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We had a bunch of friends over for a fundraiser-party, to benefit our Tour de Cure ride for diabetes research. To that end, we spend most of the previous week cleaning and decorating the basement. We raised over $300, and as a bonus, you get to see pictures of a fairly-clean house.

Dale and I are looking into getting a second vehicle*. We’re tearing down an old moldy shed and an outdoor set of stairs, this summer, and we’re doing work on the house, and we’re still in Furniture Acquisition Mode, so one thought is a [small!] pickup truck with 4-wheel drive. On the other hand, gas is $4.50 a gallon and probably not going down soon, so the other thought is “something fuel efficient.” (There’s not anything fuel efficient with 4WD/AWD, so that’s a down side. Recall that Alaska doesn’t believe in plowing down to pavement in winter. And, although the biggest hills are avoidable, it turns out we need 4WD to pull into our driveway from our unplowed alley.)

I’ve always loved little pickup trucks—you know, like Nissan and Toyota used to make—and we’d actually use its hauling capabilities, at least until our house is closer to done**. So I guess I’m leaning that way, a bit. I don’t know if you can buy pickup trucks that tiny, new. I also know that, if you want 4WD, your pickup truck options are a bit limited.

This is where, if you have advice for us, we’d love to hear it. New/Used, specific dealers to try/avoid, whatever. So… thoughts?

*We work in opposite directions from where we live. Normally, it’s not a big deal: one of us drops the other off (which wastes gas and time, but not a whole bunch of either). But he had an 8am meeting and an 8:30am-but-far-away meeting, last week, with more of them coming up soon, and there was no way he was going to get me to work in time to make those meetings; I also work Wednesday nights, which means I go in after lunch on Wednesdays. Which is fine, as long as he can leave work part-way through the day (we eat lunch together); sometimes he has 1pm meetings, which means I’m at work earlier than I want to be and he’s rushed to get back. Also, his work is going to move onto Base, before too long, which is going to limit his ability to leave part-way through the day. I can bus, but it only runs once per hour, and I’m unwilling to take the bus (which is full of sick people all winter) when I’m fighting bronchitis, which feels constant, lately. In the summer, I can bike, but I don’t have the skills, the gear, or the constitution to do that in winter.

**Projects: tearing down the shed (that moldy stuff is NOT going in the back of the Subaru, or any enclosed vehicle), buying or building a new shed in a different part of the yard, tearing down the back stairs, tearing down the front stairs, bringing replacement materials for the stairs home, replacing the gutters, bringing materials home to build a duck house and duck fence, tearing out and replacing the white picket fence, framing and putting up “pink board” in the basement (for insulation), putting up drywall in the basement, bringing home furniture, and various gardening/tree-planting/tree-removing shenanigans.

We decided to throw a party/poker night, to help raise funds for Tour de Cure (if you’re willing to donate, we’d be really grateful! every little bit helps! here are our pages: mine, Dale’s). As part of that, because we invited a whole bunch of people, we are also trying to get our basement in tip-top shape, to make it an inviting hang-out space. (Added bonus of this basement plan, besides more welcoming spaces in our house, which is a reward in and of itself: assuming we actually have 6-7 visitors at once, this summer, as is the plan, it’ll be a comfortable space for someone to sleep.) I’ve been sanding and painting the sheetrock walls, and Dale’s been taking down wobbly wooden shelves. We’ve been sorting and throwing out (both things we moved in with and things we “inherited” with the house) and generally adding to the awesome quotient of the main room of the basement. It needs another couch and some seriously labor-intensive painting (concrete walls), neither of which we’ll manage before the party (unless something awesome happens), but it’s getting a lot nicer!

That’s not what the photo is, of course. That’s a photo of our living room, which I just thought I’d share, because it’s cozy. Notice the lovely quilt our friend Mary made for us! And the Actual Grownup Furniture! And Angry Birds. ;)

I know we were supposed to share more photos of our house, before, but we keep not taking pictures when it’s clean and then remembering when it’s a mess again. Which means I probably won’t have before/after pictures of the basement to share, either. I apologize for that.

Anyway, I’m pretty delighted with the effects of the paint job in the basement, so far. I think I’m going to try to hang fabric over the cement block walls, to make the whole place a little more welcoming, in the short term. It might end up looking weird, but everybody who is coming over has met me, so that’s OK. ;) Long term, I’ll seal, prime, and paint them, but I did the math, and there’s just no way before the party. (Both time-math and also ventilation-math. It’s too cold out to throw open windows, just yet, and sealant and Killz are both stinky.)

We also think we’re buying carpet squares to make the floor less, you know, hard and cold. What I’ll do is lay a set of squares along the external walls, but without exposing the stick-um, and then I’ll lay down the rest of the squares (with stick-um exposed), then pick up the ones from around the edges. That way, the sealing and priming and painting can be done a little more painlessly—that is, without ruining the outer squares—when it warms up a bit.

We’ll get photos. :)

(I’ll follow this up with a happier post, probably also tonight.)

Sometimes, Anchorage is a tough place to live. (It’s probably time for my yearly complaining-about-April-snow post, but this isn’t it.) We had a ballot proposition, to afford the same protections given for race, gender, physical disability, etc., to GLBT people. It seems to have failed. Pretty badly. (60/40, though there were several “electoral anomalies,” such as certain polling places running out of ballots, some anti-equality folks showing up and casting ballots that haven’t yet been counted and will eventually be thrown out [but they were ballots that people who were actually registered could have used], and so on.) They haven’t counted the absentee ballots yet, so there’s a chance it’ll still make it through, but it’s not looking good.

The upshot: in Anchorage, it is legal, still, for businesses of any size to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, or transgender. It’s legal to kick someone out of their apartment for the same. (An important note: churches, small businesses, and individual landlords [as opposed to property management companies] were still going to be allowed to discriminate, just as they are allowed to discriminate based on gender or disability, now.)

I’m not moving to Canada, or anything like that, but I’m still angry and dispirited and … antsy. I want things to change for the better. I’m not feeling particularly at risk or victimized, myself: first off, my workplace has voluntarily adopted a non-discrimination policy. Second, I’m married, to a guy, so nobody will actually believe I am anything other than straight. (People are funny.) My orientation has never been a big part of how I define myself, for whatever reason, and so I don’t find myself personally affected by this, though I feel like I should, somehow. But I’m still really upset: we have a pretty great GLBT community, here, many of whom are my friends, neighbors, and colleagues. I cannot fathom that these people aren’t seen as equal citizens by such a large percentage of the Anchorage voting population.

It upsets me that people showed up at the polling place and said, “No, I don’t want my right to discriminate against people trampled.”

Weird: all the bonds passed. So fiscal liberalism won the day, at the same time as social conservatism did.
Weird: the Municipal Clerk was supposed to supply each polling station with enough ballots for 70% of the voters registered there. We had 20-some percent voter turnout, a pretty normal number, but a bunch of stations ran out. It’s not clear that there were enough of these unregistered voters to account for that discrepancy.
Weird: poll numbers ahead of time were very, very different from the outcome, on this proposition—more different than is usual for such things.

I might be worrying prematurely. Maybe the election will be redone altogether, because so many people were turned away from the polls. Maybe a ton of proposition supporters voted absentee. It’s hard to know. But it’s one of the things you should know about Alaska, that this kind of nonsense happens here, I guess, so that’s why I’m writing about it.

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April 2012