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Anxiety Woman celebrates 4th of July

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4th girl

Yes! That’s me. I don’t look anxious! I am a gorgeous American woman on the French Riviera, not a person who worked all day eating just an apple and several cookies then arrived at a BBQ and proceeded to eat three hamburgers.

4th boy

Yes, That’s me too!  I made these cutouts for work and brought them to the BBQ. My 4th of July leggings look like coordinated knee braces! See the hula hoop in the background? I had fun with this after the three hamburgers and wound up running to the restroom three times as well. Also I had a Klondike bar, rhubarb cake, sticky rice treat and homemade lemonade. I might have overdone it.

I am very enthusiastic about the 4th. I blew up a wading pool by hand at work. We rolled people under the sprinkler, (not like burritos but in their wheelchairs). We had a parade.  Eventually my body gave in and I had an allergy attack. No big deal. I took a Benadryl which my nurse friend informed me is Diphenhydramine. I seriously thought Benadryl was the generic name for the last 40 years or so. But then Southerners call every soda a Coke. I’m just another marcher in the long parade of American consumers of brand names.

Luckily, my difficulty breathing resulted in a retreat to my friends’ very cool basement to watch Team America: World Police. I highly recommend this as a 4th of July activity. Who doesn’t love fighting marionettes and singing  along with the theme song “America Fuck Ya!”

team america

It is a surprisingly timeless film. One could almost imagine this particular gentleman taking over a revolutionary era airport. In the movie he just destroys the Eiffel Tower and maybe The Louvre.

I went to a garage sale and got this painting that was kind of dark and stained but I spruced it up with a dose of anxiety.

IMG_20190708_243436927.jpg

My fear about blinking, or not keeping an eye out at all times, is that I will miss something fun. I like fun, but it’s no use being anxious about fun because that defeats the point, kind of like Team America defeating the world, even if the world does include Matt Damon.

I also chose the book for book club this weekend. I hoped everyone liked it as much as I did. I found it so entertaining I am going to start reading it again right after I write this. As I feared, no one else found it quite as amusing and they collectively wondered how it won the Pulitzer Prize. A book addressing anxiety about aging, love and artistic success in America not worthy?  They considered it lightweight but that was what they  asked me for “Please Joan – This time no holocaust or books containing torture.”  I highly recommend “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer for an well written laugh inducing read that you can finish in a weekend if you wish. Feel under no obligation to award it a prize.

less

From a review by Patrick Gale in The Guardian:

Novels about novelists are always a risk, but Less is about anyone who has allowed their calling to define them at the expense of their humanity. Writers may blush in the mirror it holds up to them, but many readers will find it as endearing as the very best of Armistead Maupin.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/01/less-andrew-sean-greer-review

Please don’t be jealous of my fun filled weekend as I have no children and plenty of time to amuse myself. I can only hope that you ate as much as I did and sneezed a bit less.

 

 

 

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Burning up in the Arctic

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fire

This photo was taken in the living room of my apartment, just across from the window around 9 pm. The sun was nowhere near setting. The rosy glow is from a fire about a hundred miles away.  It is also HOT here again, 83 degrees F., which is a bit too much for we Nursing home workers although the people who live there don’t complain as much.

The problem is not the fact that there is no air conditioning. The problem is moving so fast like we usually do when it’s cold out. I had to channel my childhood self and slow down like it was summer in New England. Perhaps you don’t remember it that way but I never saw a runner look forward to an 85 degree race day with smoke. So when visiting Alaska, consider this. We have much, much more forest than California. No one needs to set a fire. The trees get fed up with the heat and decide amongst themselves to burst into flames. As you may know, fires are nature’s way of burning out the deadwood to make way for new growth.  Remember this next time you decide between engaging in life versus vegging out on the computer.

You probably weren’t expecting to burst into flames in Alaska. You will bring your long coats and boots and then be caught sweating and wishing your hotel had a pool which it WILL NOT! Okay, the Captain Cook and The Hilton have pools but most don’t. We do have lots of lakes. I blew up my tiny rubber raft last night and joined all the friends I do not know at Delong Lake. There were swimmers and paddlers, BBQers, also a sign on the dock which said NO SWIMMING. I have been swimming here for years and that is the first time I saw that sign. I swam anyway. Only as I was writing this did it occur to me it was probably because the lack of Elodea weed. Most of our other lakes are clogged with it.  Westchester Lagoon is full of it. I just looked it up and here is what I found under Elodea mitigation Anchorage:

1.4 Proposed Action Eradicate Elodea from infested lakes in the Municipality of Anchorage using a systemic herbicide. Fluridone in both liquid and pellet form will be used. Eradicating Elodea will allow native aquatic plants to repopulate, return habitats toward their natural state, and reduce the threat of this highly invasive species from spreading to other water bodies in the state. Eradicating Elodea will also reduce potential damage to native fish species resulting from habitat degradation or loss.

The expected time for the initial herbicide treatments to occur is June 2015. This will ensure maximum effectiveness in controlling Elodea by applying the herbicide early in the season when Elodea plants are actively growing and taking up the herbicide throughout the plant.

1.5 Location of Project The three lakes located in Anchorage that currently have Elodea are DeLong Lake, Little Campbell Lake, and Sand Lake. DeLong Lake is located at S3, T12N, R4W (Seward Meridian, Anchorage) in the Campbell Creek watershed. Little Campbell Lake is located at S5, T12N, R4W (Seward Meridian, Anchorage) in the Municipality of Anchorage Frontal Cook Inlet drainage basin in Kincaid Park. Sand Lake is located at S10 and 3, T12N, R4W (Seward Meridian, Anchorage) in the Municipality of Anchorage Frontal Cook Inlet drainage basin (Figure 2).

http://plants.alaska.gov/invasives/pdf/FINAL_EA_Anchorage2015.pdf

So maybe we had all better go swim in the gummy murky lakes or burst into flames rather than get poisoned. If this info had been posted I probably would not have swam but it is too late now and it is too hot to worry about as I sweat through my tank top in my kitchen hot from boiling rhubarb.

Here are some safer alternative ways to cool down.There are about 100 tee shirt shops downtown so don’t worry about finding a cool shirt if you only brought plaid flannel. There are only two ice cream shops downtown although it looks like we may be getting our very first gelato shop within the year. The line at the gourmet ice cream shop, Wild Scoops, is hardly worth it. I mean there’s a store which sells Haagen-Daz Bailey’s Cream & Brownie which is a 10 minute walk away and you can eat it and be back before you get in the door at Wild Scoops. That being said, you should try the fresh rhubarb or Spruce tip ice cream at Wild Scoops. I saw no less than 10 locals bringing in bags of rhubarb from their gardens the other day. They get a coupon for a free cone. If you are lactose intolerant, you can just hang around the freezer section of any supermarket. I find this is also good for Mitigating pollen allergies without having to ingest potentially harmful chemicals.

I’ve been making lots of rhubarb syrup. I add it to sparkling water which makes it just as bad as drinking Orange Crush. Except the garish color of Crush is due to some unknown, unnatural additive as we all know there is no orange in Orange Crush. Rhubarb syrup is a brilliant pink like Hawaiian Punch but a bit thicker, gummier.When the syrup is added to bubbly water it becomes a pretty pale pink and tastes so delicious even I will concede to boiling 4 cups of sugar, 8 cups of water and 8 stalks of rhubarb as the evening cools to 75 degrees. The gumminess is probably from the leftover rhubarb fiber as well as the simple syrup. Some people like gummier foods, like a work friend who made a stew from a bear paw which thickened itself with the melting of the tendons and ligament.

Alaska is all about harvesting your own food as the food in the stores is second in expense only to Hawaii. The exception here being junk food. If you buy 4 two liter bottles of Coke, they are only  $1.29 each! It might be good to have a bunch of these on hand as well in case you burst into flames.

Summer in Anchorage!!!!

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sky

9:30 pm, Weds 6/6/19 on Anchorage’s Coastal Trail.

Yes it’s finally here.

Everyone is sweating. It was 68 degrees today. People were cranky. Why don’t we have air conditioning?  Why are there so many bugs?

It’s raining now. That’s what happens when you get out of work. It’s 730 pm so the sun could come out at 9 pm like it did last night and people will pop out of their houses  with their dogs, their babies, their cigarettes, bicycles and dancing/drinking clothes.

I was just out walking in the rain and passed a man BBQing chicken wings in the downpour. I complimented him on the smell and was hoping for a taste but his lady friend appeared and I moved on.

The streets clear out in the rain. People run, bike, walk, in the snow but they hide in the rain even after they have been complaining about the heat all day. I was incredibly grateful for the smell and the thunder. I had wanted to go swimming in a lake but the water has not warmed up to the high 40’s yet. I prefer the low 60’s for swimming water but will jump in just about anything that hasn’t crystallized. Also there is lightening.

I haven’t blogged recently because I’ve been obsessing about the possible shortage of avocados.  I grew up avocado-less in Ye olde New England and have been frightened of returning to that state of tasteless ignorance. You could say the potato is the Irish equivalent of an avocado. It tastes good with butter and you can incorporate it into almost any meal. But whereas a potato famine could actually cause death, an avocado shortage causes only an awareness of entitlement which is miserable in a completely different way.  Young people might revolt as they do in hot summer weather but no one will die over an avocado . At least I don’t think so.

We fight about oil, racism, immigration, water, and money but I hope it doesn’t come down to avocados.  There are substitutes for avocados just as there are substitutes for petroleum but no one is really pursuing them. Pureed peas or asparagus make a passing guacamole.  Hummus is good on toast. Ice cream tastes as rich if not as warm.

We white people will live through this, as we have lived through our cold winters and too hot summers, using our wits and our privilege to keep ourselves supplied with food that other people pick for us until those other people decide we are not worth it. Perhaps Trumps tariffs might be a good thing after all.

I have been thinking for a long time that life in Alaska is not environmentally responsible unless one has the skills and time to produce/hunt/fish/pick their own food.  Just the cost of shipping up avocados, cashew milk and ice cream that I consume in bulk makes me an abuser of resources. Then there are my trips of enormous distances by plane.  Maybe I will leave, but not yet. Not while I can have the streets to myself in a summer rain.  We shall see what happens on June 10th!

 

 

Rites of Spring

I arrived in Alaska, like many people do, in the spring. It was April 29, 1997. My roommate Fred and I got off the plane sometime between 10 and 11 pm. It was not dark, but not light. It was weird. Today it feels less weird.

After twenty odd years I am getting the hang of it. Spring begins with snow. Last week, it snowed everyday, for most of the day. Then it melts and there is trash and dirt followed by neighborhood clean up days. Neighborhood clean up days are followed by the arrival of the pirate regatta. No boats, just tents of men from somewhere else set up in the city greenbelt.

They are indeed pirates. They steal anything that isn’t nailed down. They’re mostly snowbirds, taking advantage of the warmer weather to live the wild rule free life afforded by stolen bikes, cars and the checks from unlocked mailboxes. Your trip to Anchorage would not be complete without a visit to the unsanitary dwellings of these scallywags which are conveniently located right off the Chester Creek trail, only 10 minutes walk from the myriad of downtown gift shops also waiting to rip you off.

But besides the arrival of flocks of humans we have the birds. First come the gulls, ducks, geese, swans, and grebes. I saw my first arctic terns of the season today. I have not seen a bear yet but they have been seen by others. They are probably watching me right now.

No green. In case you are wondering. Tiny buds on trees, but the bloom will happen soon. Maybe in a couple of weeks and it will be overnight, instant spring. Dandelions will pop up along with rhubarb. Perhaps the pebbles which kept my car from skidding in the winter will finally wash away instead of spitting tiny stars onto my windshield. One can only hope.

On the subject of rites, tomorrow is Walpurgis night. You may pray to St. Walpurgis to protect you from the partiers who build bonfires to keep away scary folks who gathered at The Brocken. Why gather at the Brocken? Why at Chester Creek? Who knows? Here is a photo of The Brocken Spectre, a optical illusion which surely had something to do with the fears surrounding it. Apparently the shadow of a climber can cause this.

800px-Solar_glory_and_Spectre_of_the_Brocken_from_GGB_on_07-05-2011

By Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15799557

I have yet to see a Chester Greenbelt spectre but I will keep my eyes peeled.

I have my rituals to keep away the spectre of the spring blues, different from the winter blues in that they are more agitated and hateful instead of hopeless and sleepy, I walk, attempting to see the tiniest bit of spring. I ride my bike. I try to do theatre in the spring to remind myself of joy, art, and that I am not dead yet. I will be performing a small part in Anchorage Community Theatre’s production of The Giver starting this week. The pay as you can preview is this Thursday at 7 pm. We play Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 3 pm for three weeks. All the actors are talented and committed, the crew is extraordinarily creative and it’s a very meaningful show. You can purchase tickets here:

https://www.actalaska.org/tickets

If you are not familiar with the play, it looks like Anchorage in the spring – very gray. The Giver is a thoughtful examination of rules, sameness, safety and the erasure of history for the greater good, or not so good. There was a movie made of it with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges. Here’s a trailer.

The play is simpler but that makes it even more frightening. One doesn’t need an orchestral score and movie stars to be shocked at how close we are to a dystopian future. Just like I don’t need to be bowled over by flowers and warmth to know it’s spring. Come by and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Happy spring!

Painting as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant

Sometimes blogging makes me think too much and I need a break. Sometimes exercise is impossible due to injuries. The Salvation Army has saved my butt during several dark Alaskan winters by sponsoring an arts and crafts project called Transformed Treasures.  They give participants $50 worth of Salvation Army coupons in order to transform 3 items from their stores and then they are auctioned off in the spring. I have completed my three just in time to start rehearsals for a show.

As an unmarried woman without children I am conscious that I can not make my job or my blog or my home or my hobbies my life. I am an amateur at everything. Many people frown on this but it is my credo that if I stop loving something I should take a break from it. If I feel that something is taking on too much significance in my life, in that I am making it more important than my recovery, then I need to step back.  Obviously I can’t give up on everything. That’s what depression wants, so I have lots of alternative interests.   As an over active person, painting allows me to sit down and pursue something that has much more process than endgame.

In the past, I have painted sneakers, (trainers for you Brits) and  lamps in tribute to women artists. This year was just a fun bit of steampunk and Doctor Who. I have never painted reverse on glass so this was a great process of making mistakes and living with imperfection. Everything used was non-toxic. I especially liked aging the letter holder with acrylic paints added to watered down isopropyl alcohol and applied with a hand pump sprayer. What fun, and it looks like mold and patina.

Here is the distressed steampunk letter holder. The internet is great for finding old bills of lading and dirigible pictures to decorate with.

distressed steampunk letterholder Jcullinane Transformed Treasures

Old School is new school again. Get off line. Write notes and letters.

Here are my Doctor Who plates. Who knows why I love this show so much? The multiethnic cast? The great British actors? The broad themes of human struggle and humor that echo the original Star Trek?

DoctorWhoDarlekplateJcullinanetransformedtreasures.jpg

I’m not really sure if there is a market for a Darlek dinner plate. I believe a child or diehard adult fan would appreciate it. It looks a little angry but perhaps angry dinner plates can be a new thing? It’s therapeutic to make something that speaks to oneself and hope that the spirit moves someone else. Even though it is not a terribly original idea, it’s still an odd one and I am proud of that.

The first piece I made is the Tardis plate which is a bit rough around the edges as I was just learning to paint on the reverse and get the lettering right.  But it does have transparent windows which are cool.

DoctorWhoTardisplatejcullinanetransformedtreasures

It looks like the Tardis is falling rather than flying but she often does that. I believe it will be a nice plate for fish sticks and pudding dip.

I’m happy to be giving these away.  I just hope I spelled everything right. If not they don’t have my name on them. I feel a bit less anxious but that could also be all the chocolate I’ve been eating. Bon Appetit.

Survival Guide to The Anchorage Fur Rondy Experience

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Unfortunately, Fur Rondy has nothing to do with this:

fabulous furries

https://lifehacker.com/all-hotel-guests-should-behave-like-these-furries-1820990478

These particular “furries” left a large tip at the hotel where their furry convention was held.  “Fur Rondy”, alas, is about dead pelts and 2000 people running with 20 reindeer. Oh also there are many dogs pulling sleds with people on them. It’s a two week season of  sunny spring madness which forces all Anchorage residents to change the way they drive to work as well as to attend at least one officially sanctioned “Fur Rondy Event.” If you don’t wear a Fur Rondy Pin downtown, (where you will find it impossible to drive anyway), a “cop”, usually someone from The Lion’s Club, will falsely imprison you until you buy a button for bail. I have only been arrested in this way once and it was by a friend. It does not go on your record unless you are publicly drinking or smoking pot at the time.

This year I attended several Fur Rondy events which explains my current state of exhaustion. We get 5 minutes more sunshine each day and the sun no longer cruises the horizon but sits about 45 degrees above the edge of the earth bringing us a dose of solar energy similar to a niacin rush. If you have bipolar disorder you may want to take out some trip insurance.

I cross country skied over to Campbell Airstrip to watch dog teams zip by, attended a skating party with  hip hop remixes of all the pop songs of my youth. I crammed our company van onto a skinny path parallel to the Iditarod dog trail to make sure the older and less physically snow- able folks we care for had a chance to take part in the fun. My backing out of the parking space got the most (nervous) laughs.

I’ve blogged about Fur Rondy before. At first I took the event at face value, as a winter carnival.  It’s actually a spring fever/Mardi Gras/Equinox, anti-suicide intervention thing. Fur Rondy screams, “Get out of the house you the people who have chosen to live in unfriendly climes!”  Folks wear over-the- top fur hats and coats because they’re going to have to put them away pretty soon. It’s a time for outhouse races, blanket toss, ice bowling and Duck Tape costume balls.  This is Anchorage at its goofiest and least costly as many events are free or at least free to watch. It’s not cold enough to kill you and there aren’t enough tourists for the locals to want to kill you. Reminder: everyone is carrying a firearm except for you and maybe those Keystone cops.

I tend to stay out too long and have too much fun which means I suffer sunburn in the summer and near hypothermia each winter.  It’s probably safer for someone like me to live in a town that serves wine and cheese at indoor events instead of hot chocolate and cookies by a trash barrel full of flaming logs on an icy wind ridden lagoon. But we all find places we feel at home whether wearing real or fake fur. I keep trying to escape but I just can’t seem to find a weirder place. I do hope there is someone clever enough to schedule a Furry Convention during the Rondy next year. Just think how comfortable your  Fursuits will be!

 

Cleaning up America a la Marie Condo

1.The Grammy Awards, The Oscars and even the Tony Awards.

Has anyone ever had a moment of joy watching the Grammys?  How much money are people making off of this crap? Professional Wrestling is more believable.  If you get chosen for one of these awards you should no longer be able to call yourself an artist.  Just like Olympic sport Competitions, you can’t play if you’ve ever been paid to sing or act before!!!

I used to love the Tony Awards but it’s hard for me to stomach the worship of people just doing their jobs. I would miss my garbage man much more. I’m not throwing him out.

2. All sequels and remakes.

I hear that A Star is Born got ripped off in awards season again I will remind folks what a great State of The Union speech our President gave the other day. Yes, that speech of manipulation and nostalgia. Just because you cry and laugh does not make it art. It makes it money.

I liked BlackkKlansman. I hope it doesn’t win anything because then I may have to admit that even the Oscars might get it right once in a thousand years.

3. Go Fund Me.

No.

4. All people of Privilege and their extra stuff

If you  have to clean out your overstuffed closets, you just need to go. It’s not the stuff that’s the problem, it’s you.  That includes, me and all my too small shoes and race tee shirts that make me think I have endured pain which I HAVE NOT! Running a road race, sprinting up a F**’n mountain is not pain unless you are going to be killed because a person or animal is hungry or angry at or for you. Let’s go further and eliminate all food that is not essential. Keep just one flavor or ice cream and one type of cheese. Can’t do that? How about all that kale you have to throw out at the end of the week? Let’s throw out people who are on diets and anyone who can pass for white just to be safe.  Make America great again -Bring back the Bison!

5. All expectations of fairness and equality

Throw these as far away as you can. How do we maintain even a dusting of entitled magical thinking into adulthood? Because we think we deserve better, better than THOSE people. We want fairness when it comes to us and so we will defend the rights of others except for a few people we can’t pry out of our resentment closet. They should die, like they do in the fairy tales when they are mean. Not like in real life.

6.Marriage

So you have a great marriage. Nice! You could probably live with the same person and collect child support without getting all those tax breaks and gifts and honeymoons that make the rest of us feel like SH*T.  This institution gives some folks great joy but most people suffer through it. My point is the folks who have joy would probably have it anyway so throw marriage in the junk pile.

7. High School and College

I don’t want to encourage lots of crazy home schoolers but grade school could just be repeated for ages by all ages of people. Your supposed to have learned it all in kindergarten anyway. The rest is too much wasted time. Just decide what you want to try and take a class in that or better yet volunteer or work in the field for a while. Start your family early.  Long years of schooling is not the only way to keep kids safe while their parents work. We can figure out something better than what we have which is just kind of a jail until the brain is fully developed.

I could go on but you have probably got my drift. It’s all gravy. Marie Condo doesn’t like gravy or maybe she does but she likes it on the side in a little pitcher. We can do without most things and even most institutions are just illusions of security. Fantasy doesn’t thrive with too much outside stimulation. It becomes codified and ritualized like the entertainment and war industries.

Have a glass of water and think. What do we really have? This minute.