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Tag Archives: Alaska

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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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The Trash Can of Shame

 

This is it.  This isn’t even the kitchen trash where I sat for two hours waiting for the 10 trick or treaters. This is the trash can in my bedroom where today, the day after Halloween, I proceeded to eat most of the leftover candy. I only ate two Almond Joys. I bought these because I don’t like them. It appears that no one else does either because my roommates ate all the Reeses and left the coconutty rejects.trash2

I admit to also eating two bags of candy before Halloween which forced me to buy said Almond Joys. In my favor, I lost a bunch of weight this summer and have been trying to gain it back. This seems to be helping except that I can’t sleep and am forced to blog as penance. I wish I could have given more candy away. But with Halloween being on a Wednesday and the weather being a chill 15 degrees, I knew I was not going to meet my charitable goal.

Not that I didn’t try. Here are my window decorations. You can’t see the strobe light I’ve got inside which makes the demons flash!

window

Here are a couple of brightly coifed characters hanging out on my porch.

porch

The best moment of the evening was when one of the children asked if he could give the seated character a hug.  It gives me hope that a new generation of children is full of empathy for those who are different. This piece was originally rising from a grave at our workplace haunted house. The grave read “R. I. P.- But I wasn’t tired yet!”

How lucky am I to work at a facility which has both a haunted house and children who come in to trick or treat??!!.  Since it’s a “long-term care facility” the residents chose to have a haunted hospital room and a graveyard.   Residents played a nurse and doctor dressed in precaution wear encouraging people to get their flu shot with a giant syringe. Beside them was a dummy covered in cobwebs and surrounded by bats, (especially on point as two bats invaded the place this summer.) Another resident was the Rock Star gatekeeper to the cemetery. I ushered people directly from the hospital to the cemetery giving them a quick brain transplant made from paper mache in between.

Before work, I was so busy bringing in costumes and props that I forgot my own costume.  Luckily I had an extra “Annoying Orange” costume in there that I could slip over my clothes. Several residents surprisingly remarked that it fit my personality perfectly. Those are definitely very much like my eyes and teeth but my skin is a bit more wrinkled.

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When I got home I was exhausted and probably looked scary in a pasty white person way. My first visitor came alone and looked exactly like this.

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I was caught off guard as I could not fathom that any young person would know who Charlie McCarthy was. I started to ask him but he was not talking, because of course, he came alone.

I am alone now and very awake with a sugary irritation in my head.   I swore at the computer and at Microsoft Publisher before I left work. Then I ate more candy. Our staff agreed, maybe less is more.  Perhaps next year we will have a parade instead of a haunted house.  The haunted house did keep the residents busy for a month building something to share. One of my favorite touches was the SAD light which was repurposed to show skull xrays. We also purchased twelve extra super jumbo bags of candy. It was a joy to watch the residents share these with the visiting kids.

I spoke to a resident today about death. They shared that their spirit will live on without pain. I am reminded of all of the spirits who live on in me through my exploits. Someday I will join with them in a haunting of this world. Until then I will celebrate whenever I can even when my trashcan betrays me.

 

 

On living to be as old as my mother did

Samhain or Halloween is a time of transition from one year to another in the pagan calendar. Spirits rise and snow falls, at least here in Anchorage. I just had a landmark birthday in that I have lived to the age my mother died.  My life has been unlike my mother’s. I have not married or had children. I am unlikely to die this year. Yet I am stung by the awareness available to me given both my distance from her experience and my similarity in age and temperament.

I spent most of my life trying not to become as trapped as she felt. Instead of resenting commitments, I have learned to take more time in making the choice to commit and to treasure moments of uncommitted time each day or night when I share her somewhat common inability to rest. Like her, I have a mess of books aside my bed where I can escape to a world where I do not exist but where I have the freedom to love and fear on a grand scale.

My mother and I shared a love for William Shatner. She would watch TJ Hooker and I would watch Star Trek. This week at work I searched YouTube for an old horror movie to show the folks. We wound up watching “Valley of the Spiders” with Shatner in the role of a veterinary doctor up against an army of eight-legged adversaries. The film was dated enough not to scare the pants off sensitive viewers but contained just enough scares that people chose to be late to dinner in order to catch the ending.

I work at a long-term care nursing facility. Most everyone there feels trapped. Some are trapped by life and some by death. My job is not just to distract them from this feeling but to encourage appreciation of their choices. These facilities used to be called “nursing homes” but they were rebranded because no matter how hard we try they are more like hospitals than homes.

There is a revolution coming in this area. The members of my generation will lead it demanding a different kind of care that does not include being trapped in a regimen of vital signs every few hours and thickened liquids.  These are small efforts to prolong life that few people appreciate. Life and death are vital concepts in my work. What constitutes a life? Is lying in bed all day okay? Can institutionalization be lessened by surprise and humor? Could singing be one of the best therapeutic interventions ever? Can it be fun to laugh at death?  That’s what Halloween is about. This year the residents have chosen to host a Haunted House with a Hospital Room and a Graveyard.

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Winter in Alaska arrived just this week. The mountains wear their white hair proudly. The snow has fallen only lightly in the lowlands but it’s cold enough to discourage a sexy  Halloween outfit. I’ve connected with friends and family in the last week and remembered how full of life my mother was until she was not.  She was a lover of Halloween, The Fourth of July, of Christmas and of Sunday dinners.  I continue her tradition by making up as many holidays as I can. I resist the promotional “National Bubble Gum”, “International Chocolate Brownie”, and “Salute your Soldier” Days to make each day a celebration that is not dictated but becomes itself.

The First Day of Snow is a natural one for most people I know and there is much walking around the town. The Day of the Most Mistakes is one that usually falls on Saturday, the end of my work week. The Day of Deliciousness coincides with the cooking group and The Luckiest Day of the Week is the day on which the Bingo game is held. I dress up for all of them, wearing a fancy apron or a silly hat. There may be many logical reasons to fear the darkness of winter, the upcoming election or the result of a medical test but there is also my mother’s way.  My fondest memory of her illness is when she explained from her hospital bed that she had made a week’s worth of soup for us and it was in the fridge. I hear this now from other women who are losing what we call “reality orientation” but in truth they have located their most important reality, the ability to show love and hospitality.

Everyday will have a new guest knocking at the door. It may be winter, a giant dinosaur, a new roommate or a death.  The treat may be candy or a bowl of soup. My mother is with me now as I write this thinking of chocolate and what it means to be a young at heart elder floating in eternity, grounded only in hospitality and humor.

Here is a funny costume I saw today.

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Happy Halloween!

Suggestions for how the Republican Party can “punish” Lisa Murkowski

  1. Make her eat the infamous Senate Bean Soup

         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senate_bean_soup

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     2.  Have a sign made for her to wear reading:

“I did not do what the boys wanted and now I have to wear this stupid sign.”

3.  When they see her coming, put their briefcases on empty seats on the little tram that runs underneath The White House so there is no room for her.

4.  Uninvite her to the annual Senate Sleepover at Mitch McConnell’s house.

5.  Facebook unfriend!

6.  Throw in a bunch of Sarah Palin jokes during the next filibuster.

7.  Bring in kegs of beer to celebrate Kavanaugh’s confirmation but mysteriously run out of red plastic cups if she wants some.

8. Play The Beastie Boys “The Lisa Lisa” each time her name comes up for roll call.

https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Full-Force-Routine-Explicit/dp/B004VTEP7K/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1539155932&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Lisa+Lisa%2FFull+Force+Routine+Beastie+Boys

9.  Lump of coal for Christmas

10. Attend Weekly “Ethics” class taught by The President.

The Fall, The Salmon, the Political Harvest Festival

It wasn’t so long ago that it seemed like spring in America. Many people were hopeful. Other democracies wanted to be our friends. Now the weather has turned and only dictators will take us in. Our representatives huff and puff but they can’t blow down the free world with new or restored tariffs. Are we preparing for another less than civil war in our own country where people begin by wishing each other dead on Facebook and progress to buying ammunition?.

Had we not established, in the beginning, an oligarchy of wealthy white men to run the place we might not be in this crisis today. We can’t change the past but we can look outside our cherished ancestors to see how other countries have worked together instead of against each other in order to thrive.

Today I observed that the salmon have been moving approximately 2 bridges a day up the stream near my home in Anchorage.

fish bridge

Here they are at the first bridge. They’ve turned red and are swimming upstream from Cook Inlet which is just a few hundred yards away.

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Here they are flapping their fins in the shallow water under a further bridge. They make lots of noise. They’ve become more desperate in their undertaking. They are very red. People get like this. So do Nations when they sense the endgame.

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Here are some salmon taking a break in an eddy by the former bridge. Note the white on the top of one of the fish. He is rotting away. These fish start out silver. They stop eating and turn red. Their parts start to rot off but hopefully, they survive to mate.  Some people are obsessed with their power and their endgame. They turn everything into a predatory pursuit or a competition to dominate.  Others can work together for the greater good. Too bad this country glorifies those who defeat others by force or intimidation. By deciding this is our preferred way of operating, we minimize the potential for the next generation to form models of cooperation.

I  hope that the ability to work with others can be taught in school and in the home. Why do we grade people on an individual basis or even decide pay this way when most everyone works winds up working on a team? Do we want the other teams in our workplaces to fail so we look better?  Perhaps it’s more difficult to introduce cooperation when there are so many single child families in the middle and upper classes. But that means that the meek will probably inherit the earth.

In Fall, people store up supplies. Some people hoard. In Winter disaster may strike any of us and who will help? Probably not those who consider themselves self-sufficient or who have the most firearms. Instead, it may be those who have experience in negotiation and emotional regulation who survive. It isn’t always the strongest or most intelligent/talented salmon who survives. It may be one who rests with the others at the side of the stream who has the energy to reach their final destination. The truth is they will all die, and most of their children will die before they mature. On that pleasant note, I encourage you to take a walk and enjoy what you see and feel today. Do not binge watch the news or your favorite dystopian fantasy. Instead, say hello to your neighborhood and notice that you are not on top of it nor on the bottom. We are just alive, for now. When I walk I’m not sure who is homeless and who is rich or in pain or Republican or Independent. We are just animals in the woods.

Don’t give up hope yet, at least until after you vote.  Have a voting party and invite anyone in your neighborhood who has participated in democracy. Don’t make your harvest hatred. Crunch the leaves, watch the moon rise. Forget about responding to every nasty post you read. Don’t hesitate to sing and dance outside but I draw the line at building a wicker man and sacrificing members of the opposite political party. If members of the United Nations can laugh at the audacity of our president then we can laugh too. It’s easier to get away with that in a crowd.