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March 19, 2014 / theanimalmother

Ice Sculptures

The past month or so has really flown by.  We’ve pretty much been holed up in the cabin.  I’ve been working seriously on my studies (just kidding–I’ve been crocheting and watching Supernatural on Netflix).

The winter wasn’t terribly long or cold, but it feels like we are waking up from a long slumber to suddenly a bunch of daylight and plenty of things to do.  For those of you keeping score at home: we are up to almost 12 hours of daylight.

Today we went to the Ice Sculpture Park, which is part of the World Ice Sculpting Championships.  It’s been a little warm in Fairbanks, so the sculptures were starting to get melty.  There were enormous sculptures, there were small ones, there were once for touching and climbing on, and there were ice slides, including one that looked like a dinosaur.

We went with a friend who has a daughter, and she had a great time running around, going down the slides, and at one point, licking one of the statues.

The sculptures were incredible.  There were lots of bears, a few fantastical creatures, some abstract, and many that looked like they were modeled on figurines you buy at the gas station.  The Venus Flytrap one was pretty great, and so were the ones of dancers and gymnasts.  There were several that looked like they has really been messed up by melting and were in ruins already, but it was pretty cool to see such a mutable art.

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January 14, 2014 / theanimalmother

Winter Break

Finals caught up with me in a big way.  It was dark and I was inside writing all the time, so I had a pretty difficult time telling when one day started and ended.  It was mostly a cavalcade of wondering how long I had been wearing specific sweatshirts and calculating coffee-intake to output-productivity metrics as I bustled along those last few weeks.

Immediately after finishing my final class, I caught a plane back to my lower-48 brethren.  I feel like the past couple weeks have just been crying and hugging and eating, but in a good way.  I got my dad hooked on facebook and my mom hooked on BBC Sherlock.  I pet lots of cats and saw some people who legitimately make my life a whole lot better and ate a lot of really delicious food.  I got to drive around the frosty, windy Midwest and sing in the car and just generally got some really excellent recharge time.

Time to get back to Fairbanks and get back in the zone for another semester.  I’ve made some 2014 goals (I am loath to call them resolutions) but they are more like guidelines for how I’d like to spend the year.  Basically, it boils down to less time dicking around and more time being generative and useful.

But I leave you with these things: my generative and useful Tumblr, my less-useful but still generative Instagram, and my neither generative nor useful Twitter.  I feel as though I may have to warn you that although I keep my online persona relatively clean, I do use lots of strong and perhaps coarse language both in text and pictures, I do it with the utmost care and love of all words.  I update these things far more reliably than I do this blog, but hopefully with my goals (resolutions) in place I will be more generative and useful here as well.

I leave you now with a few pictures of my break.

Here’s some bread.

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Henry!

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December 10, 2013 / theanimalmother

Derby and that Stuff

Being in grad school (although fun and awesome) is also time-consuming.  There’s lots to read, classes, meetings, writing, waiting for the copier to be fixed, refreshing the inter-library loan page, staring at computer screens, grading students’ homework, more meetings, waiting for water to boil for tea, reading, reading, and some more reading.

Because of that, I’ve had to sacrifice Wednesday night practices to the grad school gods.  It makes me sad, because I am not only missing league practice, but I also miss an hour of practice with my home team, the Raven Rebels.  There was a bout a few weeks ago; the two home teams played each other, and I didn’t get to skate because I didn’t make practice requirements.

So, as you may already know, I reffed my first bout.

Since I’ve been with FBXRG, I’ve been working with their officials.  There aren’t a lot of people who come up here to play bouts or have clinics, especially for officials.  They are all very excited and hungry to learn things about derby.  I happen to know some stuff about derby, and they were excited to have someone to work with them.  We’ve been integrating officials more into regular practice, like calling penalties during drills, as well as having officials’ practice, where we (the skaters) pretend to commit penalties.  We also do endurance and skills and rules chats.  It’s pretty great.  So, when I wasn’t rostered for the game, and we were short an OPR for the bout, the refs asked me to fill in.  I had never officiated anything more than fresh meat practices, and it’s been at least a year since I’ve done that.

All the FBXRG officials are incredibly warm and welcoming.  They bought me a ref shirt with my name on it, and a Fox 40.  I was sad to not skate with my team, but people from both teams came up to me after and told me a I did a good job.  I was incredibly proud that I maintained an unbiased look at the game, and I called a metric butt-ton of penalties.  It’s strange to consider that this would really not be ok in a lot of places, especially in the contiguous 48 states where there are abundant skating officials from which to choose.  I’m thankful and excited I was allowed this opportunity.  I’d like to continue to officiate, but I can’t give up playing.

In the meantime, I’m trying to build up my skill deficits.  I’ve been doing plyo (and running!  I know, right!?!).  I’ve been rowing and lifting.  I just finally got around to checking out the pool on campus, and it’s great.  You can also rent kayaks there and kayak around the pool on Saturdays.  I have not tried this.  The campus gym and pool are free for me to use, and there are also showers there, which is the only time I really get to shower.  Going to the pool was actually the first time in 3 months I’ve showered in a private shower that was all to myself, and not an open, free-for-all gym shower.  Working out keeps the darkness from getting to you, and also helps me work and focus when I have to sit down and do the aforementioned grad school tasks.  My ankle is also almost completely back to normal from my bad sprain back in April.  It was still swelling up and causing problems up through the first or second week we were up here.  I’ve almost entirely regained my muscles in that leg, and I feel strong and confident on skates.  I’ve even volunteered to jam in scrimmages (not often, though.)

We had our last bout of 2013 this past weekend.  I still haven’t made enough practices to skate, but I did get to do that bench-coachy thing where I watch points and penalties and get to cheer for my team (yay!) and that’s just fine with me.  I just love being a part of this team, and getting to enjoy the company of so many rad people.

November 21, 2013 / theanimalmother

October and November

October went by very quickly.  I can’t tell you why, and I can’t be sure I quite believe it.  We spent one glorious week of it humming around in our new little car, only to have the beastly car gods rip our happiness from our little fists.  We were carless again for over two weeks.  Luckily, the weather was uncommonly lovely here in Fairbanks–rarely dipping below 25 degrees, even at night, and was a nearly balmy 40 degrees during some afternoons.

Doubly lucky, we have made some wonderful friends who have been kind enough to drive us to and fro.  The water station is four or five miles from here, and it’s pretty much impossible, even with a bicycle, to move 42 gallons of water without a car.  We’ve had friends take us to the grocery store, me to derby practice, and so on.

We did walk to the laundromat a few times with over three loads of laundry in our backpacks.  That was kind of a workout.

We have our car back, which is pretty great, because it has finally become Alaska-cold.  My noseholes are freezing shut, and my eyelashes are getting icy when I walk across the quad.

I haven’t been diligently taking pictures like I hoped I would, but every time I walk from the English department building (on the 8th floor, atop a hill) to the rec center, I can see Denali on clear days, all snow-capped and lovely, as though there is an Ansel Adams photo spread along the entire south field of my vision.  Today, there was a haze over everything in Fairbanks.  There is no wind

I will take more pictures and talk more about my adventures.  I am also sorry I didn’t take any pictures of my Halloween costumes that I whipped up.

However, I am drawing more, since doing craft projects is a bit of a time luxury that I haven’t had so much of this month (especially walking everywhere.  Walking everywhere is a total timesuck.)  If you want to see things I draw, I’ve started a tumblr for that sort of thing.

I do think I’m going to get back into my etsy shop.  Maybe making cards and sewing small things.  I don’t know.  I’m extremely overdue for a trip to the fabric store, but we are still trying to make amends for fixing the car and moving expenses.

There’s a bunch of fun derby stuff/friend stuff/craft stuff I want to talk about, but this post has been hanging out as a draft for too long.  So, here are a couple pictures of our pretty yard, and I will write more soon.

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October 1, 2013 / theanimalmother

Made a Skirt

I got done with my homework early yesterday while watching WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs.  I multi-task like a pro, ya’ll.  While I was reading an articles on penance for deviant sexual practices in medieval England, I got an idea to make a skirt out of an old hoodie that Deadwards gave me.  I tried to find a picture of me wearing it: this is the only one I could find.  It was comfortable, but old and coming apart at the seams.  It was also very short.

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First, I chopped it up .

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I flipped it upside down, and used the bottom band for the waist.  It was a small sweatshirt, and I have a big ol’ butt, so that was fine, and I didn’t have to change the size at all.  I sliced off the pocket.  The sleeves got re-attached in their original places, but with a flat seam so they formed the sides of the skirt.  The front and back panel came from the hood.  I used a tight zig-zag stitch for stretchiness, and cut the bottom straight across without hemming it.

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It’s not professional or well-done, but it’s comfortable, and I got lots of compliments on it today.  I’d like more skirts made out of sweatshirts, so I’ll experiment with different styles and see what I can come up with.  It’s like wearing sweatpants, but everyone thinks you look cute because it’s a skirt.  It’s trickery at its finest.

September 29, 2013 / theanimalmother

Water

So, in case you were curious, here’s some information about our water situation.

First, Laundry!  I’ve been going to the laundromat.  It’s right next to campus. Since we haven’t had a car for the past couple weeks, I’ve been walking two miles down to the laundromat with our laundry.  I don’t intend on ever doing that again.  Here’s our laundry pile:

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For other things, like drinking water, washing dishes, making oatmeal, and brushing our teeth, we have to go to the water station:

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This is not a gas pump.  We have seven six-gallon jugs that we take to the water station to fill each week.  (The past two weeks we’ve had kind graduate students who drove us over to the water station.)  Water costs 2 cents a gallon.

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We bring the water jugs home and pour them into this 50 gallon tank that lives under our kitchen counter.  There’s a little pump that brings the water up into our sink.  One trip to the water station is good for about a week’s worth of water.

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There’s no heater, so the water is only cold.  We boil water for doing dishes and for cleaning and stuff like that.  There is no shower.  We both have passes to the student rec center on campus, so we go a few times a week to work out and shower.  It’s getting us in much better working-out habits than we had before.  If we’re feeling lazy, there are showers at the laundromat.

So far, it’s weird but ok.  I don’t feel like it’s interrupted our routine in any way, other than the fact that I can’t shower after derby practice, and that makes me feel a little gross.  I don’t know how it’s going to be once it gets colder, I imagine it will be a bit more of a chore.  Once we get our new car (countdown to next Sunday!) it should be a lot easier.

September 27, 2013 / theanimalmother

September!

A few notes:

Chili-Cheese Sweet Potato Fries.

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Quiche! (Turns out, real men DO eat it.)

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Organizing tchochkes.

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Watching it snow, melt, snow, melt.

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Decorating my cubicle.

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Being completely, utterly trapped in our house because there is a mama moose and a baby moose munching on foliage at the end of our driveway.

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Walking and riding my bike to campus.

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Although we’ve hit a couple life-snags, everything is pretty great.  Our trusty van (that got us all the way here) died an unceremonious death two weeks ago.  Thanks to some generous folks in the English department and girls on the Fairbanks Roller Derby team, we have managed to get places and buy food and do all those other pesky life-things.  Our new car will be ours next weekend, thanks to the masterful, magical car-finding and car-fixing abilities of Seth’s brother.

My first bout as an FBXRG skater is tomorrow (Friday) and I am so excited.  I feel like going to bed early to wake up for the derby fairy.