hello everyone. I was thinking of my last e-mails and how lame they were and today was such a great day that all I’ve been thinking about is writing to tell you about it.
Saturday is my day to sleep. I sleep all day and even when I’m awake it’s not really for real. That’s how I was writing to you. Like I had just risen from a coma or something. Today I was up bright and early at 6:30. It’s my second day of work for the week and it was lucky GA day. That meant being outside and shoveling the first of the snow. It has been snowing since I arrived. Every once in awhile, fluffly little flakes here and there but this is the snow of winter, like this snow probably won’t be leaving. It snowed and blowed for most of the day yesterday and snowed today as well. It didn’t snow heavily just nice and gentley and today the wind died down and it was absolutely beautiful. At one point the temp was 18 and I bet it was higher. It was just so nice. One thing, I see myself marveling at these low temperatures, surprised at how nice they seem but the thing that they say is that it is so dry down here that you don’t feel the cold. I think they’re right. Another funny thing, tonight I found out that at one piont yesterday they announced the weather at level 2 conditions. Level 1 is the worst, I don’t know what happens when it’s 2 I guess you can’t leave for any hiking, and level 3 is the norm.
Well, since I was a GA today I got to shovel. Our first duty is to shovel the public walkways. The system is to throw the snow out towards the street and let the grader come and take it away. They say the snow gets so cold and so packed that it becomes the consistancy of styrofoam. When we went on our little field trip out to Pegasus we got to see packed snow and it was amazing. The ground was all gently blown with whispy little drifts that you could step on and not leave a footprint. Jason was able to break off a piece from somewhere and it was a solid block. It’s not like the light styrofoam like those cheapy coolers it’s like that pink styrofoam insulation. Well, the snow we shoveled was fluff. It was great. Till we got to occupy our time with about 2 feet of it on a long dock. Still, I was happy to be out laboring.
After shoveling we (this is Troy and I) helped to unload the food order. It’s interesting that we order food when all the supplies that we need are now in Antarctica – or, all the supplies available to us are in Antarctica. I think we are out of medium sized gloves, in fact, I think soon we will be running out of vinyl gloves and we will have to switch to latex for the rest of the season. There is nearly a year’s worth of food on base, it has its own warehouse and that is where we order the food from which we then stock in our coolers and freezers. Isn’t it interesting to have refrigerators in Antarctica? But Angie warned us today about checking the door ( the one that opens to the outside dock for easy restocking), if it’s left ajar everything in the fridge will freeze. Yes, in Antarctica the fridges are heated. It’s an odd concept to go into a fridge to warm up as well.
Today I had the first sign of winter really hit me. I was told that we are now out of bananas. That means NO MORE. I will not see another banana until at least August. I’m not sure when the first freshy shipment arrives so I might not see another fresh banana until I leave McMurdo. I thought of colonists and Europeans and way back when there were lots of people that never saw a banana in their whole life. I have never had that experiance before but as of last week, that was my last encounter with bananas. Maybe the baker froze some.
Bananas may not seem like such a huge thing but the freshy cooler is full of fast ripening fruit and vegetables and the reality is that ALL of that will be running out. I was looking at the last of our lettuce today. Shane says that we will be out of lettuce by the end of the week. Lettuce! I had anticipated this and have made sure to have lettuce at every meal. As I was marveling at the concept of the bananas Sherri’s remarks really made it hit home. She says that once I am back in New Zealand I’ll be marveling at the sight of green peppers. She was slicing a crate of green peppers. I just can’t get over this. I guess there will be lettuce, that’s grown in the greenhouse. Still. It’s a little spooky. I wish I could have been more stocked for this.
Another thing we did in the kitchen was pack away the old plates. We have been using white old style diner plates and now they have replaced them with the thin microwaveable kind (chip resistant, Johnnie even threw one on the floor and it held). The new ones are a lot easier to carry, harder to pry apart when you have gawky green dish gloves on. Anyways, it’s all for the DAs’ injury prevention. All I wanted to say was how cool I got to feel when I hefted a box of plates to try to guess the weight. ” I used to be good at this,” I told Troy as I thought back to backpacking days on the AT. I guessed it at 35 or 36 pounds. Troy laughed at me and got out a scale. It weighed the box of plates at 36 pounds. Yesss! I’m cool.
After putting away the food orders and setting the meats out to thaw Troy and I got to go and inspect windows for the Housing Department. Most of the dorms on the station get locked up, some solution is pumped through the pipes to prevent them from freezing, the water is turned of, the heat is kept at 40 and everything is locked up tight. Our part was to open every room and see if the windows were shut tight, not broken, latched tightly and had velcro to stick up the blinds. There are heavy window shades to block out the sunlight. There’s a rectangle and a square pane. My favorite room was to see a square blind velcroed to a rectangle window, with a rectangle blind velcroed to the square window.
We had a great system. I had a master key and a cilpboard. I marched the hallways unlocking rooms as Troy followed and went into each dorm to jiggle handles and call out problems. Between writing and unlocking I would also double back and relock the rooms that Troy had already been in. It was all official-like since I have one of those necklace/shoestring keychains, a souvenior from Quantas. My downfall was when I lost my timing and began to lock a door right as Troy opened it to exit. I was yanked into the room by my neck, landing on my knees at Troy’s feet. I had not been expecting to come through the doorway following a doorknob at such speeds as that or in that posture and my cry of surprise sounded something like what maybe a lamb would make if it was dropped on the ground. Needless to say I was helplessy stuck kneeling in front of the door, clutching the doorknob – key still inserted, attached to my trusty keychain – laughing histarically.
There was nothing to top that. We scored some stuff from the dorms that were closing down, some books, a game of pictionary, an Abs of Steel video and a cardboard Guinness shamrock. That’s for Emily, huge St. Paddy’ Day fan.
Emily is hilarious. She told me tonight that she had told the Doctor on base that she plans to get Med-evaced so that she can avoid having to make flight lunches. Flights or no flights, a flight lunch is what a bag lunch is called. Putting them together is another DA duty. Did I also tell you about the incident with getting Emily to take a tablespoon of garlic? That was last week. She said she felt like she was coming down with something so I told her about the garlic. Judy had told me to take 2 T everyday, 4 if you were already sick. I haven’t been very diligent but it’s supposed to be great for your immune system. Emily had no qualms with the idea, we got ourselves chopped garlic in oil ( I hope it has the same affect as the fresh stuff). The way that I have been taking it is the way Judy suggested, with a glass of apple juice. To remember how Emily went from a compliant open minded friend to a gagging wretching swearing sailor is still so funny it makes me cry to remember it. I almost peed my pants right in the dish room. I was lucky I swallowed my spoonful so quickly because I chocked on the rest of the apple juice and spit it all over the sink. Nothing that she said is really repeatable but later on that day she would go up to random people to say, “Hey, if Rachael ever tells you that it would be a good idea to take a spoonful of garlic with some apple juice, don’t believer her.” Even after returning from her break, “Hey Rachael, you know cinnamon rolls? Not good with garlic belches.” Ah, Emily. Our group is just too much fun. Last night turned into a movie night with some of the other kitchen staff showing up to the lounge in building 207. We watched Boondock Saints and Napolean Dynamite. I am so glad everyone has seen Napolean Dynaomite now. I can incorporate the quotes with work.
Tonight was Yoga night at the Chapel. I attended that for the second time and got to feel about as flexible as a board. Today was also the first official Bad Music Monday in the kitchen. Jason and I went through his music list and burned a doozie of a CD. We’ve got Mr. Roboto, Turning Japanese, New Kids on the Block and good ol’ Vanilla Ice. Too bad I’m always a GA on Mondays. Anyways, it’s time for bed. I just want to leave you with an e-mail that was more myself and I hope I was able to explain that key thing, you really had to be there.
All right, I have been doing good at getting up early but I am doing bad at getting to bed at a good time. I really have to sign off. Everybody, have a great week. I will talk to you again later.
Mom, you know that little book, that shopping guide to the Maker’s Diet, it has the cloud background? It’s about the size a postcard. Have you seen that any where? If you have could you look something up for me? In there it tells you how to ferment cabbage to make sauerkraut. Could you e-mail that? One of the cooks was really interested in the idea, he says we have a bunch of cabbage that will go bad before people eat it. Glad to know that you guys made it home. That’s pretty cool. Did Dad make any purchases? Sorry, I should have just sent you a seperate e-mail. Bye again.