Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alaska Romance Novel Project: Manhunt

Know what? There are a lot of men in Alaska. They make up slightly more than 50% of the population. They are all ruggedly handsome float plane pilot, big game guides with perfect 5 o'clock shadows and devil-may-care attitudes. Yep, Alaska is the Hometown Buffet of elligable men for high-falutin' female executives. If romance novels are to be believed, at least.

World, I give you Manhunt, by Janet Evanovich (best selling author).

Oh, Alaska, where love Norman Rockwells out of every Thomas Kinkade cabin. Le sigh.

Alexandra "Alex" Scott quits here super-busy life and righteous condo in in New Yawk for a hardware store and cabin in the Fairbanks area. (Disclosure: I have never been to Fairbanks so this novel could be set in Spain for as much as I know about the place.) Bruno, her enormous rottweiler, and she make for the Banks of the Fair in a totally inappropriate BMW sports car. The meet-cute consists of Alex just about drowning off the ferry dock in Juneau and Rugged Stud Michael Casey, just goes by Casey, saving her stupid ass.

Know what? Turns out that they are neighbors up a completely isolated private road. WHOA.

The cabin Alex bought is nothing more than an unkempt shack in a thicket. She has a "half bath on a path" for her bathroom. Alex and Casey bicker the way two people destined to be together always do in books like these. Alex is determined to stay on her property, in the tent she brought, despite the lure of Casey's house nearby. I like her moxie. Go Alex! Casey eventually leaves her alone and Alex freezes her balls off in her tent--until Casey returns to keep her warm. After such a rough night, Alex succumbs to the allure of a shower and goes to Casey's house.

Alex tells Casey that she traded her life of glamor for a shack in the woods because her biological clock started screaming, "PUT A BABY IN MY UTERUS RIGHT NOW I AM ALMOST 30 AND I AM MUCH LESS PICKY." You know? That. Since Alaska has many men, she though her odds would be good. Nobody told her about the goods being a bit odd up here. Casey explains that he has no plans for any kind of relationship, because that's how guys in books like this are.

They are very attracted to each other and banter cutely through several home improvement projects. A shopping trip to town includes the purchase a leopard fur toilet seat, perfect for 30 below trips to the outhouse. After toilet seat shenanigans, they visit Alex's shiny new store. It is a man-cave sporting goods store that is a wee bit dank and dingy. The manager is a crusty old crank that is what is amazingly fantastic about Alaska. We love our crusty cranks.

Alex fixes up the old shack and makes it livable. I totally feel her about having to sand and varnish. Sanding suuuucks. She and Casey finally give into their attraction after she cleans his house and fixes him dinner as a "thank you" for putting her up and helping with chores. Casey becomes distant after because he has some Feelings for Alex, she is something like Heartbreak City or whatever. Before he becomes a complete douche, he arranges for contractors to fix up her outhouse. Contractors that are would-be suitors for the lovely Alex.

Alex only has eyes for Casey and Casey becomes a jealous bonehead because he is fighting his confirmed bachelorhood. And his baggage. Oh, sweet WXtex duffel, the baggage. Casey knocked up some lovely young thing from the lower 48 and she couldn't cut it in AK and they got divorced. Alex is just the same, even though she made fried chicken and biscuits over a woodstove and uses an outhouse. Well, until she burns it down. Then Casey convinces the codger Alex bought the cabin from to come back and take it. Alex has no choice but to move into a tent in Casey's living room. See, Casey wanted Alex gone but instead she gets closer. Logical!

Aaah, will they get together? Alex has to date a dog musher named Bubba for awhile and shoot a hole in Casey's ceiling with a .44. Casey confronts his shitty behavior and realizes that Alex is speshul and perfect and totally wife material. YAY!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A total score

The thrift store had a FREE Alaska Romance novel that I adopted today. It's by Jacqueline Musgrave called Northern Lights. (how perfect is this book people who know me in real life!) I'm reading it right the frack now. Wooooooo.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alaska Romance Novel Project: Oil Spill Edition

Of all the thing to romaticize, the Exxon Valdez tragedy is not one of them. Nothing has exemplified corporate greed and the environmental costs of resource extraction quite the way that horrific oil spill has. So. Imagine my surprise when I found a Romance Novel based on the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
My pearls, they were clutched. I chortled with outraged glee. Way to take a proverbial oily lemon and make some greasy lemonade. I included the cover so you knew I was not making this shit up. I mean really.

Our story focuses on Marie Vicenza, an insurance adjuster from The City By the Bay (only San Francisco ever, sorry any other city on any bay) who just can't shake the feeling that Captain Craig Saybolt didn't really crash the Northern Light (the Supertanker masquerading as the Exxon Valdez). She is motivated by a huge bonus if Craig is innocent and the chance to prove she can run with the big boys. The money would free her parents from financial peril and provide a college education for her teenage son, Tony. Oh, and Marie is Italian--from her ebony hair to her family's Italian Restaurant. Marie spends all her time pouring over court transcripts and a well-fingered photo of the arrogant captain. Sigh. He gets out of prison soon and Marie should try and catch him before he disappears.

Marie jets off to the beautiful burg of Anchorage in hopes of talking to Craig and discovering his innocence. She shares a cab with a group of dudes bound for the Alaska Bush Company. This is not important to the story at all, I just thought you should know there is actually a strip club in Anchorage called the Alaska Bush Company. It is as real as this Romance Novel about the Exxon oil spill.

Back to the Action. Marie meets Craig as he is escorted out of prison. He exudes authority and has big shoulders, the better to carry all of his angry baggage with. Cute l'il Marie accosts him and tries to give him a ride back to town in her car. Craig gruffly won't have it. He trusts no one especially some "cute girl" from the Insurance Company trying to send him up the river. This begins the game of perky cat and aloof, angry mouse. Marie chases Craig all over Anchorage until he finally talks to her. They hash out all the details of that Fateful Night and the coincidences of nearly the entire crew of the Northern Light ending up dead. Except for the two that are demolition experts.

Hmmm. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

Turns out nobody really liked old Craig. He is/was a hardass captain and didn't win any hearts and minds with his brusque manner. As a result, nobody would stand up for him at trial. Nobody believed Craig when he said he was knocked out by someone and the ship steered aground. Blah, blah, plot. innocence. Blah. Craig underestimates Marie's tenacity and virtuous intentions. She is doggedly earnest and optimistic. So much so that when he callously brushes her off, she chases him to Valdez. Like all novels in Alaska, Marie ends up the object of male attention and her paramour feels the need to punch a guy to defend her honor. She is miffed because she was in control and Craigy-weggy got in the way.

They decide to boat out to the site of the spill. Craig wanted to go alone but takes Marie in order to protect her from all the unsavory menfolk in Valdez. They boat out and he carries her to shore to poke around. Marie expresses her fear of the ocean. Craig grunts, "Women don't belong at sea." Oh, up yours Craig. They saunter on the beach that was destroyed by thousands of barrels of oil and both Craig and Marie have a sad about it. Oh! All that destruction for our consumerist lifestyle. They are very attracted to each other at the beach destroyed by corporate greed and criminal negligence.

Returning to Valdez, they continue to plot a course toward Craig's vindication and grow more attracted to each other. Marie makes a stereotypically appropriate dinner of spaghetti at Craig's shack of sadness and masculinity. There is some Swirling after Marie proves she cares and understands how tough life has been for Craig. The story now moves out of Alaska and back to The City, again the only City San Francisco, where Craig and Marie find new leads.

Are you tired of this story yet? Boy, I sure was. Who would frame such a hard working captain who was so good that he saved a bunch of downed pilots in 'Nam? (Of course he was in Vietnam.) Who was good enough to tell Marie's son, Tony, that prison wasn't full of Righteous Dudes. Who had to go out in the yard and chop wood to work off his attraction to Marie with real man labor. Craig, a real mensch.

It was all a ploy by a trio of Texas oil tycoons to discredit the Alaskan Pipeline. To force the government to shut down the Alaska operations in light of extreme environmental risks. Ha ha, what?

Craig get's his job back and Marie decides to move to Anchorage. But before Marie and Tony can move, Craig shows up an proposes! They are going to be married! They love each other! Yay happy ending and a moral. Blame Texas.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I drove to Homer today

I haven't really had a solo road trip before. Sure, I've driven myself around but I have never really just gotten the car and gone. Today I left Moose Pass and drove all around the Kenai Peninsula to Homer. It was pretty fun.

The highlight, really, was this sign in Sterling.

I love signs like this so much. I want one in my yard, for my house number. I love the kitchy diner look of these signs. Sadly this is all that's left of the Truck Stop. I know it would have been staffed by a fleet of women named Doris and Irma. They would call you "Hon" and keep your coffee mug full. Pies would be spinning in that spinny pie thing that places like this always have.

Let's talk about Homer now.

Homer is more spread out that I'm used to for an Alaskan town. It runs miles in each direction from the spit along Kachemak Bay. The gently rolling hills are dotted with traditional-looking farmhouses and honest-to-goodness bales of hay, rolled up midwest style. The soil (of course I looked, sillies) is a dark loamy sand, probably organic-enriched loess or other eolian deposits. It was beautiful stuff and I'm pretty sure you could grow carrots like, whoa.

I divided, in my head, Homer into two very distinct areas: Tourist and Local. The tourist section is the Homer Spit. Here, charter shacks and touristy junk shops line the narrow sandy spit out into the bay. Yeah, the Harbor is here and the bulk of the fish processing facilities. To me, that was a minor part of the Spit, which is unfortunate because I love commercial fishing. I walked around and looked at the stacks of crab pots and the rows of longline drums. This was all hidden away behind tiny, brightly colored buildings shouting to the cruise ship passengers. "Come catch some Halibut," they all screamed in varying degrees of rugged. I couldn't bring myself to go into the Salty Dawg, arguably one of Alaska's most famous landmarks, because of the glut of people getting their picture in front of it. I wanted a sweatshirt but didn't end up with one. I didn't want to be That Girl.

Away from the Spit, the town mellows into as much of a Midwestern-looking liberal town as can exist in Alaska. I visited both bookstores and felt the pages of almost every book on fishing and seaweed. I had breakfast at the Two Sisters Bakery and lunch at the Mermaid Cafe, in Old Town Homer. I bought myself some Smartwool clothing that was on sale, my present to myself is practical clothing. How boring am I.

I drove back at about 2 pm, knowing traffic would be a bearcat. I missed Ninilchik. I wanted to see the boats launch into the pounding surf. But it's ok. It's pretty important not to see everything in one go. You have to save something for next time.

So now I've seen Seward and Homer in addition to all the towns in Southeast. Frankly, I am surprised how interchangeable they all are. The scenery and the outdoors around the town vary greatly but the towns and the shops really don't. They all sell the same old crap. There's always one cool bar and one really great coffee place. Round this out with a harbor and a grocery store and you have Anytown (coastal) Alaska.

People who know me in real life--I've been putting pictures of my time on the Kenai on my facebook page.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Alaska Romance Novel Project: Mail Order Bride

That's right, kids. I'm back. I have a glass brimming with box wine, my give-a-shit-o-meter is pegged at "Attack of the Eye Creatures" production values, and if you don't get that MST3K joke there, well, then I don't care about you.

Kidding! Come huddle around the tale from the glittery pen of Debbie Macomber. I have to be drunk because black-out drunk heroines are key plot points in the novel Mail-Order Bride.
The mail order bride industry is alive and well in the Greatland. It is a practice that I don't pretend to understand. I'm sure people end up happy or whatever, but I could not hitch my wagon to any of the premium individuals who have to purchase a wife from a catalog. There is a reason that local woman have avoided them. Sorry foreign women there are no winners here!

This little tale is not of one Czech bride moving in with a 65 year old gillnetter. No. This is the loving tale of Caroline Meyers of Seattle and her lovably drunk aunts who conspire behind her back to mail her to the Alaskan Interior. Caroline was a jilted bride and her life is, like, soooo sad. Aunty McDrunk sez to Aunt tipsee-dee, "We should totes send Caroline off to marry this guy Paul Trevor. But we should tell her that we're sending her on an Alaskan vacation, guided by Paul Trevor, to clear her head after such terrible relationship drama. Let's not forget to include a thermos of our plot-point alcoholic tea."

And so begins this Swirler. Ms. Macomber's books are hilariously chaste (Oh, yes there are more to come). Characters do sex to each other but it is always after they are married--typically after knowing each other for mere weeks. It is grosser than actual premarital sex.

Here comes Caroline sloshing off the flight to Fairbanks! Pilot John loads her drunk ass into a Cessna and they're off to Atta, her new home. Except she thinks she is on vacation but everyone else knows she's off to be married as soon as the prop stops. Being the last to know is really great! John tells Caroline that Paul runs a pump station on the pipeline and is the only white man in town. (I will not get into why Paul felt he needed to import a White Lady to marry because thinking about that makes me feel gross and conflicted. I really don't know how Alaska Native people would react to this. Maybe it's my liberal white guilt.)

It's a good thing that Paul is pretty hot and Caroline is attracted to him otherwise it may be wierd to drunkenly marry a perfect stranger in an Athabaskan village. Paul whisks Caroline off to the meeting hall and a Russian Orthodox ceremony conducted entirely in Russian. Will she marry him? Everyone made her feel so welcome! It really is good service, treating all the tourists to Atta this way. So Caroline accepts and the two are married. Paul kisses the holy moly out of her and she is super sure this is a very nice dream. Paul wastes no time getting her out of the hall and back to his cabin. Where Caroline passes out in the homey room complete with hand-made quilt. Paul is happy that she fell asleep so he wouldn't tear at her like a wild animal.

But oh, the next morning. When it was not a dream and Caroline is hung over and married to some guy in Alaska. And she realizes her Aunts set her up. I'm surprised that she wasn't more pissed at her only living relatives selling her up the river. Caroline, very reasonably, wants out of this arrangement and is willing to get the sham of a marriage annulled or divorced (becausetheytotallydiditnotheydidn'twinkywink). Paul says no way and he paid for her trip and she is stuck up here and she could just deal with it.

Paul has to go to work and he makes Caroline promise not to run away. She pinky swears, fingers crossed, that she won't. But then she jumps on the first/only plane headed for Circle Hot Springs in a not-warm-enough coat. Circle Hot Springs boasts a lodge filled with hunters. Hunters who treat Caroline like meat and make her dance to avoid rape. Paul walks in and refuses to "save" her from the disgusting men until they demand that she strip. Nobody sees Caroline naked but him. Having taught her a lesson, he flies home with her. Then she isn't allowed out of his sight.

Caroline must go where Paul goes. Progressive, feminist values! Let's recap this love story:
  • Caroline is mailed to Alaska to marry some guy
  • She, very reasonably, wants out and because Paul says no she runs away
  • He teaches her a lesson in obedience by making her dance in front of letchers
  • Caroline must be supervised at all times to keep her in a marriage and a place that she hates for a month. A month is what it takes to love a guy holding you against your will, I guess.
Paul hauls Caroline off to the pumping station every day until he can find some kindly girl to babysit her. Their evenings are spent playing Scrabble and betting on the outcomes. Surprisingly, not really, Caroline really starts enjoying Paul's company. No, it's not Stockholm Syndrome it is twoo wuv. Gag. Tanana, the pregnant girl babysitting Caroline, takes her to the meeting hall to knit with all the other women of the village. The stitching coven tell her how luck she is that Paul is such a fine, virile man. Caroline decides they all know this because he has done the nasty with all of them. Oooh is she mad. And sad. And betrayed. So Paul pins her to the wall and kisses her until she isn't mad anymore. That's some Jim Talbot shit right there.

After that night, Caroline accepts her fate. She begins practicing her nursing trade. She totally left her job without any notice in Seattle! How convenient that there are sick people in Atta. Paul and Caroline finalleee consumate their marriage after a party of some sort. But then Tanana goes into labor. (A pregnant woman in the first act of a romance novel must give birth in the third!) Caroline delivers the breech baby. Like you all knew she would.

Larry, the guy who jilted Caroline, writes a letter and Paul punishes her for writing back by not letting her go to Fairbanks with him. Cripes, this guy is a real peach. He fumes in Fairbanks while a wise elder talks to Caroline about Paul's baggage. A woman left him and he didn't follow her to get her back so Caroline better not ever leave because Paul won't come after her. Then the whole town gets sick and Caroline has to save them all on her own because Paul was weathered out of Atta.

Caroline has had enough and wants to leave. She eventually makes her way home to Seattle and her drunk Aunts. The stupid aunts write to tell Paul that Caroline is pregnant, she isn't, but the Aunts are meddlesome. Paul returns and he has shaved and is better looking for it. Caroline is happy because he loves her more than the woman who left Paul the first time. Caroline won!

I own this book as part of a Romance Mega Book called "Solution: Marriage." If there is something that solves problems, it's getting married. If that doesn't fix ya, have a kid!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ARNP: The Healing Touch by Christine Flynn


I shamelessly have run through all the Alaska-themed romance novels in my local library. What they must think of me, checking out this literary trash and every bad movie ever made. I justify it because this is SCIENCE. I am doing RESEARCH.

Ahem, so. The Healing Touch is special because it is a Forest Service based romance novel set in Alaska. Yerp. This book is set in the fake town of Mist, AK which clearly is a complex of the actual towns of Hoonah and Pelican. It's Hoonah for the logging and USFS office and Pelican for the barkeep side character of Rosie, who is an honest-to-God real Alaskan Institution. The rest is pure, sweet Graphic Swirler circa 1991.

We begin with the heroine, Lara Grant, running over a bear cub with her truck. An event that causes her to flash back to the baggage she will unpack thanks to the love of a Good Man. Lara grabs the injured cub and takes it to town. (Real Talk: She should have been mauled by the actual mama bear who was probably in the ditch when this happened. Remember when I said biological inaccuracy makes me itch? Yeah. This.) Ain't much in the town of Mist, except for Cole MacInnes and his Ranger Uniform of hotness and bear healing. The drowned "musk rat" looking Lara (Cole's thoughts) brought an injured and bleeding cub in for Cole to Heal with his Touch.

Cole's office consists of Cole, some maps, and a book of regulations that "he tended to ignore." Heh, except he was the District Ranger and in 1991 Hoonah, and northeast Chichagof in general, was a hopping place. Logging was in full swing and there would have been a boatload of other bureaucrats bureaucrating around the lonely, brooding Cole. Somewhere, the author thanks the public affairs officer with giving her the straight skinny on what life is like for the lonely SEAK feds. Cole also flies into Sitka for a big meeting and carries a .375 for the big, bad brown bears. So it's not all bunk.

Well, they sew up the cub and Cole checks out her ass while noting that she is the queen of Cheechakos and is terrifically unprepared for the wilds of Alaska. Cole tells her about the man-eating carnivores with claws like razorblades and a thirst for human flesh: Bears. Also, Cole spends a lot of time scowling at various things--Lara, a flapping shutter, bears, federal regulations--pretty much anything because he is Deeply Wounded and needs a Touch that can Heal. They swap stories and drink whiskey by a wood stove while waiting for the storm to abate. Lara has bought the local store, but the wound that she needs some of that Touch with the Healing, has come with her from California.

Lara has to nurse that cub back to health and figure out how to run a store in a remote location. The whole bear-healing is particularly distasteful to me so I will be brief: she bathes it, walks it on a leash, gives it a diaper, and cries when she has to release it into the wild. I hate this part of the book.

Sigh. Onward and upward, shall we? Mist has 1 phone and bi-weekly plane service. Lara has to navigate the extremely difficult shipping circumstances to stock and manage her store along side the chatty, supremely pregnant Sally. (A pregnant woman in the first act has to give birth in the third.) Rosie, the government appointed Salty Redhead of Wisdom, owner of Rosie's Bar helps Lara as much as a government appointed Salty Redhead of Wisdom does in situations like this. Lara and Cole stare, brood, talk, misunderstand, mutually admire physical traits. Mist is sorely in need of a teacher so kids don't have to go to boarding school. Guess who is a teacher and just moved to town but is escaping her past so can't be around children because her past involved children? This is a Thing.

Lara confesses that he husband and unborn child died in a horrible car accident and she ran as far from San Diego as was possible. Do you want to Touch this pain with some Healing, Cole? Do you? What is your hurt, Cole? Oh! It's the classic abandonment by father, raised by a magical Tlingit elder, taken advantage of by some horror of a woman in need of a Green Card hurt. Well, there is a petite, dark-haired woman who has a Touch that can Heal. HEALING. Woot.

My very, very favorite part is when Cole flies her to a remote location to deliver groceries to the local hermit Asa. While they're flying over the landscape Lara points out a patch of land devoid of trees. "Is that a clearcut from a logging operation?" She asks? "It's a muskeg" Cole replies. "I know it looks like a clearcut but loggers have nothing to do with them." HAHAHA. (At some point, Cole visits the logging camp and talks about how the owner is a good logger and runs a clean show and is real good about cleaning out the creeks. FS propaganda machine is clicking right along here.) After they land, the deliver things to Asa and Cole teaches Lara how to shoot the mythic .375 after kissing her.

The whole shooting scene is an extended metaphor for sex. "She reached for the gun, looking partly defiant but mostly uncertain as her slender fingers wrapped around the stock. It was heaver than she'd anticipated. Feeling its weight, she quickly grasped it with her other hand too." *Cough.* "The safety is off, " he warned her. *Snort.* "You're going to get some recoil and if it's not tight enough you'll bruise yourself when the stock kicks back." Ok, I'll stop now. Guns = phallic objects forever and ever and always.

At some point Lara's roof caves in. Her roof needs some Healing Touches from Cole's Tools. Roof be another metaphor for broken things in need of fixing. This book is positively rife with broken shit In Need.

Poor, knocked up Sally give birth. Lara has to help even though her own, wrecked ladybits will never know the joy of childbirth. Lara, you see, is an empty husk of a woman since she cannot birth no babies. Who will Touch Lara's Womb with some Healing? She cries it out on Cole's shoulder under her new, repaired roof. There is some Healing in the Touching that goes down on Lara's little settee. Cole's even feeling like this Lara woman is Touching his Wounds of Abandonment and he is feeling a bit, dare I say it, Healed.

That damn bear has to make one final appearance after he is released in the wild because he gets a thorn in his foot. Cole and Lara Heal that Thorn with their Touch. Bah.

Cole finally asks Lara to marry him because they are fully Healed with the mutually Healing Touches. He doesn't even care that Lara is only half a woman, he loves her just that much.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My day, she is made

So I stopped by the library to return some DVDs today. No big whoop. But. A librarian with the last name Bryner stopped me to tell me that she and her husband found my blog. Who cares about a Bryner you may ask. Well, Bryner is the last name of the infamous Claude Bryner, he of the hilariously bad movies. She tole me about Claude's terrible taste in movies and how he would watch anything. When he passes, he wanted his collection to go to Kettleson Memorial Library.

I asked if I offended her, she said no. In fact they read all my entries and howled with laughter. I couldn't stop grinning. This totally made my day. I suggested a film festival celebrating some of the brighter entries in his collection. She is a bit more embarrassed about Claude's taste than I am. So thanks, Internet. You rule.

Now, I'm off to load up by shiny, red, new Peugeot pepper mill. Wheeeee.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Alaska Romance Novel Project Innagural Edition

I have a shameful secret. I enjoy romance novels. Especially those taking place in Alaska. They are the Lady Steven Seagal of literature: overly serious, predictable, and unintentionally hilarious. I have a small, incomplete collection of thin volumes bursting with purple prose. Rather than hide my little habit Ima share it with you, internet.

I disagree with most of these books. The relationships are typically lopsided. The sexism is like, whoa, and getting knocked up is the ultimate goal. What really bothers me, however, is when the author gets little facts wrong. Like calling the trees in some fictional community on the Yukon River "Pine Trees." Yes, there are plot holes that you could drive a Bearing Sea Crabber through but it's the biological inaccuracy that drives me insane. So--any and all Romance Writers who want to include Alaska as a character--get it the eff right. There is a person Who Cares.

So. I'll start off with my little grading system that I will use to describe my key to romance novels. There are 3 types of the, um, intimacy in these books I will describe them as follows:

  • Graphic--There are anatomical terms described. Fluids are discussed. It happens more than once.
  • Swirlers--Physical contact is discussed in incredibly vague terms. Someone sees fireworks in a cloud of ecstasy.
  • Graphic Swirlers--No anatomical terms are described, but they are given hilarious euphemistic terms. *cough velvet sword cough*
There ya go. Now you know what kept my field partner and I in fits while staggering though miles of Tongass woods.

Without further ado, I want to present you with the book that started this whole bad-taste chapter in my otherwise highly tasteful life: Untamed Desire by Beth Brookes.

This #53 from a series called "Second Chance at Love" where women who have failed at relationships find an even better love later in life. (Later is early 30's.) There is a lot to make fun of this book from 1982, firmly entrenched in the Graphic Swirler category. The protagonist, Storm Reynolds, isn't really one of them.

Storm is a pilot. A good one. For all of the stupidity I've read in romance novels, it's still pretty great that this book from 1982 has a badass lead. (I stay away from early 80's books, unless they have Alaska in them, because of the awful rape/sexism/and general ickiness.) Aaaanyway, Storm arrives at Bradford Outfitters in Anchorage, AK to begin her new career as a bush pilot. She is fleeing some baggage, looking for her Second Chance At Love. Her new boss, Jim Talbot, is an asshole.

I don't mean in the "Ooohhhh he just needs understanding," as described in the book. He is a grade-A asshole and immediately makes Storm feel like garbage because he has baggage. (He is in need of a Second Chance At Love.) He is super-attracted to Storm but tells her that women shouldn't be pilots because his dead wife died being a pilot while pregnant with their child (spoiler). Therefore women Jim is attracted to shouldn't be pilots because piloting in bush Alaska is dangerous and Jim can't handle loosing another woman. Okay? Yes. Perfect sense.

Well, this outfitter specializes in moving chartered hunters/fishermen to remote areas for recreational killing purposes. They fly people from Seattle to Anchorage then out to little camps scattered around interior Alaska. Storm has to deal with the exact breed of entitled, visiting hunter that swarms the Greatland. A client can't keep his hands off her, she is an exceptionally hot redhead, and she smashes his hand with a clipboard. Awesome. Jim is upset that someone touched his "Untamed Storm Goddess." (A name he gives her when she fights with him about her fitness as a pilot.) I have no problem with the interactions between personalities here, but chartering from Seattle to Anchorage? Bullshit. Alaska Air was around there and they would have just taken a commercial flight to Anchorage.

Storm and Jim spend lots of time in various cockpits, bantering as people destined to be together obviously do. Storm gets mad and fights back like a woman with spine. Although it's a spine clothed in the worst 80's rayon shirts with attached bow tie. Jim admires her pluck and her willingness to put her head down, work, and not complain "like a woman would." Oh, but he riles her up with his holding her job above her head. She gets so riled that he can't help himself and grabs her about the shoulders and kisses away her anger with bruising, punishing kisses (urk).

Finally, the facade that Jim has constructed comes a-tumbling down when they have to medivac a kid. Arriving at Storms apartment during a rainstorm, he huddles on her couch and confesses his not-at-all predictable baggage about his dead wife who died. That levy broken, nothing can keep Storm and Jim apart except that this happens on page 94 of 183. More little hitches to this giddy up are in store for out lovers. Namely, Storm has to tell her ex husband to take a flying leap and realize She Matters and is Good Wife Material.

Because a woman is not complete until she can make some guy happy.

Oh, and they crash in a plane somewhere because of sabotage or something. But not before Storm enjoys a fine glass of Rose Wine on Jim's Polar Bear Rug of serious romancin' in front of a predictable fire. Nuthin' like pink wine on a dead animal that sez, "Woot! Sexy Alaska Time." After they crash, because of the sabotage not bad piloting, while waiting for rescue, Storm reveals she is teh preggers. Their tears of joy mingle as they embrace in a downed Aztec. (Plane, not ancient central-mexican culture.) Storm promises to stop flying when she's 6 months along to, "Keep [Jim] from worrying himself silly."

Isn't that nice? I know my tone is mocking but this book has a special place in my heart as the first Alaskan Romance I ever read.

I'm taking suggestions. I have a stack but if you have anything awesome in the Alaska-romance world, let me know.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Things I have no patience for

Stupidity annoys me on an average day. Nothing makes me throb with anger more than stupid people boarding planes. Especially Alaska residents. We fly more than anybody.

1. Not knowing which is the aisle seat vs the window seat. The diagram is right there and invariably people sit in the wron seat and look confused when you point this out. This has happened literally every flight I have ever been on. I haven't called the offenders morons...yet.

2. Sitting in the wrong row. It's printed on the ticker and the wall. Last time I checked 11 looks nothing like 13.

3. Invading my personal area. I agree that the armrest is Alsace and we can fight over it, but please, don't put your elbow on my side. I paid for my little three-dimensional space and I want it. You are already closer than I like strangers to be.

4. Reading over my shoulder. I am embarrassed enough by the trash I read on planes. Dont further shame me by looking at the torrid prose then back at me.

Bleah. I need a frajillion dollars so I can always have an empty seat next to me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reconnecting

I never realize that I am half a person when not in the woods. Anytime I am in the deep dark I feel myself swell. Like my soul inflates and I am a whole person again. Yeah, I live in a rural town surrounded by the same woods that lift me up. But it's not the same.

Remoteness. No cell service. Working long hours. I feel more alive there than pretty much anywhere. Except for fishing. The siren's call of fishing and the ocean is a constant. I was built for labor. No two ways about it. I need to feel my body scream and ache with work. I need to be physically tired every evening. I want bruised forearms and scraped knuckles.

I need the woods. But they don't need me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring and other hardships

It's trite, I know. Going though the piles of memories and reliving several stages of your life all at once. This weekend is free dump time in my fair burg and in an unusual pique of cleanliness I am purging several years of junk. And mending things I have crammed in a mending box. And listening to music from Muskeg Harpy-- the college years.

The croonings of Lauryn Hill return me to my total shit apartment sophomore year. I happened to also be fixing my first ever reusable grocery bag. (I got it in Germany on a visit to my best friend when I was 15. It features a frog and a turtle kissing under a rainbow. Google image search failed.) Two of my 5 senses were fully immersed in the past that I was like, "whoa."

I remembered my first time at a disco in my super trendy outfit I bought I Rome. I saw, again, la Pieta and David and the early works of Van Gogh. I laughed, once more, at my mother's inability it understand train directions in Frankfurt. My belly prickled with heat against the stupid money belt that was too bulky to hide under my clothes on my thin hips. I remember how much I hated that damn belt.

My mending pile includes a bunch of t-shirts I can't bear to part with. From university, from high school, from tDF. There is a quilt in the future, if I ever get around to it. Maybe if my sewing machine doesn't have to live on the kitchen table during projects. My best intentions will go back into storage along with those memories of Week Of Welcome and how cute my the-boyfriend-now-husband looked in his blue camo shirt.

The dump will be the final resting place of the smoker my dad bought in 1974. There is no redemption for it anymore. Not after it gave tDF food poisoning last year. Most of our wrecked xtratuffs will go too. Each pair smells like mushroomy forest with undertones of salmon slime. They probably have more than 500 miles on each of them, between walks to work, work in the woods, hikes on the weekends, and treks down the boat ramp. I have never thrown a pair away. I have like 6 pairs stashed here and there. It's time. No, I will not make them into a planter or some other decorative item. I do have some standards.

Yesterday, I took the computer that I had in school to the e-waste recycling. My 1998 e-machine that I wrote every lab report, my senior project, and angry emails to various ex-boyfriends. It felt good to be rid of the clutter that I hadn't turned on in more than 4 years. But a piece of me was on there. I don't really know her anymore, so I can't bring her back. She'll surface at some point. When I least suspect it and am vulnerable. The way memories do.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chores

I am no stranger to sucky jobs. There is sort of a grim satisfaction from taking in an unpalatable task and seeing it through. This is why I like the challenge and pain of splitting our firewood with a 1-pound maul. My shoulders scream but I have a tidy pile of kindling and wood to burn later. I think this is my fine, eastern European blood talking.

It's spring and I am slowly working my way through all the spring-related tasks. Taxes. Cleaning the yard. Changing all the batteries in the thermostats and smoke detectors. Changing the fluids on my truck. ( Note that I said my truck. It actually is our only truck but I lover her so much that I have taken over sole ownership and care.)

Today I changed then oil on my Toyota. It was not fun. I used to change the oil in my little ford about 4 times a year. It was a 20 minute task since the engine was pretty simple--no ac, no power steering, manual transmission made it a dream to troubleshoot and maintain. This Toyota is then premium version which means there are wires, hoses, and manifolds filling up the entire engine compartment. It would be a clusterf*ck if it didn't run so well. To get at the oil drain plug and filter a person has to remove the skid plates. It's not too terrible of a big deal except that the driveway is gravel and the bolts were ratcheted down by someone more burly than me.

I scooted on my back on the sharp rocks under a filthy undercarriage that rained down dust in my eyes as I reefed on rusty bolts. They all came free with the only casualty of one bloody knuckle. The oil change went off without a hitch after that. It took an hour and a half. Thank goodness we only need to change oil only once or twice a year here. No roads=not much driving.

Not that I finished up that little chore, it's off to do the taxes! You know it's a good day when changing your oil counts as the fun task.

FYI. Don't google image search bloody knuckles. Urk.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On moving heavy things by myself

I've gotten quite used to not having my husband around. I don't really like saying that, but it's the truth. He's down south, laboring away on the Rusty Mistress (Our new name for our boat, Axel) while I toil away here in the dregs of winter.

I buy whatever tickles me at the store and have switched almost entirely to organic food. I can justify the expense for just me, plus I can try all the brands and types to see which one I like best. My meals have shifted to nearly entirely vegetarian with the occasional venison chop or salmon fillet. It's nice, just cooking for my taste and only when I feel like it. I had to stop the "I'll just eat cereal for dinner" thing that wasn't entirely healthy. I have managed to cook for myself about every other day and have been pleased with the results.

I made this totally kick-ass Cambodian salad. It's an alaskafied version from my favorite Bay Area restaurant, Chez Sovan. Their watercress salad with BBQ beef or chicken is a-mazing. Last time I was there, Sovan kindly told me her dressing recipe and my local store had her suggested brand of fish sauce. I marinated a venison roast in a puree of lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, sugar, and lime. It wasn't quite as sweet as Sovan's I think there is a glaze involved that I missed. But so what. I'm so growing watercress this summer and going to make this salad all the damn time. Gotta get on that marinade-glaze combo for deer and fish, though.

That dinner? So not acceptable to my 220# husband. He needs more to fill him up. One of the pleasures of cooking for me.

Aside from eating whatever I want and watching all the cheesy tripe on Netflix Instant Watch, there isn't really an upside to living without my partner. He missed my wearable art show where I was a space wonder woman, complete with vampy makeup. (I don't have any pictures...yet.) I had to do all the shoveling myself when it snowed and nurse myself through 2 sinus infections. I hate being sick and having to choose between laying down and making tea. Today I had to move really heavy doors around so that his brother and fiancee had a place to sleep. I should have asked a neighbor for help but I didn't. It's done now.

Bashing my foot with a self-closing door made me really miss tDF. He usually is around to help do things that I can't. Only a few more months to go before he's back with the boat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Dead Things

Taxidermy is a helluva thing. Growing up, it was pretty much relegated to the natural history museum or rednecks. It sought to educate or it was shorthand for "dumb hick" in the media. Note, when I talk of taxidermy, I don't mean antlers. Antlers have an artsy, structural appeal that transcends preserved skin on the walls. Alaska, is the land of stuffed dead things. It does one of those circle things where you start at "kinda cool" move into "holy shit, that's a lot of taxidermy" right into "that's so many dead creatures it's cool again." like a John Belushi sketch.

I realized there are only a few categories of mounts (that is the technical term for taxidermed things). These are: Fierce, Majestic, and Furnishings.

Fierce runs the gamut from wolverines to bears. I challenge you to find a bear mount that doesn't have it's mouth open, ready to tear out your trachea. It is 100% like that Far Side comic. In the Anchorage Airport, there is a display with two mouth-open polar bears in a plexiglass display. One is standing up on two legs, one is down on all fours. Both want to eat your innards. In the wild, though, these two would fight each other rather than you since their personal space bubbles are huge due to the sparse food in their range. Also, up on two legs is a curious, checkin things out pose for a bear. Think of it like prarie-dogging in cubicle land. Up is not a fight pose.

The smaller, varmint critters are usually taxidermed as fierce. Perhaps the hunter wants to feel justified killing a 9-pound thing. These have their teeth bared and are protecting a kill or carrion. These approach furniture category since they often are in a coffee table, but they are fierce first. Wolverines are the most common fierce little thing, but they are pretty much super badass so they get a pass from me.

Next up are the majestic creatures. These are often antlered/horned quadrupeds looking wistfully in the distance with their dead, glass eyes. You will find several deer, sheep, boar, goat, moose, caribou, elk or bison heads staring wistfully through you, to your soul. I doesn't matter if it is a full cape mount or just the face, they all look like this. They are pining from the leas or crags they came from. Ducks on the wing or other fowl in flight fit here too. Look at that goose, trying to migrate when someone shot it and decorated the den with it's carcass.

Last is furniture. This category includes all the wall hangings, rugs and decorative items featuring the skins of dead things. Wolves are most often furniture. Wolf pelts as decorative throws are common enough not to warrant notice anymore. Bear skins on the wall and floor are in about every other home in Alaska. The funniest by far are the plexiglass scenes under the fauxoak coffee table. You can stick anything in your own, personal natural history museum in the rumpus room. I have seen fish, quail, muskrats, and snakes. The taxidermist is an artist and likes to include various twigs and berries to complete the life-like scene.

Anyway, taxidermy is inherently funny. It's doubly funny to me since I found out how much it costs. (It is incredibly expensive.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My boat is sexy

I've been buried by a boat for about a week and a half. I have ate, slept, breathed boat work. Fun isn't the word I'd use.


Axel on the lift in the Ventura Boat Yard. This is after her wheelhouse was cut off so it could be trucked.


Boat, right after she arrived. Note the abundance of crap stuck to her hull.


So clean, pretty and gray. Getting her to this state was an awful affair. I have done many dirty, gross jobs in my life but scraping/grinding/painting the underside of this boat was by far the worst work ever.


From this...


To this. It's all worth it, I guess. She is so pretty. I like to stand under her bow and just rest my head against the steel. It will be a lot more work.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hello Gorgeous

I finally saw Axel. She's beautiful. Although Axel is a german boy's name (Thanks, H!) the boat is clearly a she. Axel is simply too lovely to be masculine. She is stout and graceful, in the way Ed Monk hulls just are. My camera crapped out so I don't have any pictures (will have some soon).

We'll start the transformation process tomorrow, and all the ugly will go away.

The keel is a thick steel i-beam with a 10-inch flange. I think the steel cladding the hull is 1/4 corten steel, but it may be A36. (I've been learning ASTM steel standards and specs. Yay for me!) Everything is largely intact and there will only have to be small patches over some pinholes in the hull. The deck is about 80% intact and a few panels will have to be scrapped and replaced. We had to cut the wheelhouse down to be able to truck it so that will require an entire rebuild.

I only have 2 weeks to be here and work on this with tDF. Hopefully we'll make some strides and be able to weld right after I leave. In the meanwhile I'll be scrapping all the assorted sticky gunk from everywhere. The stern has a pretty attractive accumulation of bilge water, hydraulic fluid, diesel residue, and fish ick.

I never knew I could love a boat, but I love Axel. It's my first child.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to survive an Alaskan Winter

1. Spend as much time writing a play about yourself in your head as possible. Make sure that you fight mythical battles and ride a dinosaur at some point. Flying would be acceptable as well.

2. Eat fatty foods. Coconut? Yes. Bacon? At least a pound per week. If it can be fried, you should totally fry it and dip it in mayonnaise. (Yes. I am a fry in mayo person. It's my awesome Euro persona.)

3. Bitch incessantly about the weather. Carp that sunny days are too short, that the snow is too cold, and especially about 36 plus rainy is the worst weather on God's Green Earth. The communal suffering through natures worst warms my cold, dead heart.

4. Watch the worst movies ever made and feel good about understanding why they are hilariously bad. This is also called liking things "ironically." As I am not a hipster, I like things in the regular way. I am not cool enough to experience things at an ironic level.

5. Turn on all of your lights. Crank up your favorite jams. Get stupidly drunk. Dance in your living room. Exercise would work here but I like when my walls throb with Blackalicious and I'm dancing like a saucy penguin.

6. Try not to lick the garden catalogs that always arrive while you are buried deep in the asshole of January. Slow dancing like you're in 7th grade with the Burpee catalog outside manages to take care of #5 above so try it.

7. Practice not stabbing anyone with a "Think Spring" sign or attitude. Maybe make up a dance routine where you instead practice your CPR moves? Try remember if it was 15 and 2 or 30 and 2 or if you even have to breathe for the other person. Going into the wayback machine to all of the training that you have for actually saving a life may keep you from stabbing the Pollyanna.

8. Get the Internet. Seriously.

9. Remember how hard you worked in the 18 hours of daylight in the summer. Heeey. That kind of sucked and you were actually looking forward to winter when all the skin peeled off of your hands from all the salt water. Think about how relaxed you are as you are crawling the walls with cabin fever and seasonal affectiveness disorder.

10. Think Spring!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Point Conception

TDF called me last night just as I was meeting a friend for a glass of wine. Axel was up and running and they just reached Port San Luis. Rather than anchoring up for the night they decided to run all the way to Ventura. I could hear the relief in his voice, he was out of Morro Bay and finally moving Axel toward hauling out. He and his brother were running all night, they figure it will be about 18 hours to get from Port San Luis to the Ventura Harbor. I know adrenaline and giddiness will keep them awake. Still I worry.

This trip takes them past Point Conception, where the cold Pacific meets the warm Pacific. I have heard tales from my Dad's Seascout days about the nasty waters. I've only seen it from the safety of land, never from salt water. The weather is fine, the seas are calm.

Hope to hear from him soon.

UPDATED:

They arrived safely at about 1 pm this afternoon. Whew. Axel ran like a top.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Plants of the day

Galium aparine--Sticky-Willy
Cakile edentula-- American Searocket
Bidens tripartite--Three-Lobe Beggarticks
Impatiens noli-tangere--Western Touch-Me-Not
Orobanche uniflora--Naked Broom-Rape
Primula cuneifolia--Pixie-Eyes
Najas flexilis--Wavy Waternymph

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shovel wars 2011

We share a passive-aggressive relationship with our neighbors. It seethes throughout the year, but it burbles forth during snow storms. We live on a steep, privacy drive shared by our 4 houses. The city doesn't plow so we are all responsible for snow removal. I could give a shit about driving to my house and would prefer to build a snowboard jump and play. The neighbors behind us feel the need to drive to their house EVERYDAY. Who will break down and shovel first? It's usually them.

When we let them shovel the drive first, it sets a pissy mood that persists until the herring spawn in march. One year we got a "talking to" when they felt we weren't pulling our weight. We explained our desire for an ATV with plow to clear the whole road. Neighbor man freaked out about that method. "it makes things icy," he whinnied. Apparently the only way to clear the snow on our unravelling gravel road is to use the human snowplow thing he uses. He also has a well-documented fear of gas-powered tools. They finished off the conversation by neighbor lady telling me about how my life is incomplete and I don't understand anything because I don't have kids.

Now, I am about as stubborn as they come. Like dig my heels in and keep fighting even when I realize I'm wrong stubborn. I also managed to marry they only person more stubborn than I am. We are a helluva pair. After that, I vowed to never use the stupid tool they suggested because I also don't like anyone to tell me what to do. Also, I promised tDF an ATV.

Welcome to the shovel wars.

Things simmered down after the supersnow year of 2008. We shared an uneasy peace. I know they don't like us so I always smile sweetly and wave whenever I see them, forcing them to acknowledge me. (This is a tactic I learned from a bless-you-heart southern woman, queen of passive-aggressive.) Obla-Dee, life goes on.

It snowed yesterday, as it often does in the hell month of January. It's supposed to snow more today and tonight. I shoveled the driveway.

I shoveled it my way, and with a snow shovel we got out of a dumpster a few years ago. I should probably add that uphill neighbors don't actually shovel the whole drive, but just the wheel tracks. Plus his shoveling manages to create a river down the center of the road that contributes to the further degradation of the gravel. (I am many things, but I am a soil conservationist and engineer first.) I cleared the whole damn thing. Cleared so that the snow melt will drain off the road and not down the middle of it.

I win. I don't know what I actually proved, but I still won.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It was very cold today.

But it is no longer dark when I drove home at 4:30.

Small things.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My least favorite body part

We all have one thing we would change about our physical selves. Many women, like that mascot of all women Cathy, are dissatisfied with their thighs. Other people want to be taller, shorter, thinner, or curvier. Me? I want my sinuses to be functional. My sinuses are malformed enough that they don't drain correctly. This leaves me in the enviable position of having virtually no sense of smell and a chronic infection.

I stayed home sick again today because the ick clogging my nose descended into my throat, removing my ability to talk. I have sat around for two days eating, hacking, and watching Friday Night Lights. I am ready to cram an endoscopic surgical instrument up in there and root around until everything is smooth like the LA river.

I will never win Americas Next Top Normal Nasal Functionary.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Noodling is my eigth wonder

(Photo from here at thefastertimes.com)

As I'm sure you've figured out, I like fishing and weird things. When these two combine, it's a veritable Voltron of Awesome. I can hardly speak, there is so much awesome. Fold in legitimately crazy people and women with big hair wearing Joe Diffie T-shirts, and I am a puddle on the floor. I am speaking of Noodling. This is where you stick you hand in a muddy hole at the bottom of a river or lake and wiggle your fingers until a catfish bites down. Then you yank the poor critter up and heave it into your awaiting Bayliner Capri.

I discovered Noodling while we were living in a USFS bunkhouse. We had like 9 channels of television luxury at our disposal and PBS aired the most interesting material by far. One wintry night, I was washing the dishes while the Noodling Documentary played in the background. It is a hour long story of three brave men/families who noodle in the wilds of Oklahoma. The three groups couldn't be more different. I have named them according to several distinctive traits:

The Catfish Whisperer: This guy is like a goofy little kid with delusions of how famous he really is. Once, he was on Letterman and he released videos of his exploits. He tames a snake by having it repeatedly bite him and spends the bulk of the documentary wearing bandages from a copperhead bite (he was playing with it).

Family Plumber: Family plumber is a big redheaded guy who noodles with his dad and son. They launch the family Bayliner and root around in muddy holes with their buds. Plumber's wife is appropriately big-haired and sports a Joe Diffie shirt. (Joe Diffie sings the best country songs about gravy.) Plumber notes his introduction to plumbing was fishing out some turds blocking a sewage outlet for $10. "Either way, you're noodling."

ZZGearhead: This is an uncle/nephew team who have that exact look you would expect of aging gear heads. ZZNephew has a partner named Tami, the first-ever crowned noodling queen. (You can totally see her arse through the netting shirt she wears around.) ZZNephew is afraid of letting his young son participate in sports because that would take him away from the lake.

All of these guys are super-proud of the fact that they are men who work with their hands. Doctors and Lawyers don't noodle, just these salt-of-the-mudhole men.

I must add that freshwater situations where noodling occurs is scary-ass water. Water is murky, full of leeches, copperheads, snapping turtles, or beavers. There is also the very real possibility of drowning while participating in the dumbest way to catch fish ever. At one point, they show the piece of asphalt that their buddy drowned under. You can get yourself stuck and drown with your fingers in a hole. I refuse to enter a body of water with leeches or to participate in an activity where drowning is common. (Yes, I know people drown in salt water often. But that is LEECH-FREE water.)

After this first introduction, I bought the dang DVD and made everyone I know watch it. I can't recommend it enough. Short of watching the DVD, you should totally google image search "noodling."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Figuring it out

We got the internet last Wednesday. The great leap forward, it is a heck of a thing. Thank God for my brother who is actually caught up with technology. He hooked up our situation. Now, I can blog from the comfort of my home and not the library. We still need to hook up our big old Mac desktop, but the iPad is a-workin.

I've been catching up on the past 7 years of internet. I have been visiting the place where he drinks tequila and she talks dirty in spanish. And the place where I can prove that is really what Dolf Lundgren looks like now. Oh and get to watch the Sylvester Stallone arm wrestling trucker movie with child sidekick (Over The Top). It is the gold standard for 80s vanity projects.

And trying to refigure this whole blog thing. More things to come now that I can easily upload photos and whine from my old Stihl bar stools. Need to get the power pc online to fully interface with the rest of the world.

I'm glad to have the distraction, though. Today I put my husband on a plane down south for who knows how long. He's going to fix up Axel and bring her home. It's a bit of a rabbit hole since we don't know how bad or not so bad it really is. All I know is that we're going to paint her grey and blue and I've got to configure a galley. Netflix instant watch will keep me warm.