Friday, October 31, 2008

Our poor dog

Yesterday our poor dog's back legs stopped working. He has whats called interverbral disc disease which is common in his breed.
He has two discs in his back that have calcified, meaning what should be cartilage, (like the soft stuff on our ears), turned into bone.
What was really surprising was how fast this progressed. He was fine all day, running around, jumping on furniture, pretty much going crazy like a super bouncy ball, and then all of a sudden he was having trouble walking. He was shaking really bad and feverish.
Kayla and Stephen took him to the vet this morning and they did some xrays and they showed that 2 of his lumbar region discs (where his lower legs are) were moved way up and had slipped above his spine, pretty much making his lower legs paralyzed. They gave him steriod shots and some medication to help with the pain and gave the option of doing surgery and steriod treatment (which both may or may not help him out). The vet said we'd have to "coax" him to relieve his bladder (meaning push on his bladder to empty it) and that if he needed to empty out his bowels, he'd have no feeling at all of the urge and the bowels would just empty out themselves.
He's been a part of our lives since Jeffrey was less than a year old ... so pretty much a part of our family. Since he's really Kayla's dog, we left the decision up to her. Poor girl --- she first decided to just do the steriod method. Stephen called me while the vet was talking about the options and it made me cry too, as much as I say how much I dislike the dog, but feeling what Kayla must be going through made my heart ache. The vet said he was a very good candidate for the surgery and could get him scheduled for surgery on Monday. Right when they got back from the vet, we decided to go ahead with the surgery. Stephen will fly with him to Anchorage on Monday and hopefully Duke should be well enough to come home on Thursday. If the surgery doesn't help, there's a specialist here that concentrates on dachsunds who does therapy and helps dogs adjust to those cart things, I guess dog wheelchairs. But, keeping my fingers crossed that the surgery will help.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cell phones

Remember the days when we never even thought about these things???

One of my earliest memories is going to the big, old school house building in Kipnuk to wait for a phone call by the only phone there was in Kipnuk. And you had the option of doing a collect call, where the other person you're talking to pays for the call, or the "time and charge" call where you talked for however long you wanted to talk and then a few minutes after you hung up, the operator would call back and tell you how much you had to pay for the conversation you just had. There was a phone operator sitting at the phone waiting for the phone to ring, and they would announce over the CB radio, and say something like "Ella, you're going to get a call from so and so in 10 minutes, please come to the old school building to take your call." Or if you wanted to make a call your self, telling the phone person you're doing a time and charge call (or collect).

I once got such a call from Takuskuaq, one of my bestest childhood friends, right after her and her 3 brothers and her mom and dad moved to Kwigillingok. She is about 2 -3 yrs older than me and we shared chicken pox, tea (coffee, water or milk), roaming in the tundra, and so much laughter together. I missed her if we didn't see eachother during the day and when we were sick, we'd even go see eachother and once, she walked me home half way even when she was sick with a blanket wrapped around her because we wanted to see eachother so much.

I remember that they had a sailboat that hung off the ceiling that belonged to her dad. Her mom made us matching crocheted headbands one time and it was so neat to wear the matching things together.

They lived in a house in Kipnuk that they sold to Joe Paul which now houses one of Nallaq's kids. At one time, it was a store called the "Cracker Jack Cabin". Our favorite teen hangout in nowhere Alaska. There was a jukebox in there, where for a quarter you got to pick 4 songs and our favorite was "Dream Dream Dream" by the Righteous Brothers. And us trying to show off our alto voices and showing off that we could harmonize.

I can't remember what Takuss and I talked about that time, but that we missed eachother and she told me that little Kwiggers had their faces against their windows trying to look inside their house and seeing who was in there. She wanted me to call her collect, but I never had to courage to go up to the stern phone operator to say I wanted to make such a call. We continued our friendship through letters for a long time, way into my high school years. They had moved away when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade.

So that is my perspective of those long ago days and being able to instantly be in phone contact with anybody these days.....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday 13

Thirteen things to be happy about winter snow:

1. Its white and clean - crisp and so fresh looking away from the dirty looking sense that fall brings with rain and old leaves

2. You can burn a lot of calories cross country skiing on it - Stephen and I took up skiing in our neighborhood park area and its beautiful to get out in the cool air

3. Snow insulates your house, your yard, etc from the cold - to keep pipes from freezing and insulating perennials

4. To make snow angels - plop down on the snow and move your arms and legs all around and make a pretty impression on the sheet of white snow

5. Its pretty coming down in huge snowflakes - especially when its not too cold out and trying to catch a flake with your tongue

6. Instant fridge for whatever you want cooled off - throw out a few cokes and they cool off instantly

7. Snow machine riding in the big white - so much fun whizzing around and feeling the air whooshing past along with the world

8. Its a nice escape from mosquitoes - no question about that

9. To make snow cones with - yum snow cones, especially on a hot summer day

10. Makes cleaning up yucky dog poop easier - our damn dog, Duke -- what a pain

11. To make snow men with - and then destroy them (hehehhe)

12. Have a snow ball fight - the best is the wet snow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

North Pole, Alaska

This is the sign next to the Baptist Church on St. Nicholas Drive in North Pole, Alaska. There is an RV Park behind it, and then the famous Santa Claus House down the street from it.
North Pole was given its name in hopes of attracting a toy factory into town that never transpired for some reason that I'm too busy to look into. Its an attraction to many tourist, both in summer and winter seasons. The famous Santa Claus House is situated here, like I said, with its exotic, Christmasy goods for sale all year round. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can find Father Christmas there ready to hear your wishes and dreams for the holiday season, or whenever you happen to stop by. We've never been lucky enough to catch him there, must be the other days that we stop by --either that or he's on break, feeding the reindeer right outside or getting a yummy mocha from the coffee shop right inside.
North Pole is home to about 7,500 souls, a lot of the folks working out of Eielson AFB or Ft Wainwright. Downtown North Pole boasts a Pizza Hut, Blockbuster, McDonalds, a couple of banks, an AT&T Store, Wendy's and the famous Pagoda Restaurant. Another place to get a good meal is Dalman's right on Badger Road with friendly folks to serve up a meal. There are 3 gas stations, Sourdough, Tesoro and ... is it another Sourdough???.. hmmmm, I'm not exactly sure, but right within less than 100 yards from eachother.
There is a highschool, a middle school and an elementary school - with more than a few churches within the area, of all denominations. A senior center, dental and optometry offices, even a couple of salons that offer day spas. There is a hotel opening up right next to Safeway, an indoor play center with laser tag and electric go-carts. You can also find the Chena Lakes Recreation Area right outside the city area open all year round. There's a kids park, lakes to fish in, picnic tables and pavilions, ski trails, and hiking trails. Also near the park, is the Chena Lakes Flood Plain built by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Weather here is extreme -- in the winters, down to -60 in the coldest of days. The sun rises about 10am in the morning and goes down about 4pm in the afternoon. Snowfall is about 6-10 inches.
Summer days are long, about 16+ hours of daylight from June - Aug with mid 70s and low 80s degrees as the norm. Tons of mosquitoes but lots to do.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I learned to knit by watching ladies during the Women's Fellowship/Ladies Aide nights when I was about 7-8 yrs old at the Sunday school building or the mission house of the Kipnuk Moravian Church. It was Tuesday and Friday nights and I forget what the difference between the two was, but it was pretty much the same women getting together to knit/crochet whatever their fancy struck, all in the name of raising funds for the church. They also did embroidery and cross stitch projects. Some of the beautiful products they made were afghans, warm hats, beautiful knit mittens and comfy socks. They'd hold a sale displaying their handiwork along with baked products. At Christmas time, they'd hold a gift exchange among all who wanted to part take and hold an afternoon of fun and games to celebrate.
One of my memories was watching Carrie Paul knitting away, I had learned to crochet with help from my mom and wanted to try out the other crafts the other ladies were involved in. My first knit project was a sock of various colors and with different types of knitting weaved into it. I was probably 7 or 8, my aunt hung it up in her house as a display, and the funny thing was, it actually looked like a sock! hehhehe. I also crocheted (sp?) a v-neck sweater with various scrap yarn for my sister when she was 2 or 3 yrs old. It was going to be for Oscar, but I got tired of it and ended it early, but it fit her. I made her wear it but she didn't want to wear it outside of the house. What a project it must've been, because now, I only do small projects, like hats or scarves, nothing too fancy. Right now I'm knitting a hat for my sis, I went at it full force for 3-4 days, and slacking off now so close to the end.
Knitting to me, is a relaxing, take a break, let my mind wander kind of thing. Kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle, concentrating so hard on something other than the norm. Like a solace from the stressors of life.
I bought this book from one of the local craft stores called the Encyclopedia of Knitting. Its pretty interesting, there's on article in there showing pictures of a knitted sock with intricate designs that was made in Egypt during the Cleopatra era.

**image from

Friday, October 3, 2008


October is breast cancer awareness month - but every month should be a time of awareness for this horrible disease for us boobied people.
I attended a luncheon today at the beautiful Princess Hotel in Fairbanks where proceeds of the yummy lunch went to the Breast Cancer Detection Center of Alaska. Its an annual fund raiser to pay for mammograms for those that can't afford such a procedure.
The luncheon was a Gala Hat Affair. I saw a beautiful array of hats both on display and covering the crowns of many attendees. There were also baskets, jewelry, and art to bid on on a silent auction. There were women of many walks of life and also men supporting this good cause.
According the the National Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women will develop this type of cancer. Its the second leading cause of death (lung cancer is first) in women. In Alaska, 300 women are diagnosed with this cancer and 60 of them die to this disease every year. Early detection through mammograms and with monthly self breast exams increases the chances of surviving.
Many of us know a person who has been affected by this cancer, whether it be a friend, a mother, a sister, an aunt or maybe ourselves.
Join the fight to find a cure.