes goes away. Like magic. Or botox. Only better. Because this is cool. This is what people get botox to achieve...even if they don't.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Not (Quite) Panicking

Do you remember that I write my books longhand? Well, I do. I use specific pens (the Pilot G2, preferably fine point but medium is acceptable) and composition books. In fact, these composition books. See?

Much to the Divine M's chagrin, I haven't transcribed in months. It's all still in the chicken scratch that fills the pages of said composition notebook.

But here's the glitch: none of those composition books is the composition book that holds my current manuscript. Nope. Those are other manuscripts, ideas, outlines, articles. Not my book. The one that holds my current manuscript is ... somewhere.

We live in one room. We have five bags between the two of us. It has to be here somewhere. It has to be. Right?

Those are not panicked, not panicked at all, Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee ~ until the reward goes higher.

Edited at 10:26 a.m. ~ found it. No panic. :)


Having one's peace and quiet interrupted by the pilot who has just been restationed at the base yelling about how he doesn't like to be stationed here because everyone is so noisy.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two Months

It dawned on me that we've only been in Alaska for two months.


For those of you without a scorecard, it's gone like this:
Anchorage to Kenai
Kenai to Anchorage
Anchorage to Fairbanks
Fairbanks to Clear
Clear to Fairbanks
Fairbanks to Galena
(Lithus goes to Manley via Fairbanks, then returns)
Galena to Fairbanks
(Lithus goes to Bettles and returns)
Fairbanks to Galena
(Lithus goes to ~ AND FREAKING CAMPS IN ~the Tundra)


Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Blog!

There's a launch, ladies and gentlemen. It's a new blog. It's a travel blog. It's an exciting escape from reality. It's an investment in your children's future!

Okay. Maybe not that last one.

It is, however, a place for me to write about my travels, post lots and lots of pictures, and focus solely on my thoughts about where we are, while we are there (or long after we've left, depending). This also keeps Pobble Thoughts more Pobble Thought-y, although I'm sure there will be some cross-breeding.


Check it out: Stilettos in the Outback, by moi.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Ps ~ And no, in fact, not just no but hell no, this is not the new look of Pobble Thoughts. We are experiencing technical difficulties, however.

Pps ~ Aaaaand we're up and running! With many thanks and even more kisses to Lithus who helped get it right. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Because There's *Always* A Story

Why is there a picture of two cans of (cheap) beer at the top of this post?

Because there's always a story...

Lithus left Thursday
for a fire in the middle of nowhere. And by out in the middle of nowhere, I mean they had to have oil drops because the helicopter's fuel capacity wouldn't get them there, let alone bring them back. He was literally more than halfway to Siberia. Literally. At least his mechanic threw extra bug repellent, the tent and bag into the back of helicopter, just in case.

Saturday night,
he gets back here and goes directly into the shower (he has, afterall, just spent 40 hours in the tundra). When he gets out, he is so happy to be clean, have a bed and sheets, that he just stretches out in all his glory on the bed. About 10 minutes later, our door opens. He jumps; I jump; and the poor smokejumper who is in the wrong room, jumps. The door slams and by the time I (who am fully dressed) can get back to the door and get it open again, the smokejumper has fled all the way down the hall and is already leaving the building. Lithus and I laugh and then forget about it...until 20 minutes later when there is a knock on the door.

Lithus pulls on pants, I open the door ~ and there stands our smokejumper, red as a beet, eyes downcast, and holding 2 beers in outstretched hands. He manages to stammer out "here, for the inconvenience earlier...sorry." At which point Lithus laughs, saying, "yeah, you saw my ass." and the jumper just goes redder, starts blathering about how he just tripped and fell into the door and he's really sorry and didn't mean to and, and, and... I took the beer; Lithus stuck out his hand; and they shook on it. We're still laughing about it. Overall, though, I have to admit to being quite impressed with the way the smokejumper handled the whole thing. It was a classy move. Of course, I've also told Lithus that if his ass is worth 2 beers, I'm going to start pimping him out.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Galena, Alaska ~ the Details

Galena is in what is known as "the Interior." To get anywhere in the Interior, you go to Fairbanks. From Fairbanks, you go...wherever. You cannot drive here, however, as there are no roads leading to Galena. Cars get here via barge and then stay in town. You can fly, hike (depending on the season), come in on the barge, or snow mobile. I'm not sure where the barge lets off, though, because I haven't seen waterways large enough for a barge. Possibly farther down river and then driven in. There are 2 scheduled flights into Galena every day, plus charters and private pilots. When you fly on one of the scheduled flights, you are only allowed one small bag in the plane with you and they ask you how much you weigh when you check in. Any checked luggage that goes over the weight limit goes on the next flight to or from.

Note, we are not in "the bush." The Interior has towns and villages. The bush does not. That doesn't mean no one lives in the bush; it just means there is nothing as official or organized as a town or village.

The mosquitoes are bad, especially at the beginning and end of the days. We use 100% DEET because the standard 28-30% just doesn't cut it. Even with that, my ankles are still mottled with bite marks. The days are long. Sunrise is about 04:30. Sunset is about 00:50, but it never gets completely dark. The sun is highest in the sky right now at about 14:00. It is also very close. I've been at altitude before but I have never seen the sun look this close to the earth. The clouds look like paintings. Actually, the clouds look like bad paintings that make you say "what an amateur; clouds don't look like that." Only they do here.
Sadly, my little camera isn't good enough to capture them. It may be time for an upgrade.

We are staying at an old Air Force base. It's good because we have the infrastructure left by the military ~ although much of it has that abandoned look and feel about it. We are in the old barracks. They remind me of dorms. One to two single beds per room; a sink in each room; and shower and toilet between two rooms. The person in charge of assignments tries to keep crews together, as much as possible. This makes it more comfortable because then you are, at least, sharing the bathroom space with someone you know. They are co-ed up here, so my presence isn't a big deal in that regard.

Lithus is on call every day from 10:00 to 19:00. Any time beyond that is considered "extended standby" and means more money. Needless to say, it's a mixed emotion about extended standby.

Breakfast is from 8:00 to 9:00. We walk over to the dining facility, have breakfast together, then he walks me home, picks up his bicycle and rides back to the helicopter. (Note, the red bike there next to the helicopter shack is not his. His is a baby blue that he catches some grief over but has come to love. I'll try to get a picture.)He and I disagree about how long the walk is. I say it's about 1.25 miles. He says it's 1.5. We are in agreement that it is no less than one mile from the room to the dining hall. Yes, this means that in order to eat 2 meals a day, I walk at least 4 miles a day. Lithus does even more than that, because the helicopter is beyond the dining hall, and he is back and forth further and more often.
That one mile takes you over sand, gravel, asphalt, sidewalk, dirt, and yes, tarmac.

Taxiing airplanes always get the right of way, but generally, you can stay out of their way by simply hugging the sides. It's easier with the scheduled flights than the charters, though, because of where they stop.

The meals are surprisingly good. Billy, Justin and Ed, the cooks, make as much from scratch as they can. Breakfast is eggs to order, several meat options, oatmeal, get the idea. Lunch (which I skip) is soup and salad. Dinner is always different and always includes a very fresh salad bar. Meals are served for exactly one hour: 8:00-9:00; 13:00-14:00; 18:00-19:00. If the pilots/crews are out, the guys will put up plates for them. Otherwise, if you miss your meal, you miss your meal. They don't accept cash here, nor do they have many visitors, so they weren't sure what to do with me at first. They figured out though that meals cost $7.00 so I sign in as Billy (the aforementioned cook), buy my meals through his account, and give him $7.00 in cash.

The town of Galena itself is small by the standards of the lower 48 but not so much by Alaska standards. The population is between 500-600, which is pretty typical for villages in the Interior. It's broken up into two parts: Old Town and New Town. Old Town floods almost every year when the ice breaks up. New Town was built up to avoid that. From here, you can get to Old Town by walking around the airstrip. I actually played chicken with a plane yesterday, crossing the runway. Nothing like having to pick up one's speed in order to make it across so the plane that is coming right at you doesn't have to call missed approach. But I digress.... in town there is a grocery store, a convenience store attached to the liquor store (this is where the ATM is), a post office, a bar ("Hobos") and a restaurant ("Restaurant"). The restaurant accepts Visa and Master Card. The stores will if they have to. The bar doesn't.*
Both the stores rent movies. 

Right now, you can get a better price on chips at the convenience store because the bags popped open when the plane bringing them in flew too high and she (the store owner) has had to tape the bags back shut. This is big news in town. Considering chips are $6.00, getting them for $5.80 is indeed big news. They try to price things so that, with tax, the price comes out to an even dollar amount. Generally, if something has change on the end of it, they will either wave the change or the change itself is an even amount (e.g. 50 cents instead of 54 cents). They don't always succeed but they do try.

There are two high schools here. One, the local school, is a standard high school. The other is here on the grounds of the Air Force base, and is a boarding school, that accepts kids from all over the Interior. Instead of being a college prep school, the boarding school is a vocational school. They offer classes in fields that the First Nation kids will need to get work close to their homes. It is also the only high school in the country where a teenager can get a full pilot's license.

There is a clinic and elders' center here as well. Both are privately owned but are a great source of pride for the people. Everyone waves to everyone else as you pass by, regardless of how far away you are when you pass.

Technically, we are supposed to be in Fairbanks for fire season. But considering we still don't know if the pilot who is *supposed* to be here in Galena has passed his check ride or not AND given that Lithus is currently in the bush fighting a fire, we're not sure.

I think there was ~ and still is to a certain extent ~ a lot of "not sure what to do with her" going around about me. Still, everyone has been very welcoming. And, because I do stick out (I do my best but...well, I don't really blend), people know me and have an idea of who I am. Total strangers have come up to me and given me information about Lithus, the helicopter, the schedule. Everyone is very nice about having this romance writing, crossword puzzle doing, black polish wearing stranger in their midst. I can only imagine what questions are asked when I'm not around but everyone's great when I am, and that's really what matters.

And that's Galena, Alaska.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

* Correction: The bar does indeed take credit cards. And also serves food W-Sun from 11:30 am until 7:30 pm. The continued existence of Restaurant is up for debate and has not been determined yet by me, personally. Thank you. ~ Ed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Lessons from the Interior

* If it is unrecognizable but looks as if it might be alive, don't step on it. It's alive.

* If it is recognizable and looks as if it was once alive, don't step on it. It's alive.

* Look at the tingly, crawly, itchy feeling on your arm before you swat at it.

* Own boots. Wear them.

* The less traffic there is, and the fewer puddles there are, the more likely it is the pedestrian and the vehicle will be crossing the puddle at the same time. Give the vehicle a wide berth. It will win.

* Wave at everyone you pass. Every time. To do otherwise makes you look suspicious at best and an asshole at worst.

* Respect the smokejumpers. The shit they do is crazy.

* Dirty is relative.

* When the pilot tells you the helicopter won't carry all the gear and all the passengers in one load, he is not being an power-hungry control freak. He wants to get you, and himself, home safely. Listen to him.

* When the pilot tells you there is not enough fuel in the helicopter to hit that one last spot before heading in, he is not being an power-hungry control freak. He wants to get you, and himself, home safely. Listen to him.

* Air crews, smokejumpers and BLM staff aren't quite sure what to do when a romance novelist shows up in their midst. Smile often. It helps them.

* Sign up for Era Aviation's frequent traveler program. Even if you've never signed up for one before. You have just become a frequent traveler on this airline.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Monday, June 07, 2010


There tends to be a lot of sound in my world. Sometimes, it's noise. The television, a streaming video, phones ringing, dishwashers running, what have you. Other times, it's just sound. Conversations, music, rotor blades. You get the idea.

Yesterday, Lithus and the mechanic left for Bettles, AK. Out of habit, I put on the television, streamed music, made some phone calls. Today, though, today has been different. Today has been quiet. No television. No streaming. My phone hasn't even rung.

I remember what it was like to have time for silence. In a little while, I need to put a load of laundry in. The people who called me yesterday deserve to be called back. Eventually, I'll wonder what's happening in the world and turn on CNN.

For now, though, it's quiet. Listen...

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Weekend Ramblings

* A person should never be judged by how they dress on laundry day and/or in laundromats

* When surrounded by people with political views that differ from yours, the ability to make noncommittal noises and otherwise keep your mouth shut is a valuable one

* When presented with noncommittal noises, the average person will assume you are agreeing with them and/or their views

* Having housekeeping come in daily is a lovely, lovely thing

* Realizing you've tightened your belt four full notches without really trying feels damn good

* The best thing to do with a lonely person is to just talk with them. This will entail a lot of listening. That's okay.

* Television in Alaska is based on central time zone

* People will ask you to read some unexpected things when you are a published author

* Having glasses makes the world look very different

* Being able to pay bills and put a little into savings every paycheck is something I don't think I will ever take for granted again

* As much as I hate to admit it, some times I miss having the money we had when I was growing up

* Mosquitoes in the interior are rabid, mutant, vampire mosquitoes

* 100% DEET will only discourage rabid, mutant, vampire mosquitoes; it will not repel them completely. It will, however, strip your nail polish.

* Do not shave over mosquito bites unless you have band-aids available

* Clean laundry is a gift from the gods

* Zombie movies make for great double or triple features

* A taste of civilization can get you through a long spell without it

* Deadlines are a requirement if I am to ever accomplish anything

* Sometimes, learning that no decision has been made is even better than learning one has been

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.