Well here I am, welcomed by 6 inches of snow and still going. It was an eventful trip, starting with an interpretation appreciation event followed by friends staying out too late, drinking too much and then an early 6am work day followed by cleaning, packing, flying, driving a small nap then playing, plowing, visiting, knitting, eating, tromping...etc. Let me back up just a bit...packed and ready to go my friend Cindy and I went out for fish and chips and then she dropped me off at the airport. Getting through check in was uneventful and the line through security was pretty much in holiday style; long and cheery! I got up to the belt and started "the strip." Off with the coat, off with the shoes, off with the belt (miss please take off ALL your coats) out with the laptop, three bins later I walked through the metal detector and waited for my stuff only to find that I was missing my suitcase. It was still sitting on the other end of the belt where I had left it on the floor. That stopped everything! "Red Alert on belt 3!" I was as red as their alert! All the belts were frozen and the whole long line was craning their necks to see what had stopped their holiday progress. After thoroughly going through my stuff, they called an "all green" and the belts started up again. I got 'redressed' and headed to my gate. I was definitely on an Alaskan flight, sitting at the gate there wasn't an empty seat in sight and many families were spread out on the floor having picnics in their parkas and bunny boots. The conversation was very different than you would hear on the typical Portland street corner. Connections were made the tales got taller with every telling. I enjoyed hearing names and places I knew so well. I was headed home. Then they started to board. The poor stewardess had to ask numerous times for people to sit down and wait their turn. There was no explaining to them that there was a boarding process. They continued to mob until they just let us on the plane. I think we were all just ready to go home. I slept most of the way and upon arriving, there was my mom, next to the cutest Athabaskan family in their kuspuks and furs. "Welcome home JEN!!!" After grabbing my luggage, dad pulled up in his one ton work truck pulling the 28 foot insulation trailer, half full of insulation and mom's mini cooper. While I was "sleeping" a blizzard had started in Anchorage and mom was in doing Christmas shopping, not wanting to plow home in the mini, dad had picked her up and took her to Cattleman's for dinner. It took us almost an hour and a half to drive the 45 miles home. The ditches looked like parking lots, minus the random over turned car. Eventually I crawled in bed after kissing my sweet sleeping nieces...Ahhh! It's good to be home!
I awoke to a big breakfast of home made sourdough cinnamon rolls and sausage! It was AWESOME!!! Then Kara, Lu and I went to the bank and saw Matt and Myrna and Steve...it was like old home week, can't go anywhere without see folks I love and adore! Then Kara and I went shopping at Target. Afterwards I went home with the girls for naps and to start a knitting project for Christmas while she went to the dentist. Eventually mom and I got the kids up and stuffed them in snow suits, hats and boots, and gloves, and we stuffed them all into the mini and drove down to Cameran. What were we doing? Why "trudging" of course! We trudged through the 2 feet of fresh snow, up to Emma's elbows!, looking for the perfect Christmas tree. We shook the snow off trees down peoples necks, made snow angels, caught snow in our mouths, and eventually found a tree that only had one bald side. Rusty was a good sport as I posed pictures and video ops. And we trudged back out with a 16 footer. It was a good day, arriving home, dad asked if I'd go "help" him plow some folks out, so I jumped in the truck and away we went. I visited while he plowed out the driveways, a few times I shoveled out the tricky hard to get spots, but all in all we got a lot done, though the snow was still coming down pretty hard. We got caught by a customer and had to go dig for C's in a snow bank, dad showed me his new shop and we got home just in time to catch the end of a BBQ rib dinner. Such a good day! So good to be home!
I got up early and went with mom to her dentist appointment. It was still snowing very hard. After I dropped my computer off at Renaissance to be worked on since it crashed the night before. We hit Fred Meyers for Christmas cookie fixin's then started to plow our way home. The windshield wipers kept freezing up and the snow was thick and the roads were disappearing under all the snow, three lanes became one and ditches were piling up with vehicles again. We missed our exit and couldn't keep the window from icing up long enough to get off the highway. It was the scariest ride I've had in a VERY long time. We were both VERY glad to be home and stayed there the rest of the day baking Christmas cookies, playing with kiddos, knitting and sitting by the fire. Watching the snow come down from inside a warm house is so much better than plowing blindly through a blizzard in a mini cooper! That evening we decorated the tree, ran out of lights so dad went out for more lights. We hung lights on the porch at 5 below zero and decorated the tree. Matt and Kaylee dropped in for a visit and all was well with my world. I went to bed feeling safe a cozy surrounded by love and Christmas lights.
This day was prep day for my book signing events on Friday and Saturday. I still wasn't too keen on driving as the snow was still coming down fairly consistantly so I asked Kara if she wouldn't chauffeur me around. We went to Naomi's house to visit. Sara Brown and her three kids were there so we had a nice visit and the 9 children had a great time playing in the boys bedroom. Reminded me of days gone by when we were young and went a visiting. After that, we went to Palmer and I met with the Fireside Bookstore staff and ironed out details for my event. Leaving there we drove to "Mc Jr. with a star" for play land and lunch time. We pounded out the plan for the rest of the day and headed off to pick up Eli from school. Up at Pandemonium I met Shannon and ironed out details for my second event and then went to Just Imagine Toys with 4 kids! Yes we are insane, it was so fun! I also got to see Shelly and her twins which is a big reason I go there every year. The kids were so good except when it was time to go, it was hard to tear ourselves away from all the wonderful toys. Finally we came home to find that the "other women' had been busy making candy all day! After dinner I sat down and finished off two of my leggings, 4 to go!
Today was Eli's pizza party.It had stopped snowing! We were all moving really slow so we had a lazy morning and eventually made it to Pizza Hut to celebrate their class reading over 100 books! Arriving back at school, we saw Logan Snyder (8th grader, facebook and family friend of mine) who was showing off his lynx he had shot the night before up in Tok. Only in Alaska...then Kara and I shopped for stuff for my signing table, now I'm official with a receipt book and guest book! Eli and I sat in these children sized sofa chairs while Kara ran around the store with an employee looking for hooks (or something like that) after gathering everything on our random list we headed home so I could get ready for my book signing. Fireside Books is a quaint little store in old town Palmer with both new and used books. Joy and Elias Davidson were my first customers. It was so fun to hold Elias for the first time, he was SO little!!! and warm. Myrna and Steve Reynolds came by, always good to see them and then Betty Bair, one of my biggest fans, stopped in, not to mention my mom, dad, nana and Kaylee. We had a great time chit chatting and catching up...and basically we FILLED the store. Sold 4 books too! Unfortunately I was reading the clock on my phone (still set to Oregon time) and we all left a half hour early. Kaylee and I headed to Tokyo for sushi and then home again to warm up by the fire. It was so good to spend some quality time with her catching up and gaggling like geese...girls! We stayed up late giggling about guys then slept in late...so nice to be on vacation!
We woke up to the shouts of the kids screaming that the lights were out...yep, power was out all over town. We lit some candles and went back to sleep. Lu showed up, not being able to work and the fact that the heat wasn't on at the salon and it was cooling quickly, came home to see if we had power or at least a fire lit. The power came on as she drove up but everything from Fred Meyers on was still out so she stayed awhile. I, with a lot of directions from Kara, made french toast and bacon. Yumminess!!! After cleaning up I dropped Kaylee off and ran home to get ready for the second signing event. I went early to have lunch with Betty Bair, mom and nana. Barely got my food and people were there ready to buy! And that was just the beginning of a long line of love poured out on me from my community. It was SO awesome, I can't even explain it. I sat next to this author who had self published her book and I gotta tell you, after hearing her story, I feel very blessed with how easy I had it going through Tate Publishing. Kirsten Ekren now Mason whom I hadn't seen since high school came by, and Rebecca Buchanan with her heart full of grace. All of the Knit Wits and a few teachers, family and friends, filed in with hugs and cheers for this big event. It's really quite amazing how many people were just as, if not more excited than me, even better, most of them personally knew Granddaddy and this was a testament to how great a man he was and how loved I am in this community. We started half an hour early and went an hour and a half later than scheduled but nobody minded. It ended with the sounds of click click clicking coming between to rows of books, my dear friend Carrie Lambing, now professional photographer and dear friends Matt and Nate, had just returned from a solstice party up at the cabin, Rosy cheeked and smelling of campfire, just in time to catch me at my table. This was definitely a great way to end my most successful book signing to date. It was also Pandemonium's best book signing event to date as their highest seller had sold 18 and I had come away with 24 plus the three they decided to put on their shelf. Thank you all for your overwhelming support. I feel truly blessed!
...BTW, the day isn't over yet.
I no sooner had arrived home as Carrie Lambing called, "what are your plans for tonight?" Nothing I said, and she proposed a drive to Anchorage to see the children's choir perform. Why not? So 20 mins later we were back in her car headed to town. It was so good to have an hour to just catch up and story swap. Upon arriving at the concert though, the parking lot was rather empty and the doors locked. After a quick call to Naomi, whom I happened to know was accompanying the choir, we found out that it had been moved from 7:30 to 2pm that afternoon. I was so glad I had agreed to go along! We decided to hit up Bear's Tooth for some dinner and some Apple Ale. Just a great time with a dear friend and good food! At the end, Brandon came bounding up to the table! What a surprise to see my cousin after a year...Alaska is so small sometimes! He was just as surprised to walk in the door and find me in the dining room! It was all around a very good, very long, deliciously delightful day. Oh yeah, I got home around midnight and spent some time on skype with Jeremy in Afghanistan. He comes home TODAY for good! Safe travels my friend! Unfortunately Evie was up crying half the night with a cold so little sleep was to be had by all.
I was woken up by Rusty knocking on my door, "bus leaves in 15 mins" AHHHH!!! I couldn't find clothes, shoes, brush teeth, make up, fix bed head, fast enough. I can't believe I remembered the camera since little Ellie was going to be Mary in the nativity scene "on stage!" We were a little late to Wind break. It was so good to see Kat again (our usual waitress). Breakfast for all, lunch for me, cups full of whip cream for the kids, Christmas presents and cookies from Kat and off to church we went. It was fun to see Naomi and Joel up there leading the service and choir. Dad is looking more and more like Santa Clause with his big gray beard, only now do I notice this as he is up there singing with the choir! The 3 year olds did their nativity scene and Ellie did awesome, only almost dropped "baby Jesus" once and started them all waving at the audience. Heidi Doner was accompanying them on piano and my does she sound amazing!!! Little Liam Brown, I mean "Joseph" was right there helping "Mary" down the steps on the way out! Best part was singing harmony's with my sister while she sang the impossible counter soprano solos over the top of O, Holy Night...ahh, I do love being home. There were so many people to see, hug, and catch up with. It's always a whirlwind of faces and then we moved the conversation down to Kaladi's so second service could proceed. I got to see Swaners and Davidsons and Veenstras...oh and had the most amazing conversation with Mr. Veenstra, who, I knew was a genius and a great adventurer, but first hand got to hear about his newest plans and adventures, and the beautiful boat that is right near me in St Helens that he has been working on! We were pleasantly surprised to find we had "boats" in common. I offered to be galley cook on any of his adventures.
And now I am caught up, hopefully Aunty Barbie this keeps you entertained and satisfied, I will try to keep a better account from now on. To all of you, I hope you are well safe and sound. I can't wait to hear about all you your adventures this Christmas.
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