Monday, November 24, 2008

Just one of many somethings to look forward to...

I am calling this one "Some Like it Hot Chocolate Cake." It was as much fun to make as it was to eat and some version of it will surely make occasional appearances at the Flying Squirrel. A decadent bite of this classic dense, moist, rich chocolate cake with ground almonds leaves the distinctly sexy and lingering flavors of cinnamon, Kahlua and chili peppers! Auctioned during a local radio station fundraiser a few days ago for $100.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Up, Up and Away!

Clear, sunny and cold. As good a day as any to "fly the trusses." Now, the building is really starting to look like something. You can walk in the front door. You can see out the big window openings that will be the dining area. I can show you around...
this is the front display counter, this is going to be the wood fired brick oven, the loading dock area will be over there, here is the "dish pit" as ex-dishdog now head of our framing crew Dave calls it. Amazing that in just 2 1/2 hours, a bunch of lumber stuck together suddenly becomes something you can grasp as REAL. So many years of imagining what this building would look, here it is....of course, there is still a long way to go. I imagine I will write another post just like this one when the interior walls go in, when the floor finishes are done, and again, when we start installing equipment. So what? And yipee!
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Monday, November 17, 2008

On Winter Construction

Most people have absolutely no idea what Alaska is like, let alone Talkeetna. Most people are completely awestruck by the beauty, the wildness, and the delicious fish, let alone the rugged self-sufficient people. Most people can't fathom living without running water, using an outhouse, or heating with wood, let alone not having blockbusterwalmartmcdonalds within 70 miles.

I am quite certain, given this kind of total incomprehension, that most people cannot possibly imagine who would be insane enough to build anything in the middle of an Alaska winter, let alone a fairly sizable commercial food establishment.

Snow piling up. Temperatures dropping. Darkness descending. On the other hand, think of it this way: no rain and no mosquitoes!

In my humble opinion, winter construction creates some breathtaking moments that just make you glad to be alive. Usually they involve knocking snotsicles off someone's beard or stepping inside to watch the frost melt off your eyelashes...

But sometimes the snow perches like a little hat on each anchor bolt that will soon be buried within walls instead of under several inches of fresh powdery snow. Sometimes, the view out the window that does not yet exist accentuates the way snow can blanket every branch, twig and leaf on every tree creating an infinity of depth that is at once precise yet organic, crisp yet pillowy. Sometimes, the necessity to work at 9:00 in the morning or to grab a few armloads of firewood after dinner or to plug in the block heater on the car when you wake up becomes the opportunity to absorb the darkness and look into the eternity of sky that gifts us with more twinkling stars than I have seen anywhere else in my life and moonlight you can read by.

It's not looking likely that I'll be swinging a hammer very much myself this time. But I have to be quite honest. Sometimes, I really wish I was.

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Never Again

You might think I am about to say I will never again be involved in a large construction project (too many rules, too many permits, too much money, too much stress). Or that I will never again open a food service type business (too many rules, too many permits, too much money, too much stress).

Or, on another subject entirely, you might even think I am about to say I will never again vote Democrat in a national election in Alaska since the results are inevitably announced hours before the Alaska poles are closed so I might as well help out the Green Party a little. Or, perhaps, that I will never again vote for Sarah Palin for anything, though quite honestly, I can't remember if I voted for her for governor or not - all I know is that most Alaskan's I talk to liked her an awful lot more then than they do now.

Never is a pretty strong word. One I try to use as little as possible except perhaps when it comes to VERY important concepts I am trying desperately to get through to the ever challenging 2 1/2 year old brain. Like, "NEVER pull the dog's tail" or "NEVER hit the dog with a flashlight" or "NEVER poke your fingers in the dog's eyes." It is now appropriate for the reader to think out loud, "Poor dog!"

What on earth am I talking about anyway? Get to the point!

60 feet, good water, only ok pressure. Now what? A weekend of denial. Half a day of cost analysis. OK. So, what do you know. I am about to say something I hope I NEVER have to say ever again because it's really just not my style. Here goes...


Eeeeww. I don't even like typing it.

We just asked the well drillers to keep going even after they hit fine water at 60 feet. We are hoping for better pressure at a known formation for our neighborhood... somewhere between 150 and 200 feet. Fortunately for us (or unfortunately depending on your perspective, I guess), we are not looking for oil!

UPDATE: Round 2, Day 1. No go due to 5 below temps.

Round 2, Day 2. We almost feel like millionaires! Only ten feet farther down and they got 50 gallons per minute. Major relief and cost savings. Maybe we'll get those tickets to Mexico after all. Continue reading »

Saturday, November 8, 2008

As if...

As if we didn't already have enough going on.
As if things aren't crazy enough already.
As if I am not still traumatized by the unexpected loss 8 months ago of the best dog in the world.
As if any dog will ever be able to match Sacha's loyalty, cuteness, unique personality and awesome colorful coat.
As if I need more house work.
As if, as hard as I try, it's not enough of a problem that my hair gets in the food.
As if we can afford dog food and vet visits.
As if I need more pee and poop to clean up.
As if I get any time to myself already.
As if I won't be working 60 or 80 hours a week come May.

On the other hand...

As if a 2 1/2 year old can NOT have a dog.
As if I don't need the exercise!!!
As if I don't need to get outside more.
As if I haven't been searching the Dog Rescue website for the right match every day for several weeks now.
As if she isn't sweet and loving and fun and so happy to join our family.
As if our lives aren't already so much richer after only two days.

What can I say? Meet Kinley. Well, I am actually leaning toward calling her Penny Lane for some reason. She came with the name McKinley, or Kinley for short, but she has these copper colored eyes that remind me of pennies.

7 mo. SF ISO LTR (Like I have time to peruse the personals... In other words: 7 month old single - or in this case spayed - female in search of long term relationship.) Really the blurb about her said "Loves everyone. Beautiful, affectionate and friendly."

And, so far, she does and she is. Continue reading »

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Please Share.

At the northern reaches of flying squirrel habitat, a humble bakery cafe is sprouting up in the semi-wilds of an Alaskan forest. As the conductor of what is sure to be an orchestra of helpers, I hope to direct the creation of something new, different, and exciting for area residents and visitors to Talkeetna, Alaska. After years of caching my ideas for some later date, it's finally time to dig up all the piles of nuts and seeds...and start sharing them with others.

So, here I am, on the eve of opening a new business. Watching the melodrama of the long-held dream unfold before my eyes. There is no turning back now, only moving forward. Seems to be a theme among people far and wide these days. Who DOESN'T want change for the better? Who DOESN'T want to make their dreams into reality? Who ISN'T scared of failure? One thing is for sure. I can't do it all myself.

So, here I am. Blogging. I have never thought of myself as a blogger type. Writer? Maybe, occasionally, some day. New fangled words that take on their own verb tenses like photoshopped, googled and blogged must be as disturbing to other liberal arts English majors as they are to me. But, in the end, I think human beings have a strange and very positive need to share. That's what I'm always trying to tell Oliver (age 2 1/2), anyway. Share. This is, perhaps, the driving force behind the desire to build this business, to create a funky bakery cafe in a little town in Alaska. What kind of world would it be if Joni Mitchell decided not to share her gift for music or Peter Gabriel or Miles Davis or Bob Marley or Mozart or my own sweet sister Esther Golton? How much richer is your life because you read King Lear or Siddhartha or Pilgrim at Tinker Creek or Catcher in the Rye? Sharing is gift giving in it's purest form, in my mind, one of the most important and rewarding qualities of being human.

So, here I am. I think I have something to share. Something wholesome, nutritious, and delectable at the very least. At the most, I aspire to propagate some kind of philosophy of empowering others to be creative, to work hard, to treat others with equal respect. This seems like a good place to start.

Except, of course, the reality is still months away, each month seeming like years. Many, many people - friends and family and acquaintances along the way - have encouraged this crazy idea of mine. The least I can do is offer a few glimpses into the progress, especially for those so far away physically. I know from experience that building construction is a roller coaster of weather forecasting, writing large checks, and feeding very hungry, hard-working men (and women) mixed with excitement, trepidation and, inevitably, endless decision-making. I don't know what starting a business is like but I imagine some carnival ride that is even more thrilling and dizzying than a roller coaster. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Continue reading »