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Burning up in the Arctic

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fire

This photo was taken in the living room of my apartment, just across from the window around 9 pm. The sun was nowhere near setting. The rosy glow is from a fire about a hundred miles away.  It is also HOT here again, 83 degrees F., which is a bit too much for we Nursing home workers although the people who live there don’t complain as much.

The problem is not the fact that there is no air conditioning. The problem is moving so fast like we usually do when it’s cold out. I had to channel my childhood self and slow down like it was summer in New England. Perhaps you don’t remember it that way but I never saw a runner look forward to an 85 degree race day with smoke. So when visiting Alaska, consider this. We have much, much more forest than California. No one needs to set a fire. The trees get fed up with the heat and decide amongst themselves to burst into flames. As you may know, fires are nature’s way of burning out the deadwood to make way for new growth.  Remember this next time you decide between engaging in life versus vegging out on the computer.

You probably weren’t expecting to burst into flames in Alaska. You will bring your long coats and boots and then be caught sweating and wishing your hotel had a pool which it WILL NOT! Okay, the Captain Cook and The Hilton have pools but most don’t. We do have lots of lakes. I blew up my tiny rubber raft last night and joined all the friends I do not know at Delong Lake. There were swimmers and paddlers, BBQers, also a sign on the dock which said NO SWIMMING. I have been swimming here for years and that is the first time I saw that sign. I swam anyway. Only as I was writing this did it occur to me it was probably because the lack of Elodea weed. Most of our other lakes are clogged with it.  Westchester Lagoon is full of it. I just looked it up and here is what I found under Elodea mitigation Anchorage:

1.4 Proposed Action Eradicate Elodea from infested lakes in the Municipality of Anchorage using a systemic herbicide. Fluridone in both liquid and pellet form will be used. Eradicating Elodea will allow native aquatic plants to repopulate, return habitats toward their natural state, and reduce the threat of this highly invasive species from spreading to other water bodies in the state. Eradicating Elodea will also reduce potential damage to native fish species resulting from habitat degradation or loss.

The expected time for the initial herbicide treatments to occur is June 2015. This will ensure maximum effectiveness in controlling Elodea by applying the herbicide early in the season when Elodea plants are actively growing and taking up the herbicide throughout the plant.

1.5 Location of Project The three lakes located in Anchorage that currently have Elodea are DeLong Lake, Little Campbell Lake, and Sand Lake. DeLong Lake is located at S3, T12N, R4W (Seward Meridian, Anchorage) in the Campbell Creek watershed. Little Campbell Lake is located at S5, T12N, R4W (Seward Meridian, Anchorage) in the Municipality of Anchorage Frontal Cook Inlet drainage basin in Kincaid Park. Sand Lake is located at S10 and 3, T12N, R4W (Seward Meridian, Anchorage) in the Municipality of Anchorage Frontal Cook Inlet drainage basin (Figure 2).

http://plants.alaska.gov/invasives/pdf/FINAL_EA_Anchorage2015.pdf

So maybe we had all better go swim in the gummy murky lakes or burst into flames rather than get poisoned. If this info had been posted I probably would not have swam but it is too late now and it is too hot to worry about as I sweat through my tank top in my kitchen hot from boiling rhubarb.

Here are some safer alternative ways to cool down.There are about 100 tee shirt shops downtown so don’t worry about finding a cool shirt if you only brought plaid flannel. There are only two ice cream shops downtown although it looks like we may be getting our very first gelato shop within the year. The line at the gourmet ice cream shop, Wild Scoops, is hardly worth it. I mean there’s a store which sells Haagen-Daz Bailey’s Cream & Brownie which is a 10 minute walk away and you can eat it and be back before you get in the door at Wild Scoops. That being said, you should try the fresh rhubarb or Spruce tip ice cream at Wild Scoops. I saw no less than 10 locals bringing in bags of rhubarb from their gardens the other day. They get a coupon for a free cone. If you are lactose intolerant, you can just hang around the freezer section of any supermarket. I find this is also good for Mitigating pollen allergies without having to ingest potentially harmful chemicals.

I’ve been making lots of rhubarb syrup. I add it to sparkling water which makes it just as bad as drinking Orange Crush. Except the garish color of Crush is due to some unknown, unnatural additive as we all know there is no orange in Orange Crush. Rhubarb syrup is a brilliant pink like Hawaiian Punch but a bit thicker, gummier.When the syrup is added to bubbly water it becomes a pretty pale pink and tastes so delicious even I will concede to boiling 4 cups of sugar, 8 cups of water and 8 stalks of rhubarb as the evening cools to 75 degrees. The gumminess is probably from the leftover rhubarb fiber as well as the simple syrup. Some people like gummier foods, like a work friend who made a stew from a bear paw which thickened itself with the melting of the tendons and ligament.

Alaska is all about harvesting your own food as the food in the stores is second in expense only to Hawaii. The exception here being junk food. If you buy 4 two liter bottles of Coke, they are only  $1.29 each! It might be good to have a bunch of these on hand as well in case you burst into flames.

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Rites of Spring

I arrived in Alaska, like many people do, in the spring. It was April 29, 1997. My roommate Fred and I got off the plane sometime between 10 and 11 pm. It was not dark, but not light. It was weird. Today it feels less weird.

After twenty odd years I am getting the hang of it. Spring begins with snow. Last week, it snowed everyday, for most of the day. Then it melts and there is trash and dirt followed by neighborhood clean up days. Neighborhood clean up days are followed by the arrival of the pirate regatta. No boats, just tents of men from somewhere else set up in the city greenbelt.

They are indeed pirates. They steal anything that isn’t nailed down. They’re mostly snowbirds, taking advantage of the warmer weather to live the wild rule free life afforded by stolen bikes, cars and the checks from unlocked mailboxes. Your trip to Anchorage would not be complete without a visit to the unsanitary dwellings of these scallywags which are conveniently located right off the Chester Creek trail, only 10 minutes walk from the myriad of downtown gift shops also waiting to rip you off.

But besides the arrival of flocks of humans we have the birds. First come the gulls, ducks, geese, swans, and grebes. I saw my first arctic terns of the season today. I have not seen a bear yet but they have been seen by others. They are probably watching me right now.

No green. In case you are wondering. Tiny buds on trees, but the bloom will happen soon. Maybe in a couple of weeks and it will be overnight, instant spring. Dandelions will pop up along with rhubarb. Perhaps the pebbles which kept my car from skidding in the winter will finally wash away instead of spitting tiny stars onto my windshield. One can only hope.

On the subject of rites, tomorrow is Walpurgis night. You may pray to St. Walpurgis to protect you from the partiers who build bonfires to keep away scary folks who gathered at The Brocken. Why gather at the Brocken? Why at Chester Creek? Who knows? Here is a photo of The Brocken Spectre, a optical illusion which surely had something to do with the fears surrounding it. Apparently the shadow of a climber can cause this.

800px-Solar_glory_and_Spectre_of_the_Brocken_from_GGB_on_07-05-2011

By Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15799557

I have yet to see a Chester Greenbelt spectre but I will keep my eyes peeled.

I have my rituals to keep away the spectre of the spring blues, different from the winter blues in that they are more agitated and hateful instead of hopeless and sleepy, I walk, attempting to see the tiniest bit of spring. I ride my bike. I try to do theatre in the spring to remind myself of joy, art, and that I am not dead yet. I will be performing a small part in Anchorage Community Theatre’s production of The Giver starting this week. The pay as you can preview is this Thursday at 7 pm. We play Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 3 pm for three weeks. All the actors are talented and committed, the crew is extraordinarily creative and it’s a very meaningful show. You can purchase tickets here:

https://www.actalaska.org/tickets

If you are not familiar with the play, it looks like Anchorage in the spring – very gray. The Giver is a thoughtful examination of rules, sameness, safety and the erasure of history for the greater good, or not so good. There was a movie made of it with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges. Here’s a trailer.

The play is simpler but that makes it even more frightening. One doesn’t need an orchestral score and movie stars to be shocked at how close we are to a dystopian future. Just like I don’t need to be bowled over by flowers and warmth to know it’s spring. Come by and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Happy spring!

Survival Guide to The Anchorage Fur Rondy Experience

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Unfortunately, Fur Rondy has nothing to do with this:

fabulous furries

https://lifehacker.com/all-hotel-guests-should-behave-like-these-furries-1820990478

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!

 

Anxiety Woman cannot finish a movie

 

fall4Serenity Now!

The funny thing is, I don’t feel extraordinarily anxious but my hands are shaking, my legs are aching and I can’t seem to find a movie that does anything for my serenity. I constantly worry about the characters.  I don’t watch TV anymore. Does anyone? I even have trouble with sit-coms. I hate it when I know people are going to be disappointed or embarrassed. I’ve picked up enough lingo that I can play along with co-workers when they talk about Jon Snow. I like his coat.

I don’t mind zombies as much because they are so stupid. They are stiff, awkward, and always hungry like me. They are funny. So am I. I was just watching a WWII show. Why would I do that? People are going to be killed! I tell myself I am just a sensitive person. The truth is I am so highly strung I start to vibrate unless it is a real emergency then I calm down for some reason. Maybe because I know from history that I can’t afford to get worked up and I am much more effective if I slow down,

Then there is the news. Why would a person like myself check in on the status of the Supreme Court nomination proceedings?  That’s like taking amphetamines. Nothing good comes from it.

My body recently decided that it was too excited to process food! Once again I did not feel overly stressed but I hadn’t been sleeping much. My intestines went into crisis mode and shot everything out like a cannon.

“That should take care of things. We got her attention”, they said.

I have been eating bland food for fear of another explosion. Maybe I need to watch bland shows as well.  I sort of like documentaries about different kind of occupations like hatmakers or cider making but then these small businesses die off and I feel sad. It gets hard to tell whether being under the weather physically makes me sad and anxious or it is the other way around.

I tried making some fudge tonight. It was a disaster. It turned into chocolate caramel. I became even more rigid. So I went outside. Sometimes I have to go out and look for beauty.

I love Fall and this has been a beautiful one in Anchorage. Fall is sort of sad so that might have something to do with my mood.  Here are some fall photos I took. I’m so lucky to live here. You should visit in Fall. It’s quiet, less crowded but still alive on the streets and trails. You’re more likely to see The Northern Lights.

fall1

That’s me and my shadow persona. The salmon are no longer jumping up the falls here at the hatchery. Instead, there are about 30 of them hunkered down under the bridge at the end of my street. Difficult to photograph when they are so shy.

fall3

The swans are ready to leave!

fall5

The evening light is so soft. Everyone is out walking, biking, jogging. I say hello to them all.

From writing this I’ve confirmed that relaxation is not mine to be found on the internet or in forcing activities. Serenity is more important than keeping up to date with what everyone else says is important. I have to keep my focus there or else I may spend the rest of my days in the bathroom.

 

Trail Etiquette: Alaska rules

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  1. When a crash of two bicycles is imminent, the faster biker should hit the wall, go over the cliff, or burst into flames. The slower biker is required to applaud or say something to the effect of “That was awesome!”
  2. When a bike rider attempts to pass a walker/runner/ space cadet wearing giant earphones/tiny ear buds they should announce their presence by screaming “Bear!!” , “On your left idiot” or spelling out a similar sentiment in American sign language as you pass them.
  3. When rollerblading down a hill at high speed with absolutely no control, it is acceptable to scream “Get out! Get out! I can’t control these m$therf*ckin’ things” even if the people in front of you are aged and speak a different language.
  4. If you notice families feeding  ducks/geese  trailside it is common courtesy to inform them that Alaskan wild fowl are gluten intolerant and also full of rabies and bird flu.geese
  5. When faced with a small toddler erratically hogging the path, bikers should bare their teeth, howl like a wolf and accelerate in order scare the living daylights out of them.
  6. If your leashed dog is confronted by an unleashed dog on the trail it is acceptable to pull out a dog treat and run away with both dogs while the former owners try to figure out what is going on.
  7. If you encounter a moose on or close to the trail it is important to remind approaching biker/ hikers that if they don’t secure the animal’s permission for a photograph then death or dismemberment may result.
  8. When you meet a friend on the trail it is always okay to stop in the absolute center of the path so everyone can observe how popular you are.
  9. Anyone wearing a spandex bike shirt, padded shorts or clip in pedals  shall be considered at fault for all accidents within a 5 mile radius.
  10. If you encounter an injured person on the trail, do not attempt to move them. Call for an ambulance then hide in the bushes just in case a bear gets there first.trail2Strangely deserted portion of The Chester Creek Trail in Anchorage

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.

fluffy.png

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.

mime.png

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.

mask.png

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.

bike1 (2).png

 

In my culture – Tips for eating in the USA

In my culture, we reward the ingestion of nutrients with a non-nutritious dish

In my culture, only the ancient ones are allowed to consume non-nutritious dishes before the nutritious ones. If a nurse attempts to move the non-nutrition out of your reach it is within your rights to kick them.

dessert-far-left

In my culture, there is one meal which is so delicious that many restaurants serve it all day. This meal often includes a salty/sweet/greasy crunchy strip of meat as well as a batter which has been pressed into patterns that can hold a heavenly tree sauce.

In my culture, chocolate can be served in a solid, liquid, puddingish or cake like form. It is also available in an e-cigarette.

In my culture, a pizza can now contain Nutella.

In my culture, what goes in the spring roll, stays in the spring roll.

springroll

In my culture, you can kill someone with raw cookie dough

In my culture, almost everything is better with mix-ins.

In my culture, it is acceptable to sell Nyquil in several different flavors.

In my culture, Oreos lead the way in diversity

In my culture, eating more than your share of donuts may result in being shunned.

In my culture, it is possible to purchase a gourmet garbage meat tube in a roll or on a stick.

In my culture, “artisanal” usually means “rip-off.” It may also mean “Made by hipsters.”

artisan-food-trail-cambridge.png