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Me and Bark McGee – my invisible dog

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It was a good day for a dog walk and a good place to be walking an invisible dog. “Spenard”  was where I was told I belonged when I landed in a Mountainview hostel in 1997. I have lived in a duplex apartment on the Valley of the Moon edge of Spenard for twelve years with a spinning carousel of roommates, some of whom move up and down and some of whom are of the more staid chariot types.  We have all mourned not being able to have a dog in our house. We have hidden guest dogs from our landlord at times but have always been found out when the need to find a tree became clear. And so I adopted Bark McGee, an albino, six foot long, 6 inch tall dachhund.

I would like to thank #MimeSpenard for the opportunity to show Bark the light of day. He has been a housedog, licking up cheap pork grease, spilled granola and discarded body parts, (mostly hair and fingernails), for too long.  I felt it important to dress well when taking a dog like Bark on a big adventure. We are both long so I opted for stripes. I cut open one of those tubular striped cotton blend scarves and slid him in clipping out holes for his legs and found some complementary striped apparel for myself. I applied some face paint to make myself look even paler to match his complexion and also to prevent more age spots. Note to self: Next time bring the face paint to the hairline so I don’t get an oval of sunburn framing said face.

Here I am.

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One of my friends noted, “You look like a young Florence Henderson.”  That was enough to make me decide to take Bark out next week as well. Without makeup I am usually  compared to the late, great James Cromwell, otherwise known as the farmer in Babe.

 

Here is  Bark.

 

 

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Here are some of our adventures.

It was Sunday and hot. The first people I saw, barely, as I was not wearing my glasses, were calling to us from across the street.

” Archie! Archie”, they called.  A guy biked over and asked if I was Archie. I shook my head and he explained that Archie was a really tall Native friend of his who was going to be a mime. He patted Bark.

His friends yelled over, “I told you that wasn’t Archie.”

The gentleman on the bike asked me again. I sort of mimed that I had the curves of a woman but then realized that Archie could just as easily have these. The biker’s pals on the bench patted Bark when we greeted them and we walked on.  This was the first time that I noticed that Spenard has virtually no trees.  The only thing that saves Spenard from being Muldoon is that it curves around quite a bit in remembrance of its farming past. Although once I saw a youngster wearing a “Straight out of Muldoon” tee shirt and realized that Muldoon would not be as forgiving a place to walk an invisible dog.

I walked past the windows of the Northern Lights mall and saw some joyous toddlers running towards me.  Then one stopped and screamed, one of those long, loud screams like they pay you to do in the movies. The father shook his head and tried to explain the concept of an invisible dog to him. This did not help. I scooted by.

We ambled past the Spenard Road House and took in the very nonchalant crowd who barely looked up from their cell phones to greet us.  I took this as an existential warning. Never check or post to social media when in public. Photo taking is okay but remember you are not a movie star, no one really cares about your changing hair or what you ate as much as you do. Enough said.

We had the most fun meeting bicyclists and other dogs. Bark, like any high spirited pup, lunges at fast moving objects and living things. I had to restrain him unless we got permission to meet and greet. The bicyclists are very thankful that you have restrained your animal and the dogs, of course are delighted to check out the smells of another collared creature.

Next stop was The Bike Shop where the helpful staff aided me in purchasing some grips without me so much as opening my mouth.  We decided to follow the detour linking Northern Lights to Benson since that part of Spenard was unearthed. I remembered that I needed some Linseed oil so we stopped in at Blaines. What a wonderful source of artistic inspiration for Spenard.  I have visited many times but have never caught the café open, even the drinks looked inspiring. I  have yet to save my money for the water based oil paints so linseed oil it is.

It was indeed getting hot so we crossed over Benson to the pawn shop and took in the air conditioning and fine selection of inexpensive dvds. There was a nice keyboard for $59 but I did not bring a credit card. That was probably all for the best. A mom kept encouraging her daughter to come over and greet  Bark but she was having nothing of it. That’s okay, Bark is not too sensitive. He embodies the ideal of giving without expecting to receive and taking nothing personally. One has to be like that when one is an extra long invisible hot dog.

Up ahead, in front of a lonely parking lot, I spied an entrepreneur selling lemonade. I could hardly restrain my measured mime footfalls.  I believe I was her first customer and she took my speechlessness in stride. Real thirst trumps miming beverages and so I marched on until coming upon another speechless soul who appeared to need a beverage as well. This Spenardian was beautiful beyond belief but with ethereal nature which may be the result of hunger and addiction. She had take out food and sat on a shaded curb to eat. It was then I noticed the nature of the takeout, from the universal street side distributer. I backtracked for more lemonade to help her digest her feast. It was gratefully received and I moved on.

We next took a trip to the wild side by stopping in at Dankorage where we were most graciously carded. They had a great card game called “Drunk, Stoned or Stupid” that I will have to return to buy. It’s the first pot shop I’ve been in which actually had edibles in stock but once again I was lucky not to have a credit card handy.

On our way home we stopped in at Anchorage House of Hobbies where we were kindly directed to the upstairs where there were even more fascinating items for sale. The children downstairs were more interested in mechanicals then dogs so with some effort we negotiated the stairs and fell in love once more with Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots.

Last stop of the day was a yard sale where the proprietor insisted I wait while he got his camera which was somewhere in the house. Meanwhile the proprietress insisted that I was going to charge him for taking a photo because “That’s how mimes make a living.” I begged to disagree and had her take a photo of me with my camera instead. Meanwhile a boy in diapers tumbled out of another garage to greet Bark. He approached, Bark approached, he retreated, Bark retreated. Finally I had to pick up Bark and exchange licks to convince him that Bark was really sweet.

Me  and Bark at the sale.

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Please ignore the shadow. The sun does not know how to deal with invisible dogs.

Our last real Spenardian encounter was back at the bus bench where our previous bicycled acquaintance pulled up and asked if I wanted to share his edibles. I politely declined fearing that their might be sexual strings attached but mimed an empty stomach instead.

On a high note as it were, we travelled home via Westchester Lagoon where one little girl demanded that Bark sit, beg and rollover and Bark got to interact with many of his canine kind who are not very judgemental.

I learned on my trip that it would be fun to do this again with other owners of invisible dogs. Maybe we could go to the new dog park at Arctic & 30th! Despite the lack of trees, Spenard is beautiful because of its people, the beautiful sky and the lovely intersection of art and commerce.  I hope that folks realize that even on a Sunday where backhoes and blockades sit upon the upturned earth like steel conquerors that Spenard  still lives. Come and visit. Bring your imaginary guide dog who will free you from the fear of being a stranger in a strange land. Come with me next Sunday for another adventure. Meet at Hillcrest and Spenard at 12 noon or at the dog park on Arctic and 30th at 12:45.

 

 

 

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Do I live to make people laugh and is that sad?

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I just got back from vacation with a not to be named relative who fears their identity will be kidnapped and held for ransom baked in kitty litter. We were in Waikiki which is beautiful even if though it is full of human beings. Many of those humans were also on vacation which means they were having fun or supposed to be doing so.

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Come in thin, leave Fluffier! That’s the Aloha spirit.

My not so distant relative was appalled at my habit of cavorting in the elevator. The hotel was about 80 percent full of visitors from Japan. They would innocently pile in on their way to or from the free breakfast not expecting a six foot tall lady in a pink hat to pretend to shrink in size as the floors went down or grow as they rose. They did not expect dancing or bird calls but these were included gratis. Some people chuckled or danced a bit if there was any room. Most people looked down. That just made me want to roll around on the floor. I kept thinking “Snakes on a Plane!”, “Clowns in an Elevator.” Clowning is a universal language best practiced when a language barrier is present.  It is important to communicate to people that they are in the elevator with a crazy person and should exit promptly.

Today, I’m back in Anchorage and  saw this gentleman out painting.

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Which would you prefer? A clown in the elevator or a mime painting your business?

I was not really motivated to go on a bike ride but I’m glad I did. Riding against the wind, passing baby geese and tourists covered in similar fleece I was excited to see the meter which counts the bikes that pass Westchester Lagoon log my passage. I biked around the triangle turnaround to see if the number had increased and found two other folks trying to figure it out. They observed that kids on bikes had not triggered the counter although I had, so it was not emotional age which was a problem.  We finally decided that it was magic. Then something set off a flight of about 60 gulls and I cried “The Birds, The Birds!’ as I leapt on my bike and set off screaming.

I like having the power to create something out of nothing. I especially enjoy creating a moment,( some relatives might call it a scene), that will make a great future story.  My look alike relative is not always averse to this idea. For instance, they were not familiar with the idea of “Aloha Friday” where people in Hawaii wear their Aloha gear to work, a reminder of the laid back welcome of Island culture and the coming of the weekend.

We both jumped into and out of the above mentioned hotel elevator and onto  the streets of Waikiki yelling, “Happy Aloha Friday!” to everyone we saw.  This cleared quite a path in front of us. We are tall, loud and very white.  We sounded drunk. I don’t think anyone said a word back to us but we made ourselves laugh. Yelling “Aloha” is like screaming “I love you”, probably not the most common approach.

I have very few silly photos of Hawaii only because I don’t like taking pictures as much as I used to with my old brownie camera. Here is a photo of a mask from The Honolulu Museum of Art which I feel is a fine resemblance of me.

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My doppelganger pointed out that my nose seems to be growing longer. I parried that my face was just receding, like the glaciers. My appetite for humor is still healthy and I find still find beauty in strange places. This is a great quality to build as age demands we let go of conventional understandings of life and love.  Here is one of my favorite photos of our trip. This is the look I am going for as I get older. I don’t think it’s a sad bicycle or a funny one but it’s different and it wants attention. That’s not so bad.

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Spring Forsakenings

Most people look forward to spring. To people with mood issues and to people who live in Anchorage, it’s just another day in Mar a Lago but without the green, the golf and, thank God, the president.

My winter was okay, plenty of cross country skiing and skating, employment, fun. When spring comes to Alaska the winter sports end and the waiting begins. Waiting for summer because spring is a mess just like my head.  This photo sums it up.life.png

This is what snow looks like after the spring plowing exposes it to the light. Layers  of  snowflakes crushed  into prickly ice mixed with months of dirt. That’s what I feel like right now. More like layers of ice cream crushed into bitterness mixed with months of black mood morsels.

Spring cheer is not based on a date or on the return of sunlight. It’s rooted in hope and opportunity.  I like to go on walks but this is what greets me.

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Icy hills North or South are my only alternatives. Deathtrap. Stay inside. Eat. Mope

But if I do I miss the view at the top.

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Or what’s on the other side.

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The little birds are back despite the ice. The geese and gulls are waiting. The actually greening will occur in early May over one short week. Until then I will keep my car plugged in and trudge on.

 

Anxiety Woman’s reading list: a prescription for wellbeing

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I remember being in the middle of a conversation with a fellow actor in San Francisco. After yammering on as we actors do, he stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “I can’t afford to be around negative people anymore.” Then he walked away. I laugh large laughs in my head today because his conversations about making it big and investing in his latest project remind me of a certain current president of a formerly much admired nation. If you can’t deal with negativity then perhaps you might need an ego reboot.

Sure, I’m a bit negative when it comes to assuaging men’s egos. I also have a tendency to underrate my own cooking but this is a self protective move. If I tell people the brownies are a bit undercooked and have too much salmon extract in them, that means there are more for me.

I’ve been noticing my stress level is creeping up lately. I can’t sleep until 3 am. My dominant forearm is aching while I type this. I’m getting charlie horses at night and now I have “Trigger thumb” where my thumb becomes dislocated as I sleep due to high tension and over use during the day. How do you overuse a thumb? By yanking up one’s pants too many times, securing wheelchairs, pushing wheelchairs, giving a thumbs down to bad movies, riding a bike in winter  desperately trying to get the brakes to work and by cross country skiing.

I am taking a break from the skiing and the biking and decided to catch up on my reading.  My reading choices reflect an inability to move forward with my life. It would take a disaster of great proportions to uproot me from my safety net of friends and activities so that’s what I read about. Besides there is nothing like a disaster book to make you feel like anxiety is a good thing.

I read this one last year when there was very little snow in Alaska. The weather was getting me down but reading this put an end to my complaints.

I just finished reading this. If a recurring reference to a pail of human eyeballs doesn’t put you off then you might enjoy the rest which is equally gory but historically accurate.  There are no big plot surprises as you can see the trajectory right on the cover. And to think I am wary about moving back to the Northeast because of ticks.

Here’s one I got at the library book sale on Friday night, haven’t started it but it was on the shelf marked. “Disasters” so how could I go wrong?

I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I have a difficult time resisting non-fiction with the word, “terrifying” in the sub-title. I hope someday there will be a Trump era history with that word in the title. I find myself feeling much more at home in a Trump presidency than many of my friends who don’t court disaster as doggedly as I do. I, who am oft  the outlier in terms of neuroticism, now appear closer to the mean or average. This is a lucky break for me.

A man named Lance Panzer, no relation to the tank, reviewed it on Amazon.com with the headline, “Makes the Perfect Storm look like a picnic”

Just in case I needed a different sort of input, I made my way over to Title Wave to  cash out my credit before the March 15th deadline. Look what I found!

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They have two more copies if you want one!

This is how I put my life in perspective. I may have no direction. The leader of my  country may be inherently unstable but at least I am not on a plane with snakes.  If you have any film or reading recommendations, please leave them in the comments.

 

 

You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowin’

It recently snowed, lots, for three days straight. The news  projected “overcast skies” with zero percent chance of precipitation each day. This photo was shot at the half way point.

house.pngThis is how it can feel anticipating the next four years.

My guess is that the chief weatherperson is on vacation in Hawaii and there is no backup but someone akin to a vice president who looks things up on Wikipedia, Encylopedia Brittanica  or Lands and Peoples from their home in Seattle. Even to Alaskans, Seattle is not the center of the universe.

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I give the vice president, or whomever, the benefit of the 1955 edition even though the 1932 edition is more colorful.

1932.jpgEverything looks more colorful in the past – the reign of Queen Victoria, the winters of my childhood, the loves and losses. I distrust predicting the future with polls or by use of the vast amount of information available to me. The present continues to surprise me even though I speak to live people. Perhaps that’s because I know myself so poorly.

Only on few occasions do I speak to people without my hidden agenda oozing over my attempts at connection. Why should I expect any different from others? You would think I would have learned this practicing as a therapist but I continue to assume that with enough information I will be able to predict the behavior of others and even improve upon it. This is called grandiosity. Welcome to The American ideal.

I suffer from nostalgia which throw me into fantastical worlds where I am both old and young, safe yet brave, gifted yet of the common man. There are elements of these in both President Trump and Bernie Sanders. It must be difficult in a land of superheroes to elect a practical commander in chief.  Perhaps, the Christian culture fosters the search for a savior instead of a professional paper pusher. I forget that there is no paper anymore, just email, video and tweets.

I delight in ferreting out the B.S on Facebook, in The Huffington Post and The Anchorage Dispatch News. Perhaps those who practice Biblical Exegesis do this habitually or is it just the curse of the depressive? Paid adverts are deleted immediately, any post with a small child or wounded animal pleading not for themselves or their personal freedom but for the plight of their peoples are suspect. Promises and cures are equally annoying. I would enjoy reading that someone lost weight using tricks that would only work for them personally and may not be permanent.  The message is Hope. The command is Faith.

Even when I see many women marching in cute hats I question what I am supposed to feel. If I am honest, I know women used their savings, employed babysitters, and gained a sense of power on Saturday. These are women who vote and yet their vote did not win the election. I am not that interested. It’s good practice for the minority voice to be heard but I care more about the snow. It has fallen in vast amounts. People are mourning. I get it, but what about the snow? It’s still falling. I can be nostalgic and think about the good times we had but my source  is both removed and outdated.

  I am more interested in those who did not attend. Those who disagree, those who don’t vote, those who have an alternative solution to the world’s ills. These are the people who won the last election.  This is the weather I could have foretold by looking out the window in Alaska instead of listening to a weatherperson in Seattle.  It may be too late to get them to listen to me. I approach them not with my political agenda but with my own person, in my own hat. A show of force can be effective in some cases but in others it takes a fool to survive the chaos of the world. Wish me luck.

Another chance to get it not quite wrong

Happy New Year! This is a strange holiday for those of us who have to take it one day at a time, and isn’t that just about everyone?

Things I am noticing already –

It does not feel warm? Where has my global warming gone? It’s 4 degrees every time I get out of my car.

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This is what it looks like when it is too cold for live people to be outdoors

Also, I am overwhelmed by new shopping choices . Why is there chocolate peppermint  drizzle popcorn? How come the sale price is $3.99 and it’s after New Year’s? Isn’t it getting both stale and soggy? Can I get a free sample?

Why is there a cauliflower  product ground up into dust then sold for more money? Can’t these people who want to lose weight just eat sand?

Don’t even look in the frozen section if you know what’s good for you.

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SURPRISE! Is there really an asterisk after the words “Hormones” and “Steroids”?

I am considering hosting my own local version of the Presidential Inauguration Ball, featuring these corn dogs. I learned  from The Guide to the 2017 Presidential Inauguration on Washington.org that

“It is cold in January in Washington, DC. Dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes.

Thousands of portable toilets are brought into National Mall and in front of Metro Stations for the event. Bring your own water and snacks or purchase some from hot dogs and pretzel stands.”

What exactly do they mean by cold, and are their dogs gluten free?

May I also add that I went for a cross country ski the other day out by Point Woronzoff. It was beautiful but the sewage treatment plant smelled like it was in overdrive. I assume the portable toliets at the inauguration will smell the same. It will make you consider going on a liquid diet and never defecating again.

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Here is the view from Point Woronzoff. I will let you imagine the smell of the fecal matter of 300,000 people after the holidays.

If you wish to attend an Inaugural ball and are in a decidedly funereal mood, the internet is ready to help.

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Yes, it’s cosplay, but found under search terms “funeral” and “ball gown”

Meanwhile, the ice fog has cleared and perhaps I shall see The Northern Lights this weekend. I wish you all a warm place to sleep and plenty of gluten free sweets in your pantry. Don’t let a little inauguration get you down. Find your own way to have a ball.

 

5 degrees and holding w/ mint chocolate

Today there is a big old man in my bedroom blasting the Grateful Dead. One would hope that I got lucky last night but the mattress, box spring and I  are out in the kitchen. The bedroom carpets are being replaced and the walls painted. ‘Tis the season for home repair discounts. I have been in this apartment for over 12 years so I’m lucky we’re getting an upgrade before they have to carry me out in a box.  Speaking of boxes, I meant to mail out a present today but I can’t find it because all my stuff and my two roommate’s stuff is mingled in a Close Encounters mound centered in the common space.

 

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The belongings of three people who do not need anything for Christmas

 

I could spend the day outside but I did that yesterday and got a bit cranky. It’s about 5 degrees, I’m being generous here. When the trees are covered in Hoarfrost, you know it’s a little damp and a lot cold so I am prepared for my ice beard. I have hair all over face which gets wet then icy. Yesterday after skating I looked like Scrooge. My pale white hair frosted over and stuck straight out at the sides. I shouldn’t complain. It’s actually good weather for sleeping and taking a walk to see Christmas lights. I know I’m in trouble when I open the door and a cloud of mist appears when the warmish house air hits the super cold outdoors air.

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The white stuff on my collar is my breath

 

Now my cranky housepainter is listening to The Rolling Stone’s Shattered. I wonder if he started painting at 20 and has been listening to the same station ever since then. I bought myself the cheapest peppermint patties I could find to cheer me up. They taste a little waxy but that way I don’t eat as many as I would the York ones.  I almost bought peppermint tea but I have 4 boxes of other teas I really should drink first. But peppermint is so delicious. It’s like winter in a cup but warmer.

Alaska Sausage and Seafood is like a winter wonderland of food. All the food is German, Swedish or Alaskan and wrapped in colorful foil, covered in powdered sugar, or filled with squishy marzipan. Of course there are also many sausages including a potato sausage  which I thought might be vegetarian but was mixed with pork squeezed into somebody’s intestine. I spent a good amount of money there because I am only doing edible gifts to most people this year. Having cleaned out my room, I was depressed with all the crap I have and how much time it takes to go through it. I have photocopies of things. No one keeps photocopies anymore. I have photos. I still have a few VHS tapes and way too many books. Salvation Army will save me if I can just get them into bags and out the door. But I must give because I love Christmas so here are some of the things I got. My roommates don’t read my blog so these are some of their presents.

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Not from Alaska Sausage, from Fred Meyers, not the seafood dept.

 

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Looks delicious, I hope they share

 

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A classy looking gift for about 10 bucks

Now I must go because it is time to bake. Then I will go downtown and buy a dreidl because I want to get the residents of the nursing home where I work to earn their gelt.

 

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Happy Hoarfrost to you, and to all a good night!