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Drove along Rezanof Drive this morning for a wet walk round Lake Gertrude at Fort Abercrombie. Still choked up with that cold Bill caught on the ferry and thoughtfully passed on to me.
100 yards before the turnoff, there’s a rubber boot in the middle of the road. What’s a rubber boot doing there – or is it a wellie, wellington, gumboot, or maybe (given this is Kodiak) an Alaskan Sneaker?
Wait a minute, that boot was there yesterday, in the exact same spot. What is this – a sign? a symbol? an omen? No-one missed it, didn’t come back to pick it up? Some sad person is hopping somewhere along on one foot in this lousy weather.
I get it, it belongs to a little girl whose Dad made her sit in the back of his dirty old pickup truck yesterday. Pouring rain, cold, wet, damp, water dripping off her nose. Pissed off, she removes a boot and tosses it off the rear. Who could blame her for being mad at the world. Why can’t she sit up nice and cozy with everyone else in the cab? Gets to the destination, Dad comes round the back of the truck. “What happened to your boot?” “I pitched it.” “Why?” “Coz.” What does that mean – you stupid kid. Take that. And that.” Wham. Hops into the house, crying.
Will this work for capturing odd moments for future writing projects? Only time will tell.

It’s been a while…

It’s been many months since I last posted on this blog. A hiatus for many reasons: failed retirement (went back to work); entranced by music (piano practice); didn’t make the time; etc.  Now, I have retired again.  After 4 years of part-time, then half-time, then full-time work with my favorite Juneau non-profit (REACH), I have done what I could in the work world. It’s time to enter my final years head on.

Last week we left Juneau around noon, Tuesday, on the ferry Kennecott and after stops in Yakutat, Whittier, and little Chenega Bay, arrived in Kodiak soon after dawn.  We are here for 10 days while I contemplate my navel, detach from REACH, and figure out what’s next.  As if on cue, an old passion has resurfaced.  To the piano practice, birdwatching, hiking, reading, and cooking magnets on my mental door, a new one has appeared.  Writing stories.

I remember November, 2007.  We began the month in Morro Bay, California, and finished it in Austen, Texas. During that time, sitting at my computer in sweet Clemmie, I accepted and completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. Wrote a 50,000 + novel in 24 days.  Yes I did.  Then I put it away, unread, unreviewed, unedited.  For almost 6 years.  Ten days ago I powered up the laptop, moved the cursor ’til I found the file, clicked off the electronic dust, and printed it out. 106 pages, by golly.  Gingerly, began to read it – could barely recall the plot, certainly not one thing about how it ended.  Surrprised to find it held my interest. This is reasonably well written, I thought. Got half way through it before we got on the ferry, and left the remainder to be finished when we get home next week.

I’m going to do more writing.  Not sure how, or where.  Stay tuned.

Be Vulnerable

Haven’t posted for a while for several reasons.  I made a fast trip to the UK in mid-March to spend a week staying with my niece, Margaret, and her family and from their spending days at the bedside of my dying brother.  Diagnosed with brain cancer just before Xmas, ’08, I visited him in Australia last spring. He returned to the UK just before Xmas, ’09, so as to spend his last weeks closer to “home.”

Also, a fall on some icy steps in mid-February left a colleague with a nasty concussion from which she is making a very slow recuperation. I picked up some work related projects while she has been out.  And pray for her full recovery.  Be thankful for each day – you never know when it might be your last, or at least the last of being the “you” that you now are.

And, piano has become a borderline obsession.  In fact the whole subject of music has grabbed my interest in a way that I would never have dreamed.  The morning routine has now settled in to accommodate this passion and secure its hold on my day, whether or not  a work day (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and half of Thursdays.) Upon rising, there’s the immediate sit in the hot tub communing with my mountain (Mt. Juneau) and spruce trees (not to mention the heron roosting in its branches above the tub) followed by a sit in the living room with Bill, coffee, a few poems, and the newspaper. Then a bit of stretching, make the bed, get dressed, and head for the piano.  Daily practice is expanding its grip – and introducing to my life a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure at the (sometimes noticeable) progress.

Twittering (Continued)

Learning a lot about Twitter, and frustrated with the feeble Twitter-feed widget that’s available through WordPress.com (the free WordPress platform upon which this blog sitteth.)  Not willing to self host through WordPress.org – been there done that, learned that keeping WordPress updated is a royal pain in the tush.  So check out the Twitter feed in real time.

Twittering

Bound and determined to go (with some kicking and screaming) into the 21st century.  Studying social media marketing an hour a day. Quite mind blowing what’s happening and the rate of change thereof.

Following a few Twitterers and finding some really good information from sifting through the junk).  So – to be blatant about it – I too am looking for followers.  Asking self “Why am I doing this?”  Answers:

  • To learn how the social media works
  • To keep up with changing technology
  • It’s fun to be more in touch with old friends
  • One day I’ll finish one of the books I’m working on and will want to market it
  • I’m planning to do some social media stuff for two non-profits I’m involved with as (a) guinea pigs for my learning and as (b) marketing for them

WordPress now has a new poll function that I want to test, so here it is.

Advantages of Isolation

I’ve been thinking about why Juneau is so special – aside from the gorgeous scenery and immediate access to outdoor activity of all kinds.

I had put Juneau’s terrific sense of community and mind-blowing high level of cultural activities and involvement to the fact that it is small (30,000 souls) and roadless. If you want to go somewhere, it’s a major production involving cost and logistics associated with flying or taking the ferry.  So people stay put in a way that they don’t in places that are linked by major highways.

Laying in bed awake for a spell in the night (looking at the stars out the sliding glass doors through the branches of the spruce tree shading our deck) it dawned on me that, probably, the average commute for Juneau workers is not more than 15 minutes.  I, who walk to work, get to my place of (part-time) employment in just about that amount of time.  Likewise, the commute to the supermarket and everything else is minimal.

This means that, compared to dense urban areas where people spend up to 90 minutes or more at each end of the work day commuting to or from work, and then spend hours more each week visiting, shopping, and traveling to and from the other activities squeezed into their lives, people in Juneau have a lot more time on their hands.  They put it to good and creative use.

First off, the sun is shining as the morning fog gives up its fuzzy grip on Juneau. The forecast on the weather page of this morning’s Juneau Empire shows continuing sunny days for the foreseeable future. As my son says, the best forecast here is for a continuation of whatever today’s weather is.  Which ain’t so nice when it’s raining, but I’ll take it right now.

In line with my mission (?) to try to keep up with technology, at least as it pertains to daily living, I’ve been studying Social Media Marketing. Among other happenings, from a not-very-active Facebook user, I now routinely go there as part of my daily internet check (email (5 of them gdang it), news feeds, etc.)  Underneath the FB (‘scuse me, FaceBook) veil of trivia there is healthy connection to those far away (or even in the next room) – clearly the reason for the site’s phenomenal growth.  My favorite way to learn new technical stuff, though, is at Lynda.com which has a great course on Social Media Marketing and another on Twitter – Essential Training.  Hand in hand with that study, though, I need ways to apply what I’m learning.  Not hard to find, for organizations I work with.  So I’ve added some more projects to my never-ending todo list.  And, forgive me friends, but I set up TwitterFeed to automatically feed blog posts to the TrouserRollers FaceBook and Twitter pages.

Happily, my morning piano practice time has moved into the sacred zone, so this particular interest (?compulsion) seems not to be in danger of bumping into it.

In Hiatus

I seem to have (temporarily) gone off blogging.  In part because it’s so easy to keep in touch with far flung friends and family via Facebook.   In part because lately I’m totally turned off by what passes for “News.”  I read the Juneau Empire (for its good coverage of happenings in a genuine community, plus a bridge column and Dear Abby.)  Beyond that, it’s piano practice, walking the dogs, the part-time job. Am I turning inward – is that what happens in old age?

On the other hand, I might say it was winter, except we haven’t seen it since November.  It seems to have decamped to points east and left this part of Alaska bathed in a very very very early spring.

I expect I’ll be back.

Lot’s going on, missed posting.  Too much work (but seems to be productive) and trying to scale back.  Did a day-long training workshop on Strategic Planning followed by a day-long retreat for my favorite non-profit.  Took a lot more prep time than I recalled.  Since it’s a decade since I had my head in that bucket it was a bit like re-inventing the wheel – thank goodness for Bill’s help.  Like much of my life, couldn’t have done it without him.  Bill spent 3 days in the hospital a couple of weeks ago hooked up to an IV machine after some (one or more) bacteria/fungi blew up his left foot.  Nasty it was. The buggy culprit(s) not yet identified, but he (or rather his foot) is fully recovered.

The big news is that I have found a wonderful piano teacher. I think it’s OK to say her name out loud (Mary Watson) since she’s a well known and respected Juneau gem. Can’t tell you how psyched I am.  She let me make a copy of her tree of keyboard masters and students (Bach, Mozart, Clementi, Beethoven, Czerny, Liszt, Leschetizky, Kullak, etc. to the present) showing who of all the greats had been her teachers, all the way down to me….  Mind blowing.  So far I’ve had 3 one-hour biweekly lessons.  I feel like I’m making unbelievable progress and my motivation has moved through the roof.  This morning’s practice I finally felt like I made the piano SING!!!!!  Reflected on my 8 years of lessons when I was young, and my self teaching since then floundering around as a mediocre intermediate player. Think I never did have a good teacher – and all of a sudden I’ve landed in a gold pile.  My vision of being able to play the piano for hours on end when I’m a stuck-at-home very old lady (if I make it that far)  may now become reality. Heartfelt kudos to good teachers of everything, everywhere.   Plus, I signed up to take a 5-week Marimba class at the Canvas beginning February 7th.  Looking forward greatly to that.  Bill’s friend John came over last night for their weekly guitar get-together and the 3 of us had a fabulous 40 minutes gabbling about all kind of things musical before the two of them went off into the music room.

Romeo has disappeared.  Juneau’s favorite black wolf hasn’t been seen since September. His canine and human friends are very sad.

Strange weather – warm and sunny, not much snow left at sea level.