As I drove home I turned off the radio so that I could think. What I had just seen? A quilting friend crying, obviously lying about being “good“, and meeting her lawyer in a public place as opposed to an office. Of course, it was the weekend so perhaps it was personal and not business. Thoughts of Libby and her unidentified problem dissolved as I reached my carport door and heard a dog toy squeaking on the other side. My Rat Terriers, with their keen hearing, recognize my car even before I pull into the driveway and always meet me at the door. Some folks purchase expensive security systems to alert them when a window or door is opened. My two little securities guards will let me know before an entry has been encroached.
“Hello puppies” I said as I hung up my windbreaker and slid into a brown leather chair. The two rat terriers were on me for pats quicker than I could lift my feet onto the ottoman. Daisy, the female, balanced her front legs on the arm of the chair and her back legs on my lap expecting a rub on her outstretch belly. She is a pearl white beauty with a red head and rump spot. Plus, she has the cutest under bite that creates a constant toothy grin. The male, Eddie, is a typical tri-color. He continued to squeak the toy and slap my hand with it hoping I would throw it for a game of fetch. Living with two dogs is much less complicated than living with another person when you are a human lie detector.
The view from the picture window was fabulous, as usual. From my perch on the hillside of Pyramid Mountain, I could see the down town, the boat harbors, and the channel. City workers were getting ready for the Annual Memorial Day Crab Festival by blocking off downtown parking areas, putting out extra trash receptacles, and leaving police barricades for future use. From my vantage point, the workers were about the size of those plastic, green Army men you buy in a bag in the grocery store toy section. The thought of packaged municipal workers sold in a bag at the grocery amused me and I snickered.
I looked around and thought about how much I love living in my Pan-Abode house. It’s not just the killer view. The high ceilings and cedar log interior create a cozy, low maintenance, and truly beautiful interior. Because of Kodiak’s severe weather the original owners wrapped the house in insulation and finished it off with T1-11 siding. From the outside you have no idea it is log construction inside and I enjoy watching people’s expressions when they come in for the first time and discover what is hiding inside.
My house is small, a thousand square feet, and without central heating so I use a soapstone wood stove and occasionally a space heater in the bathroom. The wood stove has a small oven below the fire box and the top can be used for cooking although what little cooking I do is usually done on the modern appliances in the kitchen.. My living room upholstery is limited to a sofa, chair and ottoman so I can inundate the walls and shelves with art without feeling cluttered.
There’s also a small eat-in kitchen, a laundry room with a door connecting to the carport behind the house, two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a deck that runs the length of the front of the house. Both the front door and carport door have arctic entries to conserve heat and the small space between the exterior and interior doors is a great place for hanging outerwear and fishing poles. I was proud of this; my first house. I rented a condo that went into forclosure when I lived in Anchorage and, because it was a distressed property, I ended up purchasing it on the cheap to avoid moving. It turned out to be an excellent investment. The condo never really felt like a home and I attributed that to having rented it first. My moment of domestic bliss was soon interrupted by a ringing phone. Even in rural Alaska you can’t get away from modern technology – I believe they call it progress.
“Hello” I answered.
“Whatcha doin?” said the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Oh, hey, Mary Margaret. How are you?” I asked recognizing the voice as a close friend who had lived in the Kodiak area her entire life. Born in Ouzinkie on nearby Spruce Island, Mary Margaret came to Kodiak after high school to attend Kodiak College for two years. Her plan was to move to a four year school in Anchorage or Fairbanks but, instead, she fell in love and married. Mary Margaret is devout Russian Orthodox, She is also desperate to have children. Secretly I wondered if the inability to conceive has put a strain on her marital relationship. There were some signs but I would never ask outright.
“Well, you know I joined the Kodiak Foodies and they are having a very special dinner as part of Crab Festival. I’m dying to go and tickets are sold in pairs so, well, I wanted to know if you wanted to go with me?” she asked. “They are a little pricy but it’s a fundraiser for the Animal Shelter this year so I thought you would want to participate.”
“OK, how much money do you need? And who else is going to be there?” Kodiak Foodies was a new group, so I wasn’t familiar with its membership, but I did not they were interested in unique and gourmet dining experiences.
“Great” said Mary Margaret “and now wait until you hear what it is all about. Dark dining! Can you believe something so cool here in Kodiak?”
“What dining?” I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly.
“Dark dining was started in Switzerland by a blind man, as I understand it, and sighted diners eat blindfolded and in a darkened restaurant. The wait staff wears night vision glasses to serve and you have only your other senses for determining what is on your plate. They say guests typically get involved in a boisterous discussion trying to figure out the menu. It’s going to be at that new restaurant, The Cannery. Oh, and it doesn’t matter who is there because you won’t see them!” Oh great, I thought, I just agreed to eating unidentified food, and I have a long list of won’t eats, with unidentified people. “Sounds wonderful” I said enthusiastically, “When?” I wasn’t above the occasional lie myself.
The Cannery was the newest and hottest restaurant in town. It was an abandoned cannery building from the days of old fishing technology. The building was on the waterfront under the bridge to Near Island. Although it had been refurbished and brought up to standards for a restaurant, the planners had left as much equipment and commercial canning paraphernalia as possible to create a unique atmosphere. With the view of boats entering and leaving the channel, I don’t know why anyone would be interested in looking at old canning equipment rather than the water view.
We made our plans and chatted for a while. Mary Margaret was married but she always called me for outings. Her husband preferred to stay at home and read a good book. I wouldn’t say that he is antisocial, I would say that he just hadn’t meet many people he found as interesting as books. As the town’s library manager, Joe has the perfect job for his personality.
Joe also has an incredible memory for conversations. I still regret the day that I admitted to him that my parents named me Brinkley after the Arkansas town where I was born and that coincidentally the county name is the same as my surname. Every time we meet he jokes that Arkansas should be my middle name to round out the geography.
Before we hung up Mary Margaret and I agreed that it promised to be an exciting night of dark dining at the new Cannery restaurant. We had no idea at the time just how exciting it would be.