Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heard on the Wind

Last year I posted the Heard on the Wind from the The Skagway Newspaper.  I haven't been posting them this summer because I have been waaay too busy, but today I am home sick and have a lot of free time.  I hope you giggle cause some of these are soooo funny!

Heard on the Wind
The Skagway News
June 24, 2011 Vo. XXXIV, No. 11

After a bus driver stopped on the Klondike to let his riders look at a bear on the side of the road, one woman got up and tried to get out the door.  The diver would not let her out, but the woman kept trying, so the driver got up and blocked her from the doorway.  The woman was told bears can be dangerous.  She then asked why the tour drivers don't tranquilize them so people like her can go up and pet them
Why do so many things advertise British Columbia, Alaska and Yukon?  Aren't they all the same thing?"
A 60-something New Zealander sitting at a bar said it was his dad's wish to come to Alaska, so they came.  he said his dad is 88 and "starting to lose it."  A local sitting beside the man asked, "Where is he?"  
"I don't know where he is, and neither does he."
"How do the cruise ships get out of here?" (hahahahhahaha soooooooooooo stupid!)
A visitor asked the whereabouts of the "Coptic Church" she has been told was in Skagway.  She was disappointed when told one of the churches in town had been nicknamed "the cop's church," and that there were no Egyptian Monophysites in Skagway.  (um.... okay???)
A crew member's husband asked a local if he could ring her doorbell so he could hear how an Alaskan doorbell sounds.  He was disappointed that it sounded like a regular one.  
A little boy and girl were in a shop.  The girl was asked, "Are you a princess?"  
The boy replied, "No, she's Canadian."
"What's the altitude/elevation here?"
"Well, we're at sea level here in town."
"Yeah, but sea level here isn't the same as sea level where I'm from." 
"That's not the real train!" someone said in reference to the train leaving the ore dock.
"Oh, really?"
"Yeah, mine is the real one and went to the dock by the way of the cliff over there."
A tourist walks up to the railroad ticket counter:  "I just read in the bathroom that this is the most scenic railroad in the world."
Agent: "Well, in my experience, bathroom walls are never wrong."
Another tourist inquires about train availability.  The agent replies, "We've got plenty of space today."
Tourist:  "For my wallet or for my ass?"
Agent: "Both."

I'll try to do this every two weeks... silly tourists.  It's like vacation means they have no brain.

Only Fool's Run at Midnight

Michelle called me before I left to Ketchikan and asked me if I wanted to run a 5k with her.  5k?  That's nothing, but I can't remember the last time I ran a mile without stopping.  After my pulled hamstring, my long distance running (5-7 miles) came to a halt, which was a few years ago, so to say the least, I wasn't in shape.  But I did it anyway.
The run was a fundraiser for Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SEAL) and they encouraged you to wear costumes.  Michelle dressed up as a "run away bride", very appropriate since she was getting married that week and I went as.... um... I guess 80's?  I don't know.
With an upset stomach (clearly this is Nicholle writing), Michelle and I set off a good pace from the Discovery Center down Tongass Avenue.  The route took us up Water Street onto 2nd Avenue, down Jefferson and then back along Tongass, onto the dock, around the Ketchikan Mining Co, and back to the discovery center.
I made it without stopping and just 3 seconds over 30 minutes. YEAH ME!
There was also a mile walk.  Bigfoot joined the walkers!

Michelle's Bridal Shower

There is nothing more fun than mini raspberry lemon cupcakes and strawberry champagne punch.   Sunday we celebrated the bridal shower for my sister Michelle at our mother's house.  With the banner "Soon to be Mrs. Hovik", lovey toothpick toppers in each cupcake, and food galore, the party looked like it was straight out of Martha Stewart Weddings, but BETTER!  Thanks to Miss Heather from heathoriginal for the amazing party favors!!

Michelle scored some amazing gifts off her registry, from baking supplies and aprons to pillow cases and nighties.  My favorite was the edible underwear from Mary and the cutest was the owl apron from Amanda (in my opinion, as I LOVE owls!)  We played "Do you know your Bride?" asking ten questions about Michelle and her life, and Miss Hanna Martin won with 8/10.  Teri, Amanda's mom, and Maura O'Dell also walked away with prizes!  But of course, no one went home empty handed, as everyone received the cutest party favor bags which consisted of baths salts, matches, candles and a postcard saying "love grows" that you could plant.

Most of you know that she got married last weekend, but I don't have any pictures yet!  Once I do, I will be blogging all about her special day.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Having Marcos here is another reminder of how spoiled we are in America.  He calls himself a caveman in my home (note that he said it first), and in all honesty, sometimes the way he looks at something, reminds me of one, or a monkey.  Head tilted, scratching head, hand on hip, quizzical brow, " Cole, what is this?"  From the electrical pencil sharpener, that made him jump back, to the can opener that he figured out on his own.  Or the water dispenser in the fridge, "where does all the ice come from?", and the garbage disposal which is the "coolest thing in the world".  We had to go over drying rules for certain clothes so much that I finally just put up a rule board for him "things not to dry".  I came home and found three loads (jeans, white, and colors) all into one, filling the entire space in the dryer, because he thought it would save energy.  It took three times longer than usual.

This realization comes with another one from Marcos.  He now understands why I reacted the way I did in Spain to his way of life. Just the quietness of my neighborhood, compared to his, baffles him.  We went hiking to lower and he loved the stillness of the mountain, stopping every 20 feet and just listening to quietness and the occasional bird tweet.  At night, he purposely listens for noise and finds he can't even hear a dog barking.  "How am I going to sleep when I get back home?  I sleep so good here!"  Two words: Ear plugs.  The only thing that keeps him awake here is the sun.  I supplied him an eye mask so that he doesn't wake up at 5 am due to the bright daylight already streaming through my blinds.

Top ten differences between my experience in Spain to his experience (so far) here.
10.  I wore ear plugs in Spain, Marcos wears an eye mask here.
9.  I hung my clothes in Spain, Marcos gets to use a dryer.
8.  I ate non processed meat in Spain, and he is being poisoned by ours.
7.  My selection of cereal was about 10 different kinds and here, Marcos can choose from about 40 (and I thought Fair way Market was small!)
6.  We stole movies off the internet in Spain, and here we use NETFLIX!!!
5.  I saw a lot of stray cats, and he sees eagles and bears.
4.  I was scolded when touching the fruits and veggies in the market without using a plastic glove in Spain.... here you get produce with everyone's germs smothered on them.
3.  We don't take naps here, but Spain shuts down for three hours to just "rest".
2.  They lock everything.  Marcos had two doors to the outside and both were locked at night and all day long.  Here it's so safe, the door sometimes stays propped open.
1.  I tried their sea food, that all tasted like low tide, and he gets to eat the real stuff here!! ;)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Today I was interviewed by a man named Christophe from France about "happiness".  He is one of my couch surfers.  He asked me "Are you happee?  Have you found happiiiness in you life?  And what makes you sad?"  This was all on video.  What he asked were the exact questions that I have been asking myself the last few years.  He is a professor of film in Montreal and I might possibly have my 30 seconds of fame on youtube in the near future.
Coincidentally, on my two minute walk home from work, I had a conversation with Marcos about Skagway and happiness.  I put my arm around him, walking slowly and said "I have to find my happiness here, period."  For so long I have hated it here and felt out of place.  Why is that?  I believe it's all in my head.  I can make Skagway what I want it to be, or I can remain miserable.  I need to find that happiness.  Living here is a love hate relationship.  I have so much freedom having this life.  Six months to take work with me and explore the world, but also six months of non stop work, while trying to make new friends with none of my old friends and family here to enjoy.  I feel like I have no purpose in Skagway so instead of bitching about it, I need to find that purpose.
I have been wanting to start a business in Seattle the last few years, but if you think about it, is that a much happier life?  40 minutes to an hour commute and work year round?  Businesses are still closing in Seattle.  I have even seen one open and then close within the same year.  And man is Seattle crowded!  I guess each comes with the bad and the good.  In Seattle, I could do more, volunteer more, take classes, date, meet new people, have my sister and good girlfriends, etc., but be working five days a week with two weeks of travel versus my six months I have now. I am envisioning a scale right now with what I want  out of each lives, with Skaway on one scale and Seattle (or any other city) on the other.   I have to admit, Seattle outweighs Skagway by a long shot.  But I need to see that light at the end of the tunnel before I take the leap.  That entire sliding doors feeling keeps smacking me in the head.  That what if?  Every second, every decision, determining my path.  I am sticking in Skagway until the path widens a bit more to a happier place.  I am such a spoiled, spoiled girl right now.  I fear that if I jumped right now, I would wish for what I once had.
Point:  I am making Skagway my happy place for the summers.  I will find a way out one day, but right now, this is where I am supposed to be.   There but for the Grace of God, go I.

Monday, June 6, 2011

North Words Writing Symposium

Remember how I told everyone in the world that I wanted to write a book?  I still do, and last weekend I was able to attend a very inspirational and motivational writing symposium with amazing and talented authors from all over Alaska and beyond.  Some of my favorites; Haine's Heather Lende, a realist who I gained a lot from, Kotzebue's Seth Kanter, a hilarious and surprising character, New York's Howard Blum, publisher of 9 books, Kim Heacox, who every word I wanted to write down, and many more.  From Thursday to Saturday, I attended work shops on character development, story lines, writing history, and memoirs.  I was able to join the group for the train ride to Lake Bennett on Thursday, as well as the excursion out to Jeff Brady's lovely summer cabin on Saturday.

I just have to point out that when hanging out with writers, there is never a dull moment.  I am not sure if its because most writers generally have a lot of lonely time and then when they are with other story tellers they can't seem to shut up, or if they are all just a bit egotistical and love to hear themselves talk, or both.  It was non stop chatter boxes for four days.  Tales from a film producer about her experience of riding horses for pleasure seeking thrills (below the waist), to a little girls assumptions that her French teacher was "retarded", and therefore only replying to her with "blah blah blah", and then later was speculated on if she had autism (but really is a published author now).  I was laughing til i cried with their true tales, dynamic characters and how expressive they were in their story telling.

And even though they never stopped talking, I felt encouraged by every word they said.  My limited vocabulary only gets me so far, but these people, these writers of words, these intelligent creative souls, make everything sound so much better.  A little intimidating yes, but also inspiring.  Like Seth Kanter, who his dyslexic, told us a bit about book signing and how it's stressful for him.
I get nervous because someone will ask me to sign it for Sue, and I'm thinking "Now how do you spell Sue, is it s e w?  No.  But it can't be s u e because isn't that what lawyers do."
Others that I wrote down are (but might or might not know who said them, is that a writer's no no?)
"I'm not responsible for the whole truth, just my experiences."  A response after a participant asked how do you write a memoir when you aren't sure of the entire truth, just what you can remember.
 "If you don't get any (criticism), then you aren't saying anything." a comment made by one of the faculty after how to deal with criticism when you publish a book.

"Don't respond by coming here, respond by loving where you are."  Kim Heacox

"You don't have to say "Alaska is profound", you just have to say "Alaska"."  Kim Heacox

"History is so outrageous, it doesn't need to be embellished" Julius Caesar (meaning quite making history up and then writing books saying it's all true!)

I also loved how the panel of writers talked about researching and collecting material.  Material is a moment, a character they find interesting, a conversation they over heard, and taking that experience and using it in their writing, twisting it possibly, but getting inspiration from the moment.

Next year the writing symposium will be in Denali and then Dawson City.  I am thinking I might just have to attend, but lets at least hope by then, I will have a rough draft for my book or at least something down on paper.  Yes I'm feeling a bit over my head but also ecstatic.  Thanks Skagway, Jeff Brady and Buckwheat for a wonderful four days. 

Howard Blum, screen player writer David Hunsaker, Heather Lende,
Lynn Schooler, Seth Kanter, & Kim Heacox
Cool shots I got out at Jeff Brady's place.
Chatter boxes I tell ya!
Daniel with the Wind Valley Boys
A black bear, not brown, off the road in the Yukon.
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Marcos está aquí

Hello friends!

Did I mention that when I flew back from my Oklahoma excursion that I brought a Spaniard in hand?  That's right folks, Marcos Antonio Cruz Diaz made it to Alaska.  What a journey.  From Cadiz, an eight hour bus drive to Madrid, then to New York, courtesy of Mrs. Jodie Chandler, where he had a 3 hour lay over.  At this point, it got a bit frantic, as they flight was over booked and he was flying stand by.  He called me and told me that he was last on the list and that there were no seats.  When I began to tell him what to do next, the call dropped.  Marcos ran out of minutes on his phone.  One minute of an International call uses about 30 minutes of a local call.  I was hoping and praying he would just figure it out.  The reason I worry so much is because Marcos had no credit cards, very little cash and no way of getting a hold of me. I tried to page him in his terminal on the white courtesy phones, which I thought they had gone out of existence, and he didn't pick up. I called Jodie, a little stressed, and she began doing her research.  Apparently, just as they were about to shut the doors, they called out his name and he got on the plane... pppheeeew! THE ONLY SEAT LEFT!!  God was on our side.  26 hours from beginning to end, he finally arrived to the Emerald City.  We spent two days in Seattle and here we are, sitting in my little apartment in Skagway, AK.  A $1950 ticket, which after I put it out in the Universe, got down to $780.  A buddy pass, a mileage ticket (over $840 savings!) and a lot of love from my friends and family ($480 cash raised!), we got the Spaniard to my little haven.
I hope all that donated got his cute thank you cards.  It was so sweet seeing him sitting at my desk, hand writing thank you cards with illustrations.  I just want you to know that every card had a different message and drawing.  He put a lot of thought into them.

Thank you to the following who helped us get him here:
Shuji Murasaki, Charity Pomeroy, Ben Butterfield, Steve Hogberg, Amanda Hammermeister, Christa Ford, Melissa O'Bryan, Bernd from Saddle Pal Creations, Simone, Rosie Ward, Rebecca Cruise, Alisa Lybbert, Jana Kuchling, Michelle Meredith, Aimee Shull, Moureen Kelly, Megan Hooker, Jodie Littlefield, Carol Duckworth, Lisa Parker, Brian Elliot.  I heart each and every one of you!!  xoxo