An Unattainable Dream

For a long time now I have held on to an “unattainable dream” of frontier living in Alaska.  I say “unattainable” because, in all honesty – I am married… with children. 

Being married… with children is really not much more than an “easy” explanation excuse of why I am a slightly overweight, highly stressed out police dispatcher living on the rural outskirts of a major metropolitan area instead of forging my own way in the Alaskan wilderness as a rural frontier recluse.  

The slightly longer (and more honest / introspective) explanation involves elements of my own feelings of responsibility, some fear, a little trepidation, and healthy dose of “reality”. 

That’s ok though.  I am not afraid of having (and admitting to) “unattainable dreams”.  Heck, I’m even willing to say that unattainable dreams are “healthy” (mentally), and offer an escape (albeit a temporary escape, but an escape nonetheless).  I know I will never really achieve them, but they sure are fun to think about!

A little over a year ago now the Mother of Five and I bought a pair of Kindles.  Since then, my level of reading has skyrocketed from it’s previous non-existent levels.  If you check out my Kindle Reading List, you will see that I do have a taste for a certain genre of reading – but you will also notice that I break out of that routine from time to time.

abMy most recent departure from my typical reading pattern came while perusing through Amazon’s Kindle Book Store and stumbled upon a book that caught my eye. 

Alaska Bound:  One Man’s Dream, One Woman’s Nightmare! by Tammy Jones 

One man’s dream one woman’s nightmare??  Wow, did that sound familiar!

Well, “nightmare” may be a little strong.  I have no doubts the Mother of Five would enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Alaskan wilderness for a certain amount of time, but frontier LIVING and the solitude of Alaska (the greatest draws for me) would not be a good fit for her.  

Well, I finally got around to reading this book.  Initially, I was not sure what to expect.  All appearances was that this book was written from the perspective of a woman who’s husband was fulfilling one of his “unattainable goals” and dragging his wife along for the ride.  (I could not imagine doing such a thing.

I do not want to give too much of this book away, but I’ll say from the very beginning of this book, I was unable to put it down.  The book took me through the author’s journey as the couple virtually “hops, skips, and jumps” their way from urban living all the way through establishing rural Alaskan escape. 

While reading this book, I found myself Googling places and things like Ketchikan, the Alaskan Marine Highway, and ocean tides (something that someone living smack dab in the northern central Midwest has NEVER had to consider).  Not only was I able to live vicariously through the eyes of the author, I feel as if I learned a lot from her experiences! 

I had always pictured my Alaskan “compound” landlocked (or almost landlocked) deep inland, maybe off a stream or a freshwater lake.  Tammy and Tom’s experience involves a lot of struggle (and some success) with the ocean in one of the many Alaskan inlets.  Their adventures have provided me a whole new level of “unattainable daydreaming”!! 

I initially noticed that the book has a noticeable void of viewpoint from Tom.  Tammy wrote strictly from her viewpoint, and included only small bits of interaction with Tom.  She never never really tells us (or even speculates much) on Tom’s perspective throughout their adventure.  The more the book progressed, the more I actually enjoyed this void (and this from a my opinion as a male).  I truly felt as if I was getting the author’s perspective.  Tammy has a wonderful way of telling her version of the story with a great balance between, and bled of humor and reality.  Each adventure (and subsequent solution) left me wondering “what’s next” for these two!         

I want to thank Tammy for having written about her adventures.  She has done something I will never likely do, but will always dream of doing.  The work she put into living that dream, and then writing about it gives me yet another method of vicariously living out one of my “unattainable dreams”! 

Tammy (Jones) Harding and Alaska Bound are being added to my Alaskan living favorites, and join the ranks of people such as Richard Proenneke, Carl McCunn, Christopher McCandless, and Timothy Tredwell (although, I sure hope Tammy’s story ends FAR LESS tragically than the latter three).

The book’s webpage Pennock Island Productions is now alerting me to an author’s note that says “Stay tuned for book 2”.  I can’t wait!


Final Note:  Normally, I do not use “The Life of a Father of Five” as a product review website.  In fact, I can think of one single review I have written in the past seven years of maintaining this website (despite the countless offers I get to do product reviews). 

Not to take away from what a great book Alaska Bound is, I don’t want this post to be viewed strictly as a “book review”.  This “review” has more to do with me, my thoughts, my hopes and dreams (attainable or not) – and how this wonderful book helped reinvigorate some of them!! 

Another Reason to Love St. John the Baptist School!

(As if I needed any more…)

Eagle Found In Snow Uncovers Threat Behind Minn. Church

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The American Bald Eagle has made a remarkable recovery after near extinction, but there are still many things threatening their existence every day.

One of those threats was noted recently behind St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jordan, Minn. The incident has churchgoers praying for an eagle — one that Marty Huss found near the church in the snow .

“The eagle was laying face down,” said Huss, who thought he found the carcass of a female eagle.

“All of a sudden it moved, and we knew there was life there,” he said.

Huss then called the Raptor Center, and wrapped the bird in a quilt.

“They told him to bring it inside, and I said, ‘OK…be careful,” said Father Timothy Yanta, who was preparing some second graders for their First Communion inside the church.

“I was scared, and I didn’t know if he was going to make it…or die,” one of the children said.

The church began to pray for the eagle, and they named it Spirit, according to Huss. She is now in St. Paul, at the Raptor Center.

Dr. Michelle Willette, a veterinarian at the center, suspects Spirit was poisoned after eating a carcass that had been sedated. It’s something Raptor Center employees say they see about three times a year.

“She came in with a pretty good prognosis for this type of condition,” Willette said.

To help Spirit recover, veterinarians flushed her digestive track, and had her rest. She slept for 48 hours straight.

Now, Spirit is getting fluids and food, which is giving hope to the congregation back in Jordan.

“I did never thought that that bird was ever going to come back to life, and so it’s pretty exciting that it did.”

The Raptor Center say it’ll feed Spirit until she’s able to eat on her own.Then they’ll try some test flights before she’s returned to the wild.

The congregation at St. John’s hopes Spirit will be released back home in Jordan

St. John the Baptist Saints Basketball 2012-2013

We Love our Saints Baskeball team Hankie A few days ago #4 of 5’s basketball season came to an end, and with that, came the end of her basketball career with the St. John the Baptist’s Saints.  It was a bittersweet moment for me.  You see, #4 of 5 joined the Girls Basketball team as a forth grader during the 2010-2011 season.  It was also the very first year St. John’s offered a basketball program.  After a progressively popular and successful series of seasons with the Saints I suspect she will continue to play, but next year she will be playing as a Jordan Jaguar at the (public) middle school.

I will (of course) root for the Jaguars, but I will always remember my daughter as a St. John the Baptist Saint, and the Saints will forever hold a soft spot in my heart. 

(The “We Love our Saints” hankies were given out a few years back.  I still keep mine in my memory box.  Yes, I must admit it’s a little wrinkled, but those wrinkles do not affect the memories that the hankie brings me!)     

Refridgerator Magnets

It has been a lot of fun watching these girls grow over the years - individually and together as a team.

With the official “competition portion” of the season behind us, there was only one thing left to do before we could close the books on the 2012-2013 season.   

It was time for the the annual Basketball Banquet and “kids vs parents” basketball games!   

Due to previous work-commitments I have never been able to partake in these events, but this year (ironically, #4 of 5’s last year) karma came to my rescue and the kids vs parent game and the Banquet fell upon my days off!  I was actually quite excited to be able to participate!      

The Mother of Five and #5 of 5 also came to watch (and cheer).  While the Mother of Five never really told me who she was rooting for (I suspect it was for “Team Kids”), #5 of 5 told me that she thought the parents were going to win, and was planning on cheering for “Team Parents”!

The Mother of Five was able to snap a few “less than flattering” photos during the game.  The talented and beautiful young woman in yellow is the one and only #4 of 5, while that overweight, flush-faced, and sweaty gelatinous blob dressed in black is yours truly, The Father of Five

(Forgive me for your impending nightmares of fat sweaty gelatinous blobs.)    

Dad vs Daughter Basetball Dad vs Daughter Basetball Dad vs Daughter Basetball Dad vs Daughter Basetball

I know, I know, I know… You all want to know who won, right???  Well, I’ll be honest – we were keeping score for 3/4 of the game (“were” being the operative word).  The girls took an early lead, but throughout the time we were keeping score, the lead passed back and forth between the kids and the parents.  Neither side got much more than four or six points ahead of the other before the lead was lost. 

Here’s my take on it.  If these 4th, 5th, and 6th grade girls were able to keep up with their moms and dads as well as they did – I don’t really care what the score was.  The girls won! 

(Actually, in the end, I do believe the girls final score was slightly higher than the parents… )

After the game (thankfully) we all had time to head home and clean up.  Then, we all met back at the Ridges of Sand Creek Clubhouse for a Taco Buffet! 

Basketball Banquet Basketball Banquet Basketball Banquet Basketball Banquet 

After everyone had their fill of soft shell tacos, hard shell tacos, and taco salad, this year’s coaches gave a great little season finale speech, and recognized this years sixth graders for all the work they have put in over the years to help make the Basketball program at St. John’s so successful!

Then, each sixth grader was presented a medal!  (#4 of 5 is on the far right)    

Basektball Banquent Awards Basektball Banquent Awards

  Below, you see #4 of 5 receiving the medal from her coach. 

Basektball Banquent Awards


CoachesOf course, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to recognize the foundation of our teams’ successes. 

Left - The Girls Basketball Coach Dave M.
Right – The Boys Basketball Coach DJ N.
(DJ also coached the girls team in the past

These dads invested a lot of their time and talents into building a successful Basketball program at St. John’s. 

They deserve many thanks and unending gratitude for all they have done for our children! 

 


Once the awards were handed out, each of the sixth graders were called back up to the front of the room, and asked to assist the coaches in handing out a piece of cake to all the parents and family members attending.  I could not pass up the opportunity to snap a couple of pics of #4 of 5 serving cake!

Basektball Banquent Cake #1 Basektball Banquent Cake #2 #4 of 5 serving cake#4 of 5 serving cake 

As I said earlier, this was a very bittersweet day for me.  I was so grateful that my schedule allowed me to partake this year, and I truly had a ton of fun – but it also means that this chapter of my daughter’s life is closing – and along with the end of her career as a St. John’s Saint, it also means she is one step closer to the end of her time at St. John the Baptist School. 

For the time being though, I would much rather dwell on all the great time, great friends, and great memories #4 of 5 has had during her time as a St. John’s Saint!

Sweetie, I cannot even begin to explain just how proud I am of you!  Keep up the good work!!

 #4 of 5 with her Basketball Medal #4 of 5 with her Basketball Medal #4 of 5 with her Basketball Medal

Band Concert and a Minor Rant

#4 of 5 started out her sixth grade expressing an interest in playing in the school band.  She told us (originally) that she wanted to play saxophone,  but  I was trying to push her towards the flute.  She agreed to give it a try – and for the first half of the year played the flute. 

IMGA0334

After the Christmas Concert (seen on the left), #4 of 5 came to us and expressed her desire to return back to her original interest, the saxophone. 

(Thank goodness for middle school band instrument rentals!

About a week later, I brought home the saxophone, which she has been playing now without even a look back towards the flute.

IMG_1712

 

About a week ago, the Middle School hosted an “Art Extravaganza”.  They opened their doors to the public, and had on display many forms of student “art”.  Paintings, drawings, and various other creative artwork.  The highlight of the evening was the performance art portion.  The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands played and the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade choirs also preformed. 

I won’t get into each and every detail – but I will say that the 6th grade band (which #4 of 5 is part of) played two pieces.  Furioso by Robert W. Smith, and Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple).  They did great – and as an added bonus – the saxophones had a unique roll in Smoke on the Water.  They had a specific part that they played exclusively.  Each saxophonist stood up to play a small part, which was followed by another saxophonist standing up and joining the previous saxophonist (so, by the end of the saxophone solo, every saxophonist was standing and playing).  What was really great was that #4 of 5  was the first saxophonist to stand up!!

I did not know this was happening, so I did not have my camera ready until they were all standing – but here you can see #4 of 5 playing front and center!       

It was a great night.  The artwork, the music, and the singing were all nothing less than spectacular (considering it was a middle school performance.)  Both of my parents, and both of The Mother of Five’s parents were also able to attend – which made the night even that much more special! 


I would like to make one “Adam Carolla like” observation and rant.

If you are attending a middle school band concert, in a filled-to-capacity house (in a gymnasium), and particularly if you are  seated on the main floor (non elevated, like the bleachers are) –  I don’t care how greasy, how long, how unkempt, or how downright nasty your hair is.  I don’t care if you are bald, have severe scars, or even prison ink upon your dome.  If you are attending a function that you even THINK that someone around you may want to see, would you PLEASE get out of your "completely unaware” trance-like state of self importance, and TAKE YOUR INDIANA JONES HAT OFF SO THE THE PEOPLE BEHIND YOU CAN SEE???

Folks, this is no joke.  This is the guy who sat in front of me.  This was the view I had of the Choir stage (which was just to my left of the main band stage).  Thankfully, #4 of 5 was on the far right side of the band stage allowing me view of her despite the giant billboard in front of me that read “I am a more important that everyone around me, and I don’t care.”

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