Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Letter: Day 5

In November we hiked out to the glacier to play tag. There was a light rain/snow and the rocks were slick. We tagged the glacier “TAG! You’re it” and ran the 4 miles all the way back to the car. That glacier never had a chance.

Just an hour before we wrote this we went walking on the Mendenhall Lake. The ice is at least 6 inches thick and is bound to get thicker still. Even so, we could hear booms as the ice creaked, cracked and ground in pressure seams and against the shoreline. Due to the cold, we turned around and headed home well before we got close to the glacier. We live in an amazingly beautiful place, when the sun shines. Mr. X is convinced that whoever named Sunday, lived in Juneau at some point, for it tends to be the sunny day of the week.

This holiday season we are so grateful for the love that our Savior has for us. We are thankful to know of His Atoning sacrifice that leads us back to Him. We hope this letter finds you fit, hale and happy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Letter: Day 4

photo: Juneau Empire
Mr. X was called to teach early morning seminary for the high school juniors and seniors in Juneau. Sarah attends the class to be sure to have a ride to work. Mr. X is convinced that seminary would be lively if pets (dogs and chickens welcome) were required classroom items. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) thus far Mr. X has only required students to be awake, in their seats, with scriptures, pencil and paper during class time. As a minor triumph, Sarah has managed to devalue the jolly-rancher currency by flooding the market. The merest mention of jolly-ranchers brings out the darkest and most contemptible looks of loathing from the students, which tends to brighten our mornings.

In September, we finally got to put our new car through its paces. We were just leaving work, when 5 Orca (killer whales) pulled up along side us and revved their tails. The one with the pompadour, slick with hair gel, laughed over at us and said “Are ya chicken?” That was all it took for Sarah to have our car from 0 to 40 in 3 seconds when the light turned green. Not to be out done, those killer whales kept pace with us well up Gastineau Channel, at times doubling back, leaping and playing as if this race was for the kiddy league. Mr. X never thought that he would live in a place where SeaWorld’s famed Shamoo actually went drag racing in town. Maybe on the outskirt, but not in town anyway. Mr. X never thought about where Shammoo spent his time in the off-season nor his possible connections to “Grease” in his earlier professional career before he hit it big.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Letter: Day 3

In July we went to Michigan to visit Mr. X’s family. We had a great time at the Zoo and just hanging around Mom X’s home. On safari, Abe or Cole or possibly Maggie almost ran Mr. X over with the range rover while driving away from another “incident”. Fortunately Mr. X was only thrown 20 ft or so and remained conscious enough to load up Jacob and Paul, before a stampede of wildebeests, gemsboks, and tsetse flies came thundering through. It was a close and lucky thing, as it distracted the Ben and the Masai warriors temporarily, long enough to get the jeep running again and make our escape.

No summer would be complete without a trip to one of Juneau’s cabins. In June, our friends hosted us on a trip to the Taku Harbor cabin. Our friend’s boat felt tiny in the heavy swells but we enjoyed fine weather and a bonfire at night. What would a night at the cabin be without a nocturnal gambit with meadow voles, hell-bent on absconding with our snacks and cookies? Fortunately the walls held firm.

For the Fourth of July we rented the Windfall lake cabin and lake. We planned for mud and rain, but experienced going belly up in hot sun, cool breezes and everything that makes for a perfectly lazy summer’s day. “O the weight of a sunbeam.” (D. Lewis) The hot buttery popcorn and snacks were great. Lakeside reading on the floating dock was pleasurable. The canoe paddle was placid and the swimming was refreshing. Ah, the joys of a well spent $35.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Letter: Day 2

March found us in Fairbanks, visiting Mr. X’s sister’s family, where we enjoyed seeing family, the dogs, ducks and chickens, the Fairbanks Ice Festival and Chena Hot Springs. We had perfect -25 degree weather (Mr. X is happy to be able to count up to twenty still, retaining all his very important digits). We would have packed a dog or two home (and maybe a chicken, aside from the ones we ate), save for the shipping cost (unbeknownst to many, chickens don’t like to travel light) and apartment rules “No Dogs or Chickens Allowed!” It’s amazing how specific and adaptable landlords can be about rules.

Sarah’s mom came to visit us in June. We had lots of fun showing her around town, and touring the Mount Roberts Tram and the Tracey Arm Fjords. We attended a very interesting social in which we met a very large and amiable Marmot who told rather entertaining jokes and stories, (over hors d’oeuvres), which tended to be decidedly droll or low brow or both.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Letter: Day 1

Our year began in a bitter sweet sort of way. Our VW Diesel Golf, who had been in the family since Sarah learned to drive, who had braved the blistering heat of southern Utah and the bone chilling blizzards of Alaska, was finally called home. Unfortunately its passing came during the winter season, where lightening storms are not common in this part of the country. Without lightening and the perplexing but reliable talents of our close friends Dr. F. and his talented assistant (who incidentally are back in Transylvania visiting Igor’s mother, who according to Igor “ith feeling all thumbth”), we were unsucceththful, sorry, unsuccessful in reanimating the dead. Thus closes a bright chapter in our lives.

This April was a busy month, traveling three out of the four weeks. Mr. X went to Anchorage and Sitka to meet with fishermen, processing plants, and Fish and Game staff. Sarah traveled to Kansas City, MO for meetings about insurance regulation. After long days in meetings, she was able to enjoy seeing the local sites, including a WWI memorial, a Hibachi grill and dinner theater featuring Klinger from M*A*S*H*.

Our Christmas Letter

Dear Friends:
In years past, we have sent out a lengthy holiday letter. The origins of this letter generally start with SarahJane making a **short** list of our adventures for the year and then handing it to Mr. X for his approval. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Mr. X is a great writer and the short list becomes a three page tome.

Since this blog is the place that I recount all of our adventures, we decided to put the full Christmas letter here rather than send it to all of our family.

So, over the next five days I plan to post an installment of the Our Alaska Adventures - year in review.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Dear Elders and Sister:
Thank YOU! for the Christmas breakfast yesterday. The belgian waffles with ice cream and strawberries were delicious; the eggs and ham perfect. Your decorations were simple but festive.
Thanks for getting up an hour early to cook the victuals and set up the church. Thanks for staying late to clean up EVERY.THING.
I think the seminary kids appreciated your efforts; I know I did.
Happy Holidays,

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Troubles at Kroger: Frugal Consumers

Did you all catch the time article: The troubles at Kroger: Frugal Consumers?

Apparently Kroger's stock has fallen because they had an unexpected loss of nearly $875 million and doesn't expect improvement until the 3rd quarter of 2010. This loss was not limited to Kroger, all major grocery retailers have taken a hit.

The best part of this short article:
"Grocery retailers began slashing prices in the spring in an effort to lure cash-conscious shoppers into their stores, says Mushkin. "People have been trading down aggressively — from sirloin steak to hamburger — which affects grocery sales," he says, and many consumers are actively price-shopping for individual items."

"'We need the unemployment rate to start falling," he says. "You can't have people shopping at four different stores [to get the best price for a single item] — they need to get back to work and convenience needs to trump price" for grocery retailers to see a significant rebound."

Both Fred Meyer (Kroger) and CarrsSafeway in my area have just started a new campaign: lower prices - look for the yellow sign. Should we expect these price wars to continue? Will we see some stores get bought out? Or will unemployment ease and people get back to "business as usual"? what do you think?

Another question: Did retailers really slash prices or were they just bringing prices back to the levels they were two years ago? For example, we experienced a 25% increase in the cost of milk in 2008 due to the high cost of fuel (remember $5.25/gallon of diesel). So, have grocery prices been slashed, or have we merely seen a "correction"?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Movie Review: Kiki's Delivery Service

First off, I'm not a fan of anime. Mr. X will pick up a DVD at the library and I will make plans to be elsewhere when he watches his flick. Not so with Kiki's Delivery Service. Mr. X popped the dvd into the player, and I was immediately drawn into the story.

Kiki is a juvenile witch who must leave home at age 13 to receive training, establish a trade, and make her way in the world. We get to see Kiki leave home and beloved parents, travel to the city and start her delivery service. Along the way she runs into trouble, meets new friends, and overcomes her own insecurity.

Fortunately Kiki is able to take along her trusty cat, Jiji, who both helps and hinders Kiki.

This is a great movie; it's laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, and awkwardly romantic. I highly recommend it to anyone, but especially those who've previously thought anime wasn't for them.

Probably the best part of the film has nothing to do with the plot. At one point in the movie Kiki is sick and Jiji tries to take care of her. He says, "Oh, you don't feel well. Maybe we should eat something." I actually couldn't stop laughing when I heard that; Mr. X has been using that line on me since we met 8 years ago. It's his ploy to get me to cook for him. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Since you asked...

We took the car in to the shop yesterday to have the check engine light looked at. There were a slew of error codes which we assume were triggered from the emergency stop we made for the dog. One of the codes was for the charcoal canister in the gas tank. The repair was covered under our warranty so we were able to get out the door for $84.50...sounds awfully close to $85. I don't think it's a coincidence. Looks like the dog got hers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ruining Christmas

Last night, less than a block from home, an Expedition coming toward us in the dark, laid on his horn. A split second later a little dog came into view right in front of us. Mr. X stomped on the brakes and we heard the ABS brakes do their job.

I jumped out of the car and just about fell on my backside from the black ice beneath my feet. I called to the dog who happily came running. I scooped the little beagle up, asked the pedestrians around if they recognized her, and then took her home - to my house.

Since our lease explicitly says no animals, and I'm fighting a cold (NO door knocking) we took the dog to the pound. She was really pleased with her adventure until the scent of the air became very unfamiliar.

When we arrived at the shelter she jumped on Mr. X, who held her and told her all about the place: "this is where dogs go when they get lost; they'll help you find your owner, and it's warm inside". Poor Mr. X; he had flashbacks of his days as an Animal Control employee. He reminded me that his boss specifically avoided sending him to dog jobs.

Anyway, the dog's safe and warm. But I just took a chunk out of someone's Christmas budget; it's a minimum $85 to get her out. Yeah, I'm the jerk who just ruined Christmas.

If it makes you feel any better, the Corolla's check engine light turned on this morning. How's that for carma?