Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pink Hot Chocolate

In a search for gifts for those that have everything, I saw a tin of Raggedy Ann Pink Hot Chocolate @ Sur La Table. {They do have Blue Hot Chocolate too but I don't find blue appetizing.] I didn't make a spectical of myself in the store but internally I went crazy for this. I went to plenty a tea party in Fairbanks with ladies that would love to have this. I didn't get it because it was $7.50 for 8oz. Its too small that the people that I would send it too would cherish it, never use it & let it turn into a block in their pantry. So I did some research & here's a recipe for Pink Chocolate:
Now this recipe uses alcohol....great! but still expensive. So we need to come up with an idea to make it cheaper. I know that you can find white mocha powder but how do we colour it pink? Adding food colouring sounds like it would stain cups & lips? Give me your ideas.....

Friday, December 05, 2008

New Way to Celebrate the Holidays

Everytime that you move you to a new city you have rediscover all of the basics like where to take your trash, which grocery store has pita bread & which ones don't, etc. Eventually the holidays will come around & you will have to rediscover who, where & how you are going to celebrate them.

This year I got lucky, I have family that lives in Chicago. More than one; an Aunt, a cousin, my sister's future in-laws, plus friends. So this year I got invited by my Aunt Judy to come to her house to celebrate a traditional Schmitz Thanksgiving. I had never celebrated an extended family Thanksgiving so this year was going to be a super special treat.

On the day itself, the boys & I stayed home & had hot dogs. Why hot dogs? First off, Jason makes the most delicious hot dogs. Secondly, Ryan's company gives them a turkey for Thanksgiving, so they decided to give it to the Women's Shelter. Later on that evening I went out dancing. Maybe that's a personal tradition? I like it; Thanksgiving is the most packed time in clubs other than on Halloween & NYE.

The next day I went to my Aunt's house for a great evening. That night I found proof, food does taste better when its made by family. Plus, there are some people out there that are capable of improving your self-respect for a lifetime. One of my Aunt's friends told me that in her next life, she wants her hair to look exactly like mine:)

Saturday I had business I needed to attend to downtown. Since I was going to be there, I decided to go down to the shops on Michigan Avenue to see the decorations. They were beautiful, the weather was great & there wasn't a huge crowd.....unless you were on the block that Crate & Barrell was on. The one store on the Magnificant Mile that can be found every five square mile in Chicago & everyone was swarming to it. They must of been out-of-towners because there were a lot of families coming out of the hotels that were there visiting.

There is a different caliber of people that shop the Mile. My first proof was when I was infront of the Walgreens. A Santa was ringing his bell for the Salvation Army. Not every bell ringer is someone transitioning from being homeless but this soul was. Now have that in mind- while I'm walking past him, a woman comes up to him & askes him 'Excuse me. Where's COACH?' He appropriately gave her a blank stare & continued to ring his bell.

Next I saw another pair of bell ringers outside the American Girl store. [If you don't know what American Girl is, its a doll store that makes dolls & outfits that look identical to the little girl. Kinda creepy.] They were women that were part of the army of the Salvation Army. Meaning that they had on the women's military uniform, hat & vintage cloak. One of the them was the bomb! She had totally prepared to work the American Girl store; she had puppet that look exactly like her, even with the Salvation Army costume! I now think that every bell ringer should have a miniature puppet of themselves:)

By the afternoon I was exhausted from sensory overload. I decided to take refuge in the Borders Cafe. This is were I regained some belief that our culture hadn't gone over board. A group of business men wearing designer suits & carrying their Monte Blanc bags sat down next to me in the cafe. Two french men & one American. When they got up to leave the two frenchmen walked away leaving their trash on the table. The american was still at the table & called out to them so that everyone in our vicinity could hear him, "Pierre, come back here. We have a saying in American that goes, 'Does your mother work here?' Meaning we bus our own tables." I'm sure they heard me giggle.

I'm clearly an unconsumer-zoned person. I used to think that I knew how to shop but I couldn't even pick out a pair of socks that day if I wanted to. I only know how to shop art stores & book stores. I don't know how to window shop. So I spent my day looking at the beautiful chandeliers @ Macy's; wondering who would buy an indiviual donut maker @ Bloomingdales (they have a Children's Home Kitchen section!); & checking out the season styles. Which if you are interested: large-gauge chain necklaces held together by vintage, diamond, costume brooches & sweater dresses that are made to look like the '20s with accordian lace.

Miss you more than tribal drums playing Jingle Bells,

Friday, November 21, 2008

First concert back in the Lower 48

I went to my first concert in the lower 48 for the first time since my return. I felt like an absolute tourist, planning my travel times on the train & having back up money incase I had an accident.

I went to the Dir En Grey concert at the House of Blues. House of Blues...Japanese Metal Band= bizarre. Since it was being promoted by Hot Topic the concert started @ 6:30pm. Even more bizarre. I didn't know the venue so I actually showed up on time & had to wait in a line outside. Its been ages since I did that. It was remedied when they picked out over 21 concert goers to let in first...& head directly to the bar.

The House of Blues has this automated announcement before the show starts that anyone caught crowd surfing, stage jumping or head walking would be ejected from the venue....and these kids actually listened to it!! If it was a crowd of my peers (though ejection into a Chicago winter is a deterant) it would of been an invitation for everyone to the above listed. Different crowd...lets just say if the building caught fire, it would of been one large virgin sacrifice.

Dir en Grey was great! They didn't wear their Visual Kei costumes...alas, they have been around long enough to not need them. But the image of a small tattooed Japanese man in shinny Adidas outfit hasn't quite settled in my head. Just a little too yakuza for me. The music itself was really pumping & I enjoyed myself thoroughly! The lead singer had a demonic solo that at moments I thought they were channelling Diamanda Galas & Current 93. A true sign of talent.
By the end of the concert I had one question: Why don't women ever practice scream singing?
Miss you more than being a roadie for a j-rock band,

Friday, November 14, 2008


[Note to all friends & family that read my blog. If you can tell by the dates I have been taking my sweet time in telling the tale of my relocation. For all of those confused that have been contacting me....no, I am not moving to Canada.]

Relocation: Day Eight. I made it to the Canada/US border & the best part was that I could finally go into a Duty-Free Shop. Proof that relocating isn't as exciting as a beatnik novel. The most fancy thing that I bought there? Maple Cream cookies to bring as an offering for my new roommates. They wanted me to pick up cheap cigarettes because Chicago has over 10% sales tax, but Canada doesn't sell American cigarettes. The cigarettes need to be covered with huge pictures of heart disease & old men coughing their lungs out which the US doesn't do. They even have their cigarettes covered with curtains in gas stations.

I have some impolite things to say about homeland security but since I have to work with them when I design airports, I will mutter them to myself.

Relocation: Day Nine & Ten: Near death, I stayed in my hotel room for a couple of days. I'm respective of the hotel owners that let me stay there & let Itchy wander unattended & for Itchy loving me enough to come back to me. Forever will these days be known as The Black Days of Relocation.

Relocation: Day Eleven. I desperately needed to get to Chicago. My roommates didn't know if I was dead or alive & my cell phone battery died just as I was telling them where I was. So late night I hung out in a rest area while my battery powered up. I slept in my truck with my puppy because there is no place scarier than a Good Sam's at 1am without any working lights.

When I made it to Chicago I was almost pleased to see toll booths & bumper to bumper traffic. My roommate Jason took the day off & unload the trailer with me in under an hour. Then we went to the Uhaul 'castle' to return the trailer. To my joy, the great guys in Fairbanks gave me three extra days on the rental so I wasn't late turning it in:) And what a relief to have that thing off the back of my truck! I was free....& unencombered to try to parallel park again....with a pickup truck. Yeesh! Talk about 42 point parking job.

That night was bliss. Theres nothing as nice as sleeping in your own inflatable bed:)

Monday, November 03, 2008


Relocation: Day Seven. Made to Winnipeg in a deluge. Very unfortunate. I had a coworker in I Alaska that was from Winnipeg & he recommended some sites in town that were all outdoors. So I didn't get to see any of the street buskers at 'The Forks'.

I did eat at this great little cafe called Eat A Samosa that served what else....all samosas. Yummy. I'm glad that I filled up because it was a long evening of entertainment trying to find a hotel that allowed dogs. I was hoping that the Queen Bee Hotel allowed dogs just to see if it was in anyway connected to the black explotation character called Queen Bee. Maybe it was for the best that I didn't stay there because Queen Bee was a huge, afro stylin' madam. Instead I stayed at a no-tell-motel near the college.


Relocation: Day Six. After a horrible nights rest I had another breakfast @ Humpty's. I drove lazily all day in order to make it to Saskatoon. I was hoping it would be like yesterdayin which I could make it in time to go do something in town. Saskatoon was a nice town but not even the Viistors' Center was open. But I did have a mission to make it to a book store.

While I was on the road, I got an email from an architecture firm in China that wanted to interview me when I stopped travelling. So I thought it would be in my best interest to get an instructional Chinese cd set similar to the Japanese one that I had been listening to already. It is amazing how many people don't have a clue where a local book store is in their town. Fortunately the woman at the front desk of my hotel was willing to do a mapquest for me.

I had rushed to Saskatoon to get to the Dolly Museum only to find out that it was closed for the season:( So instead I had my first Arby's in ages....have they changed the formula for a Jamocha shake?

No more pictures because I had used up my disc accidentally when I left the camera on video while I was at the Ukranian Village. One of these days I'm going to read the instruction manual.


Relocation: Day Five. I started the morning off seeing a German Shepard on the side of the road eatting from an elk carrcass. Once I got close to Edmonton around 9am I took a detour to Devon. I'm a real sucker for Japanese gardens & there on the side of the road was a billboard for the Japanese Gardens at the Devon Botanic Gardens.

I drove around Edmonton to the Ukranian Village...which I got a AAA discount, yosh! Its part of the new trend to relocate historic buildings instead of tearing them down in cases of modernization. The village was possibly an entire afternoon walk about. They had the churches closed due to rehabilitating the onion domes but you could walk into practically all the buildings. They had little villages arranged from era of imigration. The first was the 1920's town that had a blacksmith there to talk to you & a shop owner. They could only respond to you in terms of their time period.

My favorite would be the pioneering hut & the 1900's farm. First, I could completely see someone in Alaska living in the hut. Very friendly chickens that I had to push out of the way to get up the path.

The 1900's house was so well built with thermal insulation & dry root storage above the rooms.

And who doesn't like the appeal of a thatched roof.

After a look @ the borsch I decided to get some grub in Edmonton @ my true destination for the day- the Art Museum.

My trip downtown was a complete wash when I couldn't get into the underground parking with my trailer @ the Art Museum! So I decided to find my hotel.

This leads me to my next story. By the time that I arrived to Edmonton I could efficiently describe everything on the road in Japanese do to a instructional cd gift from my friends Rachel & Glenmore. You add that to the fact that I can find by natural intuition either a comic book shop or asian town in any city. Now add to my honing skills that Canada has an ENORMOUS Chinese imigrant population. What happened is I was surrounded by Asian stores on every turn. So I decided to pull into a mini mall to eat at this cafe called SOU KAWAII. (If you know any Japanese, that means so cute.) It was a cosplay cafe/comic shop. What my luck! It only had paninis & bubble tea.
But when Itchy was given her own chair to eat at & my meal was delivered by a guy that looked like this I heard the girls in Alaska saying, "He's definately from out of town." [Which is AK girl slang for an attract man:)]
I spent the night in a hotel room near the train tracks because of over filled hotels. I slept through the trains but Itchy was up every hour.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Relocation- Day Four: Today I tried to do a 668 km push to Edmonton. The first chance to be in a city that has a real art museum & I want to see it! Unfortunately I didn't make it.

Around Pink Mountain there was massive construction. In Canada, where there is only one lane going each way, that means waiting in line for a pilot truck to guide you through the mountains. The other direction has to wait while you come on through & vice versa. This happened three times. All of the semis that I was driving with had to come to a complete stop. So when they started back up again a lot of gravel got kicked up onto my truck. Which means that I have a crack in my windshield now.

After the mountains I got cell phone reception again! By the time I got to Whitecourt I had to eat. I stopped into a Humpty's (they are like Denny's). They have a more British diner menu so I had a Banger & Egg. Once again, like in the Yukon, the egg yolk just didn't have the same colour in it like US eggs? Is it genetic modification or do they just cook them differently?

After my egg I lost complete steam & look at the neon sign across the road there in Whitecourt. I walked across the street & stayed a night at 'The Ritz'. I was dubious but it was a great price, allowed dogs & the room was rather nice. Ofcourse, maybe I thought all of the dives that I was staying in were nice because they were not the inside of my truck.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Relocation: Day Three

Relocation: Day Three. Today is the big 600 mile push to get to Fort Nelson. The lady @ the Vistor Bureau in Whitehorse suggested that I stay the evening at the Laird Hot Springs. But after going to a hot springs the week before & having to take a worm out of my neck I decided to stay far away from Laird. That, and what do you do with a dog @ a hot springs?

So I left the hotel @ 5am to make good time....& to avoid any damage charges. I had this plan that I would dye my hair a brilliant colour for the trip so incase I was abducted, my friends could start searching on my route for a woman with fuscia hair. The bathroom was covered in fuscia even as much care & cleaning I did afterwards. The next problem about leaving that early in the morning is that the gas stations aren't open that early. In most of Canada, they don't have pay-at-the-pump plus they prefer to fill you up themselves (and to get the dogs off of you). But I did find one blessed station that was open. I was wearing camoflague pants so they gave me a 10% off redneck discount & paid for my breakfast!

My lunch break spot was Watson Lake. I made the assumtion that if they had the famous Sign Post forest that they would have food options. I was wrong. This picture is just a small segment of the forest. They are about 16 feet tall so I took the picture from across the road.

They was a lot of stop & go when I got into British Columbia. Many wildlife: caribou, elk & bison. Canada & Alaska that the only wild herds of bison on the continent. The do love to stand in the road. There is something about the gravel that they use up here that keep a certain type of burrowing flies away & so the herds love to stand on the roads. I'm not joking. So you have to patiently wait for them to move.

It was completely fall when I left Alaska so getting past the Canadian Rockies some of the green started showing up as I drove back into Summer. Very beautifull plateaus started to show up but the lakes still had the same glacial minerals that made them the aqua blue.
I think that very rarely can you find a little piece of heaven. But the last of it was in Toad Lake. I pulled into this gas station & was ofcourse greated by their freindly dogs. I went inside and the elderly store keep was baking over an iron oven. She pulled out peanut butter cookies & gave me a hand full for the road. If you were wondering what Itchy was doing this entire time. Hanging in there, tough relocation.
She needed her rest because we soon started to see fence posts! The first ones in the entire trip. Which meant that we were at the end of the Alaskan Highway, Mile 0, Dawson Creek. Dawson Creek is not to be mistaken for Dawson City where you get shots in a bar with frozen toes in them....but that's an entirely different story. We took a walk around and Itchy was a hit! You would of thought that the circus was in town. Entire groups of people were coming out of the stores to see what in the heck she was.
The land went flat after that & soon we were into Fort Nelson. I thought we would stay at the Ramada & live it up, but it wasn't that fancy. They had 'special' rooms for those traveling with dogs which meant that we were sleeping in a glorified kennel with tile floors and metal doors. The clerk was nice though & let me go behind the counter to use his computer to let everyone know that I was alive. No cell phone reception yet.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Relocation: DAY TWO

Relocation, Day Two: Awoke above the bar early to get out & have a real breakfast to get on to the status quo. Haines Juntion is a Man Camp, meaning that its mostly men working, trucking or hunting around. BUT one of my coworkers told me that they had opened a Bakery across from the Vistor Center. A hope of something nicer than gas station coffee! Unfortunately it was closed for the season. So I took a picture of the church in a World War II quionset hut then popped into the diner. When I say Man Camp I mean it, everyone in the diner was male.

My goal for the day was to drive a couple hundred miles to Whitehorse & spend the afternoon there. I had heard of Whitehorse from the Yukon Quest. Its the other end of the race. Plus, the girls from Tundra Caravan bought me a Natahlie Parenteau piece & her studio is in Whitehorse. So I intended to pop in to see her. Ofcourse, when I got there, she wasn't. So I took a walk around downtown whitehorse to look @ all of there history of Good Time Girls. If you are ever in Whitehorse during the summer, go to see their famous can-can show. They are popular in the Yukon. I got to also see something completely new. A wooden skyscraper!
I also didn't know that Whitehorse had a Beringia Museum. I love dinosaurs & was working at Bettisworth North on a Beringia Museum design for the town of Nome. So I definately had to go to this museum.
If you are unfamiliar with what Beringia is, it is the lost sub-continent that connected EurAsia with North America during the last ice age. There was actually several Ice Ages during a 70 million year history but most importantly it was when Mammoths, American Lions, Stepe Bison, Mastodonts, Gomphotheres, early horses & camels, Giant Sloths, American Scimitar Cats & Giant Beaver existed in Alaska & the Yukon. There skeletons are found everywhere & a lady once had a fence in Nome made out of Mammoth tusks!
Some funny curator thought it would be hilarious to have the women coming out of the Women's Bathroom greeted by an angry Scimitar Cat. (Note: they can't be mistaken for Sabretooth Tigers.)
They had taken down the skeleton of the giant beaver so I took a picture of the giant sloth that is 10 feet tall! The most horrifing part of the exhibit is the Giant Beavers because they were the size of a Yugo & were MAN EATERS! Can you image existing in a world that beavers ate humans! The Tlingit have a historic tale of the Wanderer that went up to a family of Giant Beavers and killed the mother & the father infront of the babies. He told them that they better not grow up or they too would be killed like their parents. And supposedly that's the reason we don't have giant, man-eating, beavers anymore.
Miss you more than fuzzy little creatures, V

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Relocation: DAY ONE

Relocation minus day one I went to pick up the Uhaul trailer. I had rented from them before but this time they tell me that I have red & amber lights so I need a convertor put on my hitch so I could use the trailer. I'm in a rush at this point because my friend Rachel has been holding the Vespa in her garage & is taking a couple hours off at work to help me get it in the trailer. $239 & 2 hours later I'm out at Chena Hot Springs Road loading a Vespa into the back of a trailer on my own.

I didn't get everything packed into the back of the trailer before nightfall so I had to finish in the morning. Which means that I didn't leave Fairbanks until 9am. I made it to Delta Junction for lunch.

I finally had the chance to stop at Mukluk Land and it was closed for the season. For everyone in Fairbanks, its similar to Pioneer Park.
I was inspiring to camp that evening @ Kluane Lake since I had been there before & knew the land. It was getting late & my travel around the lake to get to a camp site was delayed by the lack of pavement. Three years & still no road. I was slowing down to pull into a campsite when I had to seriously brake....for three grizzly bears walking across the road into my site.

Sooo- I kept on driving & pulled in late to Haines Junction. One stop light that doesn't work, a plywood painted RCMP(Royal Canadian Mounted Police) car, & three hotels....all of which were full. So I went to a bar & the bartender let me sleep in one of the rooms upstairs. Not bad if you don't mind a room that has car fresheners hanging from the ceiling & a bar bell ringing to the early hours of the night.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Today is my last day with the firm & I'm sad to go. I won't miss the eleven hour work days in the Artic during the winter-time but I will miss the people & the fun projects. BUT my day was brightened when I licked the envelope & dropped my last IDP record in the mail to NCARB(National Council for Architectural Registration Board). This means that I can now apply to sit for my licensing examinations. Whoop-whoop hands in the air!

This past month has been a fond farewell from the State. Crazy attention from Governor Palin abeated. But great weather and very Alaskani things everywhere. I turned on the radio & there was an ad for banjos!

Some great berry picking. I had one of those near death experiences picking raspberries at my friend Rachel's house. She was on vacation when her raspberries were in season. So she offered that I come over & pick how ever many that I wanted. I was expecting just a couple but in fact, Rachel could open a raspberry farm. They were everywhere & the largest ones were in a slough. I saw all of these golf ball sized berries hanging in there so I gracefull went to pick them through the bracken. What I had walked on was a tree fall. Ya' know, where rotting trees fall over a large cravass just waiting for someone to walk over it to break away to there death. Also a great place for badgers to live. I broke through & stopped falling at my waist but I was completely expecting my legs to be shredded by badgers in mating season. And if that isn't enough, I went back for the cranberries & while I was in the forest (like when am I out of the forest) it got quiet & I heard snorting coming from the trees. Just what I need, to be gored to death by a pissed off moose during mating season.
I have been spending some time with my friend Jennie. She had never been to Delta so I took her there. This is Rika's Roadhouse on the way to Delta. I love their crazy loooking chickens!

The building code is very leanient in Alaska. An example of this is this house you drive by on the way to Delta in North Pole. That's Jennie spazing out.
Itchy has become fully adapted to living here. She has discovered that the warmest place to sun bath is on the compost heap. Intelligent if you think about it. Not only is it in the sun but its producing heat because its cooking vegetative waste. Gone through a lot of doggy shampoo though.

JENNIE TOOK ME ON HER COMPANY TRIP TO DENALI NATIONAL PARK. We got on the train @ 7 am in the morning. It took 4 hours to get down there because you travel at around 35 MPH. Plus we had to stop on the way because the brakes were smoking.

It gave me the great chance to take a photo of Mt. McKinley. You rarely get to see it because its covered by clouds. My lucky day.

Everyone should have a cool shot of the train turning around the bend. That's Jennie's reflection in the window by the way. We were trying to escape 'The Fungus' which is a completely different & long story that I won't get into.

On the trip down we got served breakfast of what else other than Reindeer Sausage.

When we arrived at the park we first went to the vistor center to see when the buses to Savage River were leaving. Unfortunately for our timing, it was the end of the season so they had reduced the buses to one & it was running so that we would of missed our train back. Instead we went into Glitter Gluch to be tourists and eat lunch. The best burrito I had in Alaska was at the Salmon Bake--Halibut. Ofcourse, it wasn't a "real" salmon bake if you want to be technicial.

We came back to the park and took a hike. We had such a good time in the cool sun. I don't think it would of been as pleasant if we had gone a week before. There are two seasons of smells in the fall. The first decay makes everything smell like dog poop. The second decay smells like lillies or roses. You find a good spot and just stop to breathe.

My friends in the Lower 48 don't understand when I say that I am going foraging. I had to take a picture of this bush as an example. You see all those little red berries covering it. Those are cranberries. Yum.

We were having such a lovely walk but I thought that we should turn around & head back. We were told to be back to the train by 4pm. At 3:52, I get a call from The Fungus asking where we were. The person that had our tickets said that we hadn't showed up yet. At that time we were right across the street. So we hung up & than he called me right back and I said this:

V: "What?! What?!"
The person on the other line: "Are you planning on catching the train at Healy?"
V: "Who is this?"
The person on the other line: "The Conductor! Where are you?!"
V: "Ten feet from the train." Whimper in my voice.
The Conductor: "Well get on! We're all waiting for you!"

So Jennie & I jump on our car. Everyone in the car stand up to applaud us & take pictures. When they stopped clapping, I made an announcement: "Whoever gave my phone number to the Conductor---Meet me in the parking lot when we get to the station." They all laughed.

Miss you more than getting into arguements with men that KNOW how to wield a sledge hammer,

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm Inspired by....

Wim DeIvoye
Check out his Gothic Work made from iron gates & railings:
The stain glass windows in a chapel he did done with x-ray collages:
His team that tattooed pigs. His website shows step-by-step proceedure. This photo makes me think of group of sailors after their first night in port.

Go see more of his work at his website www.wimdeivoye.de

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

If it ain't broke.....

Do you remember my incidient last April at the Urban Tribal workshop? If you want to scroll down to that page it will tell you that I exploded a blood vessel on the top of my foot, went to the doctor & got x-rays that showed that I had been prancing along on a broken foot. They gave me Motrin, an ice pack & instructions to call them back in three weeks if the pain continued. It did so I did & they told me 'okay' call us back in three weeks if the pain continues. In that three weeks, I received a bill for $245 for Motrin & an ice pack. So I decided to take some time to contimplate which hurt more, the foot or the bill.

Well its been over a year & I now can't feel my toes on that foot. So I sucked it up, accepted that I had crappy insurance & then instead of a vacation this year I would get my foot fixed. This time not to the same PA. I decided to go to a friends office @ Interior Community Health Center. It doesn't have any fancy machines (like an x-ray) but they do have a sliding scale for payments. Plus I get to see an actual doctor!! I honestly thought that the only way that I could get to see a real doctor in Alaska if I got mauled by a bear.

At first I was dubious of this doctor because he went all over ligiments & nerves how they can do one thing & then feel a different way. He said to call him up in a week & a half if I hadn't heard from him to remind him to look @ my x-rays. At that point I wanted to scream but he took me very seriously a week later when I was a dance class & my foot cracked so loud that they stopped the class- then the next day it was as if my pinky toe was completely gone.

I have a Marching Fracture in my bone connected to that pinky. They call it that because it doesn't happen instentaniously but over long period of exerted use. Doing what you ask? Releves. But that might not be the cause of the pain & lack of sensation. So off I went yesterday to get an MRI. They sent me into the billing lady first to verify my information & she asked me if I wanted to pay the 20% co-pay. I said sure but then she hit me with $305 co-pay & I gasped. She asked me if that was alright & I told her 'No! but what's my other option- paralysis?' This is the first time that I actually hoped that they find something wrong.

I'll keep you informed,but until then I miss you more than coughing in an MRI & they have to start the whole series over again....twice, V

Shit I'm Diggin'

It is sooo slow in the office recently. After you finish building an airport what do you do to fill up all that time you spent hours upon hours detailing & writting consultant correspondences? Surfing the web!

I've gotten into J-Rock lately & got set up on an announcement bulletin anytime that a band was coming to the US I would get a newsletter about when & where their appearance would be. The band that I'm excited about lately is Quaff.

They represent a new trend in Japan called Neo-Japanese. Instead of imitating english speaking rock groups, they are now trying to insert more traditional Japanese attributes to their music or look. It can range from bands wearing kimonos (with baseball hats) to using traditional instruments. Quaff does the later, they use the twin voice technique; UTA & TUZURI. Uta is the melody and Tuzuri is closely what I can compare to rap. The guy that does the tuzuri uses a fan as a prop....which means he's the only rapper that uses a fan in history. Femine to Westerners but in Japan, I've only seen yakuza (gangsters) welding fans, so I guess its very tough.

You can get their music online or you can download their latest lp [The Explosion] on itunes. My favorite song on the album is Saihara-no-miyako, if your computer shows Romanji. Or you can go see them in concert this month. Most Japanese bands play LA. If you are lucky they'll play Dallas. If they're really popular than they'll fly all the way to NYC. Which boggles my mind that Quaff is playing in Atlanta?!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Mira Betz Weekend

After work on Friday I ran home to get all of my costumes & run back to town for the Fairytale performance. Like most bellydance workshops, you have a performance to show the local talent that is taking the classes & the instructor that has flown into teach. This was the first workshop hosted as Cold Fusion.

It came off really well. The first dance was of the entire troupe (except Jennie because she was in Colorado at a funeral) doing Rachael's choreography to Bollywood filmy music. Rachael is a great Indian dance instructor. The rest of the troupe had been working on this dance for three months, I only had one month to catch-up. It was quite a curve since I had never danced filmy before.
Here we are backstage in our new awesome panel skirts & corset tops. Man is my hair lightening up! Also notice all of our Alaskan tans?
There were a bunch of dancers up from the south that had some great routines. They were so good that I was getting nervous that Liz & my's dance wouldn't be any good. Plus we were going on right before the headliner, Mira Betz. But the fear was dismissed the instant Little Red Riding Hood, skipped onto the stage....followed slinkily by yours truely-The Big Bad Woof, dressed in cheetah print & bell bottoms. The crowd started cheering when 1 minute in I grabbed Liz & started to do a tango. By the time I started disco dancing I could barely hear the music. I was amazed! You can usually get the standard calls from the other dancers while you perform, but the whole crowd was into it. Our end pose is all Saturday Night Fever, with Liz crouching at my feet & I'm wide legged with my arm pointing to the sky. The crowd went wild & gave us a standing ovation!!
Doesn't Liz look KAWAII?! You wouldn't know that she was completely stressed about defending her thesis this week. Which I went to. I will say that I understood maybe 45% of her talk on Beringian Polytomy but that's only because she speaking in English..I think.

Back to the workshop, I got to spend some wonderful training time with Mira Betz. She is a fantastic dancer & went really into isolations. Stuff that I have still not mastered since I went to a Bellyqueen's class in the Village last summer. I got to spend four days with her & even got to have to private lessons. Itchy on the other hand got to spend days & nights with Mira. Itchy got evicted from my apartment last week because the management didn't believe that she was a cat. Idiots! So I had to find her a place to stay for ten days until I got a new place or I would have to pay $25/day to have her stay in the apartment. Mary was very kind to let her stay over with her & Mira. Itchy slept with Mira every night & they became great pals. Here's the new friends.
I hate to say it, but I'm a little bit happy that this will be the last CRAZY weekend full of activites for a while. The only thing that I've got going on this weekend is a couple of BBQs...maybe I'll go see Wall-E. So tootles until something interesting happens.

Miss you more than heat pads, V

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shit I'm Digging

This is the work of one awesome Adam- Monster Size Monster Chandliers. I must have one! Check out all of his Cthulhu looking chandliers http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=30560249
I'm wondering what came first in this room. The chandlier was designed to go in the room, or the room was designed to go with the chandlier?

Midnight Sun

It was the biggest celebration in town this past weekend. I would even dare to say bigger than Christmas. The leading factor being that its warm! We finally reach 80F this Saturday during the Midnight Sun Festival.

I got asked back to do another street painting at the festival. Instead of doing my own piece and then having the other girls share a piece 'we' decided to all work on my piece. That decision was made the day before when the girls hadn't picked their own piece to do:) So this time around I decided to tackle the ever present, nagging question, "Why don't you do Alaskan art?" Never when I was in Colorado did anyone ever as me to do Coloradan art. I discussed this with other people & came to believe that this is only so with transplants. People that move to Alaska are obsessed with anything & everything Alaskan. Fine be that way, but its rediculious to want Alaskan art as a street painting. That would be either a landscape or a painting of a native....stuff that you can see everywhere!

Needless to say, I decided to give them what they want & did a piece I titled:

Napoleon Crossing the Alaskan Range on Moose

I decided to adapt David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps to make it into 'Alaskan art'....just add a moose. A lot of people laughed, some still asked why I didn't do Alaskan art.

The next day I went to an outdoor wedding. I had to wear dark stockings & tennies because I was so sore & bruised. I was embrassed to go like this but when I showed up- I was the most dressed up besides the wedding party.

The reception was on the sternwheeler Tanana Chief. We board @ 7pm & returned @ 10pm. Since this was a Chinese wedding, for the first time I can actually say that I was Shanghaied:) This wedding was helpful for my research. I'm under the belief that there is no such thing as a free meal in Alaska. I have only been to one dinner that all I had to do was show up. Every other occasion it was potluck. So what was the wedding? You got it, potluck! Though they called it a heritage meal. You were supposed to bring a meal representing your own heritage. I brought English trifle; easy to make, a bitch to find a dish for. I ended up having to use an oversized brandy glass that I got from the flora decoration section of Michael's.

The conversation was good. I learned a new bit of trivia. The term 'Poop Deck' comes from the sternwheelers. The bathrooms are located at the back, infront of the wheels. When the toilet is used & the wheels are turning, guess where the poop gets flung? Good times.

Miss you more than people that got their art exprience other than from the internet, V

A moment of Zen

Itchy goes everywhere with me, even to work. My dance partner Rachel had to take of picture of Itchy while we were practicing at UAF's Great Hall (one of the only free practice space in town). She looks so at peace in such a vast space.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bento box love

Just a short note about the awesomness that is bento boxes. Two weeks ago I was roaming around the storage/closet organization section of Fred Meyer's & there sitting on the clearance shelf were two Japanese bento boxes. With my added coupon, I paid for 12 cents each. Score!

So I went & got this suggested bento boxes cookbook:

Then I decided that once a week, I would make bento for myself & my new roommate Jenny. So I did the grocery shopping which in Fairbanks is more like a scavenger hunt. Atleast now I'm more knowledgable about shopping up here. Example-- at the Korean store, when there was only one container of Umeboshi left, I wasn't planning on cooking with it this week but I want to make some onigiri with it, I decided to buy it anyway. I wanted chesnuts for New Year's....they restocked them last week. Understand?

This is today's lunch. My first attempt @ a bento box lunch:

To use English terms: Daikon rice sprinkled with GREAT pepperoni pizza (tastes better than you would think) furigaki; sauted lotus root, marinated steamed mackerel (tastes great! smells awful); Japanese omelet (meaning there's sake in there); fruit on a fruit stick (I'm excited about the fruit stick, I found it at the new party store while waiting for my I/M test:); & Sesame balls....don't ask me where you can buy them because I made those bad boys all on my own. Yup, my number one favorite in all Chinese buffets is the Sesame Ball & I figured out how to make them. My roommate had them for the first time last night & she quoted from Kung Fu Panda "There is not cost for awesomeness!"

Miss you more than chopsticks, V

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Costume Malfunction

More dancing & art.
Every Friday night @ 7pm in June, I will be dancing @ the gazebo in Pioneer Park with Tundra Carvan. This summer is going to be a completely different experience from last summer because now I know more than two of their dance routines & am in the professional troupe. With the professional troupe comes the bedlah costume. My measurements were taken & sent to Turkey, then late last month my beaded & sequins bra & belt set came in....6 inches too big. I asked the other ladies where to take them to get professionally altered & they told me that they would get back with me. I waited & waited until Thursday night I decided to pin it myself. Brilliant!...that is until I was dancing 'The Huntress' & the back of my bra came detached. I finished the dance but it was almost a breathtaking performance. Atleast I wasn't the only one that had a malfunction. On the next song, Liz's bra snapped open in the front. Ouch!

I've been doing a lot of street painting. One during the Memorial Day weekend on the river walk then this past Friday out front of The Stash store for their grand opening on the First Friday Art Walk.

Ellen did Andy Warhol's bull

I did his Siberian Tiger

And Jennie did his monkey

Besides streets I've done some signs for a friend's tea shoppe. (I haven't taken any pictures of that) I've been doing so much that I started to get worried if I'll have enough chalks for the Midnight Sun Festival next weekend. So I called up my friend Kitty Kim to go to Meininger's in Denver & pick me up some of the HUGEMONOUS Prang chalks. She politely called me with Meininger's store manager to tell me that Prang has discontinued those chalks. My earth has shattered!! They were huge & only costed $1.90/chalk, if I want to get the same size chalk in another brand then it will cost me $14/chalk! There is no justice for artists?

Luckily there was repreve this week when Fairbanks had its first goth club night. Yippee! I had just moved into my new apartment with wonderfule roommate, Jenny, & had only unpacked a couple of boxes when I found out about the evening. So I had to dig through the back of my truck to find something to wear. Trust me, I may be living in an Upper Fairbankian ghetto, but I still didn't want all of my belongings displayed on the parking lot for neighbors to scope out. But I did do it all for one skirt & a dress. No only does fashion make you insane, its also painful.

The whole party was being thrown because Kynt & Vixen from the Amazing Race were coming through town. Nice people, but I didn't have the guts to tell them that I hadn't owned a tv since 1994. There was an amazing turn-out of 20 people! Whoo hoo! Of that 20 people I think 6 of us had actually listened to the music before.