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What you missed by watching The State of The Union Address

I got in line at The Beartooth Movie Theater just in time to miss the address. I was not disappointed.  My ticket was for the Oscar nominated short documentaries.  These pieces are paradoxically effective in that they address immigration issues and gun violence in  a riveting yet nearly hopeless fashion. So you could have watched these honest pieces of art and arrived at the same world view you got by watching by watching the piece of work who gave you The State of The Union.

There are five films in this category so they show them on a dvd together. Some are more intense than others because of their tremendous tragedy as well as how well we get to know the people involved.  Most of these stories I was aware of to some extent but seeing the actual people was shocking. It wasn’t just me either. I apologized to the friends I invited as I imagined it might be a fun evening together. It wasn’t a drag but they probably won’t let me pick out the movies anymore.

The most difficult for me was the interviews with the immigrant families in Sweden whose children suffer from Resignation Syndrome. The adults have been imprisoned, tortured, raped and now  while begging for asylum, they find their children  reacting to a complete loss of control by becoming basically comatose. If and when asylum is approved, the children slowly recover but what kind of God would allow this kind of suffering? This syndrome appears in  immigrants to Australia as well. When studying family therapy we discussed one child taking on a symptomatic role so the family could get help  but I never imagined this. The psychiatrist is spot on when she reminds the parents that their child has found a way out of suffering by falling asleep. The parents however do not have that option.  Still the world turns more xenophobic with every revolution. The film is called Life Overtakes Me. Here is the trailer.

The next film takes a look at The Sewol ferry crisis and its aftermath in South Korea.  I cringed at the well documented footage of officials waiting for a command to rescue the many students aboard and asking fishing boats to desist. The command comes after the ship has sunk.  The government divers can not handle the task of retrieving bodies. The civilian divers are asked to desist.  The outrage builds until at least one official is taken down. It’s hopeful that the people rise up eventually but hardly satisfactory that so many young people had to die. The film is called In the Absence. Here is the trailer.

St. Louis Superman chronicles the life and times of Bruce Franks Jr. who becomes a State Representative in order to confront gun violence. His older brother was killed in childhood by someone who used him as a human shield . The effort to pass his anti-violence initiative and the persistance of gun violence in the life of his family and friends nearly costs Bruce his sanity.  Superman can not do it alone.  Perhaps this is why the ferry story was more uplifting to me.  I have never been one to believe trauma is best addressed alone or in a therapy office. I feel a full complement of peers who can hold each other together while transforming the feelings of powerlessness to shared power is most effective.  Then again, there are always cultural and personal preferences.  Here is the trailer.

The documentary about Skateistan, a school which teaches reading, writing and skateboarding in Kabul had more humor to share than the aforementioned films. We see girls laughing, cowering and arguing while they learn the rudiments of skateboarding. It’s clear that it takes courage to pursue almost any interest outside the home if you are a girl in Afghanistan, yet they persist. What made the biggest impression on me was the social services worker at the school.  She reported that years ago under the Taliban she had been without a headscarf in her own home. A man came to the door and berated her for doing so. She slapped him in the face telling him that she had only one husband to tell her what to do and it wasn’t him.   Her husband might even have to follow her lead occasionally  as you don’t get much more badass than slapping The Taliban in the face.  If you can believe it, this came across as one of the feel good movies of the bunch.

The last movie made me cry. Maybe all the hatred and violence built up. Perhaps I just identified with the older people in the film. Two immigrants who escaped the Vietnam War dance the dances they missed in their youth. In the final scene they appear aging and ageless in their choreography to We’ve only just Begun by The Carpenters. Their story of being lovers who became strangers who worked to be able to love again mixes well with the song which always reminds me of the sadness behind Karen Carpenter’s voice.   I recall a story about American therapists who travelled to Africa to help deal with trauma. They were met with dismissal, the jist of which was – why should we sit alone with you and talk when we can dance together? Here is  a segment from the New York Times on the film.

Opening myself to the vast pain of the world can be  an invitation to depression and anxiety but that’s why I’m writing this post. It also opens me to the ability of art, play, and also patience to mitigate even the greatest of losses. Resilience is a quality that can be nurtured but will tested to some degree in us all.  There is not yet a proven therapy that works for everyone in every circumstance to throw off the effects of oppression. It’s up to us to find our own way out together. Perhaps these documentaries will give you some hope as to the tenacity and creativity of the human spirit.  Catch these in theaters now.

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.   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.  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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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


Anticonformist thoughts for the New Year

I’m not anti- everything or a libertarian of the soul. Some trends amuse me, i.e. blow up dinosaurs with people in them. Some do not, i.e. blow up M&Ms with Santa hats waving in the snow. One trend I dislike is the “Ugly” Chistmas sweater. First off I never wear sweaters even though I live in Alaska. They’re too damn hot. I move around a bunch. I try to go along with the gang as I do love the holidays but I like my stuff unsweatered. I also don’t like to buy into another imposed “fun” necessity. I’m alright with hat day and pajama day but “Superhero” day also makes me forget the whereabouts of my wallet. I disdain the opportunity to Marvel or Disneyfy my wardrobe. One year I did dress in all orange and wrote “Vitamin C Woman” on my back.

I include here my homemade attempt at a scary Christmas sweater, really just an ill fitting shirt turned into a vest with a crazed x-mas person on the back.

The best part is the makeup sponge for the nose. This year I will continue to conform in an my own anticonformist manner. I will work, I will take a vacation at 5:30 pm each day but my spirit will be full of surprisingly undiminished joyful insurrection for a person of my age. Being a non-conformist is so 2019. Won’t you join me in protesting conformity by embracing it so tightly it withers away?

Insanity vs mental illness and also the gun debate

The internet is NOT a good place to get your news. It does not help us understand world affairs as much as to feel like we know what is right and wrong with a tiny bit of information then fit it to our own beliefs and reactions.  Solutions requires time.  The internet tells us that there is no time. If one more child dies, we are responsible. Just so you know, I am not God. I cannot stop other people from doing hardly anything. I can barely remember where I put my phone.

History favors people who figure out things quickly.  The first one to discover something, (or to get recognition for it), wins. Sometimes we even kill them! We seldom learn about the people who worked on figuring stuff out for centuries but did not succeed, or the people who let someone else do it because these others were more capable. These people might however have longer lives. Then again maybe they sat down too much or ate processed meats.  What I am saying is give yourself a break.  Not everyone has the calling to meet every disaster. I cannot rally to every cause because of the nature of my emotional makeup. Am I insane? No but I do tend to depression. Is this an excuse? Maybe. Everyone can do something to help the world each day but everyone can not do everything for every cause. That is insane.

Mental illness is not the equivalent of insanity. Mental illness is a PHYSICAL problem which is difficult to detect and control. Despite all you may read about diet, medication, love and trauma, we don’t have a cure for everyone who has mental illness. Also it is not dangerous to self or others in MOST cases!

Insanity is something that can take over a person or a crowd whether they have a mental illness or not. I would define it as :

 Paranoia derived from believing one is infallible, is directly hearing, interpreting and carrying out God’s plan and actually putting this plan into effect and/or encouraging others to do so.

A crowd can become crazy. A whole land can become confused, paranoid and act horribly. An individual can become lethal.   I don’t really trust any human being with a gun because of these tendencies.   People believe The Bible and The Constitution are infallible despite our knowledge of humanity’s failings because they were “divinely inspired.”

I don’t think religion is insane but carrying any belief system out without constant revamping to fit modern circumstances and knowledge is insane. We can’t “Be Great Again.” We can only be more aware of being mediocre.

Is it Trump’s fault? Sadly no. People like power and security. Believing that a big corporation or military power will take care us seems very quaint but there are enough smart people to fool those who need to believe. In case you think you are too smart for all this when was the last time you listened to advice you read online about diet or dangerous health conditions?

I took a survey an hour ago which asked what percentage of gun deaths I felt were caused by mass shootings. The second question was about Volvos. Now that is insane but I fell for it. Don’t do what I do. Don’t do what I say, but be aware of  your own tendency to insanity and while you are at it ask your doctor about mental illness. It is not necessarily dangerous but it can change your outlook on life.




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.


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.


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.

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.




Painting as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant

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

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

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

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

distressed steampunk letterholder Jcullinane Transformed Treasures

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

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


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

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


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

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

Survival Guide to The Anchorage Fur Rondy Experience

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Unfortunately, Fur Rondy has nothing to do with this:

fabulous furries

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

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

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

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

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


Impress your friends with a winter ice cream treat!

Got some friends held hostage by Trump’s demands? Host an ice cream party with your neighbors/community and find out what they need help with! Could be a group temporary loan, some sneakers for their kids or a ride to the doctor or church. Ice cream and commiserating also help if financial resources are unavailable.

Here in Alaska, WE LOVE ICE CREAM! Baked Alaska is basically an imitation of melting permafrost! But have I got a treat for you!  I served it last night after running/jogging a ridiculous 5k in zero degrees. It was such an Alaskan experience. They lent me used Ice Bug shoes to run in, just in case I wanted to purchase some later. Icebugs are shoes with screws in the bottom and they were absolutely outstanding.  I usually just wear strap on spikes but they constrict my shoes and also fall off randomly on bumps.  I am scared to see how much these Icebugs cost but was assured by a friend that they also have a guy at the store who will just drill some spikes into any of my old running shoes.

There was no real group start at the race. People just moseyed off and we followed them hoping we had the right turn around spot since there were only about 20 of us running in the dark. The cocoa and the free tee shirts from runs which happened 10 years ago were appreciated.

Anyway here is the ice cream.


This is what you do to make it even more delicious. Make some mini pancakes. Put  this delicious ice cream on top and drizzle with maple syrup. You could serve these at a restaurant and charge $8 and people would be loving it. But then I am someone who can eat a pancake anytime of the day.   I guess I would call this a  “Maple Heap”, ( you could even sprinkle chopped up maple sugar soldiers or put a Canadian sugar Maple leaf on top).   Perhaps marketing it as a “Vermont Landscape” – Maples and cows or “Over the River and through the Woods?” How about a classy French name like “Un Miracle Erable?”

The taste is like Christmas morning or Apres Ski in New England.  I don’t recommend it in the summer as it would be too sticky but you could eat it while watching “White Christmas” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

If we fed President Trump one of these he would forget about his damn wall for a minute and say, “Outstanding!”   If he ate a couple of gallons he might even pass on to eternity.

We eat lots of ice cream in Alaska because of the fat. I am skinny but I like to have a small roll of fat on my stomach just in case I need to avoid being the first one in a group to freeze to death. I would rather not be cannibalized but if I must be at least let me have something besides bone and sinew for my friends to feed on.

It is refreshingly cold today as well. Minus something. Nothing impressive. Minus twenty is the threshold for no physical exertion if unnecessary.  We are not there yet.  Tomorrow I go back to work from my mini staycation. It has been a great chance to meditate on my post holiday Seasonal affective disorder and my positive response to increased outdoor time and exposure to friends. I highly recommend these to anyone with emotional fatigue. And ice cream!