Monday, April 30, 2012

First Quilt - Ιθάκη

I made a quilt! Yo! I made a quilt!

Andrew and I skittered into the senior center one day to play the piano when we found ourselves in the midst of a meeting of the Ripinski Rippers, Haine’s very own sewing club.

Becky and Becky were sewing away and let us play the piano... but also, Becky invited me to join them for their upcoming quilting retreat, “Feather Your Nest With Quilts.”

I asked how much the weekend would be and she told me a number. I commented that I’d probably have to pass and that I also didn’t have anything to sew with. She said that if I was truly interested, they could probably come up with a scholarship for me along with everything I needed.


On a walk, she chanced upon me and asked what colours I like. “Er, oranges and maroons and greens and earthy tones and textures and rich colours.” Apparently, my colour choice was not one she’d ever choose for herself but she ran with it.

At the rummage sale, she nabbled a box worth of the perfect, perfect fabric for me. Rich maroon velvets, olive green corduroy (oh my goodness!), and this woven cloth that I’m very, very attracted to.

Friday afternoon I cut out all the pieces.


Saturday I sewed all day and finished the front.

Sunday I put together the front, batting, and backing, and tied and sewed it all together.

All I have left is to sew up the binding by hand, which is going to take one or two movies to get done.

The guys said all the right things when I brought it home. It was almost like having a mom gush over your work.

I embroidered “Ithaca” on one square, that’s the name of my quilt.

I named my quilt Ιθάκη (Ithaca)for Constantine Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis’s poem. I was introduced to Ithaca my senior year of high school by my professor, Mr. Curtis.

Ithaca is an island out in Greece. The poem talks about the journey trying to get to Ithaca and how, really, it's the journey that matters. Relish the journey. Treasure the journey. Don't rush it. In the end, Ithaca might not be altogether swell, but it wasn't about that... oh goodness, I describe it better in person. Here, read the actual poem.

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

And that’s my quilt, Ithaca.

I love it. Come to Haines, sew a quilt on the second weekend. I think this place just might be good for me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home Sweet Trailer

Andrew and I just moved in to Mary Lou's trailer on Tuesday. It will serve as a home for the next couple months, till late-June.

It's got two bedrooms plus another bedroom. Birds and fish. Plenty of space to stretch out.

And CREEPER CAT! There is a very creepy cat that likes to just sort of chill outside the door in the outside covered porch area. Whenever we open the door, he's there. CREEPER CAT, WHY YOU SO CREEPY?

We still cook and eat a meal together each night. That's something I like. The only night we didn't was when we were at Sylvia's.

I really appreciate this Andrew-kid. Last night I was headed home a bit later and I called to have him start chopping up the vegetables (red-potatoes, beets, onions, carrots) for roasting - he was already doing it. He does dishes. Does his part of the cleaning. Altogether an amicable housemate.

First meal was veggies, eggs, Bragg's, and halibut. Lots of halibut. Enough halibut for three meals.

We've managed to acquire a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff. And 90% of it has been freely acquired. Oi oi oi. So much so much! What to do with all of it?

Sorting through way too many belongings.
This is my "I have a fake dog in my hands" face.


Andrew and I like popcorn.
We've developed a habit of making it many-a-night. Seems like we always have stomach room for it..

Popcorn + coconut oil. Pop it. Divide into two parts and season it all up, yo!

Parmesan + Bragg's (like soy sauce) is a favourite (thank you Micah!).
Random spices.

It's always consumed with green tea.

Other night, we read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle to each other. I was a pretty happy person.


Haines Rummage Sale

Every year, hospice of Haines throws together a huge, huge rummage sale for the town.

Everyone donates their old stuff and it’s laid out at good prices.

The first day, things are sold at full price. The next day, they’re half off until 2 PM when everything is free until 4 PM.

Andrew and I went the first day to try and get a few “needed” items. He managed to grab the Chacos, towel, and soap that he needed. I purchased some thick wool pants (with suspenders) and a coat. We both got fantastic socks for $0.50 each.

Then, on our way out, we spotted the free pile. It was a huge, huge mountain of boxes of free stuff they simply hadn’t had time (or room) to lay out. This was the gold mine. We sorted through and found name brands like Patagonia, REI, and Nike to put into our sack which was soon overflowing with clothes to layer with.

One of my favourite finds was a Seattle Metro Transit bus schedule from May 1996.

The next day, Sunday, we met up there again at 2 PM for the free stuff.

We didn’t need anything, neither of us did, but we still managed to accumulate. Why did I even bother packing clothes? I can’t believe I’m only staying here for a month. Tonight or tomorrow night, we’re going to go through it all and sort through what we want and don’t want.

After our clothing accumulation, we went grocery shopping and then I realized I should have gotten some t-shirts (I only have 2 or 3 and they’re getting grungy - one is so gross that when I put it on, it feels very un-shirt-like) and maybe a pair of pants (I brought one).

They were already cleaning up so we decided to join in the cleaning (many hands make light work in huge projects like these).

We boxed up all the unsold goods which, unfortunately, were going to end up in the dump.

One woman I volunteered with was Casey. She asked if I needed work. Turns out she owns the pizzareia in town with her husband. I’m supposed to swing by today and talk to them.

I also found Beth, who owns a cello. I’d been looking for her all over the village and asked if anyone knew her at the rummaged sale. The second person I asked turned out to be her.

Volunteering is definitely a top notch way to connect with the community, feel fantastic, and root yourself solid.

Unlocked Bicycles

One of my favourite things about Haines, Alaska is that you can leave a bicycle out anywhere and no one steals it.

We found a bike in the garage of the guide house and Andrew said I could ride it around.
(It's the one with the handkerchiefs tied to the handlebars)

I biked to the library.
Left it outside.
And when I got back, it was still there.

I like being able to trust my neighbours.

Koffee Klatch

If you know me well, or have read this blog enough, you’d know that when I travel, it’s the locals I like to connect with.

In Paonia, Colorado I met the locals at the legion over oven baked chicken.
On Bowen Island, it was through the Bowen Black Sheep, the local Morris dancing group.

And here, I stumbled upon Koffee Klatch at the Haines Senior Center.

I was looking for one event, when I went there, and walked in to an unattended room except for a lady water flowers. When I told her what I was looking for, she told me that they had a gathering of old folks (elderly, if you will) for coffee and cookies at 2 PM.

That was absolutely perfect!

Over the next 10 minutes, they filed in and I got to meet them - Ruth, Marge, Jo, Lou, Ramona, Annaliese, Dorris.

We sipped tea and coffee and talked about the kind of things the sort of people that go to Koffee Klatch like to talk about.

In the end, I asked if I could play the piano and I was told I could, any time they were open.

Lunch for today. Roll and a banana.
Mountains everywhere. Swiss-reminiscent.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paupers Eat Like Princes

Despite our near-pauper status, Andrew and I have been eating like kings lately.

Our bananas from Whitehorse, Yukon were going a bit brown and needed some using up. What to do with extra bananas? Banana bread, naturlich. I smashed them up and whipped up a loaf.

Now, having banana bread anywhere is wonderful, but in our housing situation, it seems all the more fantastic to me. We’re in a big empty house right now and aren’t really “moved in.” It feels like a state of transit. It’s kinda grungy but it works for us.

Anyways, managing to fill the house with the smell of banana bread was luxury.
Cutting up that steaming loaf, oh so good!

After we had had our share for the night (two slices per person), I thought of Ed, our neighbour whom we share a driveway with. Whenever we’re out, he always seems game for a conversation. He’s a lovely man.

Anyways, his wife passed away and so now he’s on his ownsome. I thought he might like some of our bread.

I sliced off a few slices and we ran pel mel for his door where we knocked excitedly (well, I was excited). we handed him the bread and then he said, “Oh! Do you guys like crab? I’ve got some crab for you guys.”

Ed hands us two giant dungeness  crabs!

We stayed and talked for a while and then headed back home where Andrew filled a bucket with some snow to keep the crabs cold.

He told me that, in a restaurant, one crab would cost around $17. So we got around $34 worth of crab for free.

Two days later we feasted on half of a crab for breakfast.

It was my first time to have crab like that. I was hesitant to crack open the shell, it seemed so brutal, but eventually I got used to the rhythm of breaking open the crackly crust to get to the tasty flesh. I found pleasure in pulling small pieces of meat out of the nooks and crannies of the crab creature.

Later that night, after garage sailing and grocery purchasing and volunteering, we consumed the rest of the crab. We stood at the counter, stripping the rest of the whole and half crab of the delicious meat.

While Andrew was out running, I threw together some vegetables for roasting to go with the crab. We had small red potatoes, beets (which we got for free), carrots, and onions drizzled with olive oil and rubbed over with spices liked oregano, parsley, and some sea salt.

Dinners with Andrew, which we’ve managed to have each night, are a highlight of the day for me. It’s always a sit-down meal and the food tastes so good. As we consumed our crab and vegetables, we kept making verbal confirmations that, yes, this was pretty incredible. Goodness, everything tasted so good!

This life I’m living right now? Yeah, I really like it.

Not Nannying

Update: I won't be nannying in the wilderness this year. I'm staying in Haines.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spinning With Ray :: A Visit To Haines Assisted Living

A woman I met told me I should go check out Haines Assisted Living for employment. In checking it out, I asked if I could maybe even just chill with one of the residents today.

That’s when I was introduced to Ray.

Ray of New York.
Bay Side.
Long Island.

Ray who was going to teach me how to spin.

I grabbed his spinning wheel and carried it to the sun room where he began to show me the process.

Ray helped start the newspaper and radio in town.
Ray was a teacher here.
Ray simply rocks.

He told me he considers himself a New Yorker, but loves Haines and Haines is where he belongs.

Does he tell the same story up to 7 or 8 times? Yep. But, they’re good stories, that’s for certain.

One thing that was hard to get used to was speaking loudly, clearly, and slowly. I felt like I was yelling angrily at him, but eventually, I got into the rhythm of it. I think we did best with stories. He was very articulate in his stories and, for me, once I was in the midst of a story, I got more comfortable speaking loudly.

He took the carded wool and...
Pinch. Untwist. Pull. Let go.

That was the rhythm I learned.

He told me about how he had left for Europe for a while with his wife. When they got back, the people who had stayed in their house (he doesn’t know who) had left a spinning wheel there. He bought a book on spinning and taught himself to spin. He’s been doing it ever since.

Back when his wife was alive, she would knit the wool he spun into clothes for both of them. It was a beautiful relationship.

Later, when I talked to some ladies about my time with Ray, they were so excited that he was spinning again. Apparently, since his wife passed away, he hasn’t spun nearly as much, there was no use for the yarn he had spun any more. Some women from the community managed to knit him a few things with it, though.

Ray is such an incredible man. I'm excited to go back and visit him sometime. I feel like, already, there isn't enough time in Haines to get everything I want to get done, done.

And that was my time at HAL with the dear Mr. Ray.

The Great Piano Quest

Remember my dad’s advice to me for my 21st year of life?

“Make music everyday,” is what he wrote in my birthday card. And, this has been something I’ve taken to heart.

Upon coming to Alaska, I dragged along three harmonicas, a nose flute, and a bari-uke - but, not brought were a cello nor a piano. bother were too bulk to pack in a trunk.

I now have a pretty good collection of pianos I can play built up.

The first piano I encountered was at the Haines Senior Center. After Koffee Klatch (a lovely afternoon of tea and cookies with many aged 70-80 on Wednesdays), I asked if I could stay and play. I was welcome to do so and was told that they would love it if I came to play other times as well such as during the sewing club (the Ripinski Rippers) or while the seniors eat lunch.

Another piano is at the Salvation Army Church. I’m welcome to play any time the thrift store they run is open. The pastor even told me to help myself to the music books in the thrift store to practice with.

Yet another piano is at Haines Assisted Living. I’ve been welcome to play over there whenever in addition to joining in Monday and Friday jams, which sound like fun.

And that’s my piano situation.

Need A Roof By Tuesday

The Bible says not to be anxious about anything, but still, sometimes I bother with it. Last night, I bothered with worrying for about 30 seconds.

Last night, Andrew told me that, starting next week, I’d need to find myself a place to stay. We’ve been at the guide house, which is housing for employees. Currently, it’s still pretty pre-season so no one is there (I don’t know that we’re supposed to be there) but folks will be moving soon and they won’t be ok with someone like me (not working for the company nor paying rent) hanging around.

This morning I biked to the senior center, which was locked, and spent the rest o f the morning filling out applications in the park. I biked over to the Mountain Market and turned in my application and then over to the library where I learned I got called back to the place I applied to work at.

After that, I felt like it was time to go the Salvation Army. I didn’t need anything, except a baking pan for banana bread, but I wanted to go check in to a place that I knew Bonnie Lynch had been at.

It was dear-lady central, filled with lovely women. As I checked out my items, the conversations started. Eventually, we got to the question, “So, you’ve got a place to stay, right?”

“Actually, I’ve got until next Tuesday to find housing.”
“Where have you been staying?”
“Here and there and around. Yeah, so if you know anyone with a couch or anything, goodness, that would be incredible.”

“Let me get your number from you.”

“And, I even like cleaning so I could help clean a room a day or something when I slept. All I need is shelter.”

That’s when she looked up and laughed.
She was going to be the one to provide my shelter.

Mary Lou is leaving for Washington state on, guess which date, Tuesday - the very day I needed to find a place to stay.

Another thing I had been searching for, that day, was a piano to play. She walked me through the back room to the Salvation Army sanctuary and introduced me to the Pastor. He told me that there was some music that had just come in that I could even play with. I grabbed some and headed to the piano to rock out.

40 minutes later, my piano needs had been met. So good!

I biked through a dust storm to the trailer park where Mary Lou lives and she showed me around.

God always provides, he always does. There’s a verse about him watching over us and about how he takes care of the birds so why wouldn’t he take care of us?

I now have housing for the rest of my time in Haines. In fact, I even have food. So, even if I didn’t find a job in Haines, I would have food and shelter and can exist just fine.

He is so good to me. Consistently, I don’t even think I deserve it, Lord knows I don’t deserve anything good that happens to me. And that makes me all the more grateful.

As I biked through Haines, I couldn’t help but sing one of my favourite hymns, “What a friends we have in Jesus.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Today I Got Hired and then Fired

Today I got hired and fired.

The boss who hired me was pre-stressed out and fed up with ladies who don’t know how to wash windows when I arrived. He told me about how awful a job the last window cleaner had done which made me paranoid. So, well, I did a good solid job. But, he really wasn’t happy with my pace and laughed and laughed and laughed as he told me I wouldn't do even though I didn’t see it as funny.

That is the story summarized.

Even after that situation, I feel ok. I’m frustrated it didn’t work out, though. I am frustrated that he feels let down and stressed out without giving me a second chance to work faster. Now that I understand the pace and quality he wants, I’m set to go. But, according to him, him having to tell me that sort of information sort of lines up as having to babysit. I wish he would just invest the time in me (10 minutes of correction means tomorrow I would be a whole lot better). He said he would think about it and I’ll hopefully hear from him soon.

Where I worked, today, though, was a beautiful location. A spacious lodge out in the woods, surrounded by silence except for all of the birds around. Two bald eagles kept me company overhead for at least 40 minutes as I scrubbed those windows clean.

Mountains. Lakes. Bald eagles. And me armed with a bottle of Windex.

Ok, God, what do you have in store for me now?

Fort Seward
After work, I wandered over to Fort Steward where Andrew was and we drove to the guide house where we would stay for the rest of the evening.

I cooked up the quinoa and vegetables I had and he had a chicken from a co-worker. Cooked all together with some liquid amino acids, the meal was delicious. Andrew created music. I stacked dominos. Dancing occurred. Once again, it was a pretty chill night, but, right now, that’s really (really really really) what I needed.

After 9 PM (when the library closes), I don’t have a place to escape to. I don’t have anywhere to go. So, that leaves me obliged to be social in someway, pretty much following Andrew around. Luckily, these past few nights have been limited in socialness while I adjust. This is strange for me. Normally when I get somewhere I want to connect and meet everyone. But, well, for now I feel like easing into it. My body is not emotionally nor physically prepared to plunge head in into friendships - especially ones that are already pretty well formed. Eh, not sure.

Haines: Day Two

Content. Quite content. That’s what I am, right now, in Haines.

I’ve slipped through a few emotions, since coming here, but nothing too extreme.

I think the degree of what I feel matches the mellow mood of the town.

If my mission was to be content and occupy myself with things to do all day, I’d be set and fine. But, the fact is, I’m hoping to at least make enough money to cover the costs of this trip. As of now, that’s around $200 I need to earn.

I’ve made a resolution that I’ll decide if I’m staying or not the day I need to go spend money on food or pay for rent. At that point, I can calculate if my $350 should go towards getting myself home on the ferry (it would take me straight to Bellingham) or towards furthering my existence here.

For now, life is cheap as I live off of the food I brought and exist in the shelter of folks who are away from home. Our first night was in a cabin and last night was spent in the house of my mate’s boss (rad house, yo!).

Even though this is only my second full day here, it seems like I’ve been here a whole lot longer. Event slips into event slips into a happening and it’s hard to keep track.

One thing I’m relishing is walking around the town - over and over and over. It’s a tiny town and doesn’t take long to get from one corner to the next. Everywhere you walk, people smile and wave (they are quite consistent on the waving thing, here) and it’s easy to find someone to talk to.

Tyler is gone to Skagway so it’s just me and Andrew here. Right now, he’s at work filling out paper and rigging boats/rafts for the upcoming season. Last night he went running with some other mates while I did my wandering thing. Afterwards to went to open gym for a few hours, got our free showers, there, and then headed to a house to stay at. Brown rice and beans were what were for dinner... brown rice that takes 45 minutes to cook which can seem like a long time at 10 PM at night. Luckily, he’s fantastic company and I enjoyed getting to know him better.

Thoughts I Typed Out On the Car Trip Up When I Wasn't Even Sure If I'd Make It To Haines Or Bail When We Reached The Border

April 15, 2012 - Sunday

I am glad I got in this car.

These were my thoughts this morning. I have to admit, sometimes my brain leaps back and forth. I haven’t had much time to mentally prepare for this trip since I had my second guesses.

I was going to write two days ago before the trip. If I had, this is what I would’ve said:
This Alaska-in-April thing? I have no idea if I’m going, no idea at all. I was quite certain that I was ready to go until last Thursday when the two lads showed up who looked like Andrew and Tyler. I continue to pack as if I’m going, but I’m not sure.

I don’t know where my reservations come from. Normally, when I go on a trip, I’m set and excited. Bowen Island, California, Colorado, Switzerland when I was 16 and 18. All those time, I felt secure about going. But, well, for this trip there’s something in my gut that tells me I ought not go.
IO’m trying to figure out where it comes from. Should I have faith an d follow my instincts? The problem is, I’m not even sure they’re my own. There’s a chance that it is just emotions as a culmination from what everyone else has been telling me. Perhaps all of their thoughts went to the back fo my head and, when it was finally time to go, they all burst out.

The very morning I left for the trip, I actually wasn't really planning on going to Haines. I was going to bail once we reach Canada. Well, maybe. I really didn't know.

April 16, 2011 - Monday

We’re in the midst of a snowscape, thick with mountains. It’s incredible and my emotions are on overload as I try to take it all in. I punch the ceiling with excitement. This is my life.

“This is so awesome,” Andrew just exclaimed. I think his words were quite acurate.

We spent last night in below freezing, curled up in sleeping bags in a muddy  rest stop parking lot in the Yukon. The night before was spent at another muddy rest-stop, but that night we spent cramped in the Subaru. I switched between reclining from front passenger against the window with my legs surrounding the stick shift and curled up in an extreme vertical fetus position. The first night we got perhaps 4 hours of sleep, but the next charged us up with 9 hours of frozen rest.

I am committed to this trip. I’m going to Haines, Alaska and I am going to live the
re for the next month or so. I’m not sure what to expect yet.

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