Creepy Comments

I have naturally curly hair. I saw it as a curse when I was a teenager but as I got older I started to see it more as a blessing. Especially on days when I don’t want to take time to “do” my hair. When I decide to wear my hair au nat-u-ral I usually attract a small amount of attention. Women ask if I got a perm (Lord have mercy! Those days are way behind me) or voice their envy because their hair is limp, straight, thin…

Men, normal men, don’t comment. Weird men however…

Just the other day in the grocery store I was trying to find my husbands favorite Coffeemate coconut creamer when I felt a presence. I turned to find a large male, maybe 6’4″, 250 lbs, probably in his 70’s or 80’s standing behind me. Not personal bubble close, but close. He opens the conversation with, “When I see hair like yours, I’m reminded of a Persian cat I used to brush.”

Uhhhhhhhhh. No response.

My internal monologue sounds like “please don’t kill me, please don’t wear my face on your face, for the love of God don’t touch my hair.” I think all of this while wearing a smile on my face so he continues. (Damn my inability to be rude to the elderly and strangers!) He tells me about his neighbors who had this cat and they were convinced for years that the cat brushed himself not knowing that he was brushing the snarled and matted cat’s hair every couple of months.

So, now I’m confused. My hair resembles snarled, matted Persian cat hair? I can’t figure out if this is an insult, compliment or just a random story. I compliment him on being a kind human and good neighbor. Grab my creamer and take off for the next aisle.

Now, the weird thing is this isn’t the only weird comment my hair has stirred up in a guy and by far not the worse. The worst (so far) was when I was in my early 20’s and I was working at a hotel as a waitress in the restaurant. That summer was a typical young, college-aged vacation that revolved around the bar and work. I wore my hair curly all summer because I woke up at 5:00 AM to get to work at 6:00 AM. I worked from 6:00 AM until 2:00 PM, took a nap, headed to the bar around 7:00 PM and closed it down with my friends at 3:00 AM. Then my day started all over.

One morning, as I was filling salt and pepper shakers, my manager, who was probably in his 50’s, stood near me (with coworkers present to witness) and said, “When you wear your hair like that it makes me want to take you out back and spray you with a hose.” Everyone stood silent. My face probably looked confused. My mind went to so many different places. All of them not cool. Not. Cool. That was a failed attempt at a compliment.

My hair is not available for you live out some weird fantasy or to brush like a Persian cat. I love compliments like, “You’re hair is so pretty,” “I love your curls,” “I wish I had your hair!” So keep those coming, but please stop the awkward cat brushing, hose spraying, fear inducing ones.


Reaching Manhood

This morning Scott was showing me a Bored Teachers (funny group or teachers that post videos about teaching) clip in the kitchen after I poured Kierran a small mug of apple juice. Laughing out loud from the clip, I started to walk away then Kierran said, “Look at me being a man.”

He walked from one side of the kitchen to the other while drinking from his shaky mug. Essentially, drinking and walking at the same time. Is there is a scientific study that proves men hit their multitasking abilities at the age of 6? Well done Kierran. You’re a man!

Parental Warning

0F32F6C4-E8A7-4865-BDE6-8E36415F768C-6252-0000065909DB8019_fileIf you imagine having kids and dream of all the wonderful ways your holidays will transform, hear me out.

Imagine you live in Alaska (cold and frozen). It’s December 25th and you give your 12, 10 and 6 year old boys Go Pro type cameras for Christmas. The oldest announces that he’s excited to try it under water. What comes to your mind?


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it”


Merry Christmas! This year has been a doozy for this McCumby clan. It was chalked full of school, sports, shaved ice, work and fun.

In December of 2017 I decided to pursue my graduate’s degree in education at UAF. My entire packet was due in February and let me tell you what, this packet was HUGE! Graduate school doesn’t mess around. I was accepted into the program and was set to start my classes in the summer. Oh man, there was a lot of planning to do and we did it with help from friends and family. I am now halfway through the program and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Going back to third grade has taught me a lot that I must have talked through the first time around. If all goes as planned I should get my teaching license in May of 2019. Fingers crossed for a job! This year I also took an awesome photo of our dog Linus that was recognized by National Geographic and featured in their Daily Dozen lineup. You can see that photo here on my blog.

Scott and I went on a cruise this year to the Caribbean with some of our friends. It’s always wonderful to get out and warm up with some sunshine during our Alaskan winters. This year Scott added cotton candy to our shaved ice hut sales. I’m not a fan of making cotton candy inside my home! Though it smelled nice, a hazy cloud of sugar hung inside my living room. Scott worked a lot this year and he started running the Facebook page for the Valdez Police Department. The Chief has also given him liberties with the weekly VPD police blotter. If you haven’t read the one about the greasy chicken, you’re missing out! You can find all the funny stories on the VPD Facebook page. Other than work he’s been thinking about retirement and what the future holds for career number two. He’s got another year and a half until he is eligible for retirement so he still has time to figure it out.

Barrett, 12, joined track and field this year and did good. He was conditioning himself for fishing season I guess. Barrett got a ton of fishing in this summer! I would drop him off at Allison Point, Ruth Pond or the docks and pick him up hours later or whenever he called. Every time I picked him up the people standing next to him would tell me what a great help he was to them. He taught people how to cast, how to choose the right type of bait, he’d help his neighbor knock the fish out and was handing out pointers like a pro. Too bad fishing isn’t a school sport here. Besides fishing, he worked the shaved ice hut this summer. There was a learning curve when it came to work ethic but by the end of the summer the hut ran like a well-oiled machine. This school year he continues to do well and took up cross country skiing. He doesn’t like the cold so I’m not banking on him becoming an avid skier.

Merrick, 10, did a lot of growing up this year. He hit double digits, stopped believing in Santa (that made me sad), acted in a community play and started playing basketball. He became hooked on basketball when he was at a friend’s house and I was running late picking him up. He got dropped off at the school with his friend who happened to be attending the first practice of the season. When I got to the school the coach asked me why he wasn’t on her team. I pled my case and Merrick said he wanted to play so I signed him up. He is pretty good! He scored more than a few times and learned a lot about team sports. He’s pretty aggressive which was a little nerve wrecking at times. In the summer community play Merrick played Templeton the rat in Charlotte’s Web. He did such a wonderful job! He also continues to do really well academically.

Ohh Kierran. Momma’s baby boy is no longer a baby and turned 6 this year. He also lost his first two teeth (which he let a friend pull out of his mouth in the school bathroom during a basketball game!). He really wants to start swimming again, but it’s put on the back burner for my schooling and his brother’s sports. Poor boy. We’ll get him into swim this next year. He may not be a star swimmer yet but is kicking butt in math and reading. He’s also sprouting into a wonderful little boy who cares for his friends. This year we had a large earthquake that was followed by a tsunami warning and school evacuation. As we were getting back into the school a parent stopped me to tell me how grateful she was for Kierran who she saw comforting her daughter as they were evacuating. Her daughter was crying and looked distraught so Kierran put his arm around her and kept talking to her. Man, what a proud moment for Scott and I.

Linus, our lab, has stopped growing physically and mentally I’m sure! He turned 2 this year. Besides his photo being picked up by National Geographic he also made local headlines when he was caught on camera by our neighbor getting into trash cans. UGH! How embarrassing. Linus was in trouble as well as the kids who let him wander off when they took him out to play. Oh man, I almost forgot! We went on a walk this November and Linus fell through the ice on the Lowe River. He couldn’t get out so I had to slide on my belly over to him and pull him out. It was a scary situation.

Like I said this year had a lot of moving and shaking, and I’m not just referring to the earthquake! All five of us wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic 2019!! Cheers to another year of family, friends and lots of stories to share.


  • Melissa, Scott, Barrett, Merrick, Kierran and Linus

Baller, Shot Caller

Merrick started playing basketball this year and he’s actually pretty good!

It all started when he was hanging out with a friend and I was late picking him up from the house. I got a text from my friend saying the boys were at the elementary school because her son had basketball practice. When I arrived (2 min later) I couldn’t find Merrick. The coach yelled at me, “Why isn’t this kid on my team?!”

In my defense I tried to get him to play but he said no. I plead my case to the coach and Merrick yells from the line, “I want to play since I’m good!”

It was a short, great season. Mom had to learn how to take basketball stats and run the clock and I had a lesson in tongue biting. That was the hardest lesson. There was blood.

He was good at shooting, guarding and he even nailed some free throws!

He’s signed up for the next season which starts in January so expect more pictures!!

A Polar Plunge

The day after Thanksgiving Barrett begged me to go on a walk with him. I wanted to sit on my tuft and work on homework, but the realization dawned on me that very soon Barrett may not want to hang out with me so I got up and went on the walk. Just Barrett, Linus the dog and myself.

Barrett said he wanted to take me back to where he and Linus like to walk back by the glacier stream dyke. This rapid and large stream is runoff from a glacier that flows down to the ocean near our home. During the winter months it freezes up making it an great place to let a dog run.

I noticed that not all of the water was frozen yet, which isn’t surprising since it’s rained more than it’s snowed. Barrett led me to a gravel bed that he said him and Linus walk through. The wind picked up so I tucked my head into my jacket and stared at the ground. I looked up to see Linus running on to some ice. He froze.

“Linus! Come!”

He hunkered down like he does when he’s in trouble and SPLOOSH! The ice broke underneath him and he plunged into the water. I ran toward him and stopped before the ice. Barrett kept running. I grabbed him by the jacket and pulled him back.

We called Linus’ name as he paddled around in circles but he was unable to pull himself back on to the ice. He turned away from us and began swimming toward the dyke breaking through the thin ice as he went. Barrett and I were both hoping he would swim toward the rocks and climb up, but the stream bed was too deep. He couldn’t get up. He turned and swam toward us again.

Barrett had the idea of running over to the other side of the dyke and climbing down on to the rocks, coaxing him over and then pulling Linus out. I agreed and Barrett took off. I yelled at him to stay off the ice. I tracked where Barrett was to where he was headed and immediately felt it would take to long. Linus was already whimpering and whining. I threw my gloves and Barrett’s gloves on to the ground and crawled out on to the ice. I could see the ice was dense where I started but it slowly became more transparent so I laid flat on my stomach. Inching my way out farther on to the ice I started calling him to me. He swam franticly in my direction. I reached my arm out and grabbed a hold of his collar and with super human strength I pulled him up and out of the water from a lying down position. This 80 pound wet pup hunkered down on top of me as I scooted back to the gravel bed. The moment we returned to a safe spot Linus jumped off of me and shook the water off repeatedly. Barrett still hadn’t made it to the other side.

From a distance I yelled for Barrett and told him we needed to go home now. It was 25 degrees outside, the wind was blowing and I was soaking wet. I fell once on the way out of the stream in the gravel bed and injured my knee. Not bad, but a large goose egg formed. As we scurried home I told Barrett he was never to return to the stream without Scott or I again. I was quick to process what could have happened if I had not gone with him on the walk. It makes me sick to think about. Barrett was not so quick to process what could have happened because his comment to me was, “Well, you probably burned a lot of calories mom.” At which I replied, “Possibly, but when I get home I intend to stress eat the rest of the pumpkin pie.”

When we returned home Barrett towel dried Linus off and I stripped my wet clothes off. I was covered in dirt. My coat, pants and boots were dirty, wet and frozen. It was possibly the longest it’s ever taken me to undress. I left my stuff in a pile by the door and walked back to the bathroom still out of breath. Scott had woken up from his sleep (he was on nightshift) and was in the bathroom. When I walked in his eyes widened and asked, “What the hell happened!” My legs were the color of apples. I told him the story as he took me to bed and snuggled me until I was warm. I tried laying down but got sick to my stomach. I had to work my way down to a lying position slowly. I recovered nicely but couldn’t shake the thoughts of what if. I made a point to stress to Barrett the seriousness of him not going back to the stream and spoke to him about the proper way to walk out on to ice if in fact something similar happened again. He seemed too nonchalant for my tastes.

The next day we were driving home together in the truck. It was quiet and we were both lost in our own thoughts when he burst out crying. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He was finally processing the event and the possible outcomes. Well, now I feel better knowing he’s learned a life lesson. I’m grateful we are all safe, including the dog.

Political Campaign

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and it was the best meal I’ve made to date. Everything turned out. Not one item was a flop. Even my rolls were top notch! (I was nervous about those because it was a new recipe) With the exception of eating the meal with just the 5 of us for the second year in a row, all went well. The kids demand we have guests next year and I have to agree. In Fairbanks we ate with friends and family often but here, not so much.

I was in the kitchen for most of the day and it wasn’t until after we ate dinner, the kitchen was cleaned up and we had pulled out Christmas decorations that I made my way upstairs to get something. When I walked up the stairs I was greeted with the sight of a towel on the ground. A CLEAN towel that I had specifically told Merrick to take upstairs and put away earlier. I was mad. Too many times he doesn’t follow through on directions. I yelled, he put it away, he got punished, same old routine I feel we go through every other day.

This morning, Merrick had the NERVE to preach to Kierran about being responsible. I interjected,

“Well, ain’t that the pot calling the kettle black!”
“I don’t even know what that means.”
“It means you can’t be responsible for putting one towel away so how can you talk to him in a demeaning way about being responsible?”


“You’re being a hypocrite Merrick.”
“Are there jobs for hypocrites?”

Is he even listening to the words that are coming out of my mouth? Where is his mind? I suppose there is time to switch his college savings to a political fund or acting lessons. This child is a constant source or distress.