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Paint a message on your window!

My neighborhood is very popular for walking. There is trail etiquette, then there is social distancing etiquette. Today I found myself stepping off the trail into deep snow to let a large family group pass unmolested by my breath. This time of year my eyes are often turned towards the ground which is slushy and slick. Instead I now have to pay attention to my social distancing as well as keeping my balance. I figure if I’m going to multitask I might as well bring my phone/camera. I am one of the few remaining Americans who does not practice “Have phone, Will travel.” It’s heavy to carry and really takes one away from the walking experience. But sometimes there are pictures which must be taken.

Here is the small lagoon directly at the end of my street. The first time this year for open water finds the ducks not harassing passing humans for food.

These are scofflaw ducks who refuse to fly South for the winter and live off stale white bread which in a pinch can be used for toliet paper.

I am in the habit of coming home from work and checking out all the bad news I can before taking a walk to see the sunset at 8 pm. Here is the sun setting over the trail leading to the bigger, Westchester Lagoon.

After this natural beauty I was surprised by a litany of snow creatures who were created on the ice for the enjoyment of passersby.

As there was still about 20 minutes of light left, I made a small one of my own. I tried not to get frustrated because the snow was not the best for sculpture, nor I the best for sculpting.

If you are wondering, it’s a duck, in a nest. I intended to make ducklings but the duck itself had a barely recognizable mass so I told myself, “leave the ducklings to someone else.” This is a nice way of saying, “The head will have fallen off in the morning. Someone can build something entirely new on top of it. I will not compare it with this shoe or the following whimsical persona.

I don’t hear Alaskans banging pans or singing Amazing Grace to honor their healthcare workers. For one thing we don’t have many balconies and when we do they are all on the Southside so no one would see anyone else. We also don’t have a ton of bad pandemic cases yet. We are all in the same boat as far as toliet paper.

Technically I am a healthcare worker but I am under little risk as we are solely focused on keeping Covid-19 out of the building rather than treating it. I work with the aged in a capacity which is really too fun to be considered work. Indeed, most of the residents believe I am a volunteer as no one would possibly be paid for acting like I do. As long as people don’t get sick, I’m doing my job. If they do get sick, all bets are off.

Maybe I will paint a message on my front window to thank my neighbors for staying inside away from me and the older folks -something like “Thanks for being lonely on my behalf,” or “Cabin Fever doesn’t kill!” I’ve noticed newer houses don’t even have front windows. What a loss for the community.

Here is a photo of what some less fortunate folks who have no work may feel like.

No one out here but us social distancers

I am so lucky to have work, even though I am exhausted. Not knowing how long our residents will have no visitors or whether we have missed some protocol that could put them in jeopardy makes me try harder to cheer people up. That can make me a bit intolerable. But they only have to put up with me for so long. The sun will set. I will go home but Trump will be on FOX all night long. That’s one good reason to get out for a walk.

Walking is essential, especially if you work in healthcare. Give each other space and paint something on your front window if you have one.

Just for today, I can smell the Sh*t

As you have probably read, a new diagnostic criteria for Covid-19 has been discovered. The sudden disappearance of one’s sense of taste and smell bodes badly for us all. It comes before the headache, sore throat or cough. But at least it will save you from taking more people on your ride down to Hades.

I spent the day smelling things. Fried chicken aroma from an unknown source, bleach water, the floor beside my toliet. This is a sense I have taken for granted. Alaska smells bad in the spring but we aren’t quite there yet. There is still enough cold that rotten things have not turned into the soup that will feed our giant weeds and tiny trees.

I was outside my home today on a mission to find a spray bottle and paper towels as I am also aware that poop is something I don’t want to share with my roommates anymore. I’ve put up a sign asking for us to spray down the toliet seat after pooping. It carries the virus, not that I really liked their poop before. Don’t you hate it when the toliet seat is hot or wet? I want to pretend that no one else has sat there recently. I want to believe the seat is white because it is pristine. Those days are over.

Every surface is suddenly disgusting. At Walgreens I was rewarded for my 9 am arrival on the day after the barge from Seattle docked by a four pack of paper towels, a spray bottle and some toliet paper. Unfortunately, I was also surprised by a check out clerk who while he was handing me my change told his friend on the phone that he “wasn’t feeling that good and would probably be leaving early.”

FUCK THAT! Looking at the change in my hand I wanted to toss it back in his face but it was too late to give back the germs. And he had touched my fancy cleaning supplies to boot! I could have asked, “What are your fucking symptoms dimwit?” But instead I minimized my contact and trudged home in the snow with my hands away from my face, sniffing like an angry pug.

I washed my mittens, cell phone, keys, reusable shopping bag, hands, and the money. Then I thought about how futile this all is. We are all so connected even though we pretend we are not. Our shit goes through the same sewer pipes. Our mail goes through the same post office. My roommates make social choices I may know nothing about but they and I have fewer options each day. We’re stuck with each other.

One desperate measure I have embraced is a great social distancer. I have started playing a Broadway musical each day and singing the whole score. People keep away from shit like that. Yesterday it was “1776”, from “Sit Down John” all the way to “Crossing the Rubicon.” It’s the first original Broadway cast show I ever saw, in Waltham, MA, 1977 for The New England Theatre Conference. Today it was the Hugh Jackman version of “Oklahoma.” It was indeed “a beautiful day.” Everyone stayed in their rooms where they belonged.

I am not very good a social distancing in general because I like to talk. I am good at making room for others on the trail but it’s not like I’m counting off 6 feet. I’m just aiming for spitting distance. Here are some social distancing examples from the trail today.

Healthy social distancing

Extreme social distancing
Existential social distancing of the end days

I try to keep my sense of humor but find it more difficult to tolerate the normal irritants of life. I want my end days to be magical or dramatic, not spent glued to some streaming series or stuck listening to small talk. I really don’t mind the news updates because these are the kind of things I read anyway.

I currently have a book about Chernobyl to read before bed. I just ordered a kindle copy of The Year of Wonders, a fictional take on the real town of Eyam in Great Britain, where the villagers walled themselves in rather than spread the plague. That is what we are doing, I think. That’s what I try to do when I’m sick or in a bad mood but I don’t always succeed because people appear and get too close to me. I may want to kill them in a way but not really.

So keep on risking your lives by going to work, to the store, for a walk, sharing your life with others but take some time to wonder about how filthy, messy and wonderfully smelly it all is. And for both of our sakes, stay away from me and my shit!

Ice Baby, Ice in beautiful Anchorage

It’s been a good temperature for winter sports. The day starts out at 10 degrees and may reach 20 or so until it drops back down at 4 pm. Lot’s of folks out this weekend. Here’s the sledding hill at Kincaid Park. It comes with it’s own snow maker. It’s a freaking huge park. I arrived here thinking I was going to Cross Country ski near the chalet and but there was a big race going on so I retreated to The Raspberry Parking area where the old and slow were gathered.
So the chalet is near the water and wound up the turn around point for my ski. I had no desire to go down the big hill here and wipe out a dozen or so people on the way. I already had a good crash at the beginning of the day.
This is what happened in the beginning. The glasses are where I face planted in the snow going down a hill that was just too steep and icy for me. I didn’t even notice my glasses were gone until I was on my way again. I was on a one way trail but decided, F* that. I’m going back because there’s another ridiculous hill ahead of me, I’m old and alone and I’m going to break your stupid rule. So I backtracked off this trail called the “Lake Loop” and followed some people my age to the very mellow groomed sidewalk back to the chalet, about a 3 mile loop.
This new WordPress editor thing is driving me crazy. The picture is no longer an “image” it’s a “block.” I can’t seem to turn it. Bear with me and just look sideways. These were the animals spotted this week as recorded by visitors to the chalet. The next photo shows an average page from July.
So the chalet is great to begin and end at or to stop at half way because there are bathrooms and a delicious hot beverage machine. I love that they don’t pretend that there is any cream available. It’s “lightener.” Somehow I doubt that the chocolate is from Switzerland.
This photo was taken on Friday night at The Muldoon ice park which is down the street from where I work. I was the only one skating as it was cold but look how nice the ice was. It goes uphill too which is kind of fun. The lights turned on just as I was leaving and reminded me of being a kid and needing to get home when that happened.
Here’s a bit of Alpenglow on The Chugach from Westchester lagoon. The lagoon made a list of best places to skate in The World. I looked again for the site so I could post a link but all I could find was lists of the best outdoor skating “rinks” like in Vegas. Lame! I think even The Trump rink was included. Remember when ice wasn’t groomed unless with a zamboni, usually on a rink. Here they use these really slow old water trucks with wet canvas hanging off the back. I hope they get paid by the hour.
That’s a puff of Denali on the horizon in this zoomed in crunchy view. It’s really far away so it looks tiny. I like how all the ice in The Knik Arm looks fractured and the water looks flowy in an exaggerated way.
On this day last week it was below zero which is why no one was out. It had been warm the day before and all the roads iced up making walking and driving difficult but beautiful. Who needs to climb a mountain when you can break a leg or get frostbite right near your own home?
Not to sound too ignorant but I’m hesitant to name this range you can see over the Knik arm. It looks so close one would doubt it is The Aleutian Range, but then the cold can play games with size. God knows I can never figure out where the Tordrillo Range which you can supposedly see from Anchorage but they are “small.” The Chugach Range is on the East, or “land” side of the city and The Talkeetnas and Alaska Range are North, I think. The Kenai range is South but sometimes looks like they are on the West as does Denali over the Knik arm. This is pretty much a view West. Look, I can only ski on the flattish sidewalk around the road in Kincaid park so what do I know about mountains? Go ahead and try Mr. Google. He didn’t help me at all.

Come visit Anchorage and figure it all out for me. The skating is hardly ever crowded because there are so many choices and the hockey players usually go to rinks. The cross country skiing can be challenging or relaxing, whichever you prefer just don’t stay inside too much. You’ll freeze from sitting still.

Small things which bring me joy, in a wicked kind of way

  1. Checking in to see if The President of The United States or some movie star said anything stupid today.  Sometimes I have to settle for KellyAnne Conway. I get to pretend that someday the folks who know everything will be cut down to my size and we can all stick our tongues out at each other on the playground. Just in case you missed it, today Kellyanne reported that Martin Luther King would not approve of the Trump impeachment proceedings.   https://www.thedailybeast.com/kellyanne-conway-martin-luther-king-jr-would-be-against-trump-impeachment   We are all such pitiful clowns, except for MLK of course.
  2.  Passing people. Why is it so satisfying to pass people while driving, running, skiing or just getting moved to first in a new check out line?  Maybe I struggle so hard to feel competent that this is what it has come down to.  Basically, I don’t pass much as I drive an older car and I have older legs, but when I do, I can barely hold in a cry of conquest. I’m not naturally competitive. I never was into team sports but this meets my inherent need to beat others to the scarce food source or outrun the inferno/tsunami/ gathering hoardes.
  3.  Not buying things.  I don’t make my own clothes unless you include the people skirt I made last year from a Christmas Tree skirt. It’s not like I  home brew fermented beverages or construct Tiny homes from rubble. I just like to feel superior in the way I spend my money.  I get a thrill from resisting marketing.  I hum a happy tune whilst silently demeaning the newest chocolate cereal or Reese’s product molded into an unrecognizable holiday shape.  https://12tomatoes.com/reeses-mystery-trees/  I will not resort to paying for these products, marketed towards fools. At least I will wait until they are in the bargain bin and even then I may laugh at them more triumphantly.  I definitely feel better about what I don’t buy than what I do.  I don’t buy products which will make me irresistible to the opposite sex. My sister would point out that I am more likely to buy products which would instantly repel said people.
  4.   Singing songs loudly when not involved in a musical performance. This is how I ward off death. Sure, someone might hit me over the head sooner or later but at least I know I’m alive if I can hear my own voice.  This also serves the purpose of showing people that I have a large repertoire of commercial jingles, hits from every era and endless breath control.  I’ve noticed it’s almost impossible for people to resist filling in lyrics I am stumbling through.  This is a great tool for working in a long term nursing facility. It is also useful for hiking alone in Alaska as bears are rumored to run away from loud people.
  5.   Avoiding commitment. Don’t get me wrong. I go to work. I pay my taxes. I don’t cancel things at the last minute but I so love not to have to buy into something long term like a subscription, timeshare,  a relationship.  Don’t even start me on mortgages and marriage. I get a thrill when there’s a close call with a telemarketer or some small print on a contract in which I can find a threat to my freedom. I didn’t even apply to have my tuition reimbursed for working with underserved populations in Alaska because I didn’t want someone to tell me when I could or could not leave my job.  I know I sound like a looney tune but life is short and I prefer to travel light.  You could however make me an offer I could not refuse. It might be equally thrilling to be pinned down by children, a pet or a husband yet conspire to keep my spirit as free as a soup kitchen.  Let me know if you have anyone in particular in mind.

 

How to have a fabulous Staycation, for those who worry about such things.

If you’re worried about doing a staycation right, then you probably worry about your everyday life because that’s kind of what a staycation is. I was not really tempted to go too many places on my time off because I was feeling blue and knew that I would just carry this feeling wherever I went. Instead of plunging into tepid waters at a balmy beach I spent a week here in -15 degree temperatures and attempted to do things that might make me feel good about myself. Oh I had plans, but let’s talk about that.

  1. Keep your plans, or expectations to a minimum. My goals were to relax and get a few things done. Ha, ha! I’m never relaxed so that was crazy and getting a few things done could get me running around town all day so my advice is, cut every goal in half! Strive for balance of work and fun. I finally got a new cell phone which allowed me to, wait for it, receive phone calls!!! Also it takes pretty good photos.
  2. Remember you may become ill. Just like with regular vacations, surprises may be involved. I spent one day indoors due to chilling and slight frostbite and another due to stomach problems. But since I anticipated downtime I got to watch the entire Hunger Games Trilogy again! Full disclosure, since both of these injuries were self-inflicted, not purposefully, don’t beat yourself up for getting sick.
  3. Those things you want to get done…. Cleaning the house is nice but it will get dirty again so make it count by inviting people over! Turn every chore into a cause for celebration. Hospitality is a gift you can give to others who may not have the vacation time to prepare for a party. Same thing with cooking. Take some time to make your favorite recipes during your staycation, then share them!
  4. Make a little room for creativity. Don’t expect to get a novel written but catching up on your blog, sewing, painting, collaging are nice self care acts we can lose sight of while we are working so hard just to get by. When on a vacation away from home it’s hard to do these. Just don’t take it as a given that you will be motivated to create. Remember the time spent walking or resting might help things take form either now or later.
  5. A word about the internet and shopping in general. I can predict that you will not be proud of the time you spent on the internet during your staycation. You will be surprised at how much money you can spend when not working, even if you limit yourself to thrift stores like I do.
  6. Get out of the house one or two times a day. You don’t want to go back to work more depressed than when you left. Grab that Vitamin D. Take some pictures, engage in your community. Then you can get back to reading all those books you got out of the library yesterday.
  7. Call or write old friends. This way you start the year with the idea of making new friends and opportunities without throwing away the valuable ones you already have. On-line posts do not count, sorry this is okay for when you are working but not for your staycation. Surprise them. Surprise yourself at who you want to call.
  8. Eat out at least once, even if it’s the buffet at the grocery store. I chose Natural Pantry!
  9. Napping will happen. Insomnia will continue. Don’t expect miracles. Enjoy the moments.
  10. Try not to resent the last day before you go back to work. Don’t worry that you didn’t rest enough or whatever. Your staycation was a promise kept, an experiment conducted. I didn’t do Chi Gung everyday. I ate chocolate after 5 pm and sabotaged my sleep. But I will make it back to work even if it’s just to satisfy my curiosity as to what went down while I was out. Don’t expect too much curiosity about your staycation. If you went out of the country people would expect gifts but you can get away without giving any. Perhaps you may even find you can give the intangible gift of being more present having taken care of your own needs

What would travel advice be without some photos from my staycation?

Spanikopita and Mediterranean salad made by me!(on a Wizard of Oz plate)

Ice skating on Westchester lagoon, – 5 degrees F. I lasted a half hour.

Sun hitting birch trees near my house, -15 degrees. Almost froze my hand off. See previous post if you want to know more about frostnip and frostbite!

Recipe for Indian butter cauliflower. Was yummy.

Downtown Anchorage, bought new mittens!!

Here are some books and a film from the library I can recommend:

I will never see the world again by Ahmet Altan, a writer imprisoned in Turkey

Home Now by Cynthia Anderson, about the city of Lewiston, Maine and the 6000 African immigrants who live there

This Magnificent Cake and companion film Oh Willy! by Emma De Swaef & Marc James Roels/ France / Belgium / Netherlands / 2011  – Puppet stop action films which take place in the Belgium occupied Congo and in a nudist colony respectively. You can see Oh Willy, in its entirety on youtube.

 

It’s a great thing to leave Alaska once or twice a year but is not economically feasible for everyone so consider a staycation if you want to know more about yourself and your community. Also if you just have nowhere to go and your life is a mess! Happy trails, even if they just lead down the street.

Tis the season to be frostnipped, fa la la la la la la, ouch!

I’m now officially old, as in the old are more liable to get frostbite. But I’m being dramatic as I don’t  have frostbite. I have frostnip, which is more like someone slapping you to wake you up. You get a red face and feel hurt. Frostbite is someone punching you and causing you to throw up and maybe break some teeth.

I’m an anxious person. I used to beat myself up when anything happened which might be considered adverse such as a door hitting my rear or dropping take out food while fumbling for my keys. Now, instead of adding emotional bruises or a chorus of bitterness, I consider the benefits of everything.

No one heard me apologize to the door.

When was the last time someone slapped me on the butt? Let’s not go there.

Food is not as appealing when slopped on the snow, but there’s only one way to find out.

So it is with frostnip.  It is not a real harassment, nor appetizing but the only way to find out is to go outdoors and enjoy what you get.

Being anxious, I consulted with our mutual  friends at Healthline and The Mayo Clinic. I share their calming blue-lit information about frostnip.

Frostnip can happen at temperatures that are really quite warm, like 15 degrees F.

Frostnip happens more often when you get older.

It’s difficult to notice yourself getting frostnip. You can get it through your mittens or hat. Usually someone else has to point it out.

Your skin will look red and it will hurt. Take ibuprofen.

It won’t kill you. (They don’t actually say this because they could get sued but that is what they want you to know.)

Here I add my own flourishes.

Symptoms:  

I am driving home from a short x-country ski. I’m sweating so I take off my hat and a hornet bites my ear. What? It’s too cold for hornets. I must have frozen my ear. F****, Where did I throw that F***ing hat. WTF? That feels better, it will go away when it thaws out.

Two hours later. Wow my ear feels hot. That’s weird. Is somebody talking about me?

Four hours later.  Owwh! I can’t sleep on that ear. I want to go to sleep but my ear is all painful and throbbing. I guess I will get on the internet or eat food as that is what I usually do when something is painful.

Causes:

It’s zero degrees at my house. That’s the WARMEST IT’S BEEN ALL WEEK. I’m going skiing after I visit my friend at the open house across town. Wow, that was a long visit but I can still get that ski in as the sun sets. Geez there’s hardly anyone here, oops how did the temperature get to be MINUS 9 DEGREES? That must be a mistake it was just zero when I turned the car on 5 minutes ago, less than a mile away.  I will take a short ski just up to the little bridge and turn back. Oops there’s the little bridge and some ice. Oops, I fell.  I’m okay. I was going to turn back anyway. Geez my glasses are all foggy and the light is too low to see well but there are still a few people out. I’ll go slower. I’m not cold though. That’s a good thing. I’ll stop at Fred Meyer’s and get a frozen pizza on the way home and some better mittens for next time.

This pizza is HORRIBLE and OVERPRICED! I can’t believe there wasn’t a single pair of mittens at Freddies,  just TEXTING GLOVES! What is this world coming to? My ear hurts!  I wonder if not sleeping at all, made me get frostbite? I’ve never had it before. Maybe I have nipped my ears before. They say that makes it more likely to happen again. I had my Freaking best hat on. WTF?

Treatment:

Avoid going to the doctor. This is Alaska. Last time I went it was like $5000. and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.  Going to the doctor for frostnip is going for the flu. They can’t treat the virus so they give you antibiotics so you don’t get something worse and then the whole world suffers for your anxiety. Wait until your ear falls off, or at least until it gets nasty blisters and antibiotics might stave off infection. There will be absolutely NO DEBRIDING! I have ibuprofen. I have a blog. I can’t sleep so my treatment is calming the inflammation and making light of life.

Precautions:

Don’t get old.

Beware of F**ing microclimates, changes in surroundings, time of day, own body.

Just because you’re there doesn’t mean you have to follow through. Just drive away, but then you will not have an adventure.

Stay inside all week and consume like a good American. You can now do this online. Let the postman get frostnip!

I know you want a photo. It’s hard to take a photo of the back of one’s ear. I had to scruff up my hair like the old person I am. It’s NOT attractive and not particularly scary but here’s your freakin’ photo.

WIN_20200109_04_37_29_Pro

Now go to bed. It’s 4:30 AM!!!!! FA LA LA LA LA, I’d probably be up anyway.

 

The year Alaskan summer never ended

We’ve all dreamed about it: Never having to face mortality. It’s an incredible fantasy which can only end in sadness and loss. The same with a never-ending summer. An Alaska without winter is what? Texas?

We have had two full months of sunshine, day and night. Tomatoes grew. The grass turned yellow. Berries were harvested in July. Fans and blow up water toys sold out. It’s still not over, but we trust winter is coming because if it does not then all the ice will melt and we will die. Even with winter we will die, but until then, we enjoy and consider how we wound up in the Alaskan Riviera.

Today I celebrated summer with my own tiny parade. It consisted of a dog with wings, a friend with horns, a redhead, a comrade bearing peppermint shortbread and me, in a blow up T-Rex costume with parasol. I didn’t ask to be the star. I asked for other people with T-Rex or lively costumes but perhaps these items are not as popular or useful as fans and pool toys.

IMG_20190811_205800

This is a photo sent by my devilish friend of me and the redhead walking through a tunnel on the Chester Creek Trail. I like how I appear to be her pet. We may not have been mighty in numbers but we were very cheerful and were met by tourists and children alike with smiles, waves and hugs. Except for a couple of children on the playground who punched and threw rocks. I was able to defend myself with my parasol and the dreaded words “I’m going to tell your mother!” You may guess their gender.

I had a unicycle and stilts which I gave away this year because I am getting to old to enjoy falling over. But a T-Rex costume is ageless. It can come in handy for a protest with a “Make America Great Again – Jurassic Style” poster or to create awareness of ice melt/fossils/global warming/extinction – “It’s getting hot and I’m back.” But today we got high fives from people who spoke different languages and offers of chicken wings from teenagers.

At almost 80 degrees F, I was quite hot in my second skin despite the fan recirculating my warm breath. You might wonder why I was walking in front of my friend if I was so oppressed? Because my oppression was overcome by the excitement of bringing joy, of not knowing who we would meet and rejoicing in goofiness, a quality that is extremely underrated. Perhaps there is a line to walk with silliness, but each time I’ve sensed that line, I ‘ve crossed it and lived to tell the tale. Needless to say I will never be The President of The United States or similarly responsible. That would require a person to be highly sensitive to how one was perceived and far less egocentric than I am. Or not.

The Redhead and I sat down afterwards enjoying peppermint shortbread. We shared this and tales of Alaska with some folks from Denmark. Their country will be receiving a visit from our President shortly. He will meet with their Queen who they assured us will be speaking “between the lines” to him. She is no pool toy. The gentleman found our leader humorous and wondered how much harm he could do in 4 or 8 years. The woman found our President dangerous. I would agree with both assessments because Trump is a bit like a T-Rex: A relic of an age where fear and size ruled the world instead of cooperation and introspection. We all hoped the inflatable Baby Trump will be visiting Denmark as well.

Here are a couple of photos which capture a bit summer in Anchorage.

crane


The redhead, the provider of shortbread and I agreed to take a trip to Chena Hot Springs this winter. I will not wear the T-Rex suit as surely the batteries will fail in the cold. But before that, I will be taking a trip to France. I may have a fossilly friend packed away in my luggage.

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.

 

 

 

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!