Archive for Alaska

Tales from the Men’s Room: Why I Hang Out With Bachelors

Posted in Community with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by phoenixtree

Our Marvelous Men - The Talkeetna Bachelor Society. Yes, the image is from last year. I didn't get photos this year, but you get the general idea. Photo courtesy and copyright Jessica Hursh

Yet another Talkeetna Bachelor Auction has come and gone.  The Bachelor Society has become my charity/cause of choice; the Society raises money for victims of domestic violence, a cause close to my heart.  Plus, they do it in a fun way, rather than the usual hand-wringing way.

And geez, it’s just so Talkeetna.  Who could resist?

Last year I got involved at the eleventh hour, worked my butt off, and the boys “rewarded” me by nominating me for VP on the board.  (those tricksy bachelors!  Make you think they’re giving you attaboys when they’re really just signing you on to some form of indentured servitude.  And yet somehow, you like it…)

Last year I helped with organization and agreed to the gig at the auction I lovingly call “bachelor wrangling”.  This went well enough, so this year I did it again.  It’s fun in it’s own weird way.  And very suited to my skills: it involves equal parts pep talks, bossing around, and using the Evil Mama Voice.*

Bachelor Wrangling also involves spending the entire evening in the men’s room.  Let me explain (lest I appear to be the weirdest of all fetishists).  The Bachelor Auction in recent years has taken place in the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar – our local theater created out of an old airplane hangar.  This place has been a huge gift to the community, we are truly blessed.  The auction allows women only, except for a few choice volunteers.  The bachelors up for auction are only allowed into the event while they are being auctioned and having their photos taken afterwards.  So we stage the boys at the pub nearby and they come over in small groups to enter the auction through the john.  The bathroom has an entrance from the outdoors as well as a door to the main venue; and as it’s a girl-only event, it’s not used for it’s intended purpose by the public.

So the guys come over from the pub, enter the john from the outside, and meet me.  I’m standing there by the inside door with my clipboard, an armload of roses, my cell phone, and holding random fellas’ jackets while they’re on the catwalk.  I get them lined up, hand each a rose (to give to the lucky lady who purchases them), and listen for cues from the stage to know when to send out the next victim catwalk star.

I also hand out general advice.

“That acrobatic number you’re planning?  Watch your ass, the catwalk is slippery from snow.”

“See the blonde in the second row?  She will totally try to grab your package during your photo if she buys you.  So.  Good luck with that.”

“Your grandmother is in the balcony.  You might want to avoid the comments about your freakishly long tongue.  Just saying.”

As you can imagine, the boys are genuinely nervous.  They are about to enter a room full of screaming women, get up on stage, attempt to shake their moneymakers and get sold off to the highest bidder for a photograph, a drink, and a dance.  It’s like a junior high popularity contest.  They’re all full of talk like, “How much did he just go for?  I’ll never make that much!  Should I take my shirt off?  I have to take my shirt off.  Oh My God the boss is in there!  Is that MY MOM?”

As the evening wears on and the ladies get a little more well-lubricated, I have the added task of kicking curious women out of the men’s room.  Some want pictures, some want to give advice (“Seriously, take that damn hat off or no one will want you!”  “Will you please sing that one song you did in high school choir…?”) but most want to essentially preview the sale.

That thing they say about women and shopping?  It’s totally true.  As is the part about women being dirty, dirty girls who put men to shame.  Seriously.  Wow.

The Bachelor Wrangler is a pretty hectic job sometimes.  If someone chickens out (I’d say 7-10% do each year) I have to last-minute get the word to the MC and the DJ so they don’t introduce the wrong man.  This can involve flagging down a random bystander to deliver a message; sending a message up onto the stage with a half-panicked bachelor, or elaborate hand-signals sent across a crowded room.  I’m also trying to communicate with the guys at the pub – red rover red rover!  send bachelors number 10-15 on over!

But the craziest – and most fun – part is dealing with the boys themselves.  Our veterans are usually pretty well contained.  They know the drill.  They have a plan – some will have donated flightseeing trips or restaurant dinners or pie or wine to sweeten the deal.  Some will have worked up an elaborate stage entrance.  Some will have a costume to fiddle with.

And then there’s the ones who are not so well contained.  Most are rookies and just get a little hyper from the nerves.

This year we had a nervous rookie who was also new to town.  He sincerely asked me, “Am I going to have to take all of my clothes off?”

Now, we are not a prostitution ring, and we’d probably need some elaborate permit to do a true stripper show.  I told him, “It’s up to you.  Please – for the love of God! – keep the block and tackle firmly hidden away.  After that, your state of undress is up to you.  Remember, if you take stuff off, you may never get it back.  And be careful near the edge of the stage.  you will – i repeat, WILL – be groped.”

Another rookie later asked me a similar question, and got a similar answer.  But as he witnessed the man before him being auctioned for big bucks and the screaming responses from the crowd, he nervously announced, “I need to get this stuff off now!” and proceeded to hurriedly take off everything but his cartoon-covered boxers and bunnies, with seconds to go before I shoved him out to the awaiting lions: wide-eyed, Alaskan winter-pale, and visibly terrified.  I think he did rather well.

Some of the boys’ nervousness makes them a little over-enthusiastic.  Last year, one of my bachelors dashed out the door before the previous bachelor was sold off.  I then had to run up on stage, grab him by the shirt, and physically drag him back into the men’s room.

And then there’s the sincerely charming moments of insecurity that I have come to expect from fellow females but don’t often witness from the male of the species.

“Does this make my ass look huge?”

“I spilled wine on my shirt!  No one will bid on me, now!”

“I go up after that guy?  But I’m bald!”

“I can’t be bachelor number 13!  it’s unlucky!”

“IS THAT A PIMPLE?  I’m going to die…”

Which is where the mama-skills kick in:

“Calm down, you’ll be great.”

“I believe in you!”

“Remember, it’s for a good cause, and it will all be over in just a few minutes.”

“Take a deep breath.  I got you covered. Just do as I tell you when I tell you…”

“for fuck’s sake, shut up and BREATHE!”

And of course, the personal benefit to me is the best.  They appreciate me.  And I’m the only girl they really get to talk to.  This year, I got countless compliments on my innate magnificence, looks, and dress; three kisses, two declarations of undying love, and one marriage proposal.

So, it’s not really unselfish altruism that keeps me coming back.  I’m in it for the worshipful adulation of my goddess-like self.

Actually, I’m just in it for the boys.

These crazy, eccentric, scruffy, Real Alaskan Men who put themselves through abject terror and potential rejection to raise money and awareness for those women who’ve been mistreated by other guys.

What’s not to love?

Good job, boys.  I’m very, very, proud of each and every one of you.

-Menace Leader (Bachelor Wrangler)


*My children have taken to calling me the Evil Bitchmonster of Doom when I have to use the Mama Voice, but I can’t take full credit for that, as a dearly departed friend was the original Evil Bitchmonster of Doom and she broke the mold.  the best i can hope for is EBMOD-in-training.  Bless you Erin, you were one of a kind.

Some fun coverage of this year:

Donna Freedman’s Tweets from Talkeetna

KTNA’s Lorien Nettleton’s pre-auction story

…and post-auction tales from the battlefield!

General Sexy Bachelor Linkage:

Bachelors of Talkeetna official(ish) website

our groovy little Facebook group

and you can donate too!  Make sure you specify that your donation goes to the Talkeetna Bachelor Society Fund for Women and Children in Crisis.  (there, didn’t that feel all warm and fuzzy?)


It wouldn’t be a project without a few SNAFUs, right?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 13, 2008 by phoenixtree

Just a quick update for those wondering:


there were some major mistakes made at the SIP dealer.  (I won’t name names but suffice it to say Stupid Boneheads Suck.)  while we were told that the SIPs were in production, and even later told they were in transport, it turns out the factory had never received the plans.

oh, bad bad bad.

EY has raised enough Cain that they’ve been very communicative, and said they are “expediting” the process; but he told them he’d hold his applause until the end of the show.

no joke.

I think they should swallow their profit and the shipping, also.  But I’m not going to unleash my temper in this case because when my ‘tude kicks in I almost always make things worse.

So, where are we at?

  • septic system is in and lovely
  • well is in and the drillers say it is a lovely, fast flowing well.
  • electric is at the property and we have a tent with fridge, microwave, and an electric radiator.
  • the foundation is done and awaiting a house to keep it company.
  • it sounds like the latest arrival time is around the end of October or beginning of November.

For the worry-warts: yes, winter has hit and yes, it’s snowy.  our new tent, with all the bells and whistles, is warm and dry and we’re still quite comfortable.  Also, after the 16th we have another option of a place to stay for 2 weeks if it gets uncomfortable.

so don’t worry!

I figure this is all great materials for either my memoirs or Menace 2’s future therapy sessions.

Menace Leader

We Have Indoor Plumbing! Still Awaiting the Indoor…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by phoenixtree


The Nerve Center of our High-Tech Command Center

The Nerve Center of our High-Tech Command Center

Apologies to all for the long delay between this post and the last.  I don’t have internet living in The Swamp, of course – but I do have access elsewhere.  I just don’t often have the time to compose something lucid.

Well, lucidity is overrated, I say!  and I owe you all some news.


As of this coming Tuesday, it will be four weeks since we moved into The Swamp, and the only fatalities are an army of voles and shrews.  (the cats have declared a jihad on rodents, I believe.  For those of you who consider the lovely Tamiasciurus hudsonicus to be public enemy #1 – I’m afraid my little Weapons of Mouse Destruction don’t agree.  Sorry.)

in the last weeks we have made some great scientific discoveries.  One of which has to do with how heavy rains and cold weather can cause mildew to grow on everything, including your attitude.  


We have tried a number of different lighting arrangements, and find the rechargable LED coleman lantern to be the favorite for full-Swamp light, while plain old candles and hurricane lanterns are best for reading.  For the first week, we had only our wind-up flashlights for night reading, which led to interesting evenings.

Silence and darkness, with three small pools of bluish LED light.  Suddenly, the silence is broken by the rhythmic Whrr-whrr-WHRR! of one winding as fast as possible so as not to go cross-eyed during good battle scenes…

lanterns and candles are much better.

We have a septic system!  it’s big and beautiful and remains unsullied.  the construction was loud and caused the Cataclysms to become scarce for a day, as the Menaces geeked out over cool machinery.  Manace Two ached to drive the excavator, saying it was his Robotech Mechanoid and he had to pilot it!

They cleared a lot of ground that I understand I am not  to turn into a garden despite the great fertilizer potential, so I’m now planning how best to use the space.  I think I have it figured out, but I won’t discuss it here until I check with those-who-know-about-such-things.

We also have electricity!  Well, almost.  it’s so close… the power pole is in at the corner of the property, and the temporary meter is there.  all we appear to be lacking is juice.  Grumble.  But it’s not far off, and I am so excited about REFRIGERATION!  W00t!  

Current status – the SIP panels are even now on the factory floor, becoming the Phoenix Tree House down there in Civilization somewhere.  The well almost happened, but the equipment died on the way here, but I’m sure it will come soon.  I haven’t ordered the phone line yet, because I haven’t paid off my old phone bill yet.  soon!

Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check, come on down!

We have had a donation of a lovely Earth Stove, I’m very excited about it!  it’s the perfect stove, in perfect condition, the perfect size, and of course the perfect price.  Otherwise, I’m still in hold-mode for the other inside-the-home stuff, partly because I really feel like I can’t make big decisions on purchases of new stuff before I am in the place and getting a feel for it.

There’s no rush there.


Menace One leaves the Swamp for parts Southeastward in two days – then there will just be Menace Two, the two Loyal Doggerels, and the 3 Cataclysms.  One of the many adventures Menace One will be making includes an apprenticeship as a bike mechanic.  I’m excited!  For him, of course.  (but also for my bike)

our next update will be soon, I promise.  I’m already planning the introduction of one of the Cataclysms in his very own debut blog post.

love and stuff (and here’s to dry weather!)

Menace Leader

volunteer and donation opportunities

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by phoenixtree


When we finished erecting The Swamp, the sky helped us celebrate.

When we finished erecting The Swamp, the sky helped us celebrate.



it’s always weird to say “opportunities” – more like, “how you can give ’til it hurts…”

no hurting allowed.

Still, lots of people locally (and a few out in the Big Bad World) have asked how they can help.  Whenever I’m asked while on the hoof I can never think of anything.  it’s when I’m at home, sleepless, worrying and making mental lists all night that my long “needs” list appears.


So here it is, my current list of help and stuff desperately needed.


  1.  Volunteers!  I’m compiling a list of people to call for when it comes time to build.  we’re going to do a good old fashioned house-raising when the SIP panels arrive.  Volunteers will probably need their own tools and I’m not even sure what those particular tools will be, but I suspect a hammer is a good start.  more info on that later.
  2. Food!  during the house raising I want to keep all of the volunteers well fed with warm food, as it will likely be pretty late in the fall.  (bonus – no mosquitos!)  prepared meals would be great.  if you want to help either as a volunteer, a chef, or both – let me know, I’m making a little list… 
  3. Stuff!  okay, okay – more specifically, for the actual house and the construction:
  •   small wood stove – I really dont want one that’s too big because the house will be small and I hate spending my winters trying to stifle a wood fire and living in 90 degrees.  blech.  Used is just fine, I’ll clean and recondition as necessary.  Free or low cost, let me know what you have.
  •  kitchen stuff – propane cookstove, sink, used cabinets.  I’ll happily refinish, so it’s okay if they’re ugly or mismatched.  and I want lots of cabinets to try and make best use of the small floor space.  I have a fridge and a chest freezer large enough to hide a couple of bodies, so I’m set there.
  • bathroom stuff – toilet, sink, shower stall, tiles.  I don’t think I’ll have room for a tub.
  • building stuff – plywood, 2x4s, 2x6s, drywall, sand paper, scrap lumber… I’ll take whatever you have!
  • tools – of course I have most of the small, cheap kind of tools.  I need power!  I need a chainsaw, a cordless drill and selection of drill bits, a circular saw, a mitre saw, and a reciprocating saw. I also could use a snowblower (trying to plan ahead!) and I’ll really need some saw horses. I know these are not cheap and chances are I’ll be buying them.  But, if you happen to have old ones that you never use, or know of someone thinking of donating theirs to Sally’s, call me!  I’m a hopeless mechanic, though, so if you have something that “needs a little TLC” chances are it will just Rust In Peace if you give it to me.
  • ladders – there will be two small lofts, one for each Menace.  I need loft access ladders.  I can build my own if necessary, but not without the tools and the lumber.  (you see the problem…)


before the construction, I need a few other things and some help, also.  This is the “right away” stuff:


  1. a chainsaw, and even better someone to operate it!  I have a lot of downed trees that need to be cut up into stove-sized rounds.  I also have a few trees that need to come down before the house goes in, either because they will be windfall risks in the future or because they are already standing dead.
  2. a digger.  Either someone with a backhoe in the Woodpecker neighborhood or someone with a shovel and lots of energy.  We need an outhouse!
  3. Pallets!!!  The Swamp needs a floor, as does the storage tent.  I also need pallets for the construction of a wood shed, the outhouse, and for a compost bin.  This adds up to many pallets.  and if I get too many, I’ve found a wonderful set of directions on how to make a bench out of pallets.  So everywhere you go, ask for them!  please!
  4. Plywood. needed to finish the temporary “floor” in The Swamp.  I want to put down pallets and plywood over the top, so we’re a little protected from the damp of the ground.
  5. A Post Hole Digger.  The hand tool variety is fine, and I just need to borrow it for a few.  trying to get a wood shed and a few other things erected before the house build date.
  6. Tire Movers!!!  This is critical.  We have these huge tractor tires the boys use as a playground of sorts.  I need them picked up and moved to the property as soon as possible.  Now, they’re extremely heavy – this requires something like a forklift or at least the high school hockey team.  Please, if you can help call me ASAP!
and we still need donations for the money to finish the place, do the foundation, drill the well… all of that important stuff.  I’m going to investigate how to get a Paypal account for the Building Fund, but until then you can email me and I’ll put you in touch with the trustees of the Fund.  I don’t want to publish their information all over the web!  if you wish to be anonymous, that’s just fine!  but it will have to wait for the Paypal account.  Hold that thought!
Meanwhile, anyone and everyone, email me if you think you can help.  This is a big job and I need all of the help I can get.  
more updates to come.  and I promise to keep the pictures coming!
Menace Leader
Phoenix Tree House
Brave Huntress Blends Into Boreal Savannah...

we have a roof! sort of.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by phoenixtree

It may not look like much, but it’s home!  


well, it will be home.

yesterday the Menaces and I (with helpful canine cheerleaders) erected this fine structure that will be Chez Menace until the house is built and ready for us.


The tent – which I find myself calling The Swamp after the M*A*S*H abode of Hawkeye, et al – is 10/20 feet, 6 feet at the sides and I’m guessing 8 or 9 feet tall at the peak.  the frame is all steel, and was much harder to erect than we expected!  it took about 8 hours, and some serious creativity.


That puppy is not moving.


It’s in a little corner just past where the house is going to be, to the southeast.  

in this picture, the Menace Mobile is parked pretty much where the house is going to be, and the tent starts about where the southeast corner of the house will be.


since it was so much work to put up, I suspect is has a future in that spot – visitor housing in the summers!


I haven’t taken pictures of the inside yet because it’s all mud and mess.  over the next few days the boys and I will be working on scrounging some sort of floor (call for pallets!  all local people reading this – I need lots of pallets and some plywood for flooring for The Swamp and the storage tent!)


Notice how the place has a disconcerting gap at the bottom?  I noticed, also.  I’m going to dig holes under the legs to drop them down and hopefully make those gaps a little less so.  However, this is most assuredly not a mosquito-proof structure.  We have a couple of bed nets (assuming I find them) but I’m also hoping to get creative to somehow plug the gaps, which are mostly in the corners.


This was hard work. I must say I’m dang proud of us!


We did not stay out there due to not having the inside just so (and not having dug a latrine just yet) but I did set up the little kitchen area and made us a hot dinner and made myself coffee.  it was nice.  I’m going to like this place.


Though I suspect by the time we have the house I’ll be ready for a real roof!


The latest is that the parts for the main structure will probably not make their appearance until mid September, so The Swamp will have to do us into the fall.  I haven’t quite figured out the heating bit yet, but I’m creative.  if nothing else, I can build an outside fire and bring in hot coals in a brazier of some sort.


And since the driveway and house pad are completed, you can see the lovely little curvy driveway!

At the end is Gardeners Lane and the stuff you see out there is on the neighbor’s property.  the green quonset type tent thingie belongs to my mom -Menace Maker – and is our temporary storage unit as we wait for a house to move into.


It’s very pretty and peaceful there.


I’ll make another update soon, outlining the best ways people can help!  watch this spot!



Menace Leader

Phoenix Tree House

Slicing into the forest…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2008 by phoenixtree

The future driveway off Gardeners Lane

Yes, it’s a sign of my innate dorky-tree-huggerness, but when H. and I walked through marking trees where the driveway and house site would be, I felt like apologizing.

I admit it.

And yes, I did apologize.


Soon afterwards the Man with the Big Machines arrived, and the doomed trees were quickly stacked up nice and neat, ready to become firewood.  (I’ll thank them again when they’re keeping us cozy warm this winter) and the duff layer was removed along what will be the driveway and house site.

it’s very exciting.  feels very real.

The dogs were recently able to explore their new fiefdom. Determine the perimeter.   Plan patrols.  That sort of thing.

Riyan and Duke making grand plans for the future.

At the house site, facing southward.  Dominic (and friend) are expressing their feelings about his future bedroom location...

He appears to approve.