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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!

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Survival Guide to The Anchorage Fur Rondy Experience

Posted on

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!

 

Advice from Alaska on how to deal with a Polar Vortex

 

It is generally colder here in Alaska than in your backyard so we would like to help you survive the next few days of POLAR VORTEX. We don’t have POLAR VORTEX here but we do have The Arctic Circle and the record for the coldest temperature in the United States, (-80 degrees F in the 1970’s.)

Chances are you SHOULD NOT GO SWIMMING TOMORROW, EVEN AT THE POOL.  Your hair, if not dried completely, will get all frozen when you walk out and you will look like Doc Brown. At some point, dry thirsty hair will bite back by shocking  you with static electricity which could kill you, when and if it is the form of lightening, so LOOK OUT!

Your lips will get incredibly chapped. DON’T LICK THEM! Your tongue may stick to them, no just kidding. Slather on the lip balm which your grocery and drug store will run out of in 35 minutes from this posting. Also your legs will itch uncontrollably and you WILL break out in a weird rash of red bumps on your torso. I would show you a picture of my cold weather rash but it is all gone because it is a balmy 32 degrees and snowing here in Anchorage. Slather on the moisturizer or shortening or lard if necessary.  Do not go to the emergency room. This is not Shingles.

The freezing point is  the weather we prefer here. It is perfect. You will soon agree.  Although 20 degrees is better for ice skating which is only done outdoors here. If you go ice skating in minus 20 degrees F, as I have done on occasion, you may find your nose is running and wipe it on your mitten. Only you will find blood all over you as your nasal membranes may burst. This is not a medical emergency, just poor judgement.

I saw this  headline posted online

Experts Are Warning People Not To Breathe Deeply Or Talk Outside Ahead Of The Polar Vortex

I traced it down to this website:

Experts Are Warning People Not To Breathe Deeply Or Talk Outside Ahead Of The Polar Vortex

Uproxx

who in term attributed it to The National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa.  I combed through the NWS Iowa site and saw no mention of silence or walking backwards while throwing salt over your shoulder in order that the POLAR VORTEX shall not strike you dead with its Mighty Ice Scythe.

Truth be that this map was also featured on the Uproxx site:

I’m not so sure I can take this site seriously as Alaska and Hawaii are not even accounted for. Hawaii and Alaska might just say, ” Yo! You want those Smallpox blankets back?”

As far as not breathing deeply outside, you can accomplish that easily by inducing a panic attack which involves shallow breathing.  Start thinking about Trump or your retirement account, what’s left of it, or your diet before going outside.  Panic is your friend. Remember if you turn blue, faint and break your head open it probably isn’t from the cold but from your lack of breathing. God forbid you wear a scarf or face mask. JUST DON’T TALK. THE POLAR VORTEX STALKS PEOPLE WHO TALK! JUST SHUT UP FOR GODSAKES AND LIVE TO TALK ABOUT IT!

Here’s some more unsolicited advice from Alaska. DO GO OUTSIDE! IF YOU DO NOT, EVERYONE FROM WORK WILL HAVE A STORY ABOUT HOW COLD IT WAS BUT YOU AND YOU WILL HAVE NOTHING TO TELL YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW HOT IT IS THIS SUMMER.  Best to walk to the store and buy some ice cream. That is something to be able to write on your tombstone.

Also there will be things you want to purchase for this event such as Touchscreen gloves. Do not even think of it. These do not work in Alaska, maybe because we have sketchy internet service or maybe because IT’S TOO COLD!!  Your fingers will fall off in those wimpy gloves. Touch screen mittens would be a better idea but then you would need a phone like this:

phone 2

which is traditionally used indoors.

In Alaska we do tend to wave conversations inside when it gets too cold. We wear layers or if you are pretentious you buy high tech polar clothing even if you don’t work outside.  We plug in our cars and the people with the high tech polar clothing have remote car starters and seat warmers. Most adults go outside each day no matter how cold it is because we are insane but recess is cancelled because little children don’t know how to slow down in the cold. We don’t do marathon training in that kind of weather but we also don’t call in sick from work or people will laugh at us. People have been know to go camping in minus twenty and sleep in snow shelters for fun.

Enjoy your POLAR VORTEX. Don’t die. Don’t stop breathing and remember that silence won’t save you. THE POLAR VORTEX CAN READ YOUR MIND! Alsoif you do happen to get the day off, consider pairing with a co-worker and driving to the store or foodbank or just to a local bus stop and offering folks a ride home or wherever. It will warm your heart if nothing else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Year 2025, if man is still alive..

First Lady Kim Kardashian successfully advocates for butt enhancement to be covered by most health insurance.

The world mourns the death of the most stable genius and oldest U.S. president ever elected. The deceased’s family asks that people wear gold instead of black.

Alaska is officially the most populous State of the Union, due to its temperate weather,  and the fact that most U.S. citizens have found a way to live in Canada.

The last remaining white man in The U. S. Senate is not running for re-election.

Guns now outnumber people five to one in The United States with the aforementioned Alaska leading the pack with an average of 27 guns per person.

Rutabaga is the new Avocado!

The Oreo Cookie brand is struggling after severe backlash following their “Fentanyl Patch” flavor release. Fortune for the brand relies on their two new nostalgic varieties –  “Subbituminous Coal” and “Salted Highway Snow.”

The owners and designers at Title Nine Sportswear have finally begun serving their life sentences for misleading women worldwide that they can be brain surgeons, Olympic athletes and cute single moms all at the same time.

The successful Mary Poppins franchise continues with the opening of “Mary Poppin’s Revenge – The Sarin Gas Umbrella.”

Hope has died for training white police and the legal system to react fairly and calmly towards dark skinned citizens. Today, Congress introduced a bill  requiring quotas of wealthy white men be met in the prison population before any other ethnic group member be incarcerated.  A subsequent boost in Ancestry.com stock has occurred  as thousands of people under investigation attempt to find their as yet undocumented African roots.

 

 

 

 

Season’s Greetings from Quake Town U.S.A

I propose that Anchorage, Alaska change its name to Quake Town, U . S. A. Our current slogan is “Big, Wild, Life.”  In truth, “Big Moose/Many Gift Shoppes” would be more appropriate. “Quake Town” would capture the peril and uncertainty which most adventure travelers are seeking. Could we meet their expectations? If we have learned anything from the last earthquake I would say YES!  We could provide certificates authenticating quakes which occurred during your visit, conduct bracing earthquake drills at each hotel. auction off broken dinnerware or create desserts of ice cream with broken pieces of chocolate bark to illustrate the effects of seismic upheaval.

Perhaps this appeals to me because it is late and I can’t sleep, not because of earthquakes but because it is nearing the winter solstice.  My mind and body struggle to keep up with the increasing loss of daylight and the greyness of global warming. Yet I persist in attempting to create Christmas cheer. Behold my new lawn display:

pen 2

These exquisite creatures arrived in my driveway anonymously last week in response to my post searching for a light up snowman. Now that is the true holiday spirit! I did not know I needed penguins but now that there are three people living here and a need for both humor and earthquake detection I am convinced that there is a God.  I am the tipped over one. The sheet over the chairs is supposed to be a glacier since they looked a bit sad in the globally warmed greenery of my yard.  Here is a photo of them on active alert – triggered by the motion sensor I have them plugged into!

penguins

I also have a special aftershock detector installed in my bedroom which allows me to travel in time to a place of aliens, Time Lords and Daleks where earthquakes are the least of my worries.

IMG_20181210_010919

This suspended Tardis, also a gift, responds to settling tremors by absorbing the energy waves and swaying peacefully to transport my consciousness to another level. I enjoy the new Doctor very much and continued to be surprised how the writers get me to cry at the end of almost every episode.

I have tried some not so successful methods of cheering myself such as commenting on controversial posts on the internet. I do not advocate this unless you just want to wish them “Merry Christmas.” This is what I will be doing from now on so that when I receive emails telling me to “Shut up!” I will assume I have offended their religious beliefs and will apologize profusely instead of continuing an argument.

Also I attempted to make a holiday skirt out of a Christmas tree skirt which is now lying crumpled on my bedroom carpet.IMG_20181204_211620608

Although my waist is closer to 30 inches than 34, I cut the hole in the center to the latter dimension so that the skirt would hang longer and thus created a cascade of unraveling destruction. I may try to use my mini sewing machine to reconstruct the damage much as one might do after an earthquake.

Alas another fail, I attended a party yesterday and in my unbridled enthusiasm ate a wide variety of delicious foods, ignoring my previous experiences only to soil myself on the way home. Too much information?  May you all grow old a bit more graceful than I!

Here are a couple of more successful attempts at cheer.

IMG_20181204_211727839_HDR

My new hat has met with nothing but compliments. $6 at Walmart well spent. I also purchased an outfit for my car which is modest but effective.car

I hope this will bring cheer to little children and those who are children at heart as they see it parked on the icy streets of Anchorage. ’til we meet again, take it one quake at a time!

Anxiety woman survives Anchorage Earthquake!

tipsy

Feeling a bit tipsy in Anchorage

 

I love crazy weather. Earthquakes are not really weather but they are crazy or rather they make people crazy. Most everyone in Anchorage got a shot of adrenaline yesterday at 8:30 am . If you’ve never been in an earthquake it’s like a car hit your house. But then said car, or other cars behind it, randomly ram your house numerous times during that day and evening.  Just for the record, “numerous” means  about 1000 earthquakes between 8:30 am yesterday morning and 6 pm tonight in the Anchorage area. I felt about 25 of them and at least one more after 6 pm tonight. You might think it would get boring after awhile. It does not.  I still find it humorous that at 2 am I can hear my roommate shout, “ENOUGH!”, from the other room.

I made the beginners error of trying to go to work immediately after,  (making sure my house didn’t smell like farts, and picking up my television then deciding to put it back on the floor in case there was another trembler.)  Clueless me joined the frantic but polite crowd attempting to go to work, get home from work,  to pick up kids from school,  as well as those out to check other properties for damage or to buy items necessary for the End Times.

I spent an hour stuck in traffic several blocks from my house before I heard on the radio that the highway was blocked by rocks in one direction and a broken bridge in the other. Main  roads were clogged to the max by clumps of hair like myself. It’s ten mile across town to work so I parked the car and walked home to change the tires on my bike to studs. Why be part of the problem when I can be part of the solution? I’m not an essential worker but I work at a nursing home which was bound to have a number of chachkis to clean up and residents in need of cheerful diversion. Cleaning and clowning are my specialties.

A tsunami warning went out which everyone ignored except out of state visitors who could not be expected to know that Cook Inlet is not the ocean. The roads emptied out by noon after authorities encouraged all to “shelter in place” so that infrastructure could be assessed. I packed an overnight bag including my antidepressants and anxiety meds just in case I didn’t make it back home. I wound up putting the bike in the car, just in case. I could be swallowed up by a sink hole or  be asked to stay for several days  which I would do because I have always wanted to save the world. When I finally arrived at work the building was a bit cold, considering how sweltering nursing homes usually are.  The kitchen was also down do to gas being checked. The saving grace was no computer access! I love improvising so I went about my work as usual but added a pantomime of grabbing the walls and swaying as I entered each room.

I began to understand what Donald Trump has been saying about the media. First off, I agree that when he points his finger, four others point back at him.  Also I will say that KFQD 750 AM, the radio station, was outstanding in taking calls and pointing out fake news. When people suggested that a giant aftershock was predicted at 4:35 pm or that free food and gas was being given away DJ’s hung up chanting, “SAVE IT FOR FACEBOOK!” They are my heroes.

Unfortunately the television was not set on the music station in the resident courts. Instead everyone was quakefully watching the not-quite-a disaster broadcasts. The  Anchorage media, perhaps unwittingly, fomented terror in folks by repeatedly showing the same broken bridge, rockslide and sinkhole as if Anchorage was besieged.  There was some crying, some people wanting to go home to check on loved ones. I’m sure viewers who lived far away  or who were prone to panic felt the same. A jaundiced eye could discern the same bridge shown an average of 20 times an hour with a shockingly similar car stuck on a slab , also a familiar looking boulder tumbled in the center of the highway showcased every 5 minutes.  To what purpose was this? It felt like The World Trade Centers being shown every five minutes on 9/11 only no one died here.  The information age does not mean that information sharing has matured. Television, like most adolescent corporations, sells fearful images instead of responsible information to aid in calming the public.

I know that when I’m anxious, I’ve shared stories without knowing all the facts. I expect these announcers were doing their best with their serious faces and recurring images.  It made me laugh though when I first moved to Alaska that there would be teasers for the evening news – ” Car crash on Lake Otis. Man breaks leg, more at 6 pm.”  We are a small town at heart so almost anything is big news including books falling off shelves.

After work this evening, I stopped by Best Buy to look for a particular Christmas video.  A small note on the door indicated that they will be closed until Monday in order to pick up and inventory damages.  This seems fair. What didn’t seem fair was that it was 47 degrees in December in Anchorage with winds gusting 45 MPH and the plastic carts from Target were zooming across the icy parking lot chasing people and crashing into vehicles.    I imagined my roommate yelling, “Enough again!” and I smiled.

 

 

Anxiety Woman goes to a Gun Show

I was driving to the hardware store this morning to buy a timer for my new “Let it Snow” holiday lights when I passed a sign for a gun show. I have NEVER wanted to go to a gun show until now. I had a few reasons

  1. I read Paul Theroux’s Deep South earlier this year. In it, he visits numerous gun shows to uncover parts of Southern culture with which he was unfamiliar.  I thought I might learn something about Alaska.
  2. There are many men at gun shows!
  3. I’ll try anything once.

This particular show was being held in the common room of a Catholic High School. I was not the only one who thought this strange. Everyone in the parking lot marched in the wrong direction to the church hall thinking- no it won’t be in the high school, but we were wrong. I guess The Catholic Education system needs all the friends and money they can get.

I was only slightly shaky going in, as if people could read my mind. They can sometimes read my hands so I kept them behind my back, like I was visiting a museum. ” It’s just another Holiday fair”, I told myself. “People will be happy to see you. Lighten up”, I thought.

No one was mean to me but there was no attempt to be overly friendly and no Christmas decorations or music.   They could have had some LED Holiday lights made of little pistols or a target practice booth starring Rudolph. It was a refreshing to find such a low tech affair in this season of bedazzlement. The only snacks available were man snacks – hot dogs and chips.

Yes, men.  This group was not diverse.  Everyone who ever visited my online dating profile, (and who was a real person), was in attendance. Lone, unsmiling men with not just a gun or two but with COLLECTIONS of FIREARMS are surprisingly available. I’m not saying these men were dangerous but perhaps authorities should scan my dating hits.

As Theroux noted, no one seemed to actually be buying guns. Everyone was just looking, like at a car lot. At the entrance, the historical guns drew me in. These aren’t bought for killing but for the craft and the provenance. Since this is Alaska, most of the old pistols looked Western in nature although I admit I was afraid to ask. I’m sure people don’t mind talking about things they love but I believe they like selling these items much better. I didn’t take photos either, because then I would have to ask permission and I was just getting by without pooping. That’s my default when I’m anxious. So I told myself, “It’s okay to just observe. Next time, when you’re really in the market for a killing machine, you can be more social.”

I now know what a pepper pot pistol is. It has multiple barrels like this one from http://www.deactivated-guns.co.uk/obsolete-calibre-firearms/rare-b-cogswell-percussion-pepper-pot-or-pepper-box-pinfire-five-shot-pistol-/prod_6305.html#

pepperpot

Army Surplus greeted me next. Ammo cans were available at low, low prices. Next came some more modern firearms and knives.  No poisons or concertina wire, stuff a murderer might want, just stuff for hunting and self defense was for sale.  A few first aid and survivalist items booths came stocked with clotting sponges and Quikclot. One vendor brought some random DVDs, cookbooks, Alaskana and costume jewelry.  I spent an inordinate amount of time at this booth even daring to touch the goods.

I got to practice restraint. Some might say I’m just a coward. I overheard conversations where I chose not to butt in and offer my opinion. One shopper began quizzing a vendor in a loud voice, ” You know what the sole purpose of the government is..?”  I was curious, in a bad way, to know the definitive answer to this one but God showed me the nature of my wrongs. The man repeated the question at least ten times before I moved on. I’m sure the vendor would have liked to have left as well.

Then there was the not so gentleman who was arguing, with a fairly reasonable salesman, about the rights of Native Alaskans/Americans.  He informed us that they were “a conquered people” and “It doesn’t seem fair” to have to pay in order for him to hunt and fish on “their” land. The salesperson did not agree and was trying to educate in a polite way so I left well enough alone.

This was worth the price of admission. I sometimes need to step back and let other people fix things or let them be unable to fix them. Also I need to not complain about being single.  The admission was $5. I paid it because that’s pretty cheap for admission to the enemy camp. Not that these people are really my enemies but at least I got a look at their weapons. I left without an emotional or physical injury and learned that Paul Theroux must have been on acid. These weren’t the folksy, funny people he showed me. Maybe if I spent more time with them, I would have seen this side but I don’t have time to give every white gun owner in town my empathy right now. It’s the holiday season, and that’s all I have scheduled for them.

I’m sure some of you have other insights to offer me. Feel free to share them in the comments but only if they include some humor. If you are short on that I may be sponsoring an Anxiety and Humor fair next holiday season. I’ll have to see if The Catholic Schools have any room for that. There will be lots of Christmas lights, music and much better food!

 

 

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