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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.

walk

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.

 

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The Art of Balance and other Baloney

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I am the very model of a modern major general

I  do believe in balance and I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do. I also have eaten bologna though it doesn’t taste good to me anymore. Fluffernutters taste good but I was born in Massachusetts so I guess it’s in my genes. I strive for balance but it’s a bit like trying to work on serenity, the effort is counter productive. As a human I am subject to change. I am seasonal, hormonal and  a bit of an eccentric cowardly individual yet I yearn for the idea of stability.

Today I felt all out of sorts. I haven’t really slept well for three nights. I’m sure I slept a bit because I had some anxiety dreams about escaping some bad guys in a construction pit, I was trapped like the steam shovel Mary Anne.  I’m out of balance and I can’t force myself back. I get to enjoy my lack of balance and am doing so by writing while eating mini peanut butter cups. I got the medium size package because the bargain one was so large I could imagine using it as a saddlebag and the small one added up to over $8 a pound and that’s just not right! So I guess I’m subconsciously balancing desire with caloric and monetary expense.

I used to sleep so well. Probably because I was not menopausal and I was so out of balance – sanding and refinishing floors all day then  rehearsing for plays and going running in my spare time. Exhaustion was the key to my rest. That’s probably not right either.

I ran yesterday and am preparing for an audition and am exhausted now but still no sleep. My therapist suggested it was seasonal affective disorder which make sense as I live in Alaska. I took a trip to Louisiana in early December and took lots of walks in the sunny-ish weather.   My therapist’s theory, which sounds right, is that I felt good  until the dose wore off. I took some extra strength tylenol  an hour ago but still not even a yawn.  I could have skipped the peanut butter cups but I had already laid in bed for 45 minutes so I just gave up and decided to have fun.

In Louisiana I saw some statues in a garden of a place called The Shadows. Before it became a national landmark it was owned by an artist. It was obvious that this home was built and maintained by slave labor but that was not dwelled on. The tour presentation was unbalanced so I bought a copy of Twelve Years a Slave at the gift shop as it takes place in this part of Louisiana.  The statues represent the seasons although I would guess if one was a slave, the seasons might be represented a bit differently. But that’s another story.

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I’m pretty sure this guy is winter. He doesn’t look like he’s embraced ice skating or x-country skiing like I have.  He’s embracing himself so he doesn’t freeze under that stone blanket. I know that Louisiana has different winters than Alaska but they still serve a purpose in that they balance out their really hot summers. They give time for the sugar cane harvest, ( done by big machines and factories now),   an opportunity to eat Satsumas and really HOT food.

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I was thinking that this one is fall because of the wheat. I would like to say that I’m not depressed in fall but that’s not so. I’m kind of depressed all the time but in fall I sleep lots. The end of summer has come and I do too much and sometimes fall in bed after work unable to eat dinner. I sometimes make room for some carbohydrates and a run or a bike ride.  But a balanced meal – no.  I tend to eat soup in the winter but it all seemed too much today. Couldn’t even open a can let alone chop vegetables.

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Spring, with flowers? At first I thought she was pregnant but that would be fitting for spring as well.  I usually run a triathlon in the spring to jump start my summer. That means I can be a little miserable training although lately I just try to relax and hope that my heart doesn’t stop going up a hill.  Best not to get too hyper.

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Summer, I presume holds a wealth of flowers. I love summer. I bike to work, I look for love. I’m not very contemplative and wear outrageous outfits. Okay, maybe I wear the outfits all the time, just adding tights in the winter.

What I get from the statues is that  seasons are part of my nature and I might as well embrace them. If I lived on the equator, I bet I could still discern a rainy season from a dry hot one just like we have real cold up here in winter, cold in spring and fall and just coolness in the summer. I can’t force myself to sleep or be serene and no matter how far I run or how much I write or meditate, I sometimes just have to live with what I’ve got.   I shouldn’t even force myself to go to work 5 days a week when I can’t sleep but then it becomes apparent that I’m not the very model of a modern major general. I’m a mess. Well, the world is a mess from what I can see, so in a way, I fit in despite my wacky outfits.

So while a lay awake tonight with all the parents of small children, the people with painful illnesses and those who just don’t know why they can’t sleep, I will embrace this season of my life and all the baloney that comes with it, even if it doesn’t taste so great.

Alternative Anchorage Easter

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Hoppin' down the bunny trail at Campell Creek

Hoppin’ down the bunny trail at Campbell Creek

 

Who doesn’t like chocolate bunnies and eggs, spring and good tidings of a risen spirit?   I’ve almost aged out of all the fun but not quite. Spring is the best time to cross country ski especially on trails with lots of trees to shade them from the unrelenting sun, like over at Campbell Creek trailhead. This is where skiers cross tracks with dog sleds. Woe be to the skate skier who thinks they have the right of way to their workout. Especially when the crossing sled is being driven by a 7 foot tall rabbit with a cargo of eggs.  Maybe it’s a cross dressing hare or a load of donor pre-babies on the way to a fertility center or an U.S. Senator caught with his earmarks up but whoever it is needs you to slow down and smell the dog poop!

Not really in the mood for chocolate and I’ve had plenty of experience biting off heads so yesterday I headed for my favorite – Fire Island Bakeshop and picked up one of these.

Egg-stra special Parisian Macaron

Egg-stra special Parisian Macaron

 

So Marie Antoinette – an almondy, light confection with strawberry creme and shaped today like an oeuf! It’s really much smaller than it looks. It”s good to peck at it so it lasts longer.  I also saw a magnificent creation they were selling for $32- assorted berries and lemon mousse piled into a basket of upright ladyfingers tied with a bow. I bought some berries, cream and a lemon on my way home and voila —

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No ladies’ fingers were harmed in the making of this Easter treat

The recipe is so easy and so quick it must be shared. You’ll need a bain marie. I just said that because I like the word, a double boiler or a bowl to put over/not in boiling water will do just fine. To make the lemon curd I took 3 eggs yolks & 1 egg, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 C of lemon juice and whatever lemon peel/rind I could scrape off my lemon and used a wire whip to get it all frothy and then thick on top of the boiling water.  A candy thermometer will measure 160 degrees when it gets thick.  I let that cool whipped 3/4 cup of whipping cream and added this in two parts. I used the last 1/4 in the little cream carton to whip for the top.  I just layered in whatever berries were fresh and there you have it, a springy, eggy, Easter  thingy.

Those Catholic religious calendars can’t be all wrong. This is the best time to start anew, make resolutions, plans, get out and do something new and good for the world. Gentleness is my word for the week. Not “Gentileness”, I ‘ve got that down. I need to treat myself kindly, let myself be okay with not being a super achiever, world class negotiator, problem solving maniac.  If I can be gentle with myself maybe I can be so with others. I need to notice when the reins are too tight around my neck so I don’t bite someone. I am, by the way, the one who is usually tightening my own reins.

The breeze is gentle, the birds are chirpy, the world is thawing, so there’s really no reason I shouldn’t fall in.  I don’t have to be happy, I don’t have to be funny, although being ridiculous does help. I wish  you a happy Easter, lots of eggs, chocolate, party dresses, (and/or chocolate party dresses), fertility, and earmarks.  May gentleness abound and,  if possible, consider ceding the right of way at unexpected intersections.

Bike to Work Day – Anchorage edition

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I don’t have any photos of the bacon that was given out on the trail because it was ALL GONE by the time I got there, thanks to my co-worker BACON BACON BACON Clark Green! I don’t bike half as much as he does but even the smell of it was gone by 8:30. That’s what I get for staying up late to watch Conan and Dave mock Jay Leno. Luckily Anchorage smells pretty good in the spring, like birch pollen to be exact, kind of flowery and gritty at the same time.

If you didn’t bike to work on Friday, you can make up for it by biking on any non-certified day this year and rub it  in our faces for being conventional and following the pack.  Of course I got free pizza at The Native Medical Center and you won’t. There was more pizza there than was possible to eat as I was amongst the last to arrive. They were trying to get people to pack it home in their bike bags wrapping up the greasiest pieces in napkins.Some tomato sauce got on my camera but I got some good photos anyway. Let me know if your commute to work looks better

 

Just out my door…

 

 

 

 

A half mile in..

 

 

The BACONLESS stop!

 

A little snow left in the low spots

 

On another bridge at 2 miles

 

 

If you could hear these geese..

Now at least you can see them better!

 

What would a commute be without at least one moose, (the other one got off the trail so fast I only got his rear so I’ll spare you that.)

 

 

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So maybe you live in Paris and you’re not impressed but it’s probably a little safer to bike here. If you would like to commute with me I have a mountain bike tandem, I’ll pick you up on the way.


10 best reasons to bike to work in Anchorage

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Sadly I have another bike in the shed and there are at least 3 more sets of skis in the house

10. One less piece of sports equipment cluttering up my living room for the day

My front yard, May 7th, more where that came from

9. Still enough snow and ice to kill myself on the trail if I really

wanted to

Extra fancy moose nuggets!

8. Early morning is a great time to collect moose poop and other feces before everyone else gets it.

Death by water bottle

7. Show off my retro self-poisoning water bottle. Offer others a drink. EXTERMINATE!

6. Use wrong turn signals and potential help land a plane at Merrill field.

5. Admire the pollen.

4. Sneak up behind pedestrians and laugh like a vampire before saying “On your neck”

3. Best time to check email.

2. Always amusing at the end of the day to remember I don’t have my car.

1. Feelings of smugness and superiority I maintain until the first ten people pass me.

Awesome April in Anchorage

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Let me preface this post with the acknowledgement that I need a vacation. If you have ever been to Anchorage you know that April is one of the least awesome months of the year. However, with a little creativity and a skewed view on life a 32 ounce bottle of Joy can survive here for about a month.

Someone has been throwing out snow!

No one likes a litter bug. Can you imagine your neighbors emptying 6 months of garbage into the alley behind your house? Well that’s what I found, 6 perfectly formed barrels of snow rotting in the back alley. Now they didn’t smell and they looked curiously like those cheap sleeping bags you can buy at Fred Meyers, but I was taken aback. Most people in Anchorage recycle. I’m sure there are lots of families in 3rd world countries who would have appreciated a barrel of snow.

 Then there are some of our more well-known attractions which have been made more accessible.

Mount McKinley!

This massive Mountain, often called “Denali” or “The Great One” has moved to the end of my street. It is now accessible not just to an international array of extreme climbers but to any 4 year old who has escaped their parental grasp. Please note that several years ago the National Park Service began enforcing a pack your poop rule. Our neighborhood would like you not only to pack your own poop but take some of ours away with you, moose poop, dog poop, people poop – it’s all yours. Get it now while it’s still slightly cold and less stinky. 

New local waterpark – in my driveway!

Bring the kids and their bathing suits. Let them learn a little bit about hypothermia while they’re at it.

   

Seasonally appropriate religious apparitions!

 Just in time for Holy week! Some people see The Virgin Mary, but I see a crucifix broken into a foot of ice right on the pavement. The city has put a cone to protect it from being desecrated by hoodlums.

For the more depressed traveller…

who might be inclined to want to forget it all and walk off into the sunset forever, we have unsafe bodies of water which look perfectly safe, solid and even well travelled. Of course  if you don’t die, you may be forced to extend your stay by our friendly rescue squad members who will invite you to our newly renovated psychiatric institute with it’s lovely gym and impressive modern art collection.

 Really, I implore you, come to Anchorage. We’re tired of winter and you could help us see it with new eyes. Eyes that haven’t been blinded by the dust from the sanding of the roads which is now whipped in our faces so nature can pay us back for trying to drive fast when we should have just stayed home from work and ate ice cream.

March in Anchorage- an excellent time to visit!

March is the most dependable month for fun in Anchorage. After all, it’s not going to rain. There’s moose on every lawn, roof and highway. It’s pleasant enough to ski and skate without worry about death, at least in flat areas. Here are some lovely photos to encourage your travels.

Traffic is light this time of year!

 

 

 

The Iceman Cometh? No he’s actually here for a limited time only. At least his shadow is.

No sitting around this time of year. We've filled in the benches so you get some exercise. It's an arctic boot camp.

 

There's still enough ice around to qualify you for your free souvenir bruise to take home and show your friends!

Instead of putting out a welcome mat, we like to leave a large amount of snow just above our front doors. That way you feel lucky if you make it in alive.

 

Just remember, the wilderness in Alaska can be dangerous. No discharge of agricultural industries and leave your carpets and salmon at home!